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

June 8, 2014


The Sunday quest for malternatives, more rum and rhum

We’re not done with our little tour of rumdom, far from that…

El Dorado 8 yo (40%, OB, Demerara, +/-2013)

El Dorado 8 yo (40%, OB, Demerara, +/-2013) Two stars and a half The 3 yo (WF 70), the 12 yo (WF 78), the 15 yo (WF 78) and the 21 yo (WF 76) did not quite convince me because there’s  way too much added sugar inside. Let’s see if this little 8 will work better… Colour: deep gold. Nose: ah, it’s the first El Dorado that, in my opinion, is of similar style as the famous indie Demeraras (Velier and else). Great news! So it is a combination of prunes with tar, brine and liquorice, then raisins and banana skins. Classic, I like so far. Mouth: yeah well, there sure is some sugar, but the oiliness and the notes of brine do balance that and make it rather grassy instead of cloyingly sweet. I also enjoy the notes of oranges. Finish: quite long but sadly, a little too sweet at this point. Plenty of candy sugar. Comments: I think it’s my favourite El Dorado, but the sugar in the aftertaste is embarrassing. But then again, only a matter of taste and opinions. Is it a worthy malternative? Almost. SGP:731 - 79 points.

Appleton Estate ‘V/X’ (40%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2014)

Appleton Estate ‘V/X’ (40%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2014) Three stars It’s the entry-level version of Appleton Estate, probably very young, and possibly characterful. I didn’t care much for the very ‘flavoured’ 21. Colour: gold. Nose: same feeling as with the El Dorado, it’s less sweet, more natural, and straighter than its older bros. I find the well-known Jamaican aromas, that is to say oils, black olives, tar, earth and then more molasses and maple syrup. Hampden’s little cousin, I’d say. Mouth: starts bizarrely oaky, but not too sweet. Then we have sugared tea and liquorice allsorts, burnt bread, cane sugar, and marmalade. Good body at 40%. Finish: rather long, with touches of salted liquorice. Comments: I like this one, even if it’s pretty simple. Malternative? Quite! SGP641 - 80 points (that’s 20 points above the thickish 21yo !).

English Harbour 10 yo 'Reserve' (40%, OB, Antigua, +/-2013)

English Harbour 10 yo 'Reserve' (40%, OB, Antigua, +/-2013) Two stars and a half I did enjoy some parts of the 5 yo English Harbour but the core was, once again, too molassy for me (WF 73). Colour: deep gold. Nose: I have to admit this is a very pleasant nose, all on fudge, brioche, candy sugar and vanilla, then tea and marmalade. A few raisins as well, but little molassy schmalz. A little wood smoke as well, this baby’s the equivalent of some malt whisky double matured in first fill or virgin oak. Mouth: very syrupy and quite tannic. Some active oak feels, while the base spirit isn’t huge. A lot of vanilla, maple syrup, butterscotch, mocha and just touches of overripe bananas. After that, more soft spices, around white pepper and a little nutmeg. Finish: medium length, sweet but clean. Candy sugar. A leathery touch in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s thick but its not too sweet, I guess that’s the sweet oak. I find this baby nicely drinkable and quite uncomplicated. Malternative? Not far… SGP:730 - 78 points.

Rhum J.M ‘V.S.O.P’ (43%, OB, Martinique, +/-2013)

Rhum J.M ‘V.S.O.P’ (43%, OB, Martinique, +/-2013) Four stars A well-known rhum agricole of high reputation. The simple ‘Vieux’ (granted, it was at 50% vol.) has already been much to my liking (WF 85). This VSOP was matured for around four years, so it’s young (as you know, old means young with any spirits). Colour: deep gold. Nose: huge, and I really mean huge oranges at first nosing. As marmalade, as syrup, as liqueur… It is spectacularly aromatic, and gets then more and more floral. Lilies, orange blossom… And mandarins, tangerines, touches of coffee roasting… I like this a lot, let’s only hope the palate will match the nose. Mouth: exactly the same feeling, this is like sipping orange liqueur, without the sugariness. Candied mandarins, then cinnamon and cloves, touches of ginger, hints of aniseed… Finish: long and, good news in this context, oakier. The spices come to the front, with more cinnamon, liquorice wood… Comments: I like this one really a lot, you just have to like oranges and spices. Great malternative. SGP:551 - 86 points.

That called for more J.M…

Rhum J.M ‘X.O’ (45%, OB, Martinique, +/-2013)

Rhum J.M ‘X.O’ (45%, OB, Martinique, +/-2013) Three stars and a half This one’s been ageing for 6 years in Martinique, so yeah, extra old is still quite young. Colour: deep gold. Nose: immense, ultra-aromatic, and yet elegant and kind of ‘controlled’. I find notes of rye and juniper at first nosing, bags and bags of other botanicals (savory, fennel seeds, wormwood) and then more rounded vanilla-ed oak, as well as orange marmalade rather than syrups and liqueur like in the V.S.O.P. Also a little lemon grass. It’s a truly superb nose! Mouth: thick and creamy, with yet again a straight extension of the nose. That means a lot of spices and botanicals again, a feeling of aged gin (perhaps) and more and more caraway. A very particular style, with the spicy oak doing most of the talking, all that with balance. Having said that, I think I liked the V.S.O.P’s fruitiness a little better. Finish: long and very spicy. Ginger, aniseed, cumin… Comments: a spice monster. Good malternative. SGP:571 - 83 points.

Why not try a vintage version?

Rhum J.M 10 yo 2001 (46.6%, OB, Martinique, +/-2012)

Rhum J.M 10 yo 2001 (46.6%, OB, Martinique, +/-2012) Four stars and a half The distillers issue a new vintage every year, and all are bottled at cask strength. Remember, the angels are much greedier in both wet and hot climates. Colour: deep gold. Nose: we’re closer to the V.S.O.P than to the X.O, and that’s fab news. In fact, this is the perfect balance between ripe fruits (oranges first, then bananas and guavas), aromatic herbs (caraway, wormwood, rosemary) and spices (white pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg). I almost forgot to mention roses and lilies. Masterful! Mouth: the oak feels a bit and is a tad drying at very first sips, but then it just unfolds like a show by the Ziegfeld Follies. Many tropical fruits, herbs, spices… Listing them all would need too much time. Finish: very long, a little more on vanilla and jams. Lovely spicy and fruity aftertaste, with also a lot of liquorice. Comments: I think this is exceptional rhum agricole. Remember, adding sugar to rhum agricole is streng verboten by law. Perfect malternative. SGP:661 - 89 points.

All right, while we’re at it, let’s have a few more agricoles, by the indies this time…

Gardel 10 yo (46%, The Alchemist, rhum agricole, Guadeloupe, +/-2013?)

Gardel 10 yo (46%, The Alchemist, rhum agricole, Guadeloupe, +/-2013?) Three stars and a half Gardel is a large sugar factory in Guadeloupe. I’m not too sure whether the adjoining distillery is still working or not, as always sources vary. Erm, and I’m not too sure it’s rhum agricole either, so distilled cane juice, I’d guess it’s rather ‘rhum traditionnel’, so made from molasses. But let’s try this baby… Colour: deep gold. Nose: this could be agricole, it does smell a bit like agricole, with these olivy/briny and grassy notes, but it’s soon to become shier, with vanilla and a little clay. What’s sure is that it’s much less ‘emphatic’ than the J.Ms. Mouth: ah, no, this is pretty excellent! Starts with tarte tatin and kugelhopf with raisins (hoppla), and goes on with many tropical fruits, including pineapples and bananas, but without becoming sickly sweet. Having said that, it’s a little thinner on the palate than other agricoles. Not too sure… Finish: a little short, with more candy sugar. Comments: this baby was dangerously drinkable. So agricole or traditionnel? The jury’s still out… It’s a good malternative. SGP: 741- 84 points.

Good, let’s stay in Guadeloupe and try to make the last one a big one…

Bellevue 14 yo 1998 'Flamme d'Or' (45%, Alambic Classique, Guadeloupe, +/-1013)

Bellevue 14 yo 1998 'Flamme d'Or' (45%, Alambic Classique, Guadeloupe, +/-1013) Three stars and a half All the Bellevues I could taste have been of the highest order (I mean, have been matching my taste). Colour: gold. Nose: maybe there’s a little too much vanilla and sawdust at very first nosing, but after that Bellevue’s petroly and olivy profile starts to show, and there isn’t any way back. Tapenade and passion fruit jam, touches of tinned litchis, hessian, musty cellar, clay, and artisan chocolate. Like. Mouth: same display, starts a little sweetly oaky and gets then more briny, tarry, liquoricy and fruity as well. Much to my liking, even if I could try some bigger Bellevues recently. Maybe a little too much honey for Bellevue, but I’m splitting hairs again. Finish: medium length, much more candied. Burnt sugar. Comments: I find it a little thinner and sweeter than other 1998s, but it remains a great rhum, no doubt about that. SGP:631 - 83 points.

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







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