World’s End Rum released a Navy strength Jamaican Blend, we tasted it and we sank! That’s how good it is. It blew us away, not by a pistol shot, but by a full forty barrels broadside. We were pulverised, struck by dunder, hit by hogo, the obeah of funk! Navy 57 easily took a seat in our top three Jamaicans. By the way, if the words dunder, hogo and funk don’t make sense to you then read on below.
Rum, it keeps on mesmerising us, its history, its diversity, the myths and the stories. There’s still alot of work to be done by historians around rum: how old is it really or where does the word even come from? The latter has a lot of theories, but no definite answer. Some theories state it comes from saccharum or aroma, from the Sanskrit roma (water), or rumor and rumbullion.
Rumbullion is the latest of these theories, it means uproar or great noise and supposedly refers to the effect of a group of people having drunk a little bit too much of the stuff. The explanation is quite straightforward isn’t it? The trouble starts when you try to figure out where ‘rumbullion’ comes from. It comes from the adjective ‘rum’ and the french ‘bouillon’ (hot drink). Now ‘rum’ as an adjective could mean a number of things, but the only possible (or indeed plausible) explanation according to Hensleigh Wedgewood, famous etymologist, is that it derives from ‘rumbooze’, meaning: ‘a good drink’. Now, this is weird, because every other description we got from rum in that period marks rum as a horrible drink. In the 16th century rumbooze was slang for wine and this word has its origin in old dutch: booze comes from ‘busen’, which means drinking a lot in very old Dutch, and ‘rum’ comes from ‘rummer’ the specific glass they drank wine from, a ‘roemer’. The roemer theory already existed, but it is quite remarkable that you get to there from rumbullion in the sense that, according to Liberman, it could be a pun or a joke, meaning very good ‘bouillon’.
Categorising a diverse spirit like rum isn’t easy. You’ve probably heard of things like Spanish style rum, English rum or French rum. A category system which is redundant and incomplete to say the least. For rum and indeed any other spirit you should know what is the main ingredient: molasses, sugarcane juice, sugarcane syrup, how is it made: pot still, column still or a combination and what’s the region where it is made: for instance Barbados or Jamaica. Now Jamaican rum is a category that really stands out from the rest, possessing a very particular type of flavour, called ‘hogo’. I will try to explain this very briefly.
Hogo or funk is a flavour characteristic that is attributed to Jamaican as well as agricole rums and although their flavours are comparable, they’re still quite different. The point is they’re difficult to describe. Wondrich says that they have a certain sulphurous twang, for instance. Agricoles got their particular flavour because they are made from sugarcane juice instead of molasses like most other rums. Surprisingly enough Jamaicans are also made from molasses, but where comes the hogo from then? Well, the answer is two fold: dunder & muck!
What’s in a name, right? If ever I would have two dogs, I’d call them Dunder & Muck. Dunder is basically what’s left in the potstill after distillation (stillage). Most distilleries dispose of this stillage, but some Jamaican (like Hampden) do not, they use part of it in their next distillation (like sour mash in bourbon). It looks disgusting and muck is even worse. Muck is a broth of living bacteria, a huge pool of carboxylic acids (the acidity is controlled by adding pulverised limestone), which supercharge the ester count in the rum. I’m not going to describe you how they make muck, because it would scare you! In between distillation periods it was stored in a ‘muck grave’ outside the distillery (because it stinks) where the bacteria ‘died’ and could later be revived again to be used in the next distillation. It was called a grave, because it looked exactly like that. Do you feel the voodoo yet?
A 1906 recipe shows us exactly what constitutes Jamaican rum.
- 30% molasses skimmings (residue that pops up on top of the boiling fluids)
- 40% dunder
- 10% cane vinegar (acetic acid)
- 10% molasses
- 10% muck
So Jamaican rum has a particular taste, because it’s actually made from dunder (more so than molasses). Dunder, by the way is old Dutch for ‘thunder’. I would love to know why they called it that. If anybody does, please let me know.
Now back to the Navy 57.
What can we say, it’s a flavour bomb! A legion of rum esters forcing you into submission. It’s the real Kill Devil. It’s a bit more mellow and accessible than a Smith & Cross or Green Dot in our opinion. It must be fantastic in a rum punch with a nice Madeira.
It’s a real must try for everybody and a definite must have for rum lovers!