In late 2013 we were contacted by Lord Harewood who had discovered a number of bottles of unmarked spirit in the deep, dark cellars of Harewood House, North Yorkshire.
We were to find out that Harewood House — one of England’s most impressive stately homes — had once boasted cellars of epic proportions, but that these days they were mainly unused, so the discovery of these ancient bottles was something of a surprise. Studious assessment of the Cellar Book, which was a find in itself, showed that the bottles in these bins contained rum; not just any rum, but the oldest dated rum in existence.
The rum was distilled in 1780, and formed part of a much larger collection that originated from the family’s historical plantation holdings in Barbados. The bottles had been shipped to the UK in the early 19th century and these last, unconsumed bottles had remained there untouched, until now. We were able to taste the rum during the re-corking process and it was one of the most extraordinary spirits that I have ever tasted.
The rum had been distilled in two forms — light and dark — and the differences between them and their individual complexities were fascinating to observe. The lighter form was lethally powerful, fresh, and when combined with a drop or two of water exhibited a light fruit character that hid its age. The dark rum was potent, lingering with a deep, resonant flavour that seemed to speak of the exoticism of its journey across the centuries and continents.
Sixteen bottles of The Harewood Rum featured in the London sale of Fine and Rare Wines and Spirits on 11 December 2014. All proceeds from the sale of these bottles were to go to Lord Harewood’s chosen charitable foundation, The Geraldine Connor Foundation, which helps maintain cultural and educational links between the Caribbean and Britain.