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

May 4, 2014


Sunday malternatives, rums at random

We’ll be extra-careful with these rums because we’ll have them more or less at random, which means that a light Cuban may follow a heavy Trinidadian. Oh well, we’ll simply take our time…

Caroni 1999/2014 (61%, The Rum Swedes, Trinidad, bourbon barrel)

Caroni 1999/2014 (61%, The Rum Swedes, Trinidad, bourbon barrel) Four stars and a half The crazy guys at Svenska Eldvatten found another Caroni at (high) cask strength. Boy I hate them! Colour: light gold. Nose: well, it’s perhaps not the heaviest Caroni ever, and maybe these touches of pencil shavings from the bourbon cask are a little superfluous, but all the rest is superb. Diesel oil, green olives, fresh tarmac, sugar cane, light brine, ‘new car’. With water: impeccable! A trip on a fisherman’s old boat. Tar, oil, fish, brine. Four aces and no seasickness. Mouth (neat): perfection. No more plebeian bourbon wood, rather an instant Caroniness, with tar again, salmiak, olive oil, some kind of drier limoncello, an obvious smokiness and just one caper. Actually, you would think this is a cocktail made by the world’s #1 bartender. With water: please call the antirumoporn brigade. No, don’t, I find it a touch too sweet and cologne-y now. Finish: long, nicer when unreduced – but then again, it’s 61% vol… Comments: some parts were stunning, some others a notch less so (for my taste). Loved it though, globally. SGP:652 - 88 points.

Rhum Rhum 'Liberation 2012' (59.8%, Velier, Marie-Galante, 2012)

Rhum Rhum 'Liberation 2012' (59.8%, Velier, Marie-Galante, 2012) Four stars We’ve already tried the reduced version back in January, and found it great at just five years of age (WF 87). Will this full proof version be even more to our liking? These rhums are made at Bielle distillery on Marie-Galante (near Guadeloupe), so the pedigree is just impeccable. Colour: full amber with red hues. Nose: very exotic! Starts on tea, plenty of tea, such as a blend of very old pu-erh with the greatest black Assam. Sounds unlikely? It’s not, believe me. Goes on with honeysuckle, a lot of hay – more hay than in Claude Monet’s best, then peonies and chocolate, touches of raspberry jam and lastly, a lot of verbena. Very unusual, very beautiful. Does all this really come from sugar canes? With water: the oak stands out, with cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger and white pepper. Mouth (neat): the oak’s maybe a tad loud for me indeed, and there’s really a lot of gingerbread and speculoos in the arrival, but it unfolds on more sugar cane, olive brine, lemon juice and green bananas, which works very well. With water: the best part. Lemon juice and olive oil. Finish: long and not too oaky. Perfect spices, though, and a feeling of tinned sardines and orange juice. Serious! Comments: lovely, but I may have enjoyed the reduced version even better. SGP:462 – 86 points.

Bodega Pedro Oliver 12 yo (53.8%, Single Cask Collection, Dominican Republic, solera)

Bodega Pedro Oliver 12 yo (53.8%, Single Cask Collection, Dominican Republic, solera) one star and a half This could be thick and sweetish rum, let’s see. Colour: dark gold. Nose: nothing to do with the Caroni or the Bielle, this is sweeter, rounder and fruitier, more ‘rum’, in a way, with overripe bananas, liquorice and a lot of candy sugar and molasses. Now there is a grassier side, pancake batter, then touches of brine and, indeed, olives. Hurray! With water: it’s the grassy side that comes out, all for the better. Mouth (neat): very sweet, but not exactly cloying. Could have been worse. Sugar, maple syrup, honey, cane sugar, even a little agave syrup, liquorice allsorts, caramel, Grand-Marnier… I’m surprised I quite enjoy this, because it’s not my preferred style at all. With water: too sweet now. Finish: medium length, very sweet, almost sugary. Comments: probably great, it’s simply not my preferred kind of rum. Too sugary and liqueury for me, but it sure had its moments, and I know some rum lovers will, well, love it. SGP:830 - 69 points.

Bodega Pedro Oliver 15 yo (51.9%, Single Cask Collection, Dominican Republic, solera) one star and a half Colour: amber. Nose: there’s rather more oak than in the 12, but also more oils and grassy notes. Curiously, we’re closer to the sugar cane, to the olives and to the hay. Some smoke too. More my kind. With water: some oak coming through, vanilla, cinnamon cake… Mouth (neat): awww, this is very sweet again, liqueury, sugary… Again, I’m sure it’s good, it’s just not my thing. With water: pure oak-aged honey and Cointreau. Hyper-sweet. Finish: medium length. Maple syrup and oak. Comments: I just couldn’t tell you about which I liked best. Again and again, they’re most probably great rums, but they just aren’t malternatives, as I have just discussed with a bunch of skilled Parisian mixologists. It’s not rum for whisky people, it’s rum for rum people. SGP:830 - 69 points.

Panama 10 yo 2003/2013 (54.4%, Riegger’s Selection, 320 bottles)

Panama 10 yo 2003/2013 (54.4%, Riegger’s Selection, 320 bottles) Two stars Wait, Panama, shouldn’t this be sickly sweet again? Let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: ah? No, it’s not very dry, but it’s not ‘fat and syrupy’ either, it seems. It’s relatively discreet, rather on hay and oranges, with some maple syrup and touches of crème de menthe. A little curaçao too. With water: gentle, balanced, clean, with nice notes of sugar cane. Mouth (neat): quite big, rather on coconut and oranges at first sips, with some fudge and some gingery oak. Something bittersweet after that, as well as welcomed notes of lime that make it more ‘unsweet’. This lemony side really saves it in my opinion. With water: simple and easy. Sweet but not too sweet. Finish: rather short but balanced. Always quite some sugarcane. Comments: honest and easy rum of good quality in my opinion. Typical 75 points. SGP:630 - 75 points.

While we’re in Panama…

Malecon 25 yo 'Reserva Imperial' (40%, OB, Panama, +/-2013)

Malecon 25 yo 'Reserva Imperial' (40%, OB, Panama, +/-2013) Two stars and a half The 12 and the 21 years old did not convince me at all, but maybe this 25 will be more to my liking. Colour: dark amber. Nose: hello? There isn’t much happening in there, although I seem to detect some pleasant notes of walnut wine and brownies. There’s also quite some vanilla, some chocolate, some roasted nuts and drops of orange liqueur. Also herbal teas such as honeysuckle and hawthorn. Light, pretty elegant in fact, whispering… A little feminine, perhaps (apologies to all ladies and girls). Mouth: decent! I had feared a cloying start, it’s rather a light one, not bigger than that of some wine, with an earthy side that I quite enjoy and then herbs, honeys and soft spices. Once again, it’s rather a liqueur than a spirit, but I must say I could sip this when there’s no good whisky around. Very cake-y. Finish: short, pleasantly herbal, with some roasted nuts and quite some tea. Tannins. ‘Ideas’ of ouzo or pastis, which is funny. Comments: by far my favourite Malecon so far. The tannins do it good, I think, they prevent it from being sugary. SGP:550 - 78 points.

And back to the French isles...

La Favorite

La Favorite ‘La Privilège’ (40%, OB, Martinique, rhum agricole, hors d’âge) Four stars The little distillery La Favorite makes only 2500 bottles of this very old rhum agricole per year. It’s a vatting of rare rhums aged 30 to 35 years. Colour: mahogany. Nose: rather hot at first nosing, which is surprising, but also very elegant and complex, delicately grassy as a true agricole should be. Also whiffs of pencil shavings, a little butterscotch and quite a lot of dark chocolate. High-end, definitely, relatively dry and kind of anti-Zacapa. Mouth: really punchy for both its age and its strength, more rustic on the palate, yet stylish. Sugar cane, bitter oranges, grass and herbs, hay, with quite a lot of cane juice left after all these years. We’re extremely far from the rather cloying commercial rums that can be found for the same price (around 200€). Finish: long, perfectly balanced, on melon skin and sugar cane, with a lingering grassiness and even an earthy side, always welcome. Comments: fully authentic, without excessive vanilla or coconut. I like it a lot. SGP:552 - 86 points.

Bielle ‘La Tour de l’Or’ (56.6%, Chantal Comte, rhum agricole, Marie Galante, 1400 bottles, +/-2010)

Bielle ‘La Tour de l’Or’ (56.6%, Chantal Comte, Marie Galante, rhum agricole, 1400 bottles, +/-2010) Three stars Chantal Comte is a small French indie bottler of rum. Sadly, there’s a lot of BS on the back label, but no indication of either age or vintage. But Bielle is good, and this is a cask strength version, aged at the distillery. Colour: amber. Nose: starts rather grassy, also with some banana flambéed and quite some vanilla. Touches of black olives, as often in good agricoles, then boisé, braised chicory and a very pleasant floral side, with jasmine, broom, and a little jaegertee. Hoppla! Mouth: rather nervous, and quite hot. Banana skin, candy sugar, then a lot of liquorice and candy sugar. Also some tar, which makes the whole a little fat. Liquid caramel. Finish: quite a lot of aniseed this time, overripe pears, ginger liqueur and tapenade (olive paste). The liquorice is really huge. Comments: I used to have a bad image of Chantal Comte’s rums (too much trumpeting) but I have to say this little NAS-no-vintage Bielle was much to my liking. SGP:662 - 82 points.

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







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