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Rum Review: Westerhall Plantation Rum, Batch 8001

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How do you rate Westerhall Plantation Rum (five is best)?
 80%  [ 4 ]
 20%  [ 1 ]
 0%  [ 0 ]
 0%  [ 0 ]
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 5

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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot

Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3499
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:59 pm    Post subject: Rum Review: Westerhall Plantation Rum, Batch 8001 Reply with quote

Westerhall Plantation Rum, Batch 8001: A Cuban Cane Juice Love Affair

Have you ever had your eye on a rum for month after month, but for one reason or another continued to put off buying it? That was Westerhall Plantation Rum for me. Why? Perhaps because I'd read conflicting reviews, or perhaps something about the presentation. Or the price. Or because another rum had just a bit more of my attention.

I'm sorry I waited.

Although Westerhall Plantation is hard to find elsewhere, South Florida is always the exception. The day came when I'd simply tasted everything else in sight and found this rum at an attractive price - just $25. Done. But before we begin a brief history of Westerhall Estates is in order.

Westerhall has been called the oldest distillery on Granada, dating from 1801. According to Ed Hamilton in his dated guide (1997) "...this 70- acre estate produces sugar cane, cocoa, citrus, bananas, and rum. Privately owned by the Williams family, work was under way to restore this distillery to its original working order when I visited...". Unfortunately and also according to the Preacher at the Shillery of Rum, Westerhall is "Brown rum distilled from fermented molasses. Aged at least 3 years.".

The former may be true, the latter isn't. The Preacher's visit was prior to the 1997 publication of his long defunct book, but it's 13 years later and he's still spreading the old story that their still was damaged then, and that they were allegedly blending rum from Trinidad. I guess "someone once told" him. Wonder if it was the same ancient unnamed source who "told" him that Barbancourt's fine cane juice rum was made from "fermented sugar cane juice, syrup and/or molasses depending on availability".

I prefer to believe Westerhall for one simple reason: I can taste it.

According to Westerhall their Plantation Rum is based on a "foundation" of pot stilled "fresh sugar cane juice", to which is added an oak-aged, molasses-based "golden (young) rum". They state that their production is extremely limited - just 3 barrels a day. The proportions of the blends vary to achieve the master distiller's flavor standards.

Each bottle is hand numbered from it's batch. Ours was from batch "8001". The Williams family takes pride that different batches may exhibi t the"subtle flavor and aroma differences" of what I believe is a truly handcrafted rum

But does this rum live up to this presentation? Read on...

Sue Sea:

Westerhall Plantation Rum comes in a classic bottle reminiscent of the beautiful old style bottles of Mount Gay Extra Old. Although I usually leave the description of the color and legs to Jim, I have to say that the rum is a lovely light straw yellow (like a chardonnay). I mention this because the bottle is headed by a lovely deep forest green top cover, and smooth wooden topped cork. The label is a simple but elegant, gold bordered light tan, featuring a compass, classic sailing ship, a drawing of Granada and topped by a gold leaf "Westerhall Plantation" over the same rich forest green background.

The effect is at once colonial and classic, and set the tone of our tasting. As always, Jim reveals nothing of what he knows about the origin and taste of the rum - something I insist on as I am too easily influenced by expectations and prefer to taste a rum "blind".

On first pour I was immediately struck by a crisp, caney/reedy/oakey aroma with a high lemon and a bit of celery. The early palate was deceptive - at first I wanted to say a very light honey, but even that implied too much sweetness. I'd say more like a pitzel with a touch of anise. It is in mid palate where things change. A growing serious burgeoning heat in a slow motion explosion culminating ina hot white pepper finish, with overtones of ginger.

Wow! Westerhall Plantation's finish was long. The aftertaste reflected the early pitzel palate and there was even a bit of what I call an "exhale", an after-experience that left me with hot, glowing lips. Mmmmm, nice.

It was at this point that Jim asked me to classify this rum. Of course I was struck by the caney reedy elements typical of a cane juice rum. But the extreme smoothness and robust white pepper finish shouted Cuban. It was a tie! Jim then revealed the unique combination of cane juice and molasses based rums that make up Westerhall Plantation.

Truly, in this regard it was like no other rum I have ever tasted. I'd call this rum a perfect accompaniment to Asian food, or really anything else where you'd like a chardonnay wine. It is light in a way, and powerful in another. It reminds me of standing in a field of cane, smelling the spring breeze. Totally unlike molasses rums which typically display deeper, baked, robust and often sweet marmade tones.

There are no phony aftertastes, no lick your lips sweetness. To me Westerhall Plantation Rum represents truly pure rum at its finest.


Since Sue Sea stole my fire on describing the color, I'll simply note Plantation's surprising pale yellow color and relatively fast legs. Surprising because this is a wonderful sipping rum with more maturity than the color might imply. Surprising as it presents as a mellow cane juice rum, then smacks you in the face like a jealous Cuban lover. Hot! My initial aroma was of a high, slightly sweet citrus and a light cane over a wispy background of black pepper spice. There was a deep alcohol prickle.

I found the palate consistent with an early light honey that quickly grew into a slightly astringent, hot white pepper finish. As Sue Sea has so well noted the aftertaste provides a lovely reflection of the early pleasant aroma and palate.

I hate to wax poetic but to me this rum exhibits a kind of romance between a maiden of the fields with a hot Cuban lover. The lovely maiden appears first, then her ardent lover explodes onto the scene. The scene ends with both the maiden and her lover wrapped in each other's arms.

Did I say that? I did. And it is quite true. Westerhall is truly a rum of two worlds, extremely smooth yet surprisingly robust - both a cane juice and a golden molasses rum in a lovely blend and harmony, and proving to be - surprisingly - consistent.

Rating: Sue Sea - 10, Jimbo - strong 8.

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Joined: 26 Nov 2012
Posts: 139
Location: Cleveland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is one of my top three favorite rums. I was traveling and it was a decision between the Dos Maderas 5+3. Since I prefer to sip the Ron Matusalum over the MGXO, I went with this part Cuban style over the Barbadian. I am really glad that I did.
Rum Reviews Rankings and Cheat Sheet
References: MGXO, R Mat. GR, Scar Ibis, Apple 12, Barb 5, Pusser's, Wray and Neph, ED 15, 10Cn, West Plant, R Barc Imp.
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Posts: 139
Location: Cleveland

PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was sipping some last night and remarked on how it smelled very sweet. Sipping it seemed very smooth also. I was reading about how they don't distill their rum anymore. They source it from Angostura among other distilleries and basically blend and age the rum. It got me wondering that since Angostura adds sweeteners to their rums, does Westerhall do it also? I don't have any twiggy rums to reference. I'd love your thoughts.
Rum Reviews Rankings and Cheat Sheet
References: MGXO, R Mat. GR, Scar Ibis, Apple 12, Barb 5, Pusser's, Wray and Neph, ED 15, 10Cn, West Plant, R Barc Imp.
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King of Koffee

Joined: 13 Nov 2012
Posts: 155
Location: Atlanta and points south

PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most poetic review of all time from the crusty pair AND a Sue 10 - I'm, looking for it!

EDIT: Well, I finally picked up a bottle of this - batch 21105 - and WOW!!!

Nice bottle filled with rum not much darker than winter straw. Upon pouring there is a rich aroma of, yes, I'll say it, powerful light honey, with a bit of lemon and clove hiding in the background. After airing, the opening taste is again powerful honey BUT without the least hint of sweetness - nothing clinging to tongue or palate - just pure essence of light honey. There is still a bit of citric tartness in the background. As the honey fades, the moderately long finish opens to gum-numbing, ass-kicking white pepper with a bit of black pepper and clove(?) lurking in the back ground.

I love it!

One note - as a very dry rum, this requires airing. Otherwise, as I found on an early sip, it tends to finish with more than desirable bitterness.
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