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  • Writer's pictureStuart Pearce

Renegade Rum Review

Updated: Nov 25, 2021

After generations of rum distillery closures and consolidations, it's super exciting to see the first offerings from a brand new distillery. A truly unique and special distillery at that!

Renegade Rum, located in Granada, is a vast project to create a challenger brand, and it's about to take the rum world by storm.

Wanting full control over every aspect of their product, the Renegade team started from scratch selecting a range of sites across the island to grow their 7 chosen varieties of cane. Spread around the beautiful Caribbean island they have considered everything when selecting these sites, and which cane to grow at each.... Microclimate, altitude, soil type, terroir!

Full traceability is exciting, and critical when trying to produce this new style of terroir-driven rum. Each parcel of rum is kept separate for the full process - from seed to harvest, yeast strain choice, fermentation dates, everything. And the great news for rum lovers is that they have shared all this data with us! On the back of each bottle is a 'cane code' - when entered into an app on their website a prolific amount of information is returned -something really special. From photos of the field and soil type, to a full timeline from seed to still. Have a go - it's amazing. (try using the cane code on one of my bottles pictured below...)

The only other Grenada rum I've tried is the amazing Rivers. A bold, smokey rum from a tiny artisan distillery that still uses an ancient and unique waterwheel powered cane press. Beyond this, and prior to Renegade, I believe Granada was a rum blank canvas {edit: there are definitely other distilleries (now and historically) on the island, so not a blank canvas per se- although the project understandably describes itself this way as they very much started from scratch - Cheers Gergo}. Exciting!

After over 6 years and $20 million we finally have the first rums to try.... I can't wait any longer, time to get stuck in!

The first 5 official releases from the distillery are unaged - described rather flauntily as 'pre-cask'. All bottled at 50% abv and packaged in very attractive stocky shaped clear bottles, with bold distinct labels & boxes. They retail for about £50 a bottle and are just starting to pop up on UK webshops.

Dunfermline - Harvest: 2020, Cane: Lacalome Red, Still: Pot Still. 50%abv

Located in the mountainous northeast of the island, very near the Renegade distillery, This field was once part of a historic distillery lost to a hurricane in 2004. The Lacalone Red cane was harvested on 9th November, fermented for 72 hours and distilled on the copper pot still. 4386 bottles.

Nose: Yum. Rich, grassy, minerally. Very clean and crisp. Some acetone. A good rich figgy fruit core. Some rounded citrus but nothing sharp - tangerine type citrus. A definite floral side, nicely perfumed. Earthy. A typical albeit high-quality agricole rum nose. Very slight sweet smoke.

Mouth: Very clean. Maybe a touch thin but a beautiful taste. Buttery almost creamy with crisp fruit and a touch of meatiness. A very decent rum. [84pts]

Peals - Harvest: 2021, Cane: Yellow Lady, Still: Pot Still. 50%abv

Located in the northeast of the island, very near the distillery, a flat low lying site. The yellow lady cane was harvested on 25th Jan 2021 and spent 60 hours in fermentation before being distilled in the pot still.

Nose: More zip. A bit funkier and more upfront than the Dunfermline pot but with less depth & core. Green bananas and crisp green apples. Spicy. Savoury. After a while developing a meatiness - and almost smokiness. Very dry compared to the Dunfermline. A little thinner than the Bacolets however the salty smoked meat is very interesting and appealing.

Mouth: Again a touch thin, perhaps a notch up on the abv would help. More complex than the Dumfermline. A touch of delicious liquorice. Clean cane juice. The salty smoked meat continues to the mouth with a tiny touch of vinegar. Quite moorish. [85pts]

Old Bacolet - Harvest: 2020, Cane: Cain, Still: Pot Still. 50%abv

Located in the southeast of the island this more sheltered site is on a low lying flood plain with rich clay loam alluvial soil. The quick-growing cane [called 'Cain'] was chosen - although quick-growing could be a little misleading as all cane takes a surprisingly long time to reach maturity, In this case, my 'cane code' tells me that the cane was planted on 1st December 2018 and not harvested until almost 2 full years later on 30th November 2020!!

After 60 hours fermentation, Old Bacolet was distilled in a copper pot still with an outturn of 3726 bottles.

Nose: Buttery, sweet pastry. Lovely rich rum with a toasted nutty, dried berry core. A little black cherries. The sweet & sour toasted, toasty nose is lovely. A touch of dry cider. Bold.

Mouth: Better texture and depth. A warm rounded rum. A small gap at the back of your tongue but overall very tasty. Nice and dry. The dryness really invites you back for more. Cleverly balanced and so so well made. [86pts]

New Bacolet - Harvest: 2021, Cane: Lacalome Red, Still: Pot Still. 50%abv

Located in the southeast of the island New Bacolet has a very different topography to Old Bacolet being a steeply sloping field on a mountain side. The Lacalome Red has a very long growing cycle and was planted way back in May 2018 but not harvested until Jan 2021!

Nose: Custard! Earthy custard. Deep clean rich earthy rum with a lovely creme caramel edge. Sour cherries. Wood varnish. Off Chablis. Engine oil. Really dry and inviting.

Mouth: Rich creamy luscious stuff. Still a tiny gap at the back but the dry, old wine side works well with the almost cakey biscuity goodness. And a drizzle of sour cherry sauce. Very tasty. [86pts[

Dunfermline - Harvest: 2020, Cane: Lacalome Red, Still: Column Still. 50%abv

Located in the southeast of the island, very near the distillery, With the second harvest (on 23rd Nov) from this field, the team chose a longer (96hr) fermentation and to use the column still. 4386 bottles.

Nose: Initial nose (and I apologise in advance for this) is a bit farty :-) The sulphur quickly clears to reveal a big ,very dry, earthy rum. An almost plastic smell evolves to clear clean airfix glue & musty ferment. Less 'dirty' and a bit less complex than the pot still offerings but still very interesting and inviting.

Mouth: Lovely thick & unctuous. Classic clean taste. Soft but powerful. It might not set the world on fire or be super unique but it is delicious and I bet it makes a bloody awesome cocktail. I'd happily sip this anytime, really impressed. My hope is that this gets blended with one of the pot still rums and aged, it's got the body and balls to make an amazing aged single blended rum. [84pts]

In conclusion - a very exciting first effort. The quality really shines through. The column still is a big surprise - it's impressive alone but I sense this will be a key component to give amazing body & structure to a blend. The two Bacolets from the southeast of the island have a dry earthy, buttered toast flavour that I particularly liked. The Dunfermline pot and Pearls from the northeast were a touch crisper, greener, with more citrus.

Personally, I'll be buying more of the Bacolets and maybe the Dunfermline column... :-)

I'd be very keen to try these with a little higher abv, and obviously a few years 'post-barrel' ;-)

It was very interesting to see both the similarities and the differences by region and by cane variety. Terroir specific rum is a real treat. The amount of data available to the consumer about what they are drinking is really exciting - I hope other producers will follow suit!

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