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Smooth Ambler Revelation Rum Review

Maybe it’s that the weather is warming up quicker here than the rest of the country, or maybe I’m just doing my annual change-things-up-a-bit, but the anamnesis of strong molasses notes in some bourbons I tried over the winter have conjured an exploration of rum. I’ve had a few that were enjoyable, but none have been particularly memorable or worth mentioning until now. 

Call it a Revelation.

I discovered Revelation Rum at an event kicking off the Charleston Food & Wine Festival. My regular readers know I’m a whiskey guy, so riddle me this:

You’re at a whiskey event with an open bar pouring things like barrel-proof Elijah Craig, Four Roses 125th Anniversary (and numerous private single barrels), Jefferson’s Reserve 18 year, Whistlepig Boss Hog, Michter’s 10 (overrated), Yamazaki, etc., yet the most memorable pour you have all night is a rum.

Yeeeah. About that… 

Perhaps it’s difference? Rum certainly stands out in a crowd of bourbon, whether it’s an all-star line-up or not, but difference doesn’t necessarily a good dram make. Regardless, this was my initial thought as I first walked away from the Smooth Ambler table thinking something along the lines of “holy shit!”

I went back again, and again. I asked questions and had a nice conversation with the rep and those around the table. I urged others to try the rum but despite my efforts to evangelize the whiskey folk, the bottle just sat there.

What could arguably be considered pestering successfully resulted in me leaving the event with a mostly-full bottle of rum. This review is a thank you to a generous rep and a continuance of my evangelical spirit of fine spirits, whiskey or not.

A Disclaimer

Since I’m nowhere near well-versed in rum, I consider the words to follow less of an actual rum review and more of an “if you love bourbon or whiskey in general you’ll probably like this rum” review, although I’m sure Revelation stands on its own amongst its peers.

I also don’t want to elude that this rum is better than all of the whiskey aforementioned, but if you’re a savvy bourbon drinker like this guy:

…you may want to keep reading. 

The Rum

Smooth Ambler Revelation Rum

99 Proof, 49.5% ABV

According to the label the rum is sourced from Jamaica, and the youngest rum in the bottle was laid to rest in 1990. That could make this up to 25 years old, but the ambiguity leaves me wondering.

I reached out to John Foster at Smooth Ambler for some background on the product. His initial quick reply was, “What we do to make it our own is essentially the same advanced, innovative method we use for Old Scout: we think it’s really good as is and we don’t screw it up!” I’ll update this post if I receive any further details.

The bottle reviewed is Batch #3.

Tasting Notes

Revelation’s nose is very deep but delicate. A citrusy, bourbon-wood character that’s distantly familiar emerges first alongside the sharp, thin ethanol bouquet I’d expect from a rum of this appearance.

Like a wise gentleman, the nose calms and improves over time. A little bit of honey emerges and as the glass becomes empty, licorice settles in force with a very very faint smokey, almost peat note resting in the shadows. Pouring a second round into the glass is truly delightful.

My personal experience with aged rums is that many have an off-putting, herbal note on the nose that doesn’t strike a chord with me (although it works for creating fun blends) and it usually makes for a thick, funky palate. I’m sure I’ll eat those words in due time, so if you’re reading this and disagree with that statement please send recommendations. 

For its age (?), Revelation is the exact opposite of funky, bogged down and syrupy.The first strike on your palate is where the rum solidifies it’s tenacity. At 99 proof it packs a punch, but the heat quickly dissipates and you’re left with tropical fruit on the palate.

As it evolves it becomes brown-sugar-sweet and open like a fresh spring breeze without an overbearing and distinct concentrated nuance. A little bit of coconut is there. A silky mouthfeel matures into a masterpiece; vanilla and chocolate arrive fashionably late.

Passionfruit carries through from the palate to the finish and steals the show. It’s brilliant and stays with you. For. A. Long. Time.

Is that guava? I think so.

Wow.

Comments

This is an energetic drink. It does a bit of shapeshifting through the palate as though it’s having a mild identity crisis, but it comes full circle with a finish that is absolutely delightful.

If you’ve had the pleasure of tasting anything similar to Glenmorangie Signet, you know how fruit can turn to chocolatey notes almost immediately. This rum is a similar experience of flavor contrast, but less sequentially rigid and drastic. It weaves through flavors with ease and restraint to create a dynamic experience. 

If I had to choose one thing that I love about this rum, it’s the finish–without a doubt. The nose is good. The palate is good once you become acclimated. But the finish, the finish is — I’ll say it again — brilliant.

I’m looking forward to picking up another bottle or two and sharing with friends to break the Charleston heat.

Cheers!

Grade: B