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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

July 5, 2013


Malternatives, a bag of sweet Cuban rums and one bonus

Summer's still over Alsace! Get this, we haven't got any rain since three days - at time of writing! Let's celebrate with more rum, starting with yet another old unavailable apéritif. If you don't mind... And then we'll add rums to rum until we feel we're done.

Bacardi 'Carta Blanca Superior' (OB, for France, 1940s?)

Bacardi 'Carta Blanca Superior' (OB, for France, 1940s?) Two starsWhat's sure is that this baby's pre-Fidel. No ABV on the label. Colour: gold. Nose: well, if I had to compare this very political oldie with other rums - which is the whole point, isn't it - I'd say this one's smoother, rounder, more honeyed, gentler, lighter, more undemanding and more, say commercial. It's very easy and totally uncontroversial, if I may say so.  Only distant whiffs of sugar cane. Mouth: easy, soft, maybe a little chalky - but that may come from bottle ageing - and certainly chocolaty. Rum-filled chocolate, maybe a little coffee as well. Satisfactory. Finish: short, a little sugary. Comments: quite good but it's light and easy 'commercial' rum. The fact that it's a wonderful old bottle - maybe even an historical one - doesn't make the slightest difference. In short, good but nothing más especial. SGP:330 - around 70 points. Let's try a more modern Cuban now...

Cuba 1998 (42%, Plantation, C. Ferrand, cask #2/4, 450 bottles, +/-2013)

Cuba 1998 (42%, Plantation, C. Ferrand, cask #2/4, 450 bottles, +/-2013) Two stars I think this baby was finished in cognac casks. Why not. Colour: full gold. Nose: it's a light and fresh rum, and I seem to detect notes of white peaches, possibly from the cognac casks. Other than that, we have some sugar cane, some honeydew (it's a little sappy), then more vanilla and sultanas. As I said, it's an easy and clean/fresh nose, exactly the opposite of, say the Hampden that we had earlier. Or Caronis, the Demeraras and such. Lightness! Mouth: strikingly sweet and almost syrupy. Feels arranged, with some pineapple liqueur, more vanilla, various honeys... Would go well on vanilla ice cream. Pear drops. Finish: a little short but a little more complex now. Chlorophyll? Comments: certainly very good but it's not quite my kind of rum. Probably more for lovers of good sweet and syrupy rums. SGP:620 - around 70 points. And while we're having some sweet Cubanistas, let's tackle Malecon if you will...

Rum Malecon 21 yo 'Reserva Imperial' (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2013)

Rum Malecon 21 yo 'Reserva Imperial' (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2013) Well, this is made using the 'metodo tradicional cubano' but it's not Cuban despite its name, it's made in Panama. Indeed, the Malecon is La Havana's well-known seaside avenue. Reminds us of the fake cigars that are made here and there using famous Cuban brand names. Colour: orange amber. Nose: it's quite coffee-ish and pretty dusty at first nosing, with also whiffs of damp earth that do not goo too well here. Having said that, it tends to improve over the minutes, with more humus and... er, cigars. Also chestnuts, freshly sawn oak and chocolate. Pretty nice, in fact, but the devil usually lies in, or on the palate. Mouth: nope. Coffee liqueur, chocolate liqueur, sugar. Too sweet and weak for my taste, this is no good malternative, but I'm not saying rum geeks wouldn't love it! Actually, I have no ideas... Finish: good length but the oak's chocolaty tannins tend to come out. Black pepper. Comments: simply a style that I do not enjoy. Serge, drop Cuba or Cuban-style rum! SGP:540 - around 65 points. And now, to match my action to my words, another Panamanian ;-)...

Panama 8 yo (42%, Plantation, C. Ferrand, cask #1/2, 450 bottles, +/-2013)

Panama 8 yo (42%, Plantation, C. Ferrand, cask #1/2, 450 bottles, +/-2013) Two starsI know it's not fully logical to have an 8yo after a 21, but Plantation's a much better name... Colour: amber. Nose: ... and this is a much nicer whisky. Even if it's Cuban-style, it's got these English-style notes of olives, tar, motor oil and pine sap that I usually enjoy. Rubber boots, tarmac, sugar cane and even a little ham. Pitch. We're in the navy! Mouth: right, this is quite sweet again - too sweet indeed- but balance is achieved. Liqueurs of all sorts, honey, jams... Makes your tongue stick to your palate. Well, all that is a little excessive but it's not totally unpleasant. Finish: good length, sweet, with some oak in the aftertaste. Comments: not my style, but it's more to my liking than the Malecon. It's just that I couldn't swallow more than a teaspoonful. It's me. SGP:730 - around 75 points. Phew, that was a hard session. There might be more sugar in these rums than in Coca-Cola, which says a lot. Well, the rums might be less lethal...

BONUS: I know some distinguished readers are not too much into rum, so I'm also posting notes for one nice and hopefully interesting whisky...

Balvenie 'Tun 1858' (50.4%, OB, for Taiwan, 2012)

Balvenie 'Tun 1858' (50.4%, OB, for Taiwan, 2012) Four stars and a half It's basically the same idea as the famous Tun 1401. I don't think the casks' ages are disclosed on the label, so it's fully 'NAS'. All we know is that it's 3 butts and 6 hogsheads or barrels (called 'traditional whisky casks' on the tube's label), probably all quite old while Tuns 1401 usually have younger whisky inside if I'm not mistaken. I've read that the oldest cask here is a 1966, and that the price is quite hefty (around 1000 Euros?) Colour: full amber. Nose: what's striking is the big influence of the sherry, and yet the distillate still shines through, with yellow plums, apricots, oranges and maybe touches of tinned pineapples. And let's not forget acacia honey and plain nectar. The oak spices are becoming a little louder after a few seconds, with quite some cinnamon Mouth: sweet and quite mellow, well between sherry and pure Balvenieness. There's a most enjoyable kind of freshness despite the very raisiny sherry. Mirabelle jam, honey, marmalade, brioche, orange cake, maybe touches of cassis jam... Finish: long, with an oakiness that got bigger and makes it just a little drying. Walnuts, nutmeg and cinnamon. Fairly tannic aftertaste. Comments: isn't it a bit bizarre to advertise the cask numbers but not the vintages? Anyway, a very fine old tipple, it's only in the finish that the oak's becoming a little loud in my opinion. SGP:561 - 89 points.

(with thanks to Patrick and Ho-cheng)







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