Google Rum, The Good, The Bad and The Funky, Part II

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

September 2, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Rum: The Good, The Bad & The Funky. Part II
Yet more adventures in the haphazard world of Rum. Although, I expect today we’ll have some rather delicious and bonafide malternatives. Although, just remember, I’m tasting rum from the palate and perspective of a malt whisky drinker who generally enjoys more distillate/ingredient driven profiles in spirits.


Kirk & Sweeney 23 yo (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, Batch 2) Kirk & Sweeney 23 yo (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, Batch 2)
Made at the Bermúdez distillery from molasses and aged in American oak ex-bourbon barrels. It states 23 year old but, as ever, it likely refers to the age of the oldest liquid. Colour: amber. Nose: it has a rather gunky, greasy agricole funk at first, quite surprising really. There are these expected stickier notes of brown sugar, molasses and a touch of paint as well. But it’s not totally cloying to the nostrils. A few sultanas, a few fermenting fruits, some spiced vanilla cake. Not too bad I’d say.


Mouth: it’s not a total sugar monster but we are on thin ice. On one hand you have these sweet gingerbread, liquorice and treacle notes, but on the other it is bordering on that kind of sugary, flat and coffeeish profile which I really struggle with. Having said that, it is noticeably better than the other DR rums I tried last time. Some raisins, even a few minerals and hint of rubber. But always some cheap sugar waiting to leap out at you. Finish: short and sweet. Literally. Comments: Not terrible but not great either. I wonder just what sort of gunk got put into this before bottling, and I wonder what an unadulterated version at a higher bottling strength would be like...
SGP: 730 - 75 points.


Caribbean Reserve 16 yo 1986/2002 ‘Rockley Still’ (46%, Liquid Gold, WIRD Barbados)

Caribbean Reserve 16 yo 1986/2002 ‘Rockley Still’ (46%, Liquid Gold, WIRD Barbados)
The term ‘Rockley Still’ is slightly misleading here as it is the name of a very small pair of stills used by the Rockley plantation to distill sugar cane in the 19th century.



This distillery closed (as did many others) due to the nationalisation of the Barbados plantations and it eventually ended up in the possession of the West Indies Rum Distillery (WIRD). These ‘Rockley’ stills were used by WIRD but by all accounts it seems highly unlikely that they’ve been used since the 1950s so this, and any other ‘Rockley Still’ rums are almost certainly molasses distilled through WIRD’s own pot stills. However, rums under this label are still said to be ‘heavier’ than the column examples from WIRD. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very nicely fatty, oily and with a kind of syrupy medicinal side. Bandages, light ointment, a gentle brininess and a few earthy, cooked vegetables. Notes of spiced turnip, olive oil, dried seaweed and rather leathery camphor note. Very good. Mouth: terrifically full and textured at 46%. Motor oil, bike grease, lighter natural tar, menthol tobacco, oil paints, graphite and a few more pure, mineral qualities. Black olive bread, anchovy butter, plasticine and putty. Again, very good! Finish: long, coastal and drying. Lots of seawater, grease and smoky flints/pebbles. Comments: you definitely the feel the textural pot still style in this one. Very good I think, and a worthy malternative.
SGP: 461 - 87 points.


Enmore 1987/2000 (56.6%, Velier, Demerara/Guyana, cask #193-197)

Enmore 1987/2000 (56.6%, Velier, Demerara/Guyana, cask #193-197)
Colour: gold. Nose: hellooooo in there... I don’t really get much, it’s rather on paint thinner, diluted antiseptic and perhaps some clay and cheap cooking oil. Hard to get much beyond a generic pang of alcohol. With water: not much. A swimming pool with too many elastoplasts in. Slightly carbolic and a hint of muddy brine. Mouth: urgh. Really tough! Concrete, massively austere, alcoholic and rough. Crunching on aspirin and chasing them with white spirit. Feels pretty hollow. With water: a lemony breeze flutters by but its really still quite brutal. Some prickly white pepper. Wallpaper paste? Not good. Finish: Cardboardy, vegetal and slightly stinging. Medium in length, unfortunately. Comments: I just checked and apparently Serge did not like this one either. Although, I also just checked and apparently people are paying utterly stupid amounts of money for this bottling at auction - one person’s poison etc... A rare dud from Velier. Probably suitable for ending a party at 3am or rejuvenating the tape heads on a 1990s VHS machine.
SGP: 230 - 65 points.



Uitvlugt 20 yo 1997/2017 (56.5%, The Rum Cask, Guyana)

Uitvlugt 20 yo 1997/2017 (56.5%, The Rum Cask, Guyana)
Uitvlugt, I have finally just discovered, is pronounced ‘owt-flut’. It was sadly closed in 2000.  Colour: white wine. Nose: wonderful, aromatically intense and pure demerara in the way that it kinds of leans towards Jamaica with these medicinal aspects but is more gentle and perhaps a tad more sophisticated and less boisterous. Some really wonderful notes of freshly chopped herbs, anchovies, blood orange and a broad, invigorating, sweeping coastal freshness that is just thrilling. Slightly mentholated as well, along with some deeper notes of engine oil and tarry boiler smoke. With water: Wahhh! Sweet, earthy, meandering smoke, salted incense if there is such a thing, truffled brine, raw medicines, antiseptic and a big, surly, gravelly minerality. Mouth: Superb! Salt, lime juice and preserved lemons in olive oil. You may add brine, raw seawater, fruity red chili and a hint of furniture wax. An earthy old potting shed (not that I eat them that often), some artichoke and a rather grizzly but supple tarriness. Same level as the nose. With water: sooty smoke now, a whole grove of black olives, chopped parsley, herbal mouthwash and more of this textured boiler smoke. Finish: loooong, wonderfully refreshing, mentholated, tingly, saline, pin-sharp citrus, herbs, wood ash, fishy... you name it! Comments: A total stunner that alludes to Jamaica but has its own wonderful Guyanan charms and eccentricities. The kind of rum that can teach many whiskies a thing or two and a perfect, thrilling malternative.
SGP: 582 - 92 points.



Caroni 1985/2006 (58.8%, Velier, Trinidad, 6600 bottles)

Caroni 1985/2006 (58.8%, Velier, Trinidad, 6600 bottles)
Always intriguing to taste something from my vintage. Colour: amber/ruby. Nose: a heavier style Caroni that’s also got this hot climate maturation profile of concentrated, toasty sweetness about it. Graphite oil, waxy medicines, sooty and inky. Notes of bandages, lighter fluid, pencil shavings, charred wood spices, incense, strong jasmine tea and charred earth. This kind of concentration carries the high alcohol extremely well I find. With water: good, strong espresso, cocoa, natural tar resin and a preserved lemon or two - a stronger impression of the Caroni character. Mouth: spiced oranges, bitter wood spice, dark chocolate, menthol syrups (mint, eucalyptus etc...), sweetened medicines and barbecued vegetables. Also some sunflower oil, grippy tannins and old workshops. Pretty wood-dominated really. With water: hot smoked paprika, pencil shavings, a rather brittle spiciness and more notes of incense, pot pourri, black olives and mulling spices. Finish: Long and nicely earthy, mentholated, herbal and with a good liquorice, aniseed and punchy spice aftertaste. Comments: It’s very good. I just find the wood a little too excessive to go to 90. Still excellent though, converges on old Bourbon and Armagnac territory at times.
SGP: 562 - 87 points.



Caroni 17 yo 1994/2011 (62.3%, Velier, Trinidad, 2293 bottles)

Caroni 17 yo 1994/2011 (62.3%, Velier, Trinidad, 2293 bottles)
Another heavy style with full-term tropical ageing. Fasten seatbelts... Colour: copper. Nose: we’re not far from the 85 only this is closer to the core Caroni style, which can only be a good thing and in this case means black olive paste and gentle brininess. The wood is still audible with these notes of smoked wood spices and charcoal but it’s a more even balance than the 85 so far. Putty, seawater, pine resin and herbal toothpaste. With water: gets saltier, more medicinal, green olives, camphor, wax, soot and notes of mint julep and bitumen. Also some mixed roasted nuts and strong Pu erh tea. Mouth: big, earthy, emphatically medicinal and tarry. Full of embrocations, olive oil mixed with brine and good fishy notes. There’s also pencil shavings, black coffee, motor oil and wood glue. Some strawberry wine, roasted walnuts and savoury spice bread. Once again, it really handles the alcohol level well. With water: tarry rope, oily rags, lanolin, hessian sack cloth and salty, preserved lemons in brine. More herbal toothpaste, cough syrup and black olives. Finish: Super long and moving towards a more savoury profile of freshly baked breads, warming spices, more tarry notes and a few rubbery, bicycle inner tube notes. Comments: There’s an almost knife-edge tightrope dance between distillery character and wood intensity going on here, but in the end balance is maintained and it makes for a pretty thrilling and very fun and tasty wee journey.
SGP: 462 - 90 points.



And now, after a wee break, and due to the recent diktat from Whiskyfun head office in Turckheim, a Jamaican to finish. Well, sort of...



Sönnichsen Jamaica Rum 33 yo 1951/1984 (42%, Sönnichsen, Jamaica/Germany, 7000 bottles)

Sönnichsen Jamaica Rum 33 yo 1951/1984 (42%, Sönnichsen, Jamaica/Germany, 7000 bottles)
The story goes that this was created from a blend of 4 casks of high-ester ‘German Flavoured’ Jamaican rum especially distilled for the German market at the Vale Royal Distillery. These rums would normally then be cut with neutral German spirit called ‘primaspirit’ for sale as Rum Verschnitt in Germany. Now, exactly how much of the original casks of Jamaican pot still rum remain inside this funny bottling and to what extent the character has been ‘diluted’ by primaspirit or filtration, well, let’s see... Colour: amber. Nose: burnt toffee, caramel, gingerbread, lemon peel and some soft notes of brake and lighter fluids. There’s definitely a Jamaican character in there but it does feel a tad subdued. Some graphite oil, a few drops of seawater and a little hessian. Mouth: decent weight and an impressive oiliness but there’s also a feeling of unnatural sugar about it as well. Touches of sweetened tea, salty butter, soda bread, herbal resins, toothpaste and WD40. Brown sugar, caramel sauce, sticky toffee pudding and caraway liqueur. A few generic olive notes as well. Finish: medium in length and full of soft, slightly sweet esters, pear drops, motor oil, gravel and cough medicine. Comments: A strange wee ‘Germaican’ bottling with a fun history. Although, I can’t help but wonder what those 4 original Jamaican pot still rums would have tasted like without ‘interference’. Makes you want to reach for the Hampden...
SGP: 651 - 80 points.



That was somewhat underwhelming. Let’s see if we can find some more ‘worthy’ Jamaican  representatives to finish this session off... (apologies)



Worthy Park 7 yo 2010/2018 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R11.1 ‘Spicy sweet goodness’, Jamaica, refill barrel, 308 bottles)

Worthy Park 7 yo 2010/2018 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R11.1 ‘Spicy sweet goodness’, Jamaica, refill barrel, 308 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: the best, most intensely grassy olive oil over grilled sardines, tar liqueur and raw anchovy paste. Menthol, seashore freshness, fishing nets and grilled scallops. Some more engine oil/workshop/industrial leanings as well in time. There’s also a touch of gingery oak and black pepper. Excellent. With water: now you really start to get the esters. Notes of paint and fermenting banana with toasted sunflower seeds and herbal throat lozenges. Mouth: pine liqueur, air freshener, the inside of a coal scuttle, germoline and seawater. Lots of elastoplasts and sweetened medicines as well. A few secondary citrus and tropical touches as well - a grilled pineapple chunk. With water: gravel, lemon-infused liquorice, green olives in a dirty martini and some grizzly fermentary funk. Finish: Long, lemony, bright, briny, notes of mouthwash and creosote. Comments: Totally kills the Sönnichsen. Excellent selection, the wood felt quite big for a refill but that may be maturation location or a still relatively active cask. Anyway, the distillate is big enough so it works!
SGP: 562 - 87 points.



Worthy Park 7 yo 2010/2018 (57.5%, SMWS R11.3 ‘Crème Brûlée Flambé’, Jamaica, refill barrel, 311 bottles)

Worthy Park 7 yo 2010/2018 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R11.3 ‘Crème Brûlée Flambé’, Jamaica, refill barrel, 311 bottles)
Colour: gold (a shade darker). Nose: we’re in the same, sister cask territories. Funky fruits, esters, seawater, olives, medicine, brine, camphor and a little sawdusty, peppery American oak. Not a whole lot of difference between them. With water: still grassy and fresh with these notes of chopped herbs and green olives but also the same slightly punchy woody side. Mouth: more glue, more stickiness and a greater sense of ‘sliminess’ in terms of greasy, engine oil qualities. There’s also a savoury note as well such as brown bread and more of these toasted sunflower seeds. A little sizzling bacon fat and more camphor and hessian sackcloth. With water: this one is globally more savoury, more medical, more briny and more bready with a yeasty autolytic quality. Finish: Long, lemony, briny, funky... extremely close to .1. Comments: The same really. An excellent sister cask. I think I enjoy it just a notch more due to the slightly more background nature of the wood.
SGP: 462 - 88 points.



(Big thanks to Dirk and Enrico.)  



More tasting notesCheck the index of all rums we've tasted so far






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