IWSC 2024 Spirits Judging: Judges’ deliberations on Rum

Spirit news

Thu 23 May 2024

By Kristen Dougall

Following two days of judging our extensive rum category, our panels were left delighted by the variety and styles on show. Our Judging Committee member, who oversaw all panels, Ian Burrell, was blown away by the step up in consistency from previous years, with very few rums not awarded a medal. Ian commented, “I was impressed by how well the rums performed today, there were rums that really excelled and showed the variety and styles within this diverse category”.

Botanical Rum

For the first time in IWSC history, our judges were treated to flights of botanical rums. Judges praised the entries where the named spice was identifiable and came through on the nose and palate pleasantly, without any artificial flavours, but also where they were able to taste rum, providing great balance. All the rums in the botanical flights were awarded medals. A silver medal was given to a botanical rum that showcased “rhubarb and custard boiled sweets with intense vanilla on the nose, accompanied by a fruity palate with cloves and caramel flavours. The finish was tart and tangy”.

Flavoured and Spiced Rum

Our judges praised the rums that “were natural” in flavour and not displaying harsh articifial characteristics and “both reflective of the rum and the chosen flavour”. One gold winner in the flavoured rum category was a coconut flavoured rum, our judges were impressed by its “baked coconut and vanilla notes that are accompanied by tropical fruit”.

Amongst other gold-medal winners for the spiced rum category was a gold winner that boasted, “aromas of cinnamon, clove and anise on the nose, with a nice spice and sweetness on the long finish”.

Aged Rums

Aged rums have historically done well at the IWSC, our judges appreciate the complexity of these rums, the pleasant aromas and esters that come through thanks to the ageing process. Even with this in mind, it still took everyone by surprise when a flight of 11-15 YO rums were all awarded a medal, but not just any medal, all rums received either a gold or gold outstanding medal, something that has never been seen before in IWSC history. The lucky panel tasting this flight exclaimed, “this was one of the best flights the judges have ever tasted!”. The rums’ “exceptional complexity and precision of expression” were what made them stand out. Of all the high scores awarded, the highest score of 99 points, a gold outstanding medal, went to a rum that displayed “leather, cigar box and olive oil, accompanied by citrus peel and cinnamon. The mouth-filling texture was well integrated with the heat from the ABV. A tart and tangy long-lasting finish.”

Another aged rum that was awarded a gold outstanding medal was a column stilled rum aged between 6 and 10 years. The judges praised the rum as an “outstanding expression of the category”. The rum displayed aromas of “butterscotch, milk chocolate on the nose with gentle toffee molasses and dried stone fruits. Baked spices and dried coconut on the finish with a great balance and textural integration”.

Unaged Rums

There was a great array of flavours that really fascinated our judges in the unaged rum category. One panel exclaimed that “the youthful rums had much more character than the older rums tasted. It really sells the idea that age isn’t always a sign of excellence.”  A gold winner was praised for its “molasses aromas with banana, vanilla and butterscotch. A complex finish with a touch of heat”.

Stay tuned for more Spirits Judging results over the next few days, with results announced on 3 June.