What the Funk?

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RumMan64 🇺🇸 | 3 ratings Author Posted 11 Aug '23

I love Jamaican Rums, similarly, I love Funk. I started thinking about it and was perplexed on why we taste it in our rums? Why do we taste banana and ripe fruits when they aren't distilled with fruit in it?



dougw 🇺🇸 | 36 ratings Replied 11 Aug '23

I think its because the esters produced during fermentation have a chemical composition that is similar to banana and various fruits.

Mr. Rumantic avatar image
Mr. Rumantic 🇩🇪 | 296 ratings Replied 11 Aug '23

Absolutely correct. It is all chemistry. Your brain just thinks you smell banana because it has similar chemical composition. There are lists where you can find out which Ester makes a specific smell or taste. 


RumMan64 🇺🇸 | 3 ratings Author Replied 11 Aug '23

That is wild! So esters are produced by the fermenting sugars cane and yeasts, and those esters are similar to fruits. So cool.

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Mr. Rumantic 🇩🇪 | 296 ratings Replied 11 Aug '23

It is. And some rums like Caroni or Rockley are partly so rare and expensive because they have chemical compositions that make it smell and taste like rubber or honey. Something not many rums have. So the fermentation process is very inportand and an Art for itself. Hampden has such an intense flavor because of the long wild fermantation for example. 

dougw 🇺🇸 | 36 ratings Replied 11 Aug '23

OK, since this thread is about 'funk', I have a question that's been bugging me for awhile, maybe I can get some clarification.

To me, there are at least two different things that might be categorized as funk, but they're totally different to my nose and palate, I'd like to get other opinions.

The fruity banana-like funk that is in Hampden 8yo and Rum Fire is one of them, and my experience with the taste/smell of that one seems to align with everyone else. 

Its the other one that confuses me, the Worthy Park funk that is in things like Hamilton Pot Still Black/Gold and Rum-Bar.  I read some people also describing that one as being fruity and banana-like, similar to Hampden, but to me its night and day different from the Hampden funk.  I can't even describe what the smell/taste is because its too foreign to me, maybe its the rotten fruit people sometimes mention, but I've never actually smelled rotten fruit.  To me it smells like a mix of dirt and wet dog fur, which isn't anywhere near as pleasant as banana, and in no way would be confused with banana.

In reviews of Rum-Bar on this site, I also read several that are ambiguous as to the taste/smell, but simply say things like "terrible", "undrinkable" or something similar.  Those people seem to be getting the same taste/smell I'm getting, and just aren't very good at describing it, but that's just a guess.

So, my question is, do any of you think Hamilton Pot Still Black and Rum-Bar smell similar to Hampden?  If the answer is yes, then what's the explanation for how different people could smell two totally different things from the same rum?  It wouldn't surprise me that each person's senses are a little different from one another, but to me the differences between these two smells is so great that I can't imagine someone else saying they're similar.

Jimmy Cliff avatar image
Jimmy Cliff (PREMIUM) 🇺🇸 | 506 ratings Replied 13 Aug '23

Im not a big Jamaican Hogo funk lover,and even with its rarity Caroni taste like burnt tires and licking an ashtray. My. Taste are more toward deep dark rich oak aged rums, slightly sweet. Im fine with Jamaican Appleton and Mount Gay but Hampden and Worthy Park are not to my liking. Not really an answer to your question just my 2 cents on a Sunday morning.

tangosix 🇺🇸 | 6 ratings Replied 15 Aug '23

So I just tried the Gregarious Grump Jamaican Cask.  I was thinking I wanted to jump head first into the funk. 

Brothers, I was not prepared for that Grump funk punch in the face.  Never imagined so much funk.  It left me cross-eyed.  I had a group of friends over and totally rained on their sissy little bourbon party.  No one was the same afterwards.  DA FUNK. 

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Mr. Rumantic 🇩🇪 | 296 ratings Replied 16 Aug '23

I will never forget my first Funk. It was the Habitation Velier Hampden 2011 LFCH. A low ester Hampden but for me a totally new world. We had so much fun figuring out what to think of it. Still one of my favorite Hampden Bottling. Great Balance of Funk and Wood Influence. Tropical aging at it's finest. 

Paul B avatar image
Paul B 🇺🇸 | 474 ratings Replied 19 Aug '23


Based upon your request to check this thread out (from your post about my optimum level of rums), I do not have a ready answer to your questions here. All I know from memory is that Hampden is highly over rated in my book and tastes nothing at all like the Hamilton Jamaican rums. It has been so long since I tried either and have forgotten the smells.

What drove me away from Jamaican rums was reading the very detailed accounts of how they are fermented with rotten fruit or something from the muck pit. This speeds up the fermenation process, but all of the harmful ingredients are removed in the distillation process. This is what makes their rums uniquely Jamaican. Haiti is the only other country that can get away with this. Now if one wanted to add roitten peaches or tobacco to the mash of what will wind up as Tennessee whiskey, I guarantee that the law man in the USA would shut them down.


dougw 🇺🇸 | 36 ratings Replied 19 Aug '23

thanks for reading Paul.

FWIW, the Hampden 8yo is probably my favorite rum at this time, so that one isn't overrated in my book.  But, I'm not as crazy about the Great House, which costs about twice as much, so maybe I'd consider that one overrated.  I've found both the $100+ rums that I've tried to be very good, but not something I'd buy again (from a value perspective), so the Great House isn't alone in that status.

At this point I know I like the ester "funk", but I'm not sure what that other smell is that I also call "funk", that's in various Jamaican rums like Hamilton Pot Still Black, Rum-Bar, and Doctor Bird.

The one that really surprised me was the Worthy Park 109, that's a damn good rum at a very low price.

vomi1011 avatar image
vomi1011 🇩🇪 | 402 ratings Replied 1 Sep '23

@dougw Everyone's perception is individual. We are also not connoisseurs who can precisely determine aromas. With Hampden, you taste something with which you associate positive feelings. I taste pineapple, malt, citrus, green or backed apple (depens on the mark of course). With Worthy Park I associate the taste with dried banana chips, dry orange peel and wood varnish or kerosene depending on the duration of storage. Sometimes we don't seem to be able to distinguish the flavours from each other. Then we combine the whole thing to a bundle of aromas, like dirt or wet dog. Dirt can mean anything. Rotten, acid, food, chemical, medical. You don't seem to like a bunch of flavours, I don't know what you don't like, but in any case your expression is too generic. Do you know the Tasting Wheel? If you specify the taste more precisely in one direction, then we might find out the aroma you don't like. When someone says it tastes like vomit, I know it's acid, fruit and rot (simply ester flavours). For me, wet dog has associations with tallow, musty. Worthy Park can have a buttery flavour, though I'd put that more towards a Clarendon.

dougw 🇺🇸 | 36 ratings Replied 1 Sep '23

@vomi1011 thanks for the reply.  The reason my expression is generic is because the smell I'm trying to describe isn't like anything else I'm familiar with outside of the rum world, so I can't compare it to anything else.

your comment about musty is probably the closest to what I'm trying to describe, but since I live in soCal with very low humidity I don't encounter musty very often to be sure if that's a good descriptor or not.

I've tried several Worthy Park rums, and they are all quite different, so when you say "with Worthy Park I associate", which one are you referring to?  For Worthy Park Rum-Bar, what types of aromas would you compare it to?  To me it has a similar smell as Hamilton Pot Still Black, but I can't compare that smell to something else I'm familiar with, can you?  To me its not banana chips, orange peel, or varnish, its nothing like any of those.  I've never smelled kerosene, so I can't say if that might be similar.  So, are you using those terms to describe Rum-Bar, or some other Worthy Park rum?

Regarding the tasting wheel, wet dog is one of the entries in the wheel that I found online, so that would seem to be a relevant description and not entirely generic.  It falls under the chemical/sulfur category, and sulfur is generally considered to be an unpleasant aroma.  So, that would be consistent with my reaction to it being somewhat unpleasant. 

Also, I poured some Rum-Bar into a Glencairn glass and the aroma in the glass is similar to what I smell from the bottle neck.  But, when I poured it back into the bottle, the very small amount of remaining liquid in the bottom of the glass gave me a smell of black licorice, and the wet dog aroma was gone.

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vomi1011 🇩🇪 | 402 ratings Replied 1 Sep '23

Good question since there are different marks. Rum-Bar White is grassy/vegetal, metallic, with overrip banana, pear, lime and nail polish for me. I have no preference for unaged rums. Hamilton Jamaica Pot Still Black is also an unaged Worthy Park. I think its slightly more fruity? Hard to tell the difference without direct comparison, since the profile is somewhat the same. Its a typical unaged WP profile, there is not much similar rum, MHOBA african rum is maybe like this but with differen fruit aromas I would say, with quince and green vegetables or so. Orange peels are from the WPM profile, it requires aging, this arome comes from the wood (I like that the best). You can try leaving the rum in the tumbler for an hour, it may change its aroma. Or try to add some water, it becomes thinner, but some flavours become clearer. Unfortunately, I don't know animal aromas like wet dog from the tasting wheel. I could imagine leather, but this aroma also requires long storage.