Our Taste Test series travels to one of the most northerly distilleries in Australia to the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland where Mount Uncle Distillery crafts their gold rum, Iridium.
About Mount Uncle Distillery
Owner-distiller Mark Watkins has been distilling since he was 16—though those illicit teenage years behind the still didn’t end too well. Mark almost poisoned his mate with a dodgy batch of moonshine and was close to burning down his family’s farm.
But since 2001, Mount Uncle Distillery at the foot of its eponymous mountain has righted all previous wrongs with many spectacular spirits.
Mark has collected a whole host of awards for his liqueurs, gins, vodka, rums and whisky, and has also started crafting agave spirit—essentially tequila.
Each of Mount Uncle’s products sits under a separate brand that Mark has created, with Botanic Australis as his gin brand, Dirt Road for the agave spirits, Sexycat Liqueurs, Watkins Whisky, Anjea Vodka and FNQ Rum Co.
About the bottle
A recent rebranding of Iridium Rum has brought this bottle right up to date—the previous iteration was in a straight-sided screw-cap closure with fairly simple on-glass printing.
Iridium’s new bottle sports some beautiful high-end details with a textured front label and a copper medallion logo, a cork closure and emu feathers, ferns and flowers subtly printed on the body of this stocky bottle.
There’s also a sticker on the neck that tells you the barrel and bottle number of the batch, and a metre-and-a-half long leather thong tied around the neck like a bolo.
The bottle really makes it clear you’re drinking a high-end top-quality product.
Iridium rum is made from sugar cane syrup—concentrated sugar cane juice—that Mark sources from local farms. Sugar cane syrup rum is sometimes known as rhum agricole.
It has a lighter, fruitier style than rum made with molasses, which is the dark treacly byproduct from sugar refining.
This is a gold rum, taking colour from the ex-red wine American oak barrels in which it was aged for five years.
Iridium’s aroma is somehow light and airy like a batch of fresh laundry, yet resinous and rich with fudgy notes of vanilla and caramel.
More caramel sweetness and oaky tannins continue as you taste the rum, which has a silk smooth a slightly oily texture. At the midpoint, there’s slight souring of green apple that’s again picked up by a burnt sugar finish that suddenly dries to brief floral notes at the end.
A supremely sippable spirit, Iridium is at its best straight up or with a drop of water just as you would drink a high-end whisky.
However, put it with a mixer (if you must) or stir it up into rum old fashioneds and daiquiris to your heart’s content.
Immensely drinkable and a wonderful example of how premium rums can and should be considered as top-level spirits, Iridium Gold Rum is surely a sign that rum’s popularity—through sheer quality—is on the cards.