Google Rum the good the bad and the funky

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

August 19, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Rum: the good, the bad and the funky. Part 1.
I have a LOT of rum samples that I have been doing a very good job of putting into a large box underneath my desk and pretending do not exist. It’s not because I don’t like rum, in fact, when it’s good - that is to say characterful, distillate driven examples that have not been shagged into a sticky stupor by a tanker load of sugary gunk - I love it!


However, I’m limited in my outlets for writing reviews and whisky often takes precedence by quirk of pragmatism. So, let’s do some stretches, roll up our sleeves and commence battle with this sample pile. We’ll begin in Panama...  


Rum Malecon ‘Reserva Imperial’ 21 yo (40%, OB, Panama, -/+ 2016) Rum Malecon ‘Reserva Imperial’ 21 yo (40%, OB, Panama, -/+ 2016)
The Malecon brand makes quite a bit of noise about its Cuban heritage, although it’s made in Panama. Maybe they are the ones providing a certain famous whisky reviewer with a steady supply of hats? Colour: amber. Nose: not much going on. Some soggy cardboard with cheap brown sugar, sugary tea and sweetened cheap coffee. Really rather ‘empty’. If I’m honest it’s the exact epitome of the kind of rum I really dislike. Perhaps a few notes of bandages and ointment in the distance. Mouth: rather harsh and gritty, although the 40% probably eases things in this sense. Some overripe, bruised banana, cheap coffee liqueur, amaretti and plain sugar syrups. Really not enjoyable, it’s not even a pleasing sweetness. I’ve nothing against sweetness in spirits if it’s naturally derived and at least displays some modicum of balance. Finish: pretty minimal I find, more cheap sweetened coffee and milky tea aspects. Comments: Pretty bad. If it were a cheap bargain thing for drowning in cola and ice then I’d say fine but it seems it’s north of £50 in the UK.
SGP: 641 - 55 points.


Rum Malecon ‘Reserva Imperial’ 25 yo (40%, OB, Panama, -/+ 2016) Rum Malecon ‘Reserva Imperial’ 25 yo (40%, OB, Panama, -/+ 2016)
Everything seems to be ‘Reserva Imperial’, which rather saps the phrase of meaning, if it ever had any to being with. Colour: Amber. Nose: not hugely different from the 21 really. Maybe a tad richer, a glimmer of bread, some chocolate sauce, a slightly firmer medical profile - again hints of bandage and embrocations. There’s also this sweetened coffee aspect as well. Still globally pretty sickly sweet. But definitely ‘nicer’. Mouth: again a little richer and with a weightier ‘presence’ on the palate. But these slightly stale and cardboardy aspects are still present. Some lime oil, some generic foam sweeties, cooking oils and condensed milk. Finish: longer than the 21, even surprisingly long in fact but also full of condensed milk, sugary coffee, cheap liqueurs and various slightly sickly confectionary notes. Comments: It’s a bit better than the 21 for sure, but I still struggle with this style. It’s just not for me. Although, I should say, I also don’t think it’s very good from a technical sense either, in terms of balance, complexity, texture, length etc...
SGP: 651 - 64 points.


DISCLAIMER: I probably should point out, as Serge often does, that I taste Rum from the perspective of a whisky drinker who likes characterful, often drier, distillate-forward spirits. So, if you are a crazy fanatic for these sorts of sweeter Rums, please feel free to take my scores with a pinch of sugar.  


Ron Centenario ‘Edicion Limitada’ 30 yo (40%, OB, Costa Rica)

Ron Centenario ‘Edicion Limitada’ 30 yo (40%, OB, Costa Rica)
Made from molasses and aged in a solera system so 30 yo may well refer to the age of the oldest component rather than the youngest. This is the problem with rum, a lack of clear legal definitions means there’s a lot of vagueness about it. Colour: amber. Nose: a more punchy caramelised brown sugar aroma with touches of bandage, lighter fluid, a few raisins and plenty of sugary sweetness. Sweetened cappuccino, creme de menthe, Nutella, hazelnut liqueur. Not bad but another one that’s too stodgy and sickly in style. Mouth: we’re really in liqueur territory here. This could seriously be some mix of a cheap coffee liqueur, praline, condensed milk and mint syrup. Not unlike the sort of cocktail that Alan Partridge might nervously invent (don’t ask Serge). Some curious mix of sugar glazed nuts. Finish: rather long, syrupy and fudgey. A molten marshmallow perhaps. Comments: I find it a bit better than the Malecons simply because it’s cleaner, but it’s still a bit of a struggle.
SGP: 720 - 70 points.



Even after only three of these sweeter ones it’s getting tough. Let’s move on...  


Trinidad Distillers 6 yo 2000/2006 (45%, Alambic Classique, Trinidad) Trinidad Distillers 6 yo 2000/2006 (45%, Alambic Classique, Trinidad)
Probably column distilled rum from Angostura. Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed this is a lighter and leaner style of rum, not an earthy, medical bruiser like Caroni. Here there’s more a delicate, slightly salty medicinal profile with background notes of brake fluid, WD40 and rather a few nice lemony notes. Some grassy qualities as well such as dry hay and sage. Overall rather simplistic and straightforward but good and quite clean I think. Mouth: nice texture and weight. Some mineral and lemony notes, lemon bonbons, clay, olive oil and lime. An interesting salty/sooty combination. Again good but a tad simple. Finish: good length, lots of black olives, some dried herbs and a touch green Chartreuse. Maybe some graphite oil as well. Comments: I like it, the kind of rum you can sip without the need for ice or too much concentration. Serge previously scored this one 78 but I think it might be worth an even...
SGP: 451 - 80 points.


Foursquare 10 yo 2007/2017 (45%, Alambic Classique, Barbados, cask #17806, 147 bottles) Foursquare 10 yo 2007/2017 (45%, Alambic Classique, Barbados, cask #17806, 147 bottles)
Colour: light gold. Nose: Ahhh. Now we’re talking. This is a superbly minty and herbal concentration - like a mix of aged yellow Chartreuse and Fernet Branca (we’re straying into cocktail territories again, thankfully Alan Partridge is nowhere in sight). Some green fruits, ripe banana, apple peeling, pear drops, brake fluid, many ointments and rather a lot of black olives and camphor. I love it. Mouth: still extremely herbal, almost like herbal resins and syrups, some cannabis oil, damp earthiness, light antiseptics, brown bread, coal dust, lanolin and a touch of creosote. Finish: long, lemony, earthy, edging towards coastal and with this rather lovely menthol freshness. Comments: A bit of a surprise. I like Foursquare but I don’t often find it this characterful. Loved all those herbs.
SGP: 552 - 87 points.


Hampden 17 yo 2000/2018 (52%, Thompson Brothers / Bar Tre Hiroshima, Jamaica, 220 bottles) Hampden 17 yo 2000/2018 (52%, Thompson Brothers / Bar Tre Hiroshima, Jamaica, 220 bottles)
A new bottling from those sibling licit distillers up in Door Knock that they’ve done in partnership with Bar Tre in Hiroshima. Colour: gold. Nose: pure Hampden! A wonderful byzantine of tropical esters, sea salt, brine, anchovies, diesel engine aromas, brake fluid, ointments and fermenting tropical fruits. There’s even something like salted honey in the background, just wonderful concentration and aromatic depth. With water: stunningly salty, briny and fruty - some citrus rinds and passionfruit juice. Mouth: typically terrific. Brown bread smothered in anchovy paste, a pencil eraser, spraying the inside of your mouth with WD40, various medicines, cough syrup, black olive tapenade, chopped fresh herbs, black pepper... the list goes on and on. With water: perfect. Complex, balanced, harmonious and yet still with this superb, thrilling concentration of flavour. Finish: Extremely long. Big, bassy echoes of natural tar, embrocations, ointments, sardine oil, bonfire ash, menthol gum and saline minerality. Comments: One of the great distillates of planet Earth! Check it out if you’re ever visiting. I adore Hampden and this one is no exception.
SGP: 662 - 92 points.


That Hampden kind of put the brakes on this session. But more rum from me soon(ish)...  







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