$$ — 57% ABV — 1-3 years
Often described as the Laphroaig of the rum world, Smith & Cross is a very old school Jamaican blend. It's made roughly of equal parts rums from the Wedderburn and the Plummer distilleries in Jamaica, both known for their dunder-fermented, pot still rums.
The distillates are kept young, one to three years, much like tequila, so as to not lose their more unique flavors to the wood. The color is a striking pale red, and it floods the room with a just-as-striking smell of some bizarre, undiscovered flower. First timers will have a hard time describing what it is they just drank.
But they'll want more.
At navy strength, Smith & Cross is a dream in cocktails. Sipping requires more than a bit of cool water, though it is encouraged! Despite its beastly reputation, this stuff is quite drinkable. Scotches proved long ago that pot still spirits can be smooth, and Smith & Cross proves rum is no exception to this truth.
The sickly sweet hogo of the molasses wine is held back by a nectar-like smell, perhaps resembling hummingbird water. It's also fiercely maritime, with huge salty notes that stick to your tongue. Being a sailor's drink, you'd think this were a commonality among rums, but this is quite rare — and wholly enjoyable. Love it while you can still buy it for less than $40 dollars. But even after it jumps past 50, and it will, Smith & Cross will still be worth the money.
Hayman is located in the London Docks, London in southern England. Established in 1863 by James Burrough, it remains an independent producer. Smith & Cross is distilled in Jamaica by Wedderburn and also by Plummer.