Review: Lyon Rum – White, Dark, and Sailors Reserve
Lyon Rum is the flagship brand of Windon Distilling, a craft distillery located in the Chesapeake Bay vacation town of Saint Michaels, Maryland. While the distillery dabbles in the occasional whiskey or liqueur, the bread and butter of their portfolio is America’s original favored spirit, rum, and they’ve been distilling it in small batches on a collection of small copper pot stills since 2013. According to founder and distiller Jaime Windon, their goal is to “create distinctly American spirits – working to define the category of New American Rum.”
All Lyon Rums are double pot-distilled from a base of blackstrap molasses and evaporated cane juice. The core rum portfolio includes a white, dark, and slightly overproof Sailors Reserve. We received samples of all three for review. Thoughts follow.
Lyon White Rum – This has a big nose for a white rum, loaded with sweet powdered sugar and marshmallow fluff but also an earthy edge of coconut husks and some minerality, almost pencil lead, that comes across a touch sharp as it opens in the glass. The palate is bright and surprisingly dry given the sweetness of the aroma. The evaporated cane juice has definitely given this one some of the greener attributes of rhum agricole with raw, grassy notes, but there’s enough sweetness and oiliness on the palate to not tip the scale entirely in that direction. It finishes clean with a slight bit of heat and generous vanilla punch. 90 proof. B+ / $33
Lyon Dark Rum – This is essentially the same as the white rum above, bottled unaged but with spirit caramel added for flavor and color. And aroma, apparently. This has a very different nose than the white, dark with brown sugar and molasses but not nearly as sweet. The palate has been altered significantly, too, with an intense butterscotch note. The sweetness is well-balanced, but the brown butter and dark sugar component makes whole thing come across as somewhat artificial, especially into the finish. 90 proof. B / $42
Lyon Sailors Reserve Rum – This is Lyon’s white rum that has been aged for 6-12 months in small ex-bourbon barrels (none larger than 25 gallons). The barrel aging has clearly transformed some of the greener notes in the white rum, but it hasn’t exactly replaced them with traditional barrel notes. I get a bit of green pepper, cinnamon stick, and some peppermint oil. All sweet but fairly subdued. On the palate, things don’t diverge too much from the base spirit. The barrel has definitely softened some edges, adding vanilla and toasted oak notes that nicely complement the sugarcane. The finish lingers with baking spice and a gentle heat, even at the higher proof. It’s not exactly a go-to sipper but definitely a good cocktail companion. 100 proof. B+ / $55
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