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  • Writer's pictureBamboo Sam

Doctor Bird Jamaica Rum

A True Jamaican Pot Still Rum.

Two James Doctor Bird Jamaica Rum

I keep a little green Moleskin notebook that I use to record drink recipes when I'm out and about. However, the back pages are reserved for a list of rums that I want to grab if I happen to see them. It's a long list. Living in Tennessee means that the whisky/bourbon aisle is about 3x larger than the rum aisle in any given liquor store. The same goes for the shelves in most bars. So, I keep a list in case I find myself out of town/state/country and see an unfamiliar brand. Doctor Bird Jamaica Rum has been on the list for a couple of years. Oddly enough, I found it last week in what I'd consider my home store. In fact, is was new enough that it wasn't even in the system yet when they tried to ring it up!

So, as I've mentioned before, there are basically two ways rum is distilled; column distillation and pot still distillation. Pot still is the type of still you imagine when you think of stills. Column stills look a bit like a petrochemical refinery. Both have their place, of course, and many rums are actually a blend of the two. Traditional Jamaican rum is pot still and tends to have a high ester count compared to other rums. Doctor Bird is made in this style.

Pot Still at Hampden Estates in Jamaica
Pot Still at Hampden Estates in Jamaica

From what I can tell, it is actually distilled in Jamaica in various batches and then blended by Two James a distillery in Detroit. There are hints around on the interwebs that many of the distillates in this blend are from Worthy Park and that some of the Hampden high ester flavouring rums may be in the mix as well. There's no question that Doctor Bird has a nose that is all Jamaican funk all the time. However, it's finish is quick and it has remarkably little heat considering its 100 proof bottle strength. Given it's light straw color it certainly seems like high ester blending as opposed to esters formed during maturation.

So, how does it taste? Funky, and in a way that leaves me with no desire to sip on this one straight or over ice. But all of those overripe banana, middle of the tongue punches of hogo are absolutely killer in Tiki drinks where they blend with extracts, liqueurs, and other rums to produce something greater than the sum of its parts. Many Jamaican rums widely available in the US are blends that play down the funk. It's hard to compete with the likes of Bacardi when you have a product that is so different while carrying the same name. As I've gotten into Tiki drinks I've found myself straying further and further from Myers and Appleton into funkier Jamaicans. My go to Jamaican of late has been Plantation Xamayca. Doctor Bird is similar but not as sweet. Depending upon the other ingredients in a particular cocktail, that can be a good thing. And at $25 a bottle you don't feel like you have to save it for something special.

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