Review #88: Samaroli Jamaica Rhapsody
The Samaroli Jamaica Rhapsody is one of those bottles that rum nerds whisper excitedly about. For the uninitiated, Samaroli is an independent bottler located in Scotland that is well-known in the brown spirits category for bottling excellent rums and whiskies. Its founder, Silvano Samaroli, passed away in 2017 but the label carries on under the helm of Antonio Bleve, who has been in charge since 2008.
Samaroli began importing whisky in 1968 and began piloting a few independent bottles in 1979 featuring relatively unknown distilleries such as Coleburn and Teaninch. Since then, the label has released some cult phenomenons representing all the varied regions of Scotland. However, their most legendary bottles are from Islay: a Laphroaig 1967 and the Bowmore Banquet 1966. A signature feature of many of the Samaroli bottles are their complex noses (Samaroli was known for having an exceptional nose) and the artistic labels, which were originally drawn by Samaroli himself.
We spied this from across the bar (it was on the top shelf stashed away on the farthest corner from where we were sitting) when visiting Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago, IL. The bartender didn’t know the price, so she told us to choose the cheapest Samaroli price ($28) on the rum list and she’d give it to us for that. We happily obliged and the pour (sadly) turned out to be the very last one of the bottle. Did it live up to expectations? Yes.
Samaroli Jamaica Rhapsody
- Score - 8.5/108.5/10
Nose. Jamaican ester. Strong banana. Fresh green chilies. Oranges. Kiwi and fresh fruit.
Palate. Bright lemonade start. Vanilla in the center. Super fine sugar. Banana runts. Fresh creamed corn. Creamy or milky mouthfeel. Hit of bourbon, oak, and vanilla toffee.
Finish. Tingly aftertaste a bit like Sunkist orange drink. Bubbly like dry sparkling water. Silt and charcoal. Dark ash aftertaste.
Overall: 8.5/10. I could drink this all day! Would rate it even higher if not for the tannic aftertaste…
Purchased for: $28/pour at Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago, IL (note: it wasn’t on the price list so she told us to choose the cheapest listed Samaroli price and charged us that)
Quick overview of our scoring system
- ABV: 45%
- Established in 1968, Samaroli is the first non-Scottish and non-English independent Scotch whisky bottler
- Samaroli was born in Benghazi, where his father was stationed, just a few weeks after the start of WWII.
- One of the early pioneers of bottling cask strength whiskies in the 1980s and also one of the first to embrace no age statements transparently
- Samaroli is known for their Laphroaig bottlings, including one that went for 60,000 British pounds in a recent auction
- Silvano Samaroli recently passed away in 2017. Although he had given over management to Bleve, he was still heavily involved in the blending until his passing, thus catapulting many pre-2017 to collector’s items.