Origin: Tropical north Queensland, Australia
Mt Uncle Distillery is located in tropical north Queensland, near Cairns. The distillery produces whiskey, gin, rum and a marshmallow based liqueur. Having tasted all of Mt Uncle’s spirits on a recent tour of the distillery, one of its products stood out and was delicious: Mt Uncle’s Iridium Gold Rum. Mt Uncle’s Botanic Australis Navy Strength Gin was also excellent, whilst the distillery’s whiskey “The Big Black Cock” single malt disappointed and tasted a little harsh on the palate.
Mt Uncle’s head distiller Mark Watkins tells me that Iridium Gold Rum is made from sugar cane syrup. Once fermented, the sugar cane syrup makes its way into a still which is packed with five bubble plates. The bubble plates compress the acetone, methanol and more volatile alcohols at the start of a distillation run (this part of the run is called foreshots and heads). Mark throws that part of the run away. He then collects the cleaner ethanol based spirit which subsequently comes out of the still. Then, Mark removes the bubble plates from the still and distills the spirit one more time. The product of this “double” distillation is a clear sugar cane spirit.
Mark then places this sugar cane spirit into used red wine barrels to produce the Iridium Gold Rum. He says the spirit stays in the barrels for about five years. About 8% of the spirit evapourates from the barrels each year, he says.
This is impressive rum, to say the least. The spirit itself is clean and light and the sugars are soft and mellow. The rum itself is mostly hidden behind a veil of ex-red wine wood. But, that is precisely what makes this rum different and interesting. The ex-red wine barrels give this rum strong flavours of raisin and port that gradually intensify towards the finish; it is almost as though the spirit transforms from being a light rum on the entry, to a heavy fortified wine on the finish. At $75 per bottle, I would not hesitate to recommend this rum.