We’ll start by saying what Batavia Arrack isn’t: rum. Well, not exactly. This obscure spirit is like a distant cousin of rum, made with both molasses and rice. It originated in Indonesia, back when that island nation was a Dutch colony and Jakarta went by another name, Batavia. You’ll notice the label says “Indonesian Rum,” which is likely a means of helping consumers understand the category by offering a close parallel.

This particular Batavia Arrack is a product of By the Dutch, a small producer based in Schiedam, South Holland. The spirit was pot distilled in Indonesia from sugar cane and a small amount of red rice, and then transported to Amsterdam for eight years of aging in oak barrels. Its final stop was in Schiedam, for bottling.

It pours a light, mellow gold in the glass and has a sweet nose redolent of stone fruit, plus a deep, earthy funk. It’s hot from the get-go, with a slight creamy texture, and starts with a dark sweetness that recalls figs, plums and prunes. That vegetal, spicy funk emerges at the center, where grassy flavors of straw and hay leap out as the heat hits a crescendo. The final notes are of pepper and grass, followed by a long, dry finish that dances on the tongue.

By the Dutch’s Batavia Arrack is a fascinating spirit. It has a deep, dark fruitiness that’s familiar to certain types of rum, plus the spiced, vegetal funkiness you might encounter in potent rice-based spirits like shochu or baijiu.

— 48% ABV
— $35-40

CE Rating: ★★★

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