English Harbour is a rum hailing from the island of Antigua, named for the town of English Harbour, a town and port used heavily by the British Navy during the time of Admiral Nelson. The rum is molasses based, distilled in copper, and aged 5 years in used Bourbon barrels.
Antigua Distillery is the only distillery on the island, having been started by a group of plucky Portuguese (as my dad would say, “Port-a-/É¡/ees”) in the early 1930s. Here in the U.S., it may be hard to get your hands on a bottle of anything other than the 5 year, which seems a darned shame, as the 5 year is, well… I suppose you should continue reading to find out!
Appearance: A lovely pale golden in the glass, with the usual firm sticky legs that a good aged rum should have.
Nosing: It’s a powerful nose that can be detected from a good distance away, making sure you know there’s an open glass nearby. There’s a bit of dust (smells like old!), a good amount of burnt wood, and something that really had me confused for a bit, but I finally keyed in to… Banana Bread! That is, with nuts, of course. It’s very obvious even from the nosing that I’m going to really like this one.
Tasting: The nose runs into the flavor with ease. Not the heaviest rum in texture, sitting on the tongue the initial tastes are of vanilla and honey. There is a bit of a creaminess, almost akin to carrot juice. It can be quite sweet on top of the tongue, but on the sides shows a bit of bitter tannin, a lovely blend of youthful vigor and aged calm. It’s overall quite a smooth rum, that gives its heat only at the end of the experience, with quite a bit of fruit and nut flavors to it.
On Mixing: For all its flavor, this is not a killer diller of a mixing rum, with flavors being easily lost amongst the other ingredients. This is best served, for my taste, with just a spot of spiced syrup, lime, and a few ice cubes for Maximum pleasure. For classic tiki drinks, keep it to the simple side of things (Donga Punch, Jasper’s Jamaican) to really let this rum shine through.
Score: It’s a lovely little sipper, but not of much use in mixology. For scoring it as a sipper, it’s got quite a bit going for it, but there’s just a certain wowee-zowee that I’m not feeling with it. An exceptional rum, and highly recommended, but there’s just something that won’t let me give it that fifth star… barrel… okay, it’s a Trader Tiki head.
Other Information on English Harbour: