“Oregon” is not usually the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of rum. Usually the climes that pop into a person’s head are a tad warmer. Old Mill Gold Rum is a rum that has been “developed for the Pacific Northwest” by H. Malarkey Wall and his father before him.
Technically this rum is not produced in the Pacific Northwest. The spirit is actually imported from the more often rum-associated Caribbean island of St. Croix and then aged in charred American oak casks in slightly less tropical Oregon for two to four years. The rum is then blended and bottled and shipped out to liquor stores (hopefully) near you.
This process of importing Cruzan (as in “from St. Croix”, not the distiller) rum and then aging it in America’s foggier Pacific Northwest has been going on for over 60 years. Howard M. Wall (H. Malarkey’s father) originally conceived of the idea of bringing rum to the loggers and fishermen that comprised such a large part of the culture in states like Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The Old Mill website likes to boast that their rum is the “finest, smoothest, sugar cane rum in the Americas.”
Old Mill Rum is a pale straw color. Swirling the rum in my glass, the legs form and cling fast to the sides before oozing down the sides in a slow, sticky manner.
The most striking note on the nose is that of caramel. There is a strong, sugary quality to the scent. Just behind the caramel is a floral sweetness of honey. The scent is warm, but not deep – very pleasant.
Entry is very light and sugary. Flavors of honey and vanilla are the first to hit your tongue, followed by a hint of apple. The mid-palate is sugary-sweet, but very light. The entire experience is actually very light. There’s an oily quality to the body, giving it a pleasant viscosity and mouthfeel. At the finish is an abrupt, peppery spiciness that seems to come from nowhere, and then dissipate cleanly and almost immediately.
The spirit is smooth and clean. Burn in the throat is almost non-existent with the exception of the effects of the pepper spice at the finish. This is a very light and very simple rum. Because of this lightness of body and simplicity on the palate I worried that it’s delicate flavor could be very easily overwhelmed by mixers. Nonetheless, I had to try it in a cocktail. I originally considered a recipe- the Kentucky Rum Runner – that Stevi Deter created for a Mixoloseum Thursday Drink Night, but ended up settling on a simpler drink: a daiquiri.
Old Mill Daiquiri
3 oz Old Mill Rum
.5 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz sugar/simple syrup
1 dash bitters
Shake over with ice, strain into glass with ice.
In a daiquiri, the Old Mill was able to still stand out, with the lime juice and sugar just taking a slight bit of the spiciness off of the finish. I made 2 daiquiris, one with the recipe above and one with a full ounce of lime juice. With a full ounce of lime the drink was still quite good, but it seemed to have completely hidden the kick of pepper that was so pronounced in sipping and still detectable with only half an ounce of lime.
The Long & The Short Of It
This rum is billed as a sippable rum, and it is very easily that. What Old Mill lacks in complexity it seemingly makes up for in smoothness. Its light body and simple characteristics make it a very approachable rum for the sipping neophyte – although the spicy notes on the finish may make things a tad bumpy. In a drink like a daiquiri, the lighter qualities of the ingredients seem to play well with the rum, although a little mixer goes a long way so be careful if you don’t want to wipe out any traces of the Old Mill flavor. I think this is a good rum that – at around $20 per bottle – is one that everyone should consider keeping on their shelves.
Dood’s Rating: 3 Bottles of Rum Out Of 5
Be sure to also check out Scott’s review of Old Mill at Scotte’s Rum Pages.