In the early part of 2015 the Harbor Island Rum Company released two expressions of their Afrohead rum line. I reviewed the Premium Dark 7 year old product in May and as we wrap the year up I wanted to share my impressions of their 15 year old XO product. Originally offered as the house rum at the Landing Guest House in the Bahamas, the rum is now slowly being released around the U.S.
The rum itself is made from molasses made in the Dominican Republic. The molasses is then fermented and distilled at the House of Angostura in Trinidad. It is then aged in used American Oak Bourbon barrels until it is shipped to Barbados for final blending and bottling at 86 proof.
The 750 ml bottle has a black opaque wrap around with the Afrohead logo and script in silver. The bottle’s cork is sealed with a security strip/pull tab. The strip is secured across the top of the cap by a wax seal. When I opened the bottle I discovered a wooden cap holding a black synthetic cork.
The rum has a rich dark amber color and when I agitated it a thick band formed around the glass. Thick legs descend slowly down the side of the glass taking quite a bit of time before beading and evaporating.
When I poured the rum in the glass the air was filled with notes of toffee and vanilla. After the liquid settled I picked up on spices, a hint of oak and caramel.
Sipping the rum revealed a rush of sugary caramel and vanilla counter balanced by the smoky oak which forms the baseline. The toffee notes picked up in the aroma swirl in the middle. The heat of the alcohol lights the mouth but never reaches an unpleasant level as the sweetness of the rum contains it. As the rum starts to fade the oak reveals a subtle baking spice note and a hint of nutmeg that linger in a smooth finish.
Whenever I try a 15 year old rum I am looking for dynamic levels of flavor. Usually at this point in the maturation the liquid is infused with interesting esters and oak tannins helping create a multi-levels flavor profile that is fun to explore. Unfortunately for me, while I explored Afrohead XO, I found the dominant vanilla notes and sweetness of the product smothered the elements I look for and enjoy with aged spirits. The first time I tried the rum it was at a luncheon showcasing both the products. Afrohead XO is designed to be a sipper and was enjoyable with the food it was paired with at the luncheon. However in an isolated testing environment with no outside flavors to mingle with, the rum fell short of what I prefer. Because of its sweetness I put it in the dessert category of rums and suggest it be enjoyed with/after a meal or as a nightcap.
Of the two rums in the Afrohead line, I discovered that I really preferred the seven year old expression simply because of its versatility. Currently the Afrohead line can be found in the Bahamas, Florida, New York and Tennessee along with some online retailers.
-Review by Paul Senft-
My name is Paul Senft - Rum Reviewer, Tasting host, Judge and Writer. My exploration of Rums began by learning to craft Tiki cocktails for friends. I quickly learned that not all rums are created equally and that the uniqueness of the spirit can be as varied as the locales they are from. This inspired me to travel with my wife around the Caribbean, Central America, and United States visiting distilleries and learning about how each one creates their rums. I have also had the pleasure of learning from bar tenders, brand ambassadors, and other enthusiasts from around the world; each one providing their own unique point of view, adding another chapter to the modern story of rum. The desire to share this information led me to create www.RumJourney.com where I share my experiences and reviews in the hopes that I would inspire others in their own explorations. It is my wish in the pages of “Got Rum?” to be your host and provide you with my impressions of rums available in the world market. Hopefully my tasting notes will inspire you to try the rums and make your own opinions. The world is full of good rums and the journey is always best experienced with others. Cheers!