In the process of running a spirits review site, we occasionally have to choose between bottles we know will get clicks and bottles we’re just plain interested in. This bottle of Stade’s Rum falls firmly in the latter category. This bottle looks to be the distillery equivalent of going through your refrigerator and mixing all of the leftovers into one plate that you microwave and try to eat out of a bowl. But the resulting flavors are (especially for the price) punching above their weight.
The West Indies Rum Distillery was established in 1893 by George Stade and his brother, a pair of Germans with a vision to create the most delicious rum in the world. They succeeded, becoming the biggest distillers of rum in Barbados. While their spirits originally used locally sourced Barbados sugar cane and molasses, the distillery now imports roughly 80% of their raw materials from Guyana and Mexico.
The distillery was generally set up as an industrial mass production outfit that creates large quantities of spirits — typically for other businesses to bottle and distribute under their label in addition to their in-house brands, including Malibu liqueuer and Popov vodka. Another brand produced at the distillery is Cockspur, a local brand in Barbados that was founded in the early 1900’s by Goddard Enterprises. Goddard would eventually acquire an 88% stake in the distillery in the 1960’s, and the distillery would be further sold to Maison Ferrand in 2017 (the company behind Plantation Rum) who continue to own it to this day.
- Learn More: What Is Rum?
Stade’s Rum is a brand of spirits produced by the Barbados based West Indies Rum Distillery, and seems to be a blend of a couple different versions of rum.
As with all rum, this starts with sugar as the raw ingredient. Usually, distilleries will use something called “backstrap molasses” as their base, which is the sticky tar-like impurity filled sludge that’s left over once all the actually useful sugar has been boiled away from the sugar cane extract. It still has enough sugar to be useful to distilleries, and the impurities actually add interesting flavors that make for interesting and complex rums. That sugar is added to water and fermented to create a mildly alcoholic liquid.
From there, this seems to take a couple different paths. Some of the liquid is distilled using column stills, producing a high proof but less characterful spirit. Other parts are distilled using pot stills, which creates a lower proof but more flavorful spirit. The various strains are placed in oak barrels for a period between eight to twelve years, and once appropriately aged they are blended together to create the flavor profile we have here.
While that all sounds very intentional, I suspect this is actually one of those spirits that a distillery makes when they have some leftover product from other batches that they don’t know what to do with. Rather than letting it go to waste, creating something new is the best option for the distillery. I’m definitely not mad about it, and always appreciate distilleries trying new combinations of flavors.
The bottle here isn’t anything to write home about. It’s a standard glass spirits bottle with straight cylindrical walls, rounded shoulder, and a medium length neck sporting a bulge in the middle. The package is capped off with the typical synthetic and plastic stopper.
What I do like is the label on this bottle. While it does hit my typical pet peeve of being too large and obscuring the contents inside, at least they are giving me an interesting design to look at. The illustrative palm trees and sailing boats on the label give off that delightful island vibe, and the combination of the rich blue and metallic gold ink is visually appealing. I also like that the specific variety information is on a separate label on the bottom, styled like an old stamp that would be added to liquor bottles in days gone by. It’s a nice touch.
From the first whiff, you can tell that this is going to be a fun and fruity ride. I’m getting some great tropical fruit aromas coming off the glass, including coconut, banana, mango, and a bit of that Jamaican “hogo” funk that reads to me like a mango that’s just started to go rotten. (Not in a stinky way, but more like over-sweet over-ripe fruit.)
Most of those tropical aromas translate into the flavor, with some delicious new accompaniment. The banana and coconut are clear and present, but there’s also some vanilla and caramel from the oak barrel aging process. That’s combined with some marshmallow sugary sweetness and a bit more of that hogo funk to make a legitimately great tasting sippable rum. It’s all well balanced and entertaining, as a spirit should be.
Usually, with a bit of ice, the more delicate components of the flavor profile are left on the cutting room floor. And that does seem to be the case here as well, but what’s left seems to lend itself nicely to making some delicious cocktails.
What’s primarily left is the vanilla, a bit of brown sugar, banana, mango, and the hogo funk. If I could break that funk down a bit more at this point I think it’s a combination of dark chocolate, nutmeg, marshmallow, cinnamon, and citrus, with some yeast thrown in for good measure.
I don’t think I’d recommend sipping this on the rocks — it’s much better neat. But the cocktail possibilities are promising so far.
Fizz (Dark & Stormy)
I get that a traditional “Dark & Stormy” is supposed to have a bit of depth to it from the dark rum — which this is decidedly not — but I feel like this is still a damn good take on the cocktail.
Up front, there is some great balance between the ginger beer and the vanilla / marshmallow sweetness in the spirit. It balances out nicely, and as the flavor develops there’s some tropical fruit that joins the party and improves the complexity of the flavors.
Where this falls down a bit is on the finish, as the only interesting thing I’m getting near the tail end is that hogo funk coming through. It’s a nifty flavor and makes for an interesting progression, but there isn’t enough spice in the spirit to really change the texture of the flavor and add some kick to it.
This is exactly what I want to see when I pick up a good aged rum. There are some fantastic flavors here from the barrel aging process, but primarily what I’m tasting are flavors that come from the fermentation or distillation stages of the process. And those are the flavors that stick around no matter how much ice you throw into the glass or what cocktail you put it into.
My only issue is that this doesn’t really work well on the rocks. The flavors may stick around, but they get unfortunately unbalanced without anything else to play off (like bitters or ginger beer). I’d recommend either drinking this neat, or throwing it in a cocktail.
|Stade’s Rum Barbados Bond No. 8
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $25.99 / 750 ml
Overall Rating: 4/5
Delicious tropical fruit flavors and Jamaican hogo funk in a cheap rum that is great on its own or in a cocktail. Just avoid tasting it on the rocks.