Mhoba, a name that doesn’t ring a bell to most casual drinkers, but one that sounds like Big Ben to rumlovers all over the world. What is Mhoba you may ask, and where does the name come from?
Mhoba means ‘sugarcane’ in SiSwati, the language of the Native Swazi people from the rum’s country of origin, South Africa. Mhoba is the creation of Robert Greaves, a former mechanical engineering student from the Stellenbosch University (They have some great wines in Stellenbosch as well) turned distiller.
So here we have a rum made from sugarcane juice in distilled in pot stills. This is starting to yell clairin or providence… and wait what? The stills are self-built, okay it’s screaming now.
These self-built stills are said to be high reflux, which means more contact with the still -> more condensation -> “lighter” and “fruitier” rum. We’ll see. With everything I’ve already listed up here, this should be a blaster of a rum. I mean, vegetal and fresh grass from the juice, character from the pot still and a subtler palate from the high amount of reflux. Good god man! For a country with basically no significant rum-history this sure looks pretty good.
Let’s round of with a quick spec runover: This rum has been distilled in 2017 from the Nkomazi sugarcane juice in 100% Pot Stills. It was then aged for four years in ex-bourbon casks and then bottled at a full proof of 64.6% ABV and 571.3Gr/HLAA congeners of which 246.1gr/HLAA are those beloved esters.
Straw with a light green hue around the edge
A dirty, oily and fat vegetable patch. That’s the first thing that pops into my mind. Some maltiness when nosed from afar. After some nosing the fruity qualities come through. Plums, burnt banana and a very Hampden-like ester (including varnish).
The nose is also quite pepper-y and oak-y which adds a nice extra layer.
This hits with the full 64.6%; spice, warmth and alcohol galore on the first sip. On the palate you’d hardly say this is sugarcane juice based, as it’s really warm and full. After the first couple of tear-inducing seconds the palate opens up to reveal the grass in contrast to the Agricole style this grass is summer-y warm, hot grass summer is a thing (sorry I had to do it). The grass mixes with a very dry type of vanilla, caramel and oak. I’m finding an abundance of spice as well.
I’m also getting raisins and nougat here alongside a whole bunch of spice. There’s a real nice bite to this full rum without being overly viscous. Awesome glass of rum
The spice lingers on for quite a while. The more subtler flavours leave soon and leave spice, wood some of that dry caramel.
This is a pretty stunning rum, especially for such a young distillery in a country that has very little to do with rum and is focused more on wine. A very good balance between esters, fruit and wood. There was a bit much of mouth-numbing spice at times but the moment this faded away, an array of complexity stood waiting for me. I’ll definitely be looking out for more releases of these. (perhaps at a bit lower ABV).