Mar 132017

Rumaniacs Review #30 | 0430

This rum is one of the reasons I love the spirits made so long ago – they shine a light into the way things were back in the day.  Alfred Lamb started making dark rum from West Indian bulk rum back in 1849, ageing his barrels in cellars below the Thames and laid claim to making “real” Navy rum.  These days the company seems to make supermarket rum more than any kind of serious earth-shaking popskull…but the potential remains, as this rum (almost) points out.  It’s issued by United Rum Merchants, who trace their own heritage back to Lyman “Lemon” Hart in 1804 (yes, that Lyman Hart).  Back during WW2 and the Blitz (in 1941) Keeling and Lamb were both bombed out of their premises and URM took them under their wing in Eastcheap. It’s a little complicated, but these days Pernod Ricard seems to own the brand and URM dissolved in 2008.

Put to rest in Dumbarton (Scotland), matured in three puncheons and 510 bottles issued around 1990, so it’s forty years old…with maybe some change left over. It’s from Jamaica, but I don’t know which distillery. Could actually be a blend, which is what Lamb’s was known for.

Colour – gold-amber

Strength – 40%

Nose – Well, unusual is a good word to describe this one.  The leather of old brogues, well polished and broken in with shoe polish and acetone, perhaps left in the sun too long after a long walk in the Highlands.  Old veggies, fruits, bananas, light florals, all perhaps overripe – kinda dirty, actually, though not entirely in a bad way – somehow it gels.  Vanilla, brine, a certain meatiness – let’s just call it funk and move on.  Wish it was stronger, by the way.

Palate – Ahh, crap, too damned light.  I’ve come to the personal realization that I want Jamaicans to have real torque in their trousers and 40% don’t get me there, sorry.  Oh well.  So…light and somewhat briny, citrus and stewed apples, some flowers again, some sweet of pancake syrup and wet compost, leather.  It seems to be more complex than it is, in my opinion.  Plus, it’s a bit raw – nothing as relatively civilized as another venerable Jamaican, the Longpond 1941.  Still, big enough, creamy enough for its age and strength.

Finish – Pleasingly long for a 40% rum, yay!.  Vanilla, leather, some brine and olives and fruits and then it slowly fades.  Quite good actually

Thoughts – A solid Jamaican rum, feels younger and fresher than any forty year old has a right to be, even if it doesn’t quite play in the same league as the Longpond 1941.  Makes me wish Lamb’s would stop messing around with “everyone-can-drink-it” rums, which are made for everyone, and therefore no-one.


  3 Responses to “Alfred Lamb Special Reserve Rum 1949 (URM)”

  1. This reviewer is to full of himself. A good rum, which Lambs is should be enjoyed and drunk by everyone, I have enjoyed it for close to fifty years and although not an expert by any means have tasted many and enjoyed most. I enjoy Mose spirits and have learned to savour many that range in price and quality. But my go to glass when having a casual drink with friends is often lambs. Enjoyed and drank by all.

    • [1] If you have been drinking for fifty years and “enjoyed most” and yet still take umbrage at my remarks, then I suggest that either your experience needs broadening or you misread my post. Lamb’s as a blend is a perfectly serviceable drink, as you yourself point out (and my score of 82 reflects that accurately), but compared against a Velier, a cask strength Compagnie des Indies rum , or a Chantal Comte agricole? No chance.

      [2] Blends as a whole are, and always have been, made to sell to the lowest common denominator – this is why they are so consistent, and issued at a milquetoast 40% or so. That’s the appeal of their type, the same way Johnny Walker sells huge volume but is generally ignored by those who really know their whiskies. Companies which take a single or a few barrels can take the time to really bring out some subtle quality in a way a blender doesn’t….and at cask strength to boot. That’s what makes them better, and targets those who like a particular style (some people) and not at all aimed at a general market (nobody in particular).

      [3] When I’m not taking a sample for apart for a review, my own go to glass with friends is also something simpler, like Young’s Old Sam. But a review is not a party, nor is it a social activity. It’s carefully done, with comparators on hand, backed up by the experience of thinking analytically about the sensations and expressing an honest opinion formed by years of actually paying attention. That’s not being full of oneself – that’s called thinking.

    • David, I don’t get you – The Lone Caner is “full of himself”? Why, because he didn’t give a 90+ score to a rum you like?

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