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

August 4, 2019


A wee bunch of Jamaicans

Instead of sailing the seven seas and try rum from just anywhere on this planet, let’s rather focus on one of the very few ‘grand cru’ places out there, Jamaica! We may well do that on several Sundays in a row, as there’s rather plenty… But first, an easy aperitif!

Monymusk 2003 (40%, Mezan, Jamaica, +/-2015)

Monymusk 2003 (40%, Mezan, Jamaica, +/-2015) Four stars
Well, not sure this will be ‘easy’, as Monymusk/Clarendon are doing higher-ester rums as well. What I like with Mezan in general is that they don’t go downmarket with unlikely wine casks. By the way, their motto is ‘The Untouched Rum’. Bravo, hurray! Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: lovely little Jamaican, rather on overripe bananas for starters, then on liquorice and tar bonbons as well as the expected olive brine. Crisp, clean, and very fresh on the nose, while the lighter strength would add to the freshness. Mouth: very good, very Jamaican, and very fresh again. Those bananas, liquorice, tar, brine and olives are all here, with added petroly touches. Finish: medium, rather saltier. A drop of good mezcal may have been poured in (of course not). Comments: to Jamaican rum what Caol Ila is to Islay malt. This starts well.
SGP:363 - 86 points.

Good, let’s have some heavier hitters…

Monymusk 14 yo 2004/2018 (56.2%, Kintra, Rum 4 ALS, 126 bottles)

Monymusk 14 yo 2004/2018 (56.2%, Kintra, Rum 4 ALS, 126 bottles) Three stars and a half
A charity bottle, with 10€ donated to that very worthy cause with each purchase. Well done! Colour: white wine. Nose: in similar territories at first, but this one is lighter in style, less estery, rather on tropical fruits, bananas, and just cane juice. A touch of whacky varnish (not butyric though) and a pleasant freshness again. With water: could well be the distillery’s light continental style, but it has to be ex-pot still. Some nice whiffs of pear juice mixed with fennel seeds. Seems to work. Mouth (neat): unusual, hot, with highly concentrated banana juice, then rather vegetables mixed with liquorice allsorts and some paraffin. I agree that’s a tad unlikely, but this is not an unpleasant feeling. With water: good, sweet and cane-y, always with these touches of varnish. There’s more brine as well, olives, a spoonful of ashes, rotting banana skin… Finish: medium, on pretty much the same flavours. Comments: I do prefer the brighter higher-ester style of the Mezan, but this one’s very good too. And it’s for a good cause, so theoretically worth 100 points.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Worthy Park 7 yo 2010 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R11.3, ‘Crême brûlée flambé’, Jamaica, ex-bourbon, 311 bottles, +/-2018)

Worthy Park 7 yo 2010 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R11.3, ‘Crême brûlée flambé’, Jamaica, ex-bourbon, 311 bottles, +/-2018) Four stars
Pssst, if the name’s supposed to be French, that would be ‘flambée’, as in ‘brulée’. But we’re splitting thin hairs again at WF Towers… Colour: gold. Nose: lime juice and seawater, on a solid cake-y and vanilla-ed base. Add liquorice wood, drops of mezcal, and a few olives, and there, a perfect dry mar… I mean, Hampden. With water: new linoleum (but do they still make that?) and leatherette, garage, old two-stroke engine... Mouth (neat): rather rounder than the Hampdens, but that may be some pretty active American oak. Other than that, just the right amounts of cane juice, olives, seawater again, ripe bananas, and diesel oil. It’s getting really sour, in a beautiful way, with tequila-y sides. Margarita was her name. With water: a little varnish this time, and the odd pears. Probably still a little young, doesn’t rum age a little ‘faster’ only when on location? I suppose this matured in Scotland. Finish: long, back on olives, brine, and lime juice. Gasoline in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps three more years and we’d have reached the 90-mark, while vanillin from the oak feels a bit. Excellent nonetheless.
SGP:363 - 87 points.

Something different…

New Yarmouth 12 yo 2005/2017 (68%, Cave Guildive, Jamaica, bourbon, 223 bottles)

New Yarmouth 12 yo 2005/2017 (68%, Cave Guildive, Jamaica, bourbon, 223 bottles) Four stars
This one from Zürich, where they cook good röstis and bottle excellent rum. It was an ex-Heaven Hill barrel. Seldom seen, New Yarmouth is part of the group that owns Appleton and produces J. Wray & Nephew. Look like it has nothing to do with Clarendon distillery, contrarily to what I had written before, it’s just located within the Clarendon Parish. Colour: white wine. Nose: totally Jamaican, with plenty of esters and salty things, but there’s also a lot of varnish and I suppose those crazy 68% vol. are the main culprits. With water: high gherkins, olives, smoked green tea, brake fluid, and a handful of capers, plus the usual overripe bananas. Definitely high-ester. Mouth (carefully): concentrated lime juice mixed with paint thinner. I would say it’s safer to add water right away… With water: very sour, grassy, lemony, even ashy and chalky, with rather big notes of concentrated pineapple juice this time. It’s a striking combination, rather fruitier than those of high-ester colleagues Hampden and Worthy Park. Finish: long, petroly, but also chalky and fruity. Comments: I tend to enjoy Worthy Park’s higher straightforwardness even better, but this New Yarmouth is great Jamaican, no doubt. Oh well same score, let’s not nit-pick.
SGP:563 - 87 points.

We’ve had Monymusk, Worthy Park, New Yarmouth… Let’s have an old Hampden now.

Hampden 35 yo 1983/2019 (55.3%, Valinch & Mallet, cask #19-3501R, 237 bottles)

Hampden 35 yo 1983/2019 (55.3%, Valinch & Mallet, cask #19-3501R, 237 bottles) Five stars
The marque here was HGML, which means that the wash was very highly esterified, probably to more than 1,000 g/hlpa. No need to say that such old Jamaicans are very rare, and could only happen thanks to cool-climate aging, unless very extreme ullage would have been done. Colour: gold. Nose: frankly, you wouldn’t say it’s this old, as it’s as bright and fresh as a tenner at first nosing. Having said that, you already understand that it’s going to be pretty complex when reduced a wee bit, since you’re already getting notes of tinned anchovies, some kind of smoked butter, and a wide array of herbs and plants. Let’s see… With water: a tense plasticness and loads of pickled vegetables and fruits, I would rather say. Small maize, cherries, gherkins, capers… Also ink, old newspapers, a charming metallic touch (coins), and the tiniest tiny bit of crystallised pineapple. It’s perfect. Mouth (neat): a heavy concoction indeed when unreduced, with loads of salted liquorice plus some kind of tar-smoked fruits. Many fruits starting to ferment, and even some of the fruitiest Swiss cheese (proper Gruyères, for example). With water: salt and fish! That’s funny. Chinese fish sauce, sardines, anchovies, then olives, lemons, tapenade, lime juice, a little wild thyme, oyster plant… And even a feeling of peat, mind you, but in general, salted liquorice is running the show. Finish: long and astoundingly fresh. Fantastic lemony grassiness. Comments: such a long aging is not something you could do in the tropics, unless you’re ready to lose 90% of your production, or even more. It’s fabulous old rum that hasn’t lost an iota of its original flavour profile along the years.  Esters seem to be much less fragile and prone to flavour mutations than peat smoke…
SGP:463 - 92 points.

(Merci Lance)

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