Blackwell Rum: The Black Gold of Jamaica

By Yolanda Evans

Mega-mogul Chris Blackwell had the magic touch when he introduced the world to Reggae and Bob Marley. Now he’s hoping to have that same luck with Blackwell Fine Jamaican Rum. Created by Blackwell, founder of Island Records and Island Outpost, along with advertising industry guru Richard Kirshenbaum, this “black gold” is a radiant dark rum with a deep amber glow, robust alcohol content of 40 percent, and a well-balanced finish. So just how does it stand out from all the other Caribbean rum?

“It has a very seductive taste,” says Blackwell.

And just what does the founder of Island Records know about making rum? Loads it seems, since rum making is in his blood as he hails from one of the island’s oldest rum producing families.

“Blackwell’s family used to own J Wray & Nephew, so rum is in his family history,” says Andreas Redlefsen, brand manager for Blackwell Rum. “It’s why he decided to get into the game when the opportunity was presented to him. In a way, it’s a return to his roots as he was supposed to have taken over the rum business, but then went the music route with Island Records. The brand has actually been around for a few years — since 2007 — but has only been selectively available in Jamaica.”

In the laid-back style of Jamaica, the making of this rum was an unhurried affair, as Blackwell took his sweet time perfecting this recipe.

“Chris took a very long time to tweak the recipe with the master blenders at J Wray & Nephew, so the flavor profile would be unique to Blackwell Rum and reminiscent of the rum his family used to make,” says Redlefsen. “It is also very typified to the original style of dark Jamaican rums, the rums for which Jamaica became famous and that were used by bartenders such as Trader Vic.”

Distilled and hand-blended by J Wray & Nephew, it’s a blend of heavy pot still rums, which have a lot of flavor and are responsible for the depth and a long finish when sipping the rum neat. However, these rums are very pungent and flavorful — too flavorful to drink on their own — so they are blended and mellowed out with lighter column still rums. This combination gives the rum its smooth, well balanced finish and flavor notes. The end result captures the essence of the island in beverage form. It’s a spirit that would blend effortlessly with other ingredients and mixers yet could also be enjoyed neat.

Previously only available in Jamaica, this eponymous rum is available in a few select cities in the U.S., as well as in the UK and Canada. Not only is Blackwell Rum affordable, but $1.50 of the proceeds from each case sold will be donated to Island ACTs. So sit back and enjoy this fine rum if not for yourself, but then for those in need.

Image by LushLife Production