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

July 20, 2014


The Sunday Quest for Malternatives,
yet another bag-o-rum

We aren’t done yet with our rums, there are so many yet to taste! I’m planning to write a little piece about ‘rums for malt lovers’ in a few months – but haven’t I already told you that? Today we’ll try a few newish ones, all selected completely at random. Let’s only hope we won’t stumble across some sugary junk!

Westerhall Estate 'Superb Light Rum' (40%, OB, Grenada, +/-2013)

Westerhall Estate 'Superb Light Rum' (40%, OB, Grenada, +/-2013) Even the owners are claiming that this baby’s made ‘particularly for cocktails and enjoyment with mixers.’ But we’ll try it neat! Colour: light gold. Nose: it’s light and rather grassy indeed, without much aroma. Hello? I’ve had some indy Westerhall (Sansibar, Plantation) that was much more talkative. Almost no nose. Mouth: light, sweet, a little sugary. Un-distinctive. Some candy sugar, touches of overripe bananas, traces of molasses and hints of sugarcane. Not for sipping indeed, unless you’re very busy doing something else. Finish: yes there is one, but it’s… indefinite. Comments: forgettable. I like the fact that it’s not too sugar-doped, but other than that, there… Hey, what was I talking about? SGP:530 - 60 points.

St Nicholas Abbey 10 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, +/-2012)

St Nicholas Abbey 10 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, +/-2012) Four stars Ah, this should be different! I liked the 15 yo very much (WF 86) despite the heavy price tag, so this should b quite to my liking as well. Colour: light gold. Nose: another world, another galaxy! It’s a grassier one, more on our beloved olives and smoked fish, with a good dose of tar and petrol and a straight agricole side. Smoky molasses and tapenade, 50/50. Mouth: maybe a notch lightish for a few seconds, but then it really delivers, with sweet notes of ‘active American oak’, tinned apricots, olive oil and then blood oranges. There’s also something mildly agavey, a welcome brine, more olives… It’s the style of rum that I enjoy. A kind of medium-bodied Caroni, if you like. Finish: medium length. Same flavours, with more salt(iness) in the aftertaste. Pepper, oranges. Comments: good, good rum and a genuine malternative. Now, it’s almost more expensive than 10 years old malt whisky, so… SGP:552 - 85 points.

Ocean's Rum 1997 'Atlantic Edition' (43%, OB, blended rum, +/-2013)

Ocean's Rum 1997 'Atlantic Edition' (43%, OB, blended rum, +/-2013) Two stars This one’s made out of rum from various origins, including Martinique, Jamaica and Demerara. 1997 does NOT seem to be the vintage. That’s what’s funny with rum, in most countries you can do whatever you like and nobody will start bothering you. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: classic sweet and honeyed nose, with a good fruitiness. Bananas flambéed, papayas, liquorice allsorts and a little coffee liqueur. Seems to be on the sweet side but you never know… Mouth: yes, it’s sweet one, too sweet for my taste but not unbalanced and certainly not cloying. Notes of grenadine, coconut liqueur, honey, Demerara sugar, raisins and sweet liquorice (rolls!) Not ugly. Finish: rather long, with some oak coming through, together with some white pepper and cinnamon. Comments: again, not my style but I find this honest and loyal. Right, maybe not €75-loyal. SGP:731 - 75 points (one point per Euro, isn’t that smart?).

Haitian Rum 7 yo (46%, Cadenhead's Green Label, +/-2011)

Haitian Rum 7 yo (46%, Cadenhead's Green Label, +/-2011) Three stars The label doesn’t say so but I’ve seen that this one was distilled in 2004. It should be Barbancourt, thus rhum agricole. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: it’s got agricole’s grassiness and earthiness indeed, and it’s great to be able to nose one that hasn’t got any oak, or so little… There’s an obvious smoke, rather around a garden bonfire with a lot of hay, then more grass, sugarcane… It’s only after a good five minutes that a bright fruitiness comes out, with melons and peaches, as well as a few strawberries. Hold on, that would rather be wild strawberries! Mouth: great arrival, petroly and olive-y as it should be, but then notes of burnt sugar take control, which isn’t quite as nice. Sweets, orange drops… It’s good, but it’s a little indistinct. Too young? Love the olives in the background, though. Finish: a little short but the olives came to the front. We won’t complain. Comments: much to my liking despite a few weaker spots. You feel ‘nature’. SGP:572 - 80 points.

Bellevue 1998/2013 (46%, L'Esprit, Guadeloupe, cask #BB 44, 201 bottles)

Bellevue 1998/2013 (46%, L'Esprit, Guadeloupe, cask #BB 44, 201 bottles) Four stars Oh, Bellevue! We’ve already tried quite a bunch of pretty great ones. Colour: amber. Nose: yeah! It’s big, fat, oily, greasy, very aromatic rhum. This one’s not totally petroly and/or grassy, it’s actually rather fruitier than others, but it’s got this fatness that works so well. As for the fruits, I find tinned litchis and papayas, touches of mangos and very lovely hints of pink grapefruits. Perfect balance. Mouth: maybe a notch too sweet for me, and too syrupy, but other than that it all goes very well, with plenty of fresh fruits (passion fruits this time, maybe blueberries…), some welcome camphor, liquorice and eucalyptus (that is right, cough medicine), and lastly, just straight sugar cane. Finish: very long, which is a trademark feature. Olives and liquorice in the aftertaste, what’s not to like? Comments: big rhum for big boys and clever girls. Yes I am a little tired. SGP:652 - 87 points.

All right, a last one (is it wise?)

Diamond 10 yo 2003/2013 (54.4%, Duncan Taylor, Guyana, cask #72, 324 bottles)

Diamond 10 yo 2003/2013 (54.4%, Duncan Taylor, Guyana, cask #72, 324 bottles) Five stars Ha! As you may very well know, Diamond in Georgetown is the daughter of all deceased Demerara distilleries. Since they have several of their old stills, when someone asks me which distillery I’d love to visit, I always answer ‘Diamond’. One day, one day… Colour: straw. Nose: great, it’s not the lighter style! Nor is it the kind of lumpish/sweaty/sweetish El-Dorado style. You may well call this ‘dundery’, but it’s exactly the ‘Old Ardbeg of rum’ kind of style. Are you following me? Pitch, tarmac, diesel oil, crushed black olives, clay, bandages, gherkin brine and all that. No water needed. Mouth (neat): oh this is highly unusual. Salt, lavender and violet sweets, juniper berries, green olives, black olives, red olives, pink olives (that’ll do, S.), pepperoni, tar liqueur, shoe polish (yes), marmalade, pinesap, tamarind… This is just great. I’m not sure the other Diamonds I could taste have been this good. I mean, to my liking. Finish: eternal. Don’t expect to be able to taste the latest Glenkinchie after this muscular baby. Or any other spirit. Comments: very spectacular young rum, very well selected Duncan Taylor! A metaspirit that would beat many a Scotch. Or rum. Ardbeg guys, try to find a bottle of this, it’s truly exceptional! SGP:573 - 91 points.

… Wait, unless we also try this possible marvel that’s just in!...

Finest Jamaican Rum 9 yo (86.8 US proof, Averys for Corti Brothers, USA, Wedderburn and Vale Royal, +/-1975)

Finest Jamaican Rum 9 yo (86.8 US proof, Averys for Corti Brothers, USA, Wedderburn and Vale Royal, +/-1975) Five stars Very rare stuff! Most probably distilled in the 1960s, this Jamaican is a heavy ‘dunder-driven’ molasses-based Vale Royal rum of the Wedderburn style, that is to say, as I understand it, rum that underwent a very long fermentation and was pot-distilled. As you may know, 86.8 US proof means around 43.4% vol. Colour: pale gold. Nose: pah-pah-pah-pah… This baby’s got the very same kind of mega-olivy, hyper-petroly and super-earthy profile as the Diamond. A lot of brine too, liquorice, rotting hay and vegetables (a little manure), gherkins, samphires in salt, clay, Cuban cigars… Amazing, totally amazing! Mouth: it’s saltier than any malt, including the saltiest coastal ones. So heavy salt and brine, black olives, salted anchovies, tar and salted liquorice… It’s a bit drier than the Diamond, with less fruits, but it’s also even more massive, despite the lower strength. Loads and loads of salmiak, with a mouth feel that’s just perfect. Another old Ardbeg of rum, I’m saying this because modern Ardbeg is much lighter spirit in my experience. Finish: very long, all on olives and salmiak. Very salty aftertaste. Comments: what a big fat bastard! Takes no prisoners, no wonder this style of rum used to be mixed with very light ones or even industrial alcohol to produce more ‘commercial’ tipples. Same extremely high quality as Duncan Taylor’s stunning Diamond, so same score in my book. Hurray! SGP:373 - 91 points.

No, no, no other rum could ‘climb over’ that one!
(Grazzie mille, Diego!)

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







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