Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Island Time - Wild Days Rum: Barrel Number Two

Waiheke Island's Onetangi Beach
When I told  friends in Sydney that I was sitting on a beach in New Zealand the comment was met with no small amount of wonderment. New Zilund, for the record, does have beaches. Very nice ones at that. It was whilst en route to one of my favourite spots in the Auckland region - Waiheke Island's Onetangi Beach - that I came across another surprise for my Australian friends. New Zealand makes rum too.

Wild Days Rum, made on Waiheke Island, is not the first nor, I might wager, will it be the last rum produced across the ditch. New Zealand is, in fact, quite the nation of rum drinkers. Our Aussie cuzzie bros (click here for Wikipedia's list of New Zealand terms) might enjoy a Bundy, but in NZ we've long been swigging Coruba - a black as sin Jamaican rum brand developed for New Zealand during the 1960s. Coruba is, in fact, New Zealand's second largest spirit brand- a position it has held since 1980.

But back to Wild Days Rum. It's made from natural rain water and slow fermented molasses - I'm talking about 2-3 months here. The esters that have developed over this long brewing process are captured during distillation first in a pot still before being reflux distilled to create a pure spirit at about 90% abv. The spirit is immersed in activated charcoal before going through charcoal filtration. The filtered product is then aged in French oak - I'm not sure for how long at present, but I hoping I'll have an answer from the producers soon.

Each barrel equates to about 300 bottles which are released one at a time. Barrel Two pictured here has sold out but Barrel Three is currently on sale and apparently a few bottles of Barrel One still remain. 

Despite the heavy handed sounding filtration this bad boy has a lot going on. There's a massive acetate hit - a smell that I can only describe as sun-perished Sellotape (cellulose acetate is used as an adhesive). As scary as this may sound to some, I find it inviting and strangely nostalgic. It soon gives way to more approachable grassy notes, vanilla and butterscotch. The palate is sweet and syrupy, with golden syrup, hokey pokey and vanilla dominating. The grassy complexity found on the nose is evident in the finish which is lingering as is the vanilla sweetness.

The bottle is finished with wood chips to "continue the aging process". In my mind this rum has enough vanilla as it is. Indeed, I'd like to see the shape of this rum without such intense oak treatment and perhaps at a little higher proof (it's bottled at 40% abv).

Over all though I'm thoroughly impressed. I'm looking forward to further releases as this is a very enjoyable and drinkable wee dram. 

More information: Visit

Update 06/01/11: 

Russell Duurloo from Wild Days Rum has informed me that it only spends about 10 months on oak in ex-Cabernet barrels from Waiheke's Te Whau Point. Technically you wouldn't be able to call this a rum in Australia, but regulations in New Zealand do not require rum to be aged for a minimum of two years. In my mind this spirit has had all the oak treatment it needs although Duurloo would like to see it age for a further year.    


  1. Feel free to send me a bottle!


  2. Hi Ryan,

    Contact the distiller via their website above.


    Booze Braggart

  3. Hello Simon, I found your blog after flicking through some of John and Lucy Stiven's pics on fb, and really enjoyed reading your new rum blog. I expect you picked up a little of this fascination with the top shelf at a certain King's Head in Guildford? I worked there while I was the Gap student at Lanesborough the year before you, having been taken to the pub a few times by Lucy before she went off travelling around Australia. Though I can't imagine many of your favourites, certainly of the single malt variety, have ever graced the KH shelves! More of a Chiswick and London Pride establishment as I recollect! I'm a Talisker fan myself, but I look forward to scouring your back catalogue for further malty insights. Keep up the tasty "research" here mate, and maybe include some of your bread recipes too! A beer bread perhaps? Just to keep with the theme. Cheers, Ben Revell