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Rum Review: Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum

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How do you rate Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum (five is best)?
 33%  [ 1 ]
 66%  [ 2 ]
 0%  [ 0 ]
 0%  [ 0 ]
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 3

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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot

Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3499
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2008 5:44 am    Post subject: Rum Review: Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum Reply with quote

Wray & Nephew White Overproof Rum: "Go Bananas!"

Are you a real man? Or woman? Like its bottle, Wray & Nephew White Overproof (63%) is a no-nonsense rum that some consider the best overproof in the world. Hey, it's from Jamaica, ask me if I'm surprised. But the first time we poured a shot, we came close to pouring many more shots...

Down the drain.

This rum must be approached with care. Lots of care. But approached properly, you too may come to appreciate this fine rum. Know too that this white overproof graces almost every household in Jamaica. Build a new room - pour some on the floor. Crack the bottle - the first shot goes on the ground, back to nature. Got a cold? Get the W&N. New baby? Rub some on the newborn's forehead. And so it goes...

Wray & Nephew is not a rum, it's an institution. One that we honestly wished to understand. The reviews:

Sue Sea:

The first time Jim broke out this rum I simply loved the aroma. But just about spit out the first healthy sip. Wowee! Yowsa! I guess he should have given the first shot back to nature, not me. Jim waited a respectful few weeks, but when he once again broke out the bottle (wisely at the end of a flight) I was still more than a little fearful.

So Jim diluted it 1-to-1. Too dilute as it turned out, but I was finally able to explore this rum. A second dilution to around 40% got better, and a final try with just a minimal amount of water allowed me to get it all.

I found W&N's aroma a bit alcohol prickly, but this was to be expected. I found anise and licorice, a high (lighter) citrus, what I will call celery/reedy and even some smoke. Its taste was completely consistent (all of the aromas show up). The finish was hot and peppery.

This rum is more like a rum martini. It is fresh and crisp, but also rich and powerful. To my own amazement, I really found this rum unique and intriguing. I'm so glad I gave it a second chance.


The change in rum preferences over the years is amazing. Today we are presented with latest fad - rum as liqueur - as exampled by Zacapa 23, Pyrat XO, Angostura 1919 and the like. Smooth, sweet and way too easy to drink. Rum for non-drinkers.

Not Wray & Nephew White Overproof.

This is a style and product that, along with Appleton Extra, best represent the Jamaican style. It is a rum that must be approached with great care, but will reveal surprising character. It is truly a real rum. If you can't handle that, go back to your Pyrat pussy rum.

As expected there is a definite nasal alcohol tingle. I found the aroma sweet, a high grapefruit - and - with a leathery sourness (which lessens with airing). This aroma is intriguing. The taste, except for the grapefruit, is grassy and entirely consistent. The Overproof's finish is also grassy, hot and peppery, nose and mouth filling.

Like Pusser's Blue Label, this is a rum out of history that deserves much more respect than it gets. Rum snobs sniff and tut at its affordable price and simple bottle. The rest of us assume this is just a white lightening mixer.

How wrong we were.

Rating (10 is best): Sue Sea - 9, Jimbo - 8.


Note: I was really surprised at Sue Sea's extremely high rating, which to this date has only been awarded to a small handful of exceptional rums (eg MGXO, Seale's Ten Year). She is extremely adept and not easily impressed. That she has given a "9" to a rum of such non-modern character is saying a lot. Also note that this rum earned one of Dave Broom's coveted 5-star ratings (exceptional). Take heed.



Some of you may be wondering where the "Go Banana's" description came from. Dave Broom is well respected top taster, and got bananas, molasses and grassy in his tasting. With consideration we actually found this reassuring as we were picking up the same components but using different but similar descriptors:

Broom's "banana" is Sue Sea's "licorice and anise", which is pretty close to ripe banana. His "molasses" is indeed similar to my "leathery sourness" (we have a molasses tester). And last, his "grassy" is Sue Sea's "celery/reedy". Good.

The point
: don't sell yourself short if your descriptors may differ (as long as they are similar).


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Last edited by Capn Jimbo on Thu Nov 29, 2012 5:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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Cabin Boy

Joined: 14 Aug 2010
Posts: 21
Location: Columbus/New Port Richey

PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bought a bottle today for daiquiris. Don't like it in daiquiris but, if you pour a little over an ice cube and let it melt, it's pretty darn good. Everyone is out of Seagrams, my usual daiquiri rum.
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Joined: 26 Nov 2012
Posts: 139
Location: Cleveland

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had emailed Capn Jimbo with a question about Wray and Nephew and got a great reply. I thought I would share it

My questions: I was reading that Wray and Nephew was the most sold rum in Jamaica. You two also rated it higher than the Appleton Extra Reserve. Why was the Appleton designated as classic for the Jamaican style over the Wray and Nephew?

His answer:
It is absolutely true that you cannot find a Jamaican household – either in Jamaica or here – that doesn’t have a bottle of Wray & Nephews overproof. Although higher rated than Extra, and I think your point is well taken, there are a couple other factors. First is that it’s almost completely known as an overproof and mixer, rather than for sipping. Unlike the afficianados of single malts, which are mostly delivered at 45 to 55%, and who commonly add water to these overproofs for purposes of sipping and tasting, drinkers of rum never do. At most they’ll make a brave attempt to sip a little overproof rum, then exclaim what a “powerful” throat burner it is, and make oblique references to the buzz value of high proof. In other words, W&N is never really reduced to, or used to sipping levels.

The second factor is that the various styles are not countries of origin. What is loosely called the Jamaican style generally refers to a heavier, pot-stilled aspect and what we call identifiable “dunder”. The history of Jamaica, which was the second step in the historical development of rum (Barbados was the landing place and original home of rum as we know it), became known for two things: double distillation in pot stills, and the use of dunder pits. These are actual pits filled with the dregs or leftovers from previous distillation. It sits in open pits, smells absolutely awful, but slowly develops hundreds of additional esters and flavor/aromas. The Jamaican style is based on these, as some dunder from the pit is added to new distillations with the result that these styles that the distillate may exhibit up to 1000 esters. Compare to other styles which may display 30 to 50 esters.

We find an identifiable dunder element – a sort of heavy potency – that identifies the style. I don’t find this element in Wray & Nephews, at least not enough to immediately sense the dunder. As a further example, Pussers Blue Label (the official British Royal Navy Rum made in Guyana in a double wooden pot still) does exhibit the dunder influence, and is a Jamaican style.

Last, in suggesting reference standards, we have picked those that represent very broad consensus as to quality, tradition and reliability. It’s a starting place for understanding. The day may come when after understanding a style, you may find another of the style that you prefer or find more representative for your own tastes and interpretation. At that point you have your own preferred reference standard. Reference standards are VERY important, as I cannot tell you how many times we thought we had a winner, and were about to give high ratings, but when compared to the standard fell short, and the rating was properly reduced.
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Minor God

Joined: 05 May 2013
Posts: 438

PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If WN doesn't have dunder, where does that wonderful funk come from?

On an additional note, something I've long wondered - has anyone barrel aged some WN overproof? Either in a mini-barrel, or in a bottle with barrel staves? How might it turn out - anything like the legendary 17 year WN of Trader Vic's stash, I might hope?

Capn's Log: Sue Sea and I will have to revisit the W&N. This am, we had at an old friend, Smith & Cross, and revisited its dunder. Will let you know. Thanks for posting.
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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot

Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3499
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

W&N's production process...

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