Dubhghlas – Merchant Navy Rum

About a year ago, while attending the Advanced Whisky Ambassador course, I got to know Cees and Laura. This seafaring couple owns one of the most unique distilleries you’re ever likely to come across. During our course we visited their Dubhghlas Distillery, to learn more about the art of distillation. What makes this little distillery in Zwartsluis so unique is Cees and Laura their approach to distilling. Cees and Laura met each other while sailing the seven seas on giant merchant ships, where they both work as chief engineers. Which makes them perfectly equipped to design their own stills, instead of purchasing pre-made ones. So, that’s exactly what they did. They took a couple of your average home heating systems and turned them into stills. Stills that they then installed in sea-containers (of course). Stills that made the Dubhghlas Merchant Navy Rum’s I will be reviewing today.

Though I can’t tell you what this unique type of still does for the flavour, what I can tell you is that you can taste the passion and craftmanship in all of their products. This distillery is still very much run with a hands-on approach. And since Cees and Laura are sailing 9 months a year, it means the distillery only runs for 3 each year. The couple are both huge fans of whisky and the new make that is coming from their stills shows very high promise for the future. But since it takes a few years before you can call it whisky, they decided to also make some rum (they are sailors after all). But the fact that these two rums have been aged respectively in ex-Oloroso and ex-PX casks tells you a bit about their passion for the golden dram already.

When I first opened my shop, I immediately knew that I wanted some of their products in my line-up. And so, when we met again last December, I quickly ordered a set of both types of rum. Though I desperately wanted to add them to the line-up when the shop went live a couple of weeks ago. I was in no state to taste and write tasting notes for a while (hence the reason why I’ve posted so few blogs on here lately). But feeling ready to dive back down the rabbit hole again this had to be my first stop. Because not only do Cees and Laura make some absolutely amazing spirits that I want to share with the world… I also feel very blessed that I can call them my friends. They’re the best kind of people you’re ever likely to meet, so if you ever get the chance to talk to them at a festival, don’t let the chance pass you by. Their slogan is Keep on Shining, and the way they are going I have no doubt that they will. In a sea of New World Whiskies and Rums, Dubhghlas is an absolute pearl!

Tasting Notes Dubhghlas Merchant Navy Rum Oloroso

ABV: 58,57% (117,14 Proof)
Age: 16 Months
Distillery: Dubhghlas Distillery Zwartsluis
Category: Single Cask Rum
Chill-Filtered: No
Natural Colour: Yes

Banana toffee, warm buttered caramel, and a freshly brewed pot of rooibos tea. This spirit has a full-bodied nose with layers upon layers of sugary desserts. Banana is a clear ingredient in all of them though. From the aforementioned banana toffee, to banana eclairs, banana bread and baked plantains. The thing that surprises me the most is this rum’s level of complexity, and it’s not just different forms of banana desserts either. I’m also picking up on cherry, freshly squeezed apples, and notes of kardemom and cinnamon.  

The banana toffees find their way on the palate for sure, but where the focus of the nose lay on the bananas, the palate has a much wider spectrum to offer. I’m picking up on heaps of salted liquorice, liquorice root, wijnballen, and some salmiak. It’s like visiting an old-school dutch candy shop in your glass. What an experience!

The finish of this Rum stays with you for quite some time, slightly bitter notes of liquorice root and tannins remain but they’re balanced out nicely with some sweeter notes. I’m picking up on some sugared black tea, some dried strawberries, and freshly pick cherries. Definitely one you can sit with and savour for a while.

Tasting Notes Dubhghlas Merchant Navy Rum PX

ABV: 58,47% (116,96 Proof)
Age: 16 Months
Distillery: Dubhghlas Distillery Zwartsluis
Category: Single Cask Rum
Chill-Filtered: No
Natural Colour: Yes

Banana toffee (yes it’s here as well, though much more subtle than it was in the Oloroso Cask). Paired with cherry yoghurt, and a few slivers of overaged cheese. That last little note makes the nose of this dram quite funky, and personally I love that! My drambuddy Tim is also a huge fan of funky drams, so perhaps I can convince him to give rum a shot with this dram!

Ooh yeah, the funk is back on the palate as well! This is straight up overaged cheese, dipped in port syrup, and sprinkled with white pepper. There is definitely some liquorice in here as well though, mainly salmiak and laurierdrop are standing out to me. And there’s even some salt sprinkled sun dried tomatoes in there. This rum really took me by surprise!

The finish is shorter than the Oloroso variant and here it’s mainly salted liquorice that remains. This PX variant is far less tannic and yet also less sweet than it’s counterpart. Which is surprising when you consider how sweet a PX sherry really is. Though the finish is shorter, it’s flavours are both pleasing and surprising, which is why it gets a thumbs up from me!

Both these Rums are amazing in their own way. Whether you’re looking for a banana themed dessert dram (Oloroso) or something funky and complex (PX) you’ll find something here that you’ll love. I, for one, was pleasantly surprised by both and I’m very happy that I have both bottles on my shelves. Well done Cees and Laura!

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Laura Stravers-Goutier
2 months ago

Dit is zeker een mooi product om mee te beginnen. Bedankt voor de lovende woorden, en fijn dat je ervan genoten hebt.
Helaas ging het fout met de beoordeling, want dit artikel verdient zeker 5 sterren.

Keep on Shining

Laura Stravers-Goutier
2 months ago

Thanks for your loving words. And we very pleased to hear you enjoyed both rums.
For sure this is a very nice article to start with. Something went wrong while rating, but this article gets 5 stars.

Keep on Shining

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