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

September 11, 2016


Malternatives? Dead end street in Georgetown

Indeed there are these El Dorado 25s in decanters that are so sexy, but our friend Cyril of just tried them and thought they were sugar bombs. And the problem is, I trust Cyril. But we’ll still try them, along other noteworthy juices, starting with a little apéritif at lower strength…

Westerhall Estate 2003/2014 (43%, Bristol Classic Rum, Grenada)

Westerhall Estate 2003/2014 (43%, Bristol Classic Rum, Grenada) Two stars Never been utterly impressed with Westerhall, but then again, I haven’t tried thousands. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s a lightish style, but not without some fatness. The sugar cane feels, which is good of course, as well as a little banana, but there’s also a sucrosity. In the style of a light Cuban so far. Mouth: same feelings, it’s fair and well made, just a little light and without much asperities, as they say in marketing. Sugar cane and a little apple juice, perhaps even cider. Finish: short, with some candy sugar. Comments: it’s good, no doubt, but not unforgettable. My exact definition of a 75 points rum. SGP:430 - 75 points.

Foursquare 16 yo 1998/2015 (45%, Compagnie des Indes, Barbados, cask #BD24, 354 bottles)

Foursquare 16 yo 1998/2015 (45%, Compagnie des Indes, Barbados, cask #BD24, 354 bottles) Three stars‘Probably’ a single blend of pot still and column rum. Foursquare are the herald of natural rum (well, of rum) and keep fighting the use of added sugar and other, well, additives. Let us support them before some start to add palm oil to their booze! Unless they already do that, do they? Colour: gold. Nose: funnily enough, we’re rather in bourbon territories, with a lot of vanilla and this cake-y softness. There’s even a touch of rye and maple syrup, you would swear you’re nosing some Old Fitz. A wee touch of walnut wine as well, oloroso… Mouth: we’re still a bit between both worlds, this time with a fizzy feeling (oranges) and a handful of bonbons. This baby’s rather less ‘congeneric’ than other Foursquares, so my bet is that it would rather be mainly, if not totally ex-column rum. Finish: medium, a little bonbony, with rather dried bananas in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, just a little less ‘wham-bam’ and lighter than a few younger Foursquares that I could try in recent months. SGP:530 - 82 points.

El Dorado 25 yo 1986 (43%, OB, Demerara, decanter, 2013)

El Dorado 25 yo 1986 (43%, OB, Demerara, decanter, 2013) A very expensive bottling (think in the region of 450€). Colour: deep amber. Nose: very nice! Tar, burnt coffee, lit cigars, strawberry jam, charcoal, then a little turpentine, wood varnish… It’s a combo that works very well in my opinion, you just have to enjoy burnt coffee. Or even burnt vegetables (French beans in a forgotten frying pan). Mouth: oh what an utter shame! Flabby, liqueury, way too smooth, with no depth and an unpleasant feeling of cheap liqueur, bought for 5€ a bottle in Andorra. Why oh why did they murder this old rum? Definitely sugared up, I’m afraid Cyril was right. Finish: very short, but leaves some sugar on your tongue. Kids’ cough syrup. Comments: some people get away with murder in the rum world. Now, it’s theirs, they do what they want, but in my opinion, this humble syrup is not even worth one tenth of its price. I even like Zacapa better, which says a lot. No, not Don Papa or Kraken, let’s not exaggerate. SGP:810 - 40 points for the nose.

El Dorado 25 yo 1980 (43%, OB, Demerara, decanter, +/-2006)

El Dorado 25 yo 1980 (43%, OB, Demerara, decanter, +/-2006) Let’s seek salvation… Colour: very deep amber. Nose: feels more liqueury than the 1986 on the nose, but that does work. South-American mock honey, molasses, coffee liqueurs, furniture polish, roasted nuts (especially pecans), marmalade, a floral side (lilac)… And a little menthol. Again, all that works. So far! Mouth: I do like it a little better than the 1986, but it’s still a flabby sugar bomb. Coconut liqueur, sour tropical fruits cooked in cane sugar syrup, more molasses, more coffee liqueur, caramel… All that for 650€ a bottle, mind you. Finish: short yet unpleasantly sugary. Coca Cola concentrate. Comments: in my opinion, the worst value for money out there these days. Even if you like them super-sweet, you’ll have troubles downing your glass. Oh and if you already own a bottle, don’t tell your dentist! SGP:810 - 45 points.

Btw, they should make versions with aspartame or stevia instead for people on a diet. And we won’t even talk about diabetes (I’m serious!) Anyway, we used to say that any Demerara was more a Caribbean rum than a South-American, but I’m afraid things are changing these days…

Panamanian Rum 20 yo 1996/2016 (51%, Sansibar, 269 bottles)

Panamanian Rum 20 yo 1996/2016 (51%, Sansibar, 269 bottles) Four stars Yes, another decanter but don’t be scared… In general, indie Panamanians come from Don José, but we have no proof. Colour: coffee. Nose: dry, chocolaty, coffee-ish, with wax polish, chestnut honey, prunes, black raisins, toffee, and a touch of earth. So far, so good. There isn’t anything suggesting this will just be another sugar bomb. Mouth: it is not. It does start a little sweet, but it’s soon to become extremely drying, and mind you, this is not unpleasant in this context. Crunching coffee beans coated with honeydew and chlorophyll sauce (or sorrel or something). Ultra-bitter liquorice. Finish: quite long, mentholated and liquoricy, always with some dry coffee in the background. A little sugar, but in minimal quantities, and that may just be a ‘feeling’. Dry oak in the aftertaste. Comments: I would imagine some distillers tasting this, and saying ‘a bit dry, let’s add 50g sugar per litre to appeal to the masses!’ Amongst the best in the South-American style, in my opinion. It killed the El Dorados – but those were already dead, weren’t they. SGP:461 - 87 points.

I think we should stop here but that wouldn’t be fair to Guyana and Demerara. Let’s try to find something (rummage rummage…) Oh this bomb!...

Diamond 2005/2016 (71.4%, L’Esprit, Demerara, cask #BB114)

Diamond 2005/2016 (71.4%, L’Esprit, Demerara, cask #BB114) Four stars I like it that the excellent French – or rather Breton - bottlers would tell us that this is ‘cask strength’ rum. Because we hadn’t noticed ;-). Usually, such strengths suggest that it was aged in the tropics and not in the UK like others, but it is no proof (so to speak, he-he). Colour: deep red amber. Nose: noseable! Varnish, croissants, vanilla cake, kugelhopf, hot molasses… That’s more or less all you get at 70+% vol., but that’s normal. With (quite a lot of) water: same, just easier and more civilised. Rather clearly column rum, moderately congeneric. Mouth (neat): thick as honey, punchy as cracked black pepper, heavy as high-strength undiluted pastis. That includes aniseed and liquorice indeed. Crazy hot stuff! With a bucket of my beloved Vittel water: honey and molasses, with plenty of liquorice and a wee saltiness, always welcome. Water makes it even oilier, we almost made mayonnaise. Quite. Finish: long, rather cake-y, with some dark maple syrup. Comments: redemption for dear Demerara. What would they do without the independent bottlers? Wouldn’t they get catalogued as just another Liebfraumilch of the rum world? SGP:541 - 86 points.

(With thanks to Cyril and the rumaniacs)

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







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