Sea Wynde

by Matt Robold on January 5, 2008

And here I’ll bet you thought I had forgotten all about rum reviews here.  Pish posh.  I know what keeps people coming to this site, and it ain’t my wit or good looks…both of which are currently on back-order, and I have been assured will be arriving within a month or two.

It had been brought to my attention that I have only reviewed rums that I rate as the very best.  No 4’s out of 5, no 3’s…well today I decided to change that, and decided to take on a rum I had not tried in almost a year: Sea Wynde.  I’m not going to say now what the end-rating will be for this review.  Let’s just say that the first time I tried this rum, it did not jump to the top of my favorites list.

Sea Wynde is a pot-still rum, meaning that instead of the more common and modern column stills used by most spirit makers these days, the makers of Sea Wynde have opted for rums made using the more classical approach of using copper pot stills.  The rum is a blend of 5 rums from Jamaica and Guyana, boasting that it is “the only rum in the world made entirely from pot still rums from the Caribbean and South America.”

I first happened upon Sea Wynde at the recommendation of an acquaintance.  A friend of a friend, as it were, worked at BevMo down the road from me, and during a shopping excursion there, he noticed I was picking up my usual bottle of Appleton Estate V/X.  He asked if I had ever had the Appleton before and if I liked it, and when I assured him that the answer to both questions was a resounding “yes”, he suggested that I might like Sea Wynde based on the flavor profile.  I eagerly grabbed the very impressive-looking bottle and took it home to try.  To be blunt, I was bitterly disappointed in the rum.

Time passed by.  My palate has evolved a great deal (I like to think) since the first time that I sat down with my bottle of the Wynde.  While perusing my recently enhanced rum shelf for my next review subject, I thought that perhaps, just maybe, my better-trained palate could find more to like in the rum.  Others I know seem to have found uses for it, so certainly it couldn’t be all that bad…could it?

Let’s find out…

Appearance

The rum is a nice, light gold color.  It it not very deep in hue, and is really – as far as spirits go – rather pretty to look at.  It is not the thick, syrupy nectar of Ron Zacapa.  A swirl in the glass reveals a spirit that clings strongly to the sides, with legs taking a good deal of time to form from the rim of the liquid.

Nose

Sea Wynde has an aroma.  It is unmistakable, and completely impossible to miss.  If someone opens the bottle in the same room with you, I’d wager you could tell it had been opened within 30 seconds.  As soon as I opened the bottle to pour myself my dram, I could smell the rough, metallic notes of the rum.

I let the rum sit in the glass for a second, did my usual swirling to look for the legs, and then placed my nose about a half-inch above the glass and inhaled.

I won’t lie to you…I wasn’t happy doing so.  As I mentioned already, there is a distinct metallic scent to the rum.  You can literally smell the copper.  Buried beneath the coppery scents are stronger notes of orange, and a sugary floral scent that could be apple or apple blossom.

I spent a little more time with the nose on this rum than I normally do.  I started wanting to like it.  I wanted to will myself in to thinking it was good.  After a while, when those floral notes started to reveal themselves, I began to think, “Hey, this isn’t so bad…just a little rough around the edges.  Rough isn’t necessarily bad, right?”

Palate

I took my first sip of Sea Wynde and let it sit for a second.  There is a strong oily quality to the body.  Not a viscosity like the Zacapa rums, but rather a slick, lubricated feel to the rum.  Just as you get over the texture, you notice that this is a sharp, rough-tasting rum, as the nose seemed to indicate.  There is actually some burn on the tongue and while the burn in the throat is not significant, it does exist, as does a burn in the chest.

The taste is just as metallic as the nose, leaving your tongue feeling dry after each sip.  I have to be completely honest here…I didn’t want to continue.  I didn’t want to do this anymore.  I don’t like it.  I don’t.  I could come up with a list of millions of liquids I’d rather drink than this if I needed to.  I say with not a hint of jest that it is for you, my dear reader, that I persisted in my investigation.

I returned the glass to my lips a few more times to tease more of the flavors out.  There’s a touch of orange at the entry with the coppery taste, followed by raisins.  The finish is dry and oaky at first, followed by a rush of peppery spice that quickly obliterates the other flavors besides the copper.  In the end, I feel like I’ve been sucking on a spicy penny.

A Little Water Perhaps

Perhaps, as can be the case, this rum just needs some smoothing out.  Perhaps a few drops of water will work some magic on it.  I picked up this trick from Scott at Scotte’s Rum Pages, and have used it for other rums.

I added a few drops of water to the Sea Wynde, swirled, and then sipped again.  Some of the roughness was definitely smoothed out.  The coppery taste was still there, but not as abrupt, and the burning on the tongue and the throat was pretty much eliminated altogether.  Still, I don’t think you could pay me to drink more than an ounce of this stuff.  OK, I take it back, you could pay me, but I want a lot of money and I want it up front!

Put Some Ice On It

OK, water didn’t work.  Let’s try some more water, but in it’s more frozeny state.  I took a single ice cube from my bag of ice and added it to my glass.  I let the glass sit for a while, stirred a bit to chill the entirety of the glass, and then toasted my own health and dove back in to the glass with gusto.

I love my work.  I really, really do.  I think that getting to sit and sample rums and write about it, even if it isn’t really my job, is one of the most enjoyable things I could do.  I feel very privileged that any of you come to read my comments on these – OH SWEET MOTHER OF ALL THAT IS HOLY WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS???

I can’t do it…I just can’t.  I couldn’t even swallow the vile concoction in my hand.  I can’t remember ever being so happy to be near a sink in my life, as I spat out what I had tried to sip.

I reflected for a bit, thinking, “It can’t be THAT bad.  You’re just overreacting.  Be a man, Dood…get back in to that glass!  Do it for your readers!  Both of them!”

Back I went, and back my head went to the sink.

OK, Maybe A Real Cocktail Then

How about “No”, Mr. Section Heading?  I may love my readers, but I don’t love anyone that much (sorry Mrs. Dood).  I have my limits, and I have reached my limits for tonight.  Maybe some other night I’ll go try this in a mojito or a mai tai or to degrease my car’s engine, but for the moment I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than bury this bottle as deep in the Earth as possible in the hopes that no one ever stumbles upon it for a thousand years.  I was so horrified by the experience at this point that I walked to the fridge and opened a beer.

The Long & The Short Of It

The makers of Sea Wynde are very proud of their product.  I can understand that…it’s a rum!  Who wouldn’t be proud of making rum?  But perhaps, regardless of whether or not a company refers to its rum as “the perfect rum”, the fact that they have a section on their website on how to use it for cooking should probably ring a few alarms in your head.  I mean, Castle Brands – the owners of Sea Wynde – also owns Goslings, and you don’t the Goslings website suggesting you mix their rum with shrimp.

I’ve always described the imagery that different rums conjure when you drink them, but with Sea Wynde I’m just not sure what to say.  I see images of Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs cleaning pot stills with old rags comprised of old socks…and I’m not sure any more detail is in good taste.

Rating this rum is hard.  I’m usually prone to fits of hyperbole, and I’m tempted to give it a massive negative number.  However, to maintain some integrity, and in recognition of the fact that at least this is a rum, Sea Wynde still stays above the dreaded zero.

Dood’s Rating:  1 Bottle of Rum Out of 5

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