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

July 4, 2013


Malternatives, three Jamaican rums

Because summer's back in early Alsatian July. We'll first have a very old one by a Dutch merchant, as a kind of apéritif, and then two indies by some whisky, er, indies. One that could be rocket fuel according to its strength, and the other one that spent a lot of time in wood.

Jamaica Rum 'Special Reserve' (Levert & Schudel, Haarlem, Holland, early 20th century)

Jamaica Rum 'Special Reserve' (Levert & Schudel, Haarlem, Holland, early 20th century) Three starsA wonderful old label! Colour: orange amber. Nose: lovely, a little simple but certainly not weak, starting all on sultanas and light honey, with then more hay and candy sugar. Yet, it's not sugary at all, it's just quite simple so far. Little sugar cane, it was most probably molasses-based. After ten minutes, a little mint and liquorice that add a little more complexity. The honey's getting bigger too. After fifteen minutes: isn't this gewurztraminer? Roses? Beauty cream? That's funny but all that fades away. After twenty minutes: it's dead. Mouth: hey, it kept its power, although it probably became drier than it originally was. It really feels '40% vol.' A sucrosity (or would that be a sugariness?) at times but there's also some liquorice, these black olives that I sometimes find in these rums... It only gets a little disjointed after a good five minutes. Quite an achievement. Finish: not too long but more on menthol and cough drops. Maybe a little turpentine-y now. Ha! Comments: good old spirits never die. It's not utterly splendid rum but the way it kept its head high all these years is impressive, even if the nose tends to vanish. SGP:362 - around 80 points.

Hampden Estate 12 yo 2000/2013 (62%, The Rum Cask, Jamaica, cask #45)

Hampden Estate 12 yo 2000/2013 (62%, The Rum Cask, Jamaica, cask #45) Four stars This is pot still rum, probably fatty. Colour: white wine. Nose: the Port Ellen of rum! I mean, there's just as much tar in this rum, also linoleum, olives and liquorice. It's the kind of heavy profile that I enjoy, maybe also because it's kind of close to malt whisky. Yup, malt whisky from Islay. The sugar cane only becomes louder after a good ten minutes. Burnt sugar. No peat ;-). With water: same plus sea water. PE! Mouth (neat): you would think you could handle this for a fraction of a second, and then it's a kind of tarry tsunami that happens. Violently tarry and acrid, is this freely on sale? With water: remains tarry, grassy, fat, oily... And the salted liquorice kicks in. It's really like a heavy peater from Islay, either you love it, or you just can't stand it. The latter does not apply in my case. Finish: very long, even saltier. And olives, a little lemon zest... Comments: you need a long rest after this baby, but what a ride. The only thing it lacks is a little complexity, but who cares? Complexity is for sissies (wot???) SGP:662 - around 87 points.

Jamaican Rum 30 yo 1982/2012 (50.8%, Liquid Sun, 263 bottles)

Jamaican Rum 30 yo 1982/2012 (50.8%, Liquid Sun, 263 bottles) Three stars This one might come from Long Pond Distillery - or not. Colour: gold. Nose: it's much subtler than both the very old bottling and the heavy Hampden. We have tobacco, banana skin, café latte, polished wood (precious wood, rosewood and such, maybe thuja as well), then a feeling of tar and motor oil again just like in the Hampden but all that's lighter here. Quite some grass too. With water: between cigars, marmalade and more thuja wood. Unexpected williams pears. Mouth (neat): it's a strange one now, very different from all the rums I could try so far. There's quite some green oak, a feeling of cedar wood, cinnamon cake, some kind of mustard, liquorice, tar liqueur (we've opened a bottle of early 20th century Clacquessin tar liqueur with my friend Angus a while back, expect some wacky tasting notes soon...), also liquorice wood, other roots - isn't this ginseng powder? - and nutmeg, cinchona... I must say it's got something of some Italian bitters. With water: we're getting nearer to malt whisky while the oak's getting also even louder. Finish: quite long, very dry. Bitter chocolate. Drying, tannic aftertaste. Comments: this one is more complex, but it may have lost focus as a result. The oak's quite, say, thundering. SGP:481 - around 80 points.

(with thanks to Ron)

More tasting notes Check the index of all rums I've tasted so far







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