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Drink Review: Pyrat XO Reserve Rum

A very special amber Caribbean blended rum from Anguilla Rums Ltd in the West Indies. A real connoisseur’s rum, with a sublimely orangey, spicy flavour and nuanced finish.

Pyrat XO Reserve Rum: Background

Pyrat Rum is an Anguilla rum made in small batches from a blend of six different aged rums, each from a different Caribbean island. It is made in a range of styles, with Pyrat XO Reserve being the most full bodied and ambitious; a blend of ten to twelve year old rums, which has been matured for a further year in wooden vats to create a more refined flavour.

Pyrat Rum came into being in 1759 when the English pirate Abraham Samuel began bootlegging to the island of Anguilla, an island then officially a British possession. He married into the local family who set up the sugar cane industry, and during a sea-battle with a Dutch ship, offered rum instead of hardtack to his opponents, a stroke of marketing genius which led to Anguilla becoming a major rum-producing British colony.

In 1951 the island declared independence and opened up, attracting the attention of the US movie industry. (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was filmed there in 1998). In the fifties the island’s British-descended planters began distilling their own rum, and these family-run rum distilleries were often passed down through generations.

A rum by the name of Pyrat was first launched in the early 1970s by the British entrepreneur Stephen Greene, who bought out local rum distilleries, imports blended Anguilla rum and markets it around the world. His company set up an office on the island, and has expanded to a global brand, recently buying the American rum producer Royal Amsterdam (another brand with a fascinating American history). Last year the brand was bought by Hunter Laing, a Scottish independent bottler, who have expanded the brand to include Pyrat XO Reserve and the Petite Sirah (Cabernet Sauvingnon grapes) wines.

We have always found Pyrat XO Reserve in bottles marked British Virgin Islands. Apparently Pyrat Rum always has been a British brand, although the BVI export license was only established in 2003.

Pyrat XO Reserve Rum Finish:

Subtle notes of vanilla, mixed with orange zest and cloves.

Overall: A very impressive blend, which has improved significantly with age in the barrel.

Comments: I am glad we aged the rum in a barrel. The flavour was very sweet and slightly too acidic for our tastes when we first tried it. A couple of years in a wooden cask have smoothed this out, and it now has a delicate, vibrant flavour, with lingering but well balanced notes of orange rind and clove.

The Pyrat Rum website is extremely informative; you can learn all about the history of rum production in the Caribbean, the different countries and islands, and the families who have been making rum there for centuries. You can also find out more about the different varieties. The Pyrat range includes a barrel aged 5 year old ‘Anguilla’, and there is a Petite Sirah wine.

Written by Mark Adams

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