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Screech Rum

"What the cripes was that ungodly screech?" Asked an old American sergeant after hearing the bloodcurling howl made by the commanding officer of the first detachment visiting Newfoundland during World War II. "The screech?" 'Tis the rum, me son" said the host who offered a drop of rum to the commanding officer after dinner.

So strong was the rum it would make whoever drank it to release an ungodly screech! A legend was born and the rum was labelled Famous Newfoundland Screech Rum.

The soul warming qualities of the early version of this rum were appreciated by the early Newfoundland fishermen who traded salt fish for Jamaican rum in the West Indies.

According to legend this is why the national dish of Jamaica is salt fish and the rum is the traditional drink of Newfoundlanders.

The recipe of Screech Rum has changed from those days, mainly the alcohol volume has been lowered and the flavours mellowed making it more palatable for todays consumers. I've heard many horror stories about this rum and I've also read some bad reviews which really do not make this rum sound very appealing. I acquired this bottle from my cousin living in Canada who also screeches at this rum. He wanted me to have this because of its limited availability. Screech rum is available in most of Canada and in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont states of United States.

The production of Famous Newfoundland Screech Rum begins on the island of Jamaica where molasses are distilled to rum in pot- and column stills. The rums, supplied by the famous J. Wray & Nephew, are aged in American white oak bourbon barrels at a warehouse in Kingston for a minimum of 1½  - 2½ years but some older rums are used in the blend as well though the blend for Screech rum only consists of two rums.

The new improved bottle design for Screech rum was introduced in 2004, inspired by the rich sea-faring history of Newfoundland. The new label that looks like an old map has a navigation rose and a photo of what I can only assume is the Newfoundland harbour. The old bottle was significantly more colourful - the label had colours of yellow, blue and gold and featured the map of Newfoundland. I like the new design more though, it is more elegant and not cartoony like the old bottle.


Screech Rum has bold and heavy legs. It is mahogany with copper and glowing gold which are enhanced by the clarity of the rum and by the cognac glass I am using for this rum. 


I was pleasantly surprised when I removed the bottle cap - extremely intense and delicious banana aroma, with Jack Daniels like whiskey aroma, caramel and sugar. In the glass Screech is extremely smooth nosed and strong with banana with underlying fruitiness and caramel. 


A full bodied and complex rum with banana, spice, vanilla and raisin. It is slightly bitter around the tongue and glows warmly in the mouth and chest after swallowing but the bite is not enough to make me screech like the commanding officer of the legend. It is infact quite smooth and not at all like the legend says. 


Vanilla and caramel with bitter nut peels. 

Final thoughts

Newfoundland Famous Screech Rum is actually quite nice despite what the rumours and reviews say. Perhaps they have tasted rum from the older bottlings dating before the formulation was changed due to some replacement of stills or perhaps it is the Jamaican character they don't like. My advice is to try Screech rum if you have the chance. 

  • Details at a Glance

 Single Blended Rum

Details at a Glance

Country: Jamaica via Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.
Aged: Minimum ½-2½ years with some older rums in the blend
Barrel(s): ex Bourbon barrels
Style: Single Blended Rum
J. Wray & Nephew Ltd.
ABV: 40%
Hydrometer Reading: ?

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