When it comes to cocktails, there are some ingredients which have the ability to transform mediocre recipes into something special. One of those “cheater ingredients” is Pedro Ximenez sherry. It almost does not matter which ingredients you throw at this sherry, the recipe will always taste good. In this case, I chose a highly praised Navy Strength rum from Jamaica and a Austrian vermouth, which in regular recipes might be a little bitter. So, let us find out how the drink turned out!
I do not even remember how many people I have heard talking about the Navy Island Navy Strength Rum! In all of those cases, I felt like I have to get a bottle instantly. So, I am very glad to be able to share my tasting notes with you now. The rum is named after a small island off the coast of Jamaica, which also means that all of their bottlings come from Jamaica. The modern rum brand is based in the Netherlands and they independently bottle rum from different distilleries. In the case of the Navy Strength, the blend consists of eleven pot still rums of different ages. According to the German importer all of the rum is aged in ex-bourbon barrels. The rum is not chill-filtered, but there is a little caramel-colouring in it. However, according to my measurement, there is no added sugar in the rum.
Spicy ester notes
The Navy Island Navy Strength is quite powerful. As you might imagine, you sense a lot of esters initially. Yet, the second feature you notice are spices and a lot of them: For instance you find typical oak spices like caramel and vanilla, but also darker allspice and cloves notes. You can even find some red fruits in the form of cherries and raspberries in the taste. However, the rum is almost smooth for its alcohol content.
Is it a Manhattan?
While I like the Pontica Red Vermouth a lot, it is a little difficult to use in drinks. The pronounced bitterness is sometimes a little overwhelming. So I thought, that I would combine the vermouth with other powerful ingredients. On the on hand, the Navy Island Navy Strength and a Pedro Ximenez Sherry on the other hand. The idea was that the ester notes and the heavy sweetness would balance out the bitterness of the Pontica Red. To add a little more fruitiness I also experimented with adding a little black currant eau de vie. Maybe just a few words on the Haas Schwarzer Johannisbeer Geist: While it is a great and complex eau de vie in the bouquet, it lacks a bit of concentrated berry notes in the taste. Do not get me wrong, it is still a great eau de vie, especially for a “Geist” which is made by macerating the berries in neutral alcohol. However, it works great as a little addition to cocktails. I also can imagine it in a Tommy’s Margarita variation.
1,5 cl Haas Black Currant Eau de Vie
3 cl Pontica Red Vermouth
3 cl Lustau Pedro Ximenez Sherry
1½ oz Haas Black Currant Eau de Vie
1 oz Pontica Red Vermouth
1 oz Lustau Pedro Ximenez Sherry
Garnish: Campari glaced Blood Orange Wheel;
Song: Matt Corby – Sooth Lady Wine;
The ester notes and the sherry really balance out the bitterness of the vermouth. The drink reminds me of a complex Rum Manhattan. You can taste some black currant and a lot of dried sherry fruit notes. Despite the complex notes the drink goes down rather easily. The sweetness of the sherry also gives the cocktail a great mouth feel. Since the drink still has a noticeable bitterness, it even reminds my a bit of the Kingston Negroni.
*The fact that I received a product reviewed in this article for free, did not – in any way – influence the rating of said product.