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