Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | April 6, 2011

Banks 5 Island Rum

More than any other category of spirits, rums are something that I enjoy collecting. When I got into cocktails, I was a bourbon guy. As I evolved my love of classic cocktails, I became a gin nut. But over the last year, I’ve realized that for cocktails there are a few bourbons I really like using and don’t feel the need to accumulate sippers. For gin, there are some great bottlings that I love to use across the few key categories (London Dry, Plymouth, Old Tom, New American) and  beyond that, I don’t have many needs. But rum…rum is a different story. The variance between different islands, different styles, different ages, and how they interplay with each other has made me seek out more and more different, new types. With over 70 countries producing rum around the world, the odds of me running out of new places to explore is pretty slim.

Nonetheless, I was really excited to get a sample of Banks 5 Island Rum recently. I’d read about it at over at Tiare’s blog, A Mountain of Crushed Ice, last fall. She wrote, “I don`t think i`ve come across a white rum that has so much of the dark rum flavor before..but on the other hand there´s many white rums i`ve never yet tasted.” That’s a pretty intriguing description and one that I really found true myself.

Banks 5 Island Rum is a white rum, blended from rums from Trinidad, Jamaica, Guayana, Barbados and Java. I found the nose to be incredibly interesting, with a mix of lemon, floral scents, cane sugar, pineapple, white grape and a thin strand of alcohol vapor. The taste was equally complex, with papaya, banana, burnt sugar leading the way and a light, peppery finish with a slight burn. The mouthfeel is very thick and creamy. In short, this is a really unique, dynamic white rum with tremendous potential.

I’d also received a bottle of PAMA Liqueur to sample and my first inclination was to do a variation of a Brunswick Sour combining the two. A Brunswick Sour, which I first experienced when Derek Brown was the head bartender at The Gibson, is simply a classic Daiquiri topped with a float of merlot. Unfortunately, PAMA is much more dense than merlot, so when I tried to float it on top, it ended up settling on the bottom of the glass. The drink was still tasty, but ended up imbalanced, with the last third of the glass dominated by PAMA.

As a better cocktail to feature Banks 5 Island Rum, I went with a variation on the classic Between the Sheets cocktail. Jay Hepburn at Oh, Gosh! had a post on this drink a few years ago, though I found a recipe which made a bit more sense for my tastes.

Between the Sheets

1 oz Banks 5 Island Rum
1 oz cognac (Courvoisier VSOP)
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz fresh lemon juice
0.25 oz simple syrup

Combine in an ice filled shaker and make the ice sing. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with an orange peel.

Between the Sheets is a really nice cocktail. Driven by the Banks rum, it is rich and velvety, with a strong vanilla/orange flavor. The rum isn’t the sole player in this drink and I’m sure that there will be many other cocktails that I find great uses for the Banks 5 Island Rum, so stay tuned for more.

Disclosure: This post was made possible because I received free bottles of Banks 5 Island Rum and PAMA Liqueur for the purposes of sample and review.



  1. Why not just less lemon juice instead of adding simple syrup? Did you find it improved the texture?

    • Yeah, I think this made the texture more rich and soft and the overall cocktail less dry. Given how robust the Banks 5 is, I thought it’d work well. I’m happy with this, though I’m sure if you wanted to reduce the lemon juice a bit and eliminate the simple syrup would be fine too.

  2. Banks Five Spice is a fantastic white rum! of course much of the dark rum flavor comes from the fact that its filtered but got, as you now know, flavor and complexity like few other whites.

    I love it in a daiquiri!

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