Sugar House Blood Tub 2021 Vs 2022
Updated: Dec 29, 2022
Sugar House distillery - Glasgow, Scotland. Scottish rum I hear you say? Well apparently they know a little something about distilling so why not!
In fact there's a healthy cluster of excellent UK distilleries producing and aging their own rums. Some with extremely impressive results - as well as Sugar House, I highly recommend you check out J Gow, Ninefold, Islay and Retribution distilleries.
I apologise in advance that these two are experimental rums, produced in extremely limited quantities, so in all likelihood you're reading about a rum that's already sold out :-(
Both the inaugural 3yr 2021 release and this year's 4yr bottling were aged in tiny 'blood tubs' with an outturn from each of just 61 bottles. The relative surface area vs volume of these tiny barrels results in drastically accelerated aging. Really interesting as an experiment but not generally used in commercial spirit maturation.
The c.40 litre barrels apparently got their macabre name due to their small size and the fact that they can be carried around on horseback.
Both 'vintages' were made using premium cane molasses. Long fermented for 2 weeks to produce a high ester 'wine', before being pot distilled and then filled into tiny virgin oak casks to mature. The 3yr 2021 was bottled straight from the barrel, whereas the 4yr was blended with unaged high ester rum prior to bottling.
25ml of each, left to open up for 20min, nosed first, then tasted, in increasing abv order (conveniently that's also chronological order). Assisted today by the groovy sounds of Billy Preston.
Sugar House Blood Tub 2021, 3yrs, 56.4% 61btls
Sugar House's distinctive cuboid bottle is presented in a beautiful embossed wooden box.
Nose: Spicy prickly pear, with a little vanilla. Impressive oak influence for just 3 years. A dry fruit profile. A touch astringent from the virgin oak but overall it works and is quite inviting.
Mouth: A tasty, fairly dry, tannic start followed by a splash of banana and other summer fruit, then some slight bitterness joins the party. Finally a long mixed spice & caramel finish. Warming, well integrated alcohol. Decent depth. Quality stuff. [85pts]
Sugar House Blood Tub 2022, 4yrs / unaged blend, 57.3% 61btls
Presented in a bespoke hessian bag with a numbered 'certificate of authenticity'. All this window dressing is a little Disney for my taste, let's just get to the juice. Which actually proves a challenge in itself with a hefty wax seal to bust through ... the solid wax seal I like ;-)
Nose: Fresh sweet esters, a little varnish. Over-ripe strawberries. Strawberry sauce. A smidge of salty brine and a tiny sprinkle of mixed spice. A massive, really exciting nose. Blending in the unaged high ester element has worked wonders.
Mouth: All kinds of banana in here. Banana foam sweets, banana cake, banana milkshake. A little spicy oak. Buttery Werther's original and creamy vanilla custard. A jammy, fruity delight. The blend has produced something significantly superior to the sum of it's parts. The longer I'm sipping it, the more it's growing on me. This isn't a grown-up serious rum, this is a silly, buttery, fruity delight. It's bananas! And I love it :-) [87+pts]
Conclusion - More great things from these tiny artisan British distillers. Exciting times. Don't blink if you see a 2022 blood tub in the wild...