Chris Blackwell is one of those great, eccentric, rich guys who has done a lot of amazing things. Blackwell is the founder of Island Records, which brought Jamaican music to the US and was key in the careers of legendary musicians like Bob Marley and U2. Blackwell also founded a motion picture company called Palm Pictures which produced and distributed some amazing films including City of Men, Dig, and Stop Making Sense.
Now Blackwell has gotten into the spirits industry with a proverbial “self titled album” named Blackwell Jamaican Rum. Blackwell has put himself front and center on this rum, not only with the name but with a sketching and bio on the back of the bottle. The bottle for Blackwell Rum doesn’t really look like a spirits bottle – it reminds us of the bottles that specialty craft beers use for their special releases. There are no age statements on the bottle, and on our bottle the label was unevenly wrapped, almost like a pirate map, sealed with a “wax” insignia.
Blackwell Jamaican Rum (40%, 80 Proof $33) – Deep amber brown in color, Blackwell smells more like a blackstrap rum than a funky Jamaican rum. The predominant note is vanilla extract, combined with toasted marshmallow, caramel, and coconut. There is just the slightest undertone of funkiness that’s a signature of good Jamaican rum. The entry is very soft and sweet, with the vanilla extract flavors and caramel dominating the palate. The toasted marshmallow from the nose supports the vanilla, and there’s just a hint of funk. In the mid palate, you get more of the char part of the toasted marshmallow and it picks up a little spice which carries through to a nice finish.
Blackwell Jamaican Rum feels a little stuck between being a fairly traditional blackstrap rum, a spiced rum, and a Jamaican rum. As a mixing rum there’s a lot to like about Blackwell Rum, because its varied qualities there’s a lot you can do with this rum. Blackwell is our go to rum during the holidays for the Tom and Jerry Cocktail, the combination of sweet and spice go perfectly with the rich drink. Although we really enjoy Blackwell Jamaican Rum the price is a little hard to swallow. It’s higher than the gold standard of Jamaican rums, Smith and Cross, and more than double what Blackbeard Spiced Rum and The Kracken sell for. At $20 a bottle, Blackwell Jamaican Rum would be a no brainer, at this price it’s a little bit of a stretch, but if money isn’t an issue and you want an interesting and varied Jamaican Rum then Blackwell is worth checking out.