Google The Quest for Malternatives, another large bag of rum

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

August 17, 2014


The Quest for Malternatives, another large bag of rum

We’ll try to sail the seven seas today. Well, at least two oceans…

Flamboyant Vieux Rum (40%, OB, rhum, Mauritius, +/-2013)

Flamboyant Vieux Rum (40%, OB, rhum, Mauritius, +/-2013) Two stars This young baby's made by Green Island Distillerie. It's a multi-vintage version. Colour: pale gold (refreshingly so.) Nose: a lighter style, rather on apple crumble, praline, corn syrup, vanilla and pear peelings. A Glenkinchie of rum, in a way. I really enjoy the fact that it seems to be all natural, and certainly not doped with… uncertain substances. Mouth: very light, but with a grassy ‘agricole’ profile. Tastes like a very young Martiniquean. Banana skin, almonds, honey biscuits, some liquorice and a few peppery spices. A little cumin, perhaps. Finish: a little short but clean, well on sugar cane, with a candied aftertaste. Comments: average, in a good way. SGP:531 - around 75 points.

While we’re in Mauritius…

Chamarel V.S.O.P. (44%, OB, rum, Mauritius, +/-2013)

Chamarel V.S.O.P. (44%, OB, rum, Mauritius, +/-2013) Three stars This is single domaine rhum, apparently around 4 years of age. Colour: pale gold. Nose: malt whisky! Seriously, there are notes of fresh malted barley in this baby, and even figs, dates, raisins, toasted oak, vanilla cake, honey, grass and herbs… This is pretty troubling, I’d even swear I’ve found traces of peat. The ‘rumness’ remains in the background, which is really funny. Mouth: amazing, really amazing, this tastes like a blend of malt whisky and rhum agricole. So malt, honey, candy sugar, chocolate, bread (really), roasted nuts, then even touches of brine and pickled gherkins (just a thin slice), liquorice… I’m really fond of this young baby. Good, solid body, perfect mouthfeel. Finish: rather long, saltier, with a little more oak but also a coastal side that’s… yes, troubling. Comments: fun stuff, try it. If I may… SGP:552 – around 82 points.

Ron del Barrilito 'Superior Especial' (43%, OB, rum, Puerto Rico, +/-2013)

Ron del Barrilito 'Superior Especial' (43%, OB, rum, Puerto Rico, +/-2013) Two stars It’s supposed to be a light and rather cheap rum, but you never know… Colour: gold. Nose: right. This is not unpleasant, but it’s rather cane syrup on the nose, while there are also touches of fruit syrups, such as grenadine and peaches. So it’s all very fruity, very light, quite fragrant and extremely easy. Touches of oak and molasses. Mouth: really sweet and fruity, all on bubblegum, liquorice allsorts, sultanas, honey and orange liqueur. Utterly harmless, but I can’t find any obvious flaws. Finish: fairly short, molassy, fruity, cooked, easy. Comments: rather very honest holiday rum. We’re out of danger with this one! SGP:730 - around 74 points.

Gosling's Black Seal (40%, OB, Bermuda, +/-2013)

Gosling's Black Seal (40%, OB, Bermuda, +/-2013) I’ve tried the Black Seal 151 Proof last year and just… hated it, I’m afraid. Colour: red mahogany. Nose: it’s a liqueur, it’s not rum. Very balsamic, with tons of herbs, megatons of eucalyptus, tankers of limoncello and quite some bubblegum. Then rather cinnamon cake, curaçao or other fancy orange liqueurs, and lastly, a lot of molasses. Spectacular and actually kind of pleasant, but it’s the palate that’ll tell us more… Mouth: not rum. I mean, not rum in my book. Rather sweetened aquavit, or a cocktail made out of chartreuse, honey, tar liqueur and crème de menthe. I’m not saying one shouldn’t like it, I’m just saying this isn’t ‘rum as we know it’. Finish: long, mentholated, empyreumatic. Comments: a liqueur that should work well on ice. Not sipping rum in my book – and yeah, not even rum. SGP:770 - around 65 points.

Good, let’s try to find some older rum…

Presidente Marti 23 'Solera Rum' (40%, Oliver & Oliver, Dominican Republic, +/-2013)

Presidente Marti 23 'Solera Rum' (40%, Oliver & Oliver, Dominican Republic, +/-2013) 23 years? Nope, just like with Zacapa, this is not 23 years old rum, it’s rum from a solera that was started 23 years ago. Supposedly. All very fishy if you ask me, this is probably youngish rum. I won’t tell you who José Marti was, just google him. Colour: red amber. Nose: well, I quite like this, it’s full of stewed fruits, blood oranges, cigars, cedar wood, then more molasses and cooked honey, PX, more blood oranges… So all very nice, I think, just a little flat. Flattish. Mouth: ouch, how much sugar did they add? It’s pure honey, or honey liqueur if you will. Cointreau with sugar added, plus banana liqueur. I don’t mean that it’s not well made, it certainly is, but it’s just the opposite of my preferred style of rum. Finish: of medium length. Sugar, honey, liqueur, orange syrup. Comments: hyper-sweet (and sweetened) rum for lovers of hyper-sweet rum. Mind you, nothing wrong with that! SGP:820 – around 65 points.

Now let’s try to find the competitor, that is to say Zacapa ‘23’. Rummage rummage rummage (diving to new lows, S.!) … Got it!

Zacapa 23 'Centenario' (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2013)

Zacapa 23 'Centenario' (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2013) Two stars Same story, contrarily to what 99% of the public thinks, and to what many websites including some retailers’ write, this is not 23 years old rum. Probably more like 6 to 8. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: same as the Marti, I cannot find any differences. Maybe a little more vanilla? Or a little more raisins? No wait, after a few minutes, this Zacapa becomes a notch more herbal, with wee hints of leaves, bark, fresh walnuts, almonds, fresh mint… All plusses I have to say. Mouth: same phenomenon, starts just the same, but becomes spicier than the Marti, with more star anise, caraway, liquorice… More pastis? Finish: rather long, very sweet of course, but the taste of aniseed remains. Comments: not my cup of tea, but it’s probably good stuff. Easily beats the Dominican, I think. SGP:740 - around 75 points.

But wait, there are other ’23 years old’ (not!) Zacapas ou there…

Zacapa 23 anos ‘Centenario Black Label’ (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2000)

Zacapa 23 anos ‘Centenario Black Label’ (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2000) one star and a half An older version that was to be rechristened ‘Etiqueta Negra’ a few years later, while ’23 anos’ became ‘solera 23’. I just couldn’t tell you about the differences with the ‘regular’ 23, let’s see if we can find something… Colour: dark red amber (darker than the previous one.) Nose: much more dryness, more oak, more herbs, more sugar cane and more spices. More chocolate as well, more coffee, much less liqueurs, honeys, syrups and other sweet things. No need to tell you that I like this one better at this point, even if it’s much less ‘wham-bam’. Mouth: no, I was wrong, this is even sweeter, heavier, extremely sugary, liqueury and molassy. Cointreau and honey, fifty-fifty. After that, a little crème de menthe, maybe Chartreuse, caraway aquavit… How sugary! Finish: quite long, on herbal liqueurs. All of them. Comments: I really liked the nose but I found the palate too cloyingly sweet. SGP:750 - around 69 points.

Phew, it’s all becoming very difficult, but I think I’ve got one more 23 ‘year old’ Zacapa…

Zacapa 23 anos ' Centenario Straight from the Cask' (45%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2005)

Zacapa 23 anos ' Centenario Straight from the Cask' (45%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2005) Two starsStraight from the cask may have meant, in this case, that this baby was bottled at a slightly higher strength. Colour: red amber. Nose: it’s amazing how 5 extra-% make the spirit much bigger, almost aggressive here. But after one or two minutes, some lovely fruity notes come through, especially ripe peaches, nectarines, apricots and all that. There’s also a kind of minerality, quite a miracle here. Limestone, then oranges, honey, yellow flowers, nectar… I like this nose! Also touches of wet earth. Let’s start to pray… Mouth: oh, no! Even more a shame that there’s so much sugar, because all the rest seems to be of high quality, including the many spices, the gingerbread, the fudge, the oranges… But again, these vast amounts of sugar and syrups are just fouling up your palate. Finish: really a shame. But then again, and again, and again, only one man’s taste and opinion. Comments: pretty great nose, enough said. SGP:860 - around 70 points.

We’ve got many more Zacapas but I think we’d better have ‘a sure bet’ as today’s last young rum. If you don’t mind!…

Foursquare 6 yo 2000/2006 (45%, Alambic Classique, Millenium Reserve, Barbados)

Foursquare 6 yo 2000/2006 (45%, Alambic Classique, Millenium Reserve, Barbados) Four stars Foursquare means St Nicholas Abbey, and St Nicholas Abbey almost means greatness in WF’s little book. Colour: pale gold. Nose: another world. You have to be careful after the ‘commercially explosive’ Zacapas, this is much subtler, much more on fine grasses, leaves, rocks, herbs, nuts and all that. Green tea, even rocket, even spinach, a discreet sootiness, gravel, then more and more grapefruits, lemongrass, green olives… This is a very elegant nose. Mouth: fantastic, as expected. Sunflower oil and crystallised citron, smoked fish Islay-style, apricots and olive brine… All that isn’t as big as in the heaviest Jamaicans, Guyanians or Trinidadians, but these styles are somewhat connected. Finish: good length, with brine and a touch of smoke (mezcal style.) Maybe a slight soapiness too, that would be this young baby’s only flaw. Comments: I like. Only the end of the finish and the aftertaste are a little too paraffiny for me. SGP:452 - around 85 points.

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







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