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

March 2, 2014


Sunday malternatives, another bag of rum

Time to resume our rum sessions, looking for malternatives. What I’ve learnt until now is that beside Demerara, Jamaica can make some brilliant ones. And let’s not forget other parts of the world, such as Trinidad (Caroni) and Guadeloupe/Marie-Galante… The trick is to try to avoid the dreadful uebersweet ones that I just hate. Pigswill! Anyway, we’ll have a few rums at total random today…

Rhum Vieux de Marie-Galante 6 ans (40%, Aldi, +/-2014)

Rhum Vieux de Marie-Galante 6 ans (40%, Aldi, +/-2014) Three stars and a half That’s right, I found this baby at Aldi’s for around 10€ a bottle. As you may know, Marie-Galante is a tiny island near Guadeloupe, but there are three distilleries there, namely Bielle, Bellevue and Poisson (Père Labat). As for what’s inside today’s bottle, there’re no clues on the label, sadly, but it’s an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée). Colour: gold. Nose: pleasant! Slightly molassy, with obvious notes of sugar cane, touches of aniseed and fennel, quite some juniper (it’s got something of gin) and then a slight coastal touch. Iodine? Not too sure this is genuine agricole, but it feels like it a bit. Pleasant nose. Mouth: really, it’s pleasant. Sugar cane, brine, olive oil, a little tar, some liquorice, very discreet notes of ripe bananas, more liquorice, a little salt… This is really good, just a little thin because of the low strength. Finish: good length, very liquoricy. Even more liquorice in the aftertaste as well as a smokiness. Comments: omg, Aldi! I had though this would be putrid swill, it’s not. At all. SGP:462 - 83 points.

I think we’ve got another 6 years old from the French Caribbean…

Clément 6 ans (44%, OB, Martinique, rhum agricole, +/-2013)

Clément 6 ans (44%, OB, Martinique, rhum agricole, +/-2013) Two stars Clément is a well-known house. This 6yo is classified as a “très vieux”. We’ve tried a younger “vieux” a while back and I didn’t quite like it (WF 70), it was too liqueury for my taste. Colour: Nose: huge sweet oak! Reeks of cinnamon cake and pencil shavings at first nosing, but things do improve after a few minutes, with nice touches of sugar cane, roasted cashews and pineapple juice. Quite some candy sugar too, milk chocolate... Mouth: good, fruity, not too oaky this time. Pineapples and tangerines with soft spices and notes of liquorice allsorts. Certainly sweeter than the Marie-Galante, and maybe a little too aromatic. Plenty of sultanas too. The oak comes out after thirty seconds and the whole gets slightly planky. Finish: medium length. Sweet and oaky, sweet ginger. Comments: very fine rhum but I think it’s a little too sweet and oaky. SGP:641 - 75 points.

While we’re at it, we could as well try the 10 yo…

Clément 10 ans (44%, OB, Martinique, rhum agricole, +/-2013)

Clément 10 ans (44%, OB, Martinique, rhum agricole, +/-2013) Two stars and a half Another ‘très vieux’ by Clément. Colour: deep gold. Nose: similar, but deeper and rounder, with more honey, jams and chutneys. Mango? The oak’s actually less loud, although there is some cinnamon and traces of pencil shavings again. Lots of raisins and dates as well as something floral. Roses? A little cedar wood too. Mouth: closer to the 6yo, maybe just a notch saltier. Very, very similar… Maybe more strawberry jam? Finish: good length, with some sweet oak that hints at some bourbons. Comments: these Cléments are good rhums, no doubt, but they’re a little flabby for my taste. I think I like my rums tighter and more tensed, so to speak. SGP:641 - 77 points.

Back to Guadeloupe and thereabouts…

Guadeloupe 12 yo 1998 (46%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, +/-2011)

Guadeloupe 12 yo 1998 (46%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, +/-2011) Four stars and a half It doesn’t say so but this could well be Bellevue. Colour: amber. Nose: ah yes, now we’re talking! Oily, grassy, tarry, petroly and very sugarcane-y (!), this is true rhum. Not much to add, this is perfect. Look for Bellevue at the indies, they’re always worth your money (assuming this is well Bellevue). Mouth: indeed, almost perfect arrival, well balanced between a grassy/petroly side and the ripe fruits that abound, such as passion fruits, bananas, pineapples and then a camphory, almost medicinal side. Also coffee and toffee, liquorice as almost always… Excellent! Finish: long and bold but kind of fresh, without the slightest molassy notes. Great distillate. A little smoke and more liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: I think I already wrote that I think that Bellevue’s on the same level as Caroni, the best Jamaicans or the best Demeraras. This was another proof, well done BB&R! Assuming it was Bellevue indeed, eh!... SGP:652 - 88 points.

All right, since we were talking about Caroni…

Caroni 16 yo 1997/2013 (51.6%, The Whisky Agency, Trinidad, 223 bottles)

Caroni 16 yo 1997/2013 (51.6%, The Whisky Agency, Trinidad, 223 bottles) Four stars Let’s not forget that Caroni used to produce both some heavy style rum (which I love) and some light one (which… I don’t know much about). Colour: gold. Nose: very nice, but the Bellevue overshadows it. In a way, the Guadalupean is more ‘Caroni’ than this Caroni. Praline, caramel, milk chocolate, candy sugar, just hints of linoleum and bakelite, dried bananas, a little sandalwood, incense… So yeah, very, very nice but it’s not one of the big tarry ones. Mouth: wait, no, what wasn’t in the nose is all over the palate. Metal polish, grapefruit skin, new plastic, liquorice, litres of lapsang souchong tea (it’s certainly smoky) and a feeling of diesel oil, then capers and gherkins. Brine. Really captivating. Finish: long, salty, briny, minty and tarry. Caroni. Comments: forget about noses, what a wonderful palate! Now, I did like the Bellevue a tiny-wee bit better… SGP:653 - 87 points.

These rums are really heavy, so one last one if you don’t mind…

Uitvlugt 15 yo 1998/2013 (51.7%, The Whisky Agency, 269 bottles)

Uitvlugt 15 yo 1998/2013 (51.7%, The Whisky Agency, 269 bottles) Three stars Remember that Uitvlugt was the very last functioning distillery along the Demerara river. It got closed in the year 2000. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s a much, much lighter rum than the Bellevue and Caroni, maybe I shouldn’t have put it behind them. Having said, that it’s got some beautiful notes of linseed oil, ink, waxed paper and freshly mown lawn. Also roasted peanuts and cashews. It’s a discreet one… Mouth: a blend of orange liqueur and barley water (yup). A surprising light style that rather hints at Cuba in my feeble experience, we’re far from the amazingly heavy Demeraras. But yeah, not all Demeraras are/were heavy… Finish: relatively long but a little sugary. Sugar cane syrup. Comments: the sugary side of Guyana. Certainly very, very good, but not my favourite style (and conversely). SGP:730 - 81 points.

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


Whiskyfun fav of the month

February 2014

Favourite recent bottling:
Brora 40 yo 1972 (59.1%, OB, decanter, single cask, 2014)  - WF 98

Favourite older bottling:
Tamdhu 26 yo 1970/1996 (51.5%, Signatory, butt, cask #378, 390 bottles) - WF 96

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Clynelish 16 yo 1997/2013 (50.4%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, sherry hogshead, 235 bottles) - WF 90







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