Rumaniacs Review #090 | 0595
We’re all familiar with the regular roundup of major Appleton rums like the Reserve, the 12 YO, the 15 YO, 21 YO and 30 (old version or new), as well as their halo rum du jour, the 50 YO. But the company also had and has distinct and not so well known brands for sale locally (or niche export markets), such as Edwin Charley, Coruba, Conquering Lion, JBW Estate and Cocomania. And as the years turned, the company outlived some of its own brands – for example the previously well-known One Dagger, Two Dagger and Three Dagger rums which went out in the 1950s. Another casualty of the times was the C.J. Wray Dry White Rum, which was launched in 1991 as a broadside to Bacardi; at the time there weren’t many light whites out there and the Superior was the market leader, so Wray & Nephew decided to take lessons from the very successful premium vodka campaign of Absolut (against Smirnoff) and launched their own, supposedly upscale, alternative.
But by the early-to-mid 2000s, the Dry was discontinued. The reasons remain obscure: perhaps on the export market, it couldn’t compete with the vastly more popular poor man’s friend and bartender’s staple, the 63% overproof, being itself a meek and mild 40%. Perhaps there was some consolidation going on and it was felt that the Appleton White was enough. Maybe it just wasn’t deemed good enough by the rum drinkers of the day, or the margins made it an iffy proposition if it couldn’t sell in quantity.
Technical details are murky. All right, they’re practically non-existent. I think it’s a filtered column still rum, diluted down to standard strength, but lack definitive proof – that’s just my experience and taste buds talking, so if you know better, drop a line. No notes on ageing – however, in spite of one reference I dug up which noted it as unaged, I think it probably was, just a bit.
Colour – White
Strength – 40%
Nose – Light, mild and sweet. Dry? Not for this guy’s schnozz. Initial aromas narrow in on vanilla, nougat, white toblerone and almonds, with a little salt and citrus peel to liven up the party. It’s very soft (no surprise), gentle, and warm, and going just by the nose, is perfectly acceptable to have neat, though I saw some fans posting back in 2008 who were itching to try it in a daquiri.
Palate – Not as interesting as the nose, really, but every bit as nice. Tinned cherries and pineapples in syrup was the first thought that ocurred to me as I sipped it; a trace of salt and brine, with perhaps half an olive, vanilla, almonds, and – if you crease your brow, sweat a bit and concentrate – citrus, raisins, cinnamon and maybe a shaving of fresh ginger.
Finish – Short, mellow, slightly fruity, a little herbal. Nothing to write home about.
Thoughts – For a low-end white, it’s actually quite an interesting drink. Sales must have been low, margins too scrawny, reactions too muted, and it was put down as an act of mercy (or so the storyteller in me supposes). That’s too bad because while the profile does suggest that it was doctored (entirely a personal opinion – it lacks something of the punch and edge of a clean and unmessed-with rum, though this may simply be over-enthusiastic filtration), it’s a neat little rumlet if your expectations are kept low and you like easy. Maybe, had it been left in place to gather a head of steam, it might have found some legs — these days, good luck finding any outside an estate sale or an old salt’s collection.