Worthy Park Quatre Vins 2013 (52%, OB, Cask Selection Series #8, Ex-Bourbon 4 years & Ex-Monbazillac, Ex-Sauternes, Ex-Moscatel & Ex-Jurançon 2 years, 1.318 bottles, Jamaica)

As we saw in the previous review, Worthy Park, as it is now, is a relatively new distillery, with the first distillate running off the still in 2007. As we all know, new distilleries sell a lot of young stuff, so there are a lot of rather young independent bottlings to be found, as well as a lot of the releases of the distillery itself are quite young, like most of these Cask Selection Series. By now, there is our Single Estate Reserve as well as a few 10yo’s (again finishes like the Madeira and the Port, both bottled @ 45% ABV.) and a 12yo bottled @ 56% ABV. So, since the distillery isn’t operational for all that long, it simply doesn’t have older stuff to release. A new distillery has to reach a lot of people to get some of the invested money back quickly to survive, so a distillery like this won’t be going for an extreme and funky style (yet). Non of the Worthy Parks I have tried until now, came across as a high ester Rum in taste (and nose). So for a Jamaican Rum, Worthy Park isn’t about all that super high ester stuff, like we saw with Hampden (or Long Pond).

By the way, Monbazillac, Sauternes, Moscatel & Jurançon are all sweet White Wines. Moscatel is fortified and Jurançon exists also in a dry version as well but then it is called Jurançon-Sec. However, I don’t think they used the dry variant here, since the rest is Sweet, but you can never be sure now can you. Since the previous review and the one below are from the Cask Selection Series, here is a list of the eight releases I know of:

Worthy Park 2012 Marsala Cask Selection Series #1 for La Maison Du Whisky, France, 60%, 319 bottles, 2017
Worthy Park 2012 Oloroso Cask Selection Series #2, 59%, 428 bottles, 2017
Worthy Park 2013 Sherry Cask Selection Series #3, 57%, 1.148 bottles, 2018
Worthy Park 2013 Madeira Cask Selection Series #4, 58%, 677 bottles, 2018
Worthy Park 2008 Port Cask Selection Series #5, 56%, 585 bottles, 2018
Worthy Park 2013 Virgin Cask Selection Series #6 for The Nectar, Belgium, 55% 342 bottles 2019?
Worthy Park 2013 Oloroso Cask Selection Series #7, 55%, 1.612 bottles, 2019
Worthy Park 2013 Quatre Vins Cask Selection Series #8, 52%, 1.318 bottles, 2019

Color: Orange brown.

Nose: This one starts with a nice funky caramel, like Jamaican funk toffee (if it exists). Clay, fatty and creamy. Honey, nutty, unlit tobacco, slightly burnt toast and warm plastic or polyester even. Organic and slightly grassy. Paint with a hint of solvents and vinegar made from Wine. Chocolate Rum beans. Spicy and obviously a bit winey yet also meaty. Gravy, dry and dusty. Nice fresh oak, in part a bit like plywood. Hints of Alsatian Gewürztraminer, but also the flinty bit of a Pouilly Fumé. Both wines, strangely enough, not one of the Quatre Vins. A fast flowing gutter in the rain. What? Yeah, well, the Wines give this Rum a bit of a combined note that is hard to put into words. Red fruit candy without the sweetness. Dusty, as well as some mocha and vanilla powder. Do you remember the smell of a bowl that had vanilla ice-cream in it a few hours ago? So, from this big funky start it first turns fruity and next, more dry and spicy. A lot of the complex initial smells wear off a bit. Stock cube, with hints of toasted oak and licorice. The development is not all that dissimilar to the previously reviewed Oloroso version. No doubt about it, this is a very good quality Rum, yet again, lacking a bit of the Jamaican funk, I’ve come to expect from a Jamaican Rum. It is almost closer to, yet another, rather new, high quality Rum that is Foursquare from Barbados, than to its Jamaican brother from another mother, Hampden. Traits I’m actually looking for in a Jamaican Rum. When you have a few open bottles of Rum around, like me, sometimes you feel like having a nice Rhum Agricole from Martinique, Guadeloupe, or Reunion. On other occasions, Jamaican Funk or a nice Demerara is the way to go. Worthy Park is very good Rum, but it isn’t old skool Jamaican in style. Jamaican funk without the funk is like chicken without the jerk, but I may have mentioned something like this as well about the Oloroso bottling. So sometimes when I want to go Jamaican, I tend to go for something like Hampden or Long Pond, more outspoken and yes, sometimes hit or miss, like the Hampden from Cadenhead I just reviewed. That one is just strange (in a good way), but therefore not for everybody/anyone. Apart from the nose not being quintessentially Jamaican, it definitely is a rather good nose though, lots happening and very fine. I have to say the Wines do lift this nose beyond the nose of the Oloroso version, the Quatre Vins smells rather exciting, and in comparison, the Oloroso can smell young and unfinished.

Taste: Big, fatty and sweet at first, yet quickly (in a millisecond or so) turning dry, spicy and winey. Although more of the Red Wine kind, than Sweet Whites (because of the sour notes). Herbal, medium bitter, green and somewhat hot. Flinty and with a slightly burnt edge to it. Licorice upfront as well as some bicycle inner tube rubber seems to be associated with it. Warming. Maybe slightly Jamaican in the beginning, but not really actually during the rest of the experience. As I said, short lived. Wax and almonds. All those different casks got very busy, but here in a somewhat disharmonious way. For me, it worked a lot better in the nose. Just like the Oloroso version, it thus starts big, funky and fatty, and it turns more dry, austere, herbal and spicy, rather quickly, which might seem odd. People tend to believe Rum is a sweet distillate, since is it closely associated with sugar as well as the fact that this has been finished in casks that previously held Sweet Wines, so one would expect something sweeter than this. Hints of latex paint. Where the Wine-casks helped the nose past the Oloroso, here on the palate, the Oloroso clearly worked better. Which is a shame really, because the nose of the Quatre Vins is much better. Well, one supposedly can’t have it all. In the finish, obvious notes of slightly milky, Red Wine notes, Merlot, this time and again not one of the Quatre Vins, and yet another Red, how peculiar. Hints of toasted oak, European oak, spicy and tannic. The finish, with some plastic/polyester and bitter notes, is short and quickly moves into the aftertaste. Which is unbalanced, actually it falls apart into a woody (bitter) bit and an acidic, winey bit, making this one somewhat less tasty to drink. Still a shame really, since the nose is really good and interesting as well.

First of all, if you want old skool Jamaican funk, than maybe you should reconsider buying a Worthy Park just yet. Do you want to buy a good Rum, than Worthy Park is happy to oblige, why not, it can be, and usually is good stuff, even though this Quatre Vins is something of an strange beast. Which one to get is up to you. Between the two, the Oloroso version is better and easier to get through, although somewhat sweeter (and more of the burnt notes) and with a (slightly) less interesting nose than this Quatre Vins offering. This one in particular is let down a bit by the taste, with the Wine casks playing a dubious role, and definitely overpowering the Ex-Bourbon cask maturation.

Points: 81

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Worthy Park Oloroso 2013 (55%, OB, Cask Selection Series #7, Ex-Bourbon 4 years & Ex-Oloroso 2 years, 1.612 bottles, Jamaica)

Since we already are on a roll with nice Rums, why not just continue and go on? I’ve got no choice actually, since some of the Rums I have, already have a dangerously low filling level, so they need to be reviewed before they are gone. After two Hampdens, and understanding better what kind of Rum Hampden actually is, maybe it is a good idea, to stay on the island of Jamaica some more and look at another example from one of the other distilleries, which in this case is Worthy Park again. I say again, because it already featured on these pages before, with the Single Estate Reserve and a Oloroso finished Rum Nation release. What was lacking in those reviews was maybe some more information about the distillery itself.

Although the year 1670 is put prominently on all the Worthy Park bottles, The first mention of distilling comes from 1741. As we all know, the Sugar industry in the Caribbean hit upon hard times for reasons mentioned before, so no use going into that again here. Fast forward several centuries. Worthy Park stopped distilling in 1960. Fast forward some decades to Gordon Clarke, member of the family that owns Worthy Park since 1918. We have seen Matt’s pictures of Hampden, a place that oozes the feel of steam punk and abandoned places. Hampden was revived to a workable state, essentially not changing much. It still looks 200 years old and dilapidated, which is a big bonus for us Rum aficionados. We love that kind of thing as we are utter romantics. Long Pond is another example, also an old distillery. Worthy Park, even though steeped in a similar century old history, was not revived as it was, no, Gordon Clarke decided to build a hyper modern, new distillery in 2005. Modern, efficient and clean. In it, a single 18.000 litre Pot Still built by Scotland’s pride: Forsyths. The first Rum from this distillery was bottled in 2007 as an unaged Rum. Personally, I’ll treat this as a new distillery, not feeling romantic about it at all. However, even with this sense of history gone, this surely doesn’t mean that the distillery is bad, far from it, we have already encountered some pretty decent Rums from Worthy Park.

Color: Orange brown.

Nose: What can I say, this reminds me of the Rum Nation version I reviewed 5 years ago big time, albeit dryer and more dusty and cardboard-like. Very light Jamaican funk (only), and even this wears down after some time in your glass. Slightly creamy, with raisins, pear, milk chocolate and some vanilla from the American oak. Wood and toasted cask. The “Oloroso” itself comes somewhat later. Next, lots of fresh and acidic citrus notes show themselves. Overall quite dry smelling. Sinaspril (very artificial orange flavoured head ache medicine for small children) and sometimes it seems like a grassy note whiffs by. Occasionally a whiff of cigarette smoke from further up this grassy field. Quite a spicy and austere Sherry note, starts dry, but over time, (in the glass), becomes more jam-like. Red Wine-like with a nearly ripe red fruit mix. Although both come from the same island, Jamaica, this is no where near Hampden in style. This is much cleaner and more modern, just like the distillery itself, almost completely lacking Jamaican Funk altogether. The nose is not really quintessentially Jamaican to me, maybe only that moment, right after pouring. If I would smell this not knowing what it was, on a bad day, not picking up at the traits that are arguably Jamaican, I could have easily gone for maybe Foursquare (from Barbados). Seems to me the base Rum was quite light and the finish quite heavy. Medium complexity.

Taste: Slightly sweet (but only right from the start) and spicy, quite some, again modern, wood influence. Somewhat hot going down. Vegetal wood, in part leafy, in part waxy, almost like virgin oak. This fresh wood influence is quite large to be honest. Licorice, and dull red fruit. Dusty and toned down fruit. Dry and woody and not at all that complex. Not very bitter wood though, which might be masked. After some breathing, the jam-like fruit separates into jam-like fruit and an acidic top note. This does liven the Rum up a bit, makes it fresher and distracts from the wood. I’m not sure, in this case, if this takes a way from the balance a bit. The aftertaste seems quite short, and fades away rather quickly and shows some hint of machine oil and vegetable oil. Nevertheless it is a highly drinkable Rum, even at this ABV. A fun bottling. I need to find out though how an older official Worthy Park would taste to see the influence in this Rum of its youth. 6 years is not much if you ask me, but then again, it is tropical ageing isn’t it?

If memory serves me well, I think the Rum nation offering pleased me slightly more. It was also older, so maybe the youth of this Worthy Park has something to do with it. Compared to the Single Estate Reserve the Oloroso does seem to add something to the whole, another layer, coming from the Oloroso finish. The label on the back of the Single Estate Reserve states that the Rum has aged 6 to 10 years in ex-Bourbon barrels, so mathematically it is older than the Oloroso finish. So the Oloroso finish trumps the extra ageing of the Single Estate Reserve. Well, therefore I still need to try the 12yo to have a better understanding of what ageing does to Worthy Park Rum.

Points: 83

Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve (45%, OB, Jamaica)

A few years back I had a Worthy Park from Rum Nation on my lectern, which was definitely not bad. Nope, not bad at all. Here is another one, but this time it’s not bottled by an independent bottler, but by the owners themselves! Hurray! Finally some more worthy OB’s! I’m already sort-of happy this was bottled at 45% ABV and not a lackluster 40%, which often hurts the Rum, just look at both offerings from Foursquare: Both Doorly’s 12yo and the 9yo Port Cask Finish were bottled at 40% ABV, and suffered a bit from reduction if you ask me. Especially Rum, and this is my personal view, fares well at higher strengths. Sure I like it better, but I also feel it presents itself and all the flavors and aroma’s better. Sure, when starting out with Rum I had no beef with lower strength Rums and found lots of Rums were quite good (even the one’s that aren’t all that good in hindsight). As time and experience progresses, I find that the higher strength really does matter considerably. However, as said before, this may not be true for you, so please don’t take my word for it and make up your own mind. The owner of the bottle I’m about to review found this quite alcoholic in comparison to The Rum Nation Guadeloupe I reviewed not too long ago. Let’s see in a few years time what his thoughts are about this Rum.

Color: Gold.

Nose: Yes Worthy Park alright, I recognize it immediately from the Rum Nation bottling I reviewed a few years back. Funky banana, sweet wax and nutty. Lots of fruity banana. Very fragrant. Very fruity. Runny toffee, with an edge of fresh oak and almonds. The big fatty note subsides a bit to show more dry and slightly woody notes. Dried vegetable powder. Sweet Grain Whisky reminding me of Girvan. Vitamin C dust, sawdust and Pisang Goreng (baked banana), complete with the dough and powdered sugar. Milk Chocolate. I have to say I really like the play between the sweet banana toffee notes and the dryer grainy, tea-like and woody notes. More sugared yellow fruits and even some warm licorice. After more breathing, a more alcoholic and green note appears. Showing some apparent youth, which in this case is certainly not bad. More warm licorice and cooked vegetables. Cold gravy. Easily recognizable as a Worthy Park though, but also some surprises are here to be had. I like this one, it smells good.

Taste: Wow, definitely less sweet than the nose promised. I may have used that line before. In fact, this is also thinner than I thought. Less fatty and less sweet. The big nutty and banana note almost seem absent. Starts with (slightly bitter and slightly nutty) wood, Greek green olives and tea. Warming. Quite dry, which is a nice surprise after the banana smell, unless you are expecting a banana nose as well. Already the body seems to un-balance itself, which is a pity. The balance was never this Rums biggest fortay since the difference between the nose and the palate is easily noticeable. Somewhat short in the finish-department as well, lacking warmth, with the bitter wood note having the longest breath. Salty on the lips, like the brine from the Greek green olives.

This is a nice Worthy Park, but for me this doesn’t eclipse a lot of independently bottled Worthy Parks. This in fact surprised me a bit being dryer than most Worthy Parks I tried from the independents, thus showing a somewhat new side to me. Is it the best? Certainly not, it is a bit thin on the palate, but it certainly isn’t pointless at all, I really like the dry profile. This is definitely worth knowing, and I do like it. It is an education, and I’m happy I have been given the opportunity to try it. I don’t think you need the whole bottle for the experience. On par with the Monymusk I just reviewed, but I have to admit this one is growing on me. If I would have an open bottle of this, this might grow on me as well. So in time I will get back to this for sure.

Points: 82

Thanks to Auke for the sample.