Review: Thomas Tew Pot-Still Rum

Pot-distilled rum isn’t exactly commonplace these days, and pot-still rum from Rhode Island, well, that’s an entirely new one for me.

Rum has a great history in New England, but for the last century or so it’s been primarily a Caribbean endeavor. Now Newport Distilling Co. is bringing back the area’s rich tradition — by 1769, the company says there were 22 distilleries in the city of Newport, the “rum capital of the world.” By 1842, there were none.

Now, as of 2007, there’s one. Rhode Island’s first distillery in 135 years, Thomas Tew, is named after a pirate that was based in Newport in the late 1600s. It’s the kind of rum he probably would have appreciated, intense and a little funky, loaded with all kinds of earth tones — asphalt, coal, burnt wood — that play intriguingly with the deep vanilla-inflected molasses notes.

Made from blackstrap molasses 105 gallons at a time, it’s got a huge body that lasts for ages — lightly bittersweet but with plenty of sugar to keep things appropriately balanced. Fans of big, classically-styled rums — that don’t go quite as far as agricole — will dig this one, big time. Pricey, though…

84 proof. Reviewed: Barrel #86.

A- / $40 / newportstorm.com

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3 Responses to Review: Thomas Tew Pot-Still Rum

  1. There’s a sad history behind those Newport distilleries. Newport was a corner in the Triangle Trade. Slaves were shipped from Africa to the West Indies and sold. The ships would then load molasses and head to Newport, where it would be distilled and then sent to Africa to trade for slaves.

    The distilleries shut down as the slave trade ended.

  2. Isn’t there a law in Rhode Island saying that spirits produced in the state can only be sold in the state?

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