WhistlePig Whiskey Founder Debuts Luxe BHAKTA 1990 Jamaican Rum
An exceedingly rare barrel-aged expression.
To chart a new course in the spirits world requires an uncanny sort of innovation: An awareness of the past, an innate knowledge of the present and a willingness to take risks. After all, what’s in the barrel (or barrels) tends to reveal the truth right up front.
WhistlePig whiskey founder Raj Peter Bhakta certainly knows about the truth inherent in risk-taking, first with WhistlePig’s founding in the 2000s, then with his dramatic mid-2010s exit from the rising company, and now with the debut of spirits like an exquisite blended Jamaican rum.
BHAKTA debuted with an intense, vintage-driven approach to armagnac before launching bourbon (among other spirits) earlier this year, building on its founder’s “lifetime acquiring an encyclopedic knowledge of fine spirits and the capital necessary to secure them.”
As difficult to get right as it can be, the namesake company’s foray into rum is an impressive one, taking Clarendon/Monymusk 1985 25-year Jamaican column still rum and blending it with a 1990, 23-year Jamaican pot still rum from famed Appleton Estates.
Talk about a journey from barrel to bottle that began long before reaching your bar cart.
The two rums were first blended in 2014, aged an additional three years in second-fill bourbon and rye barrels from powerhouse bourbon distiller MGP, then finished in armagnac casks.
In total, 26 years of bourbon barrel aging gives the rum a distinct bourbon-forward profile, the kind that shines when sipped neat or enjoyed delicately with a single large ice cube, as Maxim found out during a recent tasting.
Oak, ripe banana and tobacco notes shine through on the nose, while allspice, pepper, clove and fig hit the palate just right. There’s even a bright touch of tropical citrus, sweet apricot and licorice on the finish.
Buyer beware: It’s a cask-strength rum at 124 proof, a step up from typical Jamaican rum (with the remarkable flavor profile to match).
A luxurious rum for the modern gentleman is the name of the game here.
Using two vintages for a blended rum also falls right in line with BHAKTA’s overall approach: The vintage speaks volumes about the liquid, as opposed to an age statement on its own.
Accordingly, BHAKTA lavishes praise on this release, which is delivered in an elegant bottle with clean lines and a striking Art Deco logo for a refined finish.
BHAKTA notes that “rum this exquisite comes only once a lifetime,” and it’s priced accordingly at $500. BHAKTA’s 1990 Jamaican Rum is also limited to 1,500 bottles, but it’s a rather priceless feeling top sip a rum this well-made.