Now, Long Pong is not generally a misnomer for a Jamaican rum but that’s a typo on the sample label. The name of the distillery is Long Pond. It was once one of hundreds of Jamaican rum distilleries, its history—like those of all distilleries in the Caribbean—going back uneasily a few hundred years through the horrors of sugar plantation slavery and the triangular trade. If there’s a history of Caribbean rum that looks closely at its fundamental connections with the history of colonialism and slavery and their post/neo-colonial reverberations, I haven’t come across it. My sense is that the rum world is as quiet about this complicated history as the American bourbon industry is, but I may be wrong about that: if a book about this exists, I would be very interested to read it (please write in below). Anyway, almost all of those Jamaican distilleries are now gone. Long Pond itself—one of the last survivors—was closed in 2012 before being reopened in 2017. I gather it may now be producing again. The rum I am reviewing today, however, was distilled before that closure, in 2005. This cask was bottled in 2021 by the California-based importer ImpEx. It’s my first Long Pond and I am curious to see where it will fall on the funk spectrum between Hampden and Worthy Park, the two Jamaican distilleries I do have some experience of. Let’s get to it.
Long Pond 15, 2005 (52.2%; ImpEx Collection; from a bottle split)
Nose: Comes in with very rummy notes of caramelized banana, molasses and orange peel with quite a lot of toffee. The orange expands with each sniff and soon it smells like a decadent sweet-burnt orange glaze (on those caramelized bananas); really gets quite sticky fast. With a few drops of water the toffee expands dramatically and it’s softer on the whole
Palate: Comes in with the citrus in the lead here but with everything else on the nose following, along with a fair bit of aniseed and some pepper. Very approachable at full strength with nice texture. On the next few sips there’s a fair bit of charred pineapple and then a hint of funk in the background. The pepper expands as it goes and it gets sweeter again. Water pushes the pepper back and now it’s all about light caramel and toffee with aniseed around the edges.
Finish: Long. The aniseed comes to the fore here but there’s nothing new as such. As on the palate with time and water.
Comments: Well, this is a lovely, easy-drinking rum. It’s not particularly funky at all. You could have told me it was a Worthy Park and I would have believed you. I believe this retailed—and may still be available—just north of $100. I’m not sure it made it to Minnesota but if I saw it, I would consider a purchase strongly. Alright, let’s make this an entire week of Jamaican rum reviews. Next up, a rum from the aforementioned Worthy Park.
Rating: 88 points.