Google A few rums as they come

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

May 12, 2019


A few rums as they come

… Riding into the wind, with a green spirit and without any particular purpose in mind. Well, actually, we keepl looking for malternatives…

Chairman’s Reserve ‘The Forgotten Casks’ (40%, OB, St. Lucia, +/-2018)

Chairman’s Reserve ‘The Forgotten Casks’ (40%, OB, St. Lucia, +/-2018) Three stars
It’s always baffled me, that propensity to lose or forget about casks at many distillers’, whether in whisky or in other spirits. But it’s true that that is also any marketing department’s favourite old chestnut. Colour: full gold. Nose: nicely cane-y at first, a tad burnt in a good way, roasted (cakes, nuts), then more floral and fruity. We could mention ylang-ylang, orange blossom, wallflowers, then raspberry ganache and Jaffa cakes. It’s a very nice nose, pretty chocolaty. Mouth: a tad sweeter than expected, but I don’t think it’s been too dosed-up, has it? Pineapple jam, Grand-Marnier, sultanas, heather honey, and quite a lot of fig jam. Please pass the foie gras! Finish: a little short, and that’s the lower strength. Chocolate and coffee, liquorice, a tad liqueury. Comments: pretty much to my liking within this style, but it’s got so many medals at the IWSC, it’s becoming a little suspicious. Oh well, it’s true that this is good rum after all.
SGP:640 - 80 points.

The John Canoe 15 yo (74%, Rum Company ldt. Jamaica for Whiskyteca Giaccone, Italy, +/-1970) Three stars
Watch this, it is very rare. This one is said to be pure Long Pond. Edoardo Giaccone, a.k.a. Baffo, was a well-known Italian whisky pioneer, but I don’t think everybody knows that he was also a rum connoisseur. Well, was he? Let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: take 1/3 sunflower oil, take 1/3 lime juice, take 1/3 petroleum jelly, shake well – you’ve done it. But the strength is probably lethal, water is more than needed… With water: a sugary sweetness coming out, I had believed this was ‘high-ester’ stuff while it gets much lighter once reduced. Having said that it hasn’t lost all of its coastal and brine-y side. Mouth (neat): splendid lemons and gherkin brine at first, but you cannot really drink this, it burns your throat. Of course I tried.

With water: indeed it’s actually pretty light Jamaican, but not all of its Jamaicanness is absent. Liquorice wood, lemons, fruit drops, candied angelica, and just a wee petrolness. Feels like this was distilled in columns, but maybe were those short creoles? Not too sure, I know I should read articles and books about that, but you see, I am not a rum blogger ;-). Finish: rather short. Ripe bananas and liquorice, plus a wee cup of cappuccino. Comments: the lighter side of Jamaica, one that does not bring images of pot stills and dunder or muck pits. But it’s still very good.
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Edoardo Giaccone >

But back to present days…

Hampden 17 yo 2001/2019 (58.8%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil for The Whisky Barrel, Jamaica, 288 bottles)

Hampden 17 yo 2001/2019 (58.8%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil for The Whisky Barrel, Jamaica, 288 bottles) Five stars
There is a big problem with the Hampdens in this series. It’s the fact that they’re almost always freakishly good, and so that if there’s any surprise, that can only be a bad one. Boo. Colour: straw. Nose: raw power, as The Stooges would have said. Huge acetone, varnish, seawater, preserved gherkins, green lemons, diesel oil, and teak oil. We’re ready to sail. With water: didn’t someone just repaint the shutters? Fresh paint on old wood. Some raisins as well, those were unexpected. Mouth (neat): massive, varnishy, extremely liquoricy and salty. Someone else may have let some Dutch salted liquorice dissolve in a can of petrol (while repainting the shutters). With water: just evident. Lovely touches of ripe bananas coming through as well. Finish: long, salty, petroly, and nicely fruity towards the aftertaste. Ripe bananas again. Comments: this one wasn’t too complex, but boy did it deliver.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

South Pacific Distillery 17 yo 2001/2018 (57.4%, The Rum Cask, Fiji)

South Pacific Distillery 17 yo 2001/2018 (57.4%, The Rum Cask, Fiji) Four stars and a half
This make can talk with Hampden. After all, it’s both high-ester and pot-still rum. Colour: gold. Nose: okay, it is dirtier than Hampden, with more rotting vegetables, more hay, rather more ink as well, more paraffin… And consequently, less brine, petrol and acetone. So less immediate, but I’m quite a fan of these ones too. Never quite understood why some rum freaks seemed to be loath to drink these little Fijians. I like them a lot (but I’m no rum freak). With water: funny, plasticine, brine, and banana cake. In truth it got much gentler and, well, more cake-y. Mouth (neat): we’re much closer to the Hampden. Same clarity and high-definition this time, olives, diesel oil, grapefruit, seawater… With water: yess, tinned sardines and smoked salmon! Finish: long, salty, going even more towards fish, but the bananas wouldn’t give up and frankly, kippers and bananas do not always get along that well. But isn’t rum only for fun? Comments: excellent, but careful with water, it’s hyper-reactive to H2O.
SGP:552 - 88 points.

Why not stay in Jamaica and try something really very old?

Grange Hill Estate ‘Old Jamaica Rum – Crown Brand’ (no ABV, OB, +/-1940?)

Grange Hill Estate ‘Old Jamaica Rum – Crown Brand’ (no ABV, OB, +/-1940?) Five stars
I could not find much on the Web (a useless thing, really) about a Grange Hill Estate, except stories about slavery. There was a plantation for sure but was there a distillery? Probably, but I’m not sure, so if any proper rum historians do have any clues, please drop me a line and you’ll have earned my eternal gratitude. Colour: gold. Nose: total Jamaicanness, with roasted nuts and some petrol, crushed black olives, old books, liquorice, menthol and some earthy kind of camphor. Just a touch of caramel in the back, like in many old ‘liqueurs’, from cognac to rum via calvados and Macallan. I mean, Scotch whisky. In short, a fantastic tireless nose. Just wondering if they were using those dunder pits into which they used to throw dead animals, fruits and tourists to stimulate high bacterial fermentations. Right, perhaps not tourists. Wait, after a good ten minutes, it starts to display notes of brandy, raisins, old jams, old Sauternes… That’s all plainly brilliant.

Mouth: holy smoke! (good one S.) There’s this wee caramel thing for sure, but other than that, this was brilliant rum, balanced to perfection. Fruits (bananas, naturally), liquorice, petroly elements (tar, oils, plastics), salty things (shells, seawater, brine), then salted fruits of some sorts, raisins, quinces… How good is this?

I don’t know if this bottle was extremely old, but since there’s no ABV statement on the label, it’s probably pre-WWII distillate. Finish: amazing juice, for a long time. Stunning assorted oranges. It’s about time you call the Anti-Rumoporn Brigade! Comments: it’s good to have good friends. Huge mercis Lucero! I’m not sure anyone will find another bottle, but if this came from a Grange Hill Estate and Distillery indeed, well, they were stars. By the way, according to Wikipedia, ‘Grange Hill is a settlement in Jamaica, located in the parish of Westmoreland. It has a population of 7,190 as of 2009’. Good to know, perhaps do some of them still own bottles?
SGP:652 - 94 points.


(Merci beaucoup Lucero and Nicolas)

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