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Looking to buy a seriously strong white rum? Read our expert review of one of the most potent bottles out there, from the island of St Vincent.
Clocking in at an imposing 84.5% ABV, this may be a step too far for some. But if you're willing to take a leap of faith then you’ll be handsomely rewarded. This is a rum packed with as much flavour as alcohol. Just the right amount of water and a big squeeze of lime will give you a vanilla and raisin-laced tumbler of refreshment.
Master of Malt (£42.95)
Overproof rum can be quite intimidating if you aren’t a rum enthusiast. This is a bottle for the well initiated, or the drinker who likes to try new things. Whilst knocking back spirits over 56% has been common practice in the Royal Navy for centuries, it's a way of drinking that hasn’t translated into British social life.
In the Caribbean, rum plays the central role that beer plays in the UK. Overproof rum (a rum bottled at 57.5% ABV or more) is a firm favourite on certain islands. For example, in Jamaica the most popular rum is Wray & Nephew, a spirit clocking in at 63% ABV. It's enjoyed with water, milk and a slice of cheese. The rum is also used for medicinal purposes, with some swearing that the ‘Jamaican flu shot’ of two shots of Wray & Nephew Overproof, honey and lime will chase away any oncoming cold.
On the island of St Vincent, they have the even more daunting Sunset Very Strong rum. The bottle is distilled by St Vincent Distillers Ltd, a firm that was established in the early 1900s at the foot of the Soufrière volcano, under the name Mt. Bentinck Distillery. The company enjoyed great success for six decades until the government bought the operation in 1963, giving the distillery its current name.
Fortunes changed for the factory when prices hiked as a result of bananas replacing sugarcane on the island, forcing the company to import molasses from neighbouring islands at a greater cost. Eventually a local supermarket chain bought the distillery in 1996 and the company has gone from strength to strength since, belting out a number of award-winning rums, from Sunset Very Strong to Captain Bligh XO.
The nose of this imposing rum is just what you would expect – full of burnt brown sugar and crushed almond. The palate is predictably dry with vanilla and raisin dominating ahead of hints of coconut and more dark brown sugar, ginger and white pepper towards the finish.
Sunset Very Strong rum is a cultural staple of St Vincent and is enjoyed in a specific way. Locals tame the drink with just two ingredients: squeeze half a lime into a tumbler, pour in a shot of Sunset Very Strong and top up with ice cold water. The trio work together in perfect harmony to dial back any harshness from the extreme alcohol content. It's a remarkably refreshing tipple that also serves as the perfect hair of the dog remedy: stomach that one tumbler at your lowest point and you will be fighting fit for the rest of the day.
Master of Malt (£42.95)
This review was last updated in February 2021. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.