Sometime a product comes in that really grabs our attention. It draws us in and makes us want to spend some real time on it. It lingers on our desks long after our group tastings and we keep revisiting it to get a deeper and deeper understanding of it. Banks Rum is one of these amazing spirits which impressed us from the very first sip, and has kept us engaged and interested for weeks.
Banks 5 Island Rum (43%, 86 proof, $29) is a blend of rums from five rum producing islands: Trinidad, Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados, and Java. Much like a great blended scotch or cognac, Banks Rum brings together a symphony of diverse flavors into a cohesive and balanced spirit whose sum is just as strong as its greatest parts. The nose on Banks 5 Island Rum is heavily influenced by the Jamaican rum. Banks uses a pot distilled black strap Jamaican rum made from molasses, which gives a toasted, funky, vegetal note to the nose that is distinctly Jamaican. What’s nice about the influence of the Jamaican rum is that it isn’t overpowering. You get the aromas but they aren’t impermeable. Underneath those funky Jamaican notes are the more tropical notes from the Guyana Rum combined with the citrus notes from Barbados Rum. The Batavia Arack finishes it all up from Java with a fantastic spice. All these notes are clearly and distinctly there in the nose, something that’s simply outstanding.
The entry of Banks 5 Island Rum is a true symphony. All the aromas from the nose are present in the taste. The opening features toasted molasses with a nice vegetal funk, which quickly gives way to nice tropical banana combined with a light lime zest. In the midpalate we pick up a great black pepper spice with the slightest amount of heat that carries through a nice dry finish that sees a return of the toasted molasses notes. There’s so much going on here and the flavors are so well lined up that it’s almost impossible not to want to dive back in to explore this rum more.
Banks 5 Island Rum succeeds as both a sipping rum and a mixing rum. We’ve enjoyed it neat, in a Rum Old Fashioned, and in a traditional Daiquiri. In each space Banks 5 Island Rum has presented great character and flavor without taking over the drink. It’s hard to think of a blended spirit whose elements are so clearly and individually delivered while maintaining a superb balance. Banks 5 Island Rum is like a love letter to the category of rum, and it’s one of the best rums we’ve tasted in a very long time.