Oct 302016
 

blackjoeRumaniacs Review 025 | 0425

In spite of the recent (2015-2016) resurgent charge of Jamaicans on the world rum scene, an older rum like this reminds us that for a long time they were actually rather quiescent, and exported a lot for rebottling overseas – to Italy in this case, where a small outfit named Illva Saronno produced the Black Joe in the 1980s. The company, founded in 1922, primarily produces Amaretto, bitters and Sicilian wines (“Illva” is an acronym which stands for Industria Lombarda Liquori Vini e Affini – they are located just north of Genoa).  I imagine that they were into “fantasy rums” such as were popular in Italy before rum exploded as a spirit in its own right, and bottles dating from the 1950s thorugh to the 1980s are available online, after which the trail ceases – I could not begin to tell you which estate the rum hails from.

Colour – Light Gold

Strength – 40%

Nose – Yep, very Jamaican, redolent of musty earth, funk, rotting bananas, pineapples in syrup, brine and olives, morphing into cardboard and cereal notes. Plus plastic and turpentine, just a bit.

Palate – Did I just pass a roadworking crew with bubbling tar in it? Fortunately, I pass it quick. It’s a bit soft (at 40%, no surprise), briny, grape-y, with phenols and more sweet – but watery – syrup, and star anise.  It’s all very quiet, in spite of the clarity of the tastes

Finish – Sharp and short, with light honey and cereals, some vague fruits. Modern stuff is better, fiercer.

Thoughts – It’s recognizably Jamaican, but unspectacular in any fashion. The 1957 edition sells for nearly a thousand euros online, this one for substantially less.  Not much point to getting it, as it appeals more to collectors and hunters of rarities than someone who actually might want to drink it. If nothing else, it shows us something of the evolution of Jamaican style rums, though.  And I still wish I knew which estate produced it.

(80/100)

NB – Other Rumaniacs reviews of this rum can be found here.


  2 Responses to “Black Joe Jamaican Rum (1980s)”

  1. Good to see that one ended up in good hands. Thanks for the review, it’s always very interesting to read about the evolution if rum. With these smaller Italian companies it’s virtually impossible to find the original source – even if there’s such a source. It wouldn’t be unimaginable that the Italians bought their rum from an intermediate export-in-bulk company who blended the rum before shipping.

    Cheers,
    Emile

  2. I’ve recently been doing some research into my Grandfather’s old company ‘Peter Thomson’s Ltd’ who were a whisky blender but also an importer of various different spirits. ‘Black Joe’ rum features heavily on his old price lists and indeed he lists it as one his his proprietor brands.

    I’m in the process of relaunching the old family company with a focus on creating a independent bottling brand for single cask whiskies. I would love to find out more about Black Joe rum if anyone has any further information on it – particularly the estate that produced it.

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