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

July 8, 2018


The usual bag of rum

… Always looking for proper malternatives, randomly this time again (but you’ll see, we failed)…

Contrabando 5 yo (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2017)

Contrabando 5 yo (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2017)
So many things look wrong here, the name, the ABV, the provenance, the design, the word ‘solera’, the word ‘superior’… Don’t we feel it coming? Colour: gold. Nose: not too bad, there’s a lot of vanillin and maple syrup and sadly, later, cheapo fruit syrups and liqueurs. Banana liqueur, perhaps? Mouth: too sweet, but we knew this would happen? Cheap syrups, more vanillin, probably glycerine, burnt caramel… Ugh! Now we’ve put worse sweetened rums into our mouths, haven’t we. Finish: short, sugary. Comments: in fact it’s not too excessively doctored, and provided you’ve got a few ice cubes, I’d say you could try to down a glass or two. Not good, but maybe not totally within the terrifying Diplopapa territories, phew.
SGP: 730- 59 points.

Saint James ‘Reserve’ (43%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2018)

Saint James ‘Reserve’ (43%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2018) Two stars
We’ve tried several very good Saint James already. In France these are very easily available. Colour: gold. Nose: typical fruity Agricole (as opposed to grassier ones), well balanced and, above all, very raisiny. Demerara sugar, sultanas, bananas flambéed, crystallised oranges, then these whiffs of hay that are often to be found in good agricoles, IMHO. Lovely easy nose, not too complicated. Mouth: starts with quite a lot of caramel and fudge, perhaps a tad sweetish (burnt sugar), gets then more cane-y, with more grassiness and liquorice. There’s more and more liquorice, actually, which can get a tad tiring. Finish: medium, sweet, with a kind of blend of liquorice and raisins. Raisin cake. Comments: very decent, but perhaps not quite a sipper. Depends on what else you’ve got on the shelf, I suppose…
SGP:631 - 76 points.

While we’re at it…

Saint James 12 yo (43%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2016)

Saint James 12 yo (43%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2016) Three stars and a half
Remember you should trust the ages on these bottles of French rum. A 12 here may be much older than a 23 elsewhere! Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s properly aged and in truth, some parts remind me of some very good, albeit slightly commercial Cognac. Toasted oak and bread, fudge, raisins, stewed peaches, then more and more fennel and aniseed, which is very peculiar. I’m also finding the kind of liquorice that already was in the Reserve. Mouth: very good, rather fresh, starting with some mint and, indeed, liquorice, and rather unfolding on burnt cake, dried apricots and freshly squeezed oranges. There’s also quite some coffee and chocolate, then cinnamon. The body’s pretty perfect. Finish: long, rather pastry-like, with the liquorice-y side adding some backbone. Some black-tea-ish oak in the aftertaste. Comments: way above the Reserve, and already quite complex.
SGP:651 - 84 points.

Saint James ‘Heritage’ (40%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2017)

Saint James ‘Heritage’ (40%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2017) one star and a half
Ouch, NAS and the overused word ‘Heritage’, should I get my gun? Now with rum, NAS is better than fake ages, I agree. Colour: pale gold. Nose: much easier, narrower, and obviously younger. I should have tried this one first, my bad. Nice touches of fresh cane juice, though, a little vanilla, blond raisins… But this is all extremely light. Mouth: light and a tad rough at the same time, slightly spirity, becoming a little too grassy. I doubt this could be seen as a sipper. Finish: short, a little spirity. Comments: move along, not much to see here, so much for heritage - but we’ve seen this happen elsewhere many times before, haven’t we.
SGP:430 - 69 points.

Good, let’s do the splits, so to speak…

Rhum des Plantations Saint-James 1932 (47%, OB, Martinique, 1950s)

Rhum des Plantations Saint-James 1932 (47%, OB, Martinique, 1950s) Four stars
Imagine how rare this is! We’ve had a 1939 while on Islay (don’t ask) and it had been great (WF 89) while the ultra-rare yet very well-known 1885 had fetched WF 92. So, this is the second oldest Saint James I’ve ever tried, and I have to thank the Rummaniacs as well as Luca for this. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: we’re in old Sauternes territories, with many grilled herbs and small berries, raisins, this very specific kind of roastedness that remind us of botrytis, dried porcinis, then grilled beef covered with baked fruits, especially bananas and papayas. Behind all that, many old books forgotten in your basement, and a very discreet garage-y side (old tyres). Touches of burnt oak, marzipan, hazelnut cream… This is a movie rum, it keeps evolving, becoming more complex by the second. More empyreumatic notes after five minutes or so, plus some burning pinewood. Mouth: incredibly hot at first, then kind of fading away, rather on burnt (caramel, bread), gets then a little too dry and bouillony, as if it had lost a little flesh. But the bones, I mean the spices keep it standing on its feet, with a rather dry cinnamon and nutmegy profile. Some very dry black raisins, covered with liquorice liqueur and, perhaps, overcooked jams. Dry at time, sweeter another time. Finish: medium, grassier again. Vegetable soup, Maggi, parsley, with a dollop of chestnut honey thrown in. Some saltiness in the aftertaste. Comments: isn’t it amazing that this was bottled at the right strength? Some very moving old rum that kept very well, even if the nose was a good two steps above the palate, in my humble opinion.
SGP: - 87 points.

Good, four Saint James in a row, this wasn’t too ‘random’ after all. But that’s been safer…

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






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