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

July 7, 2019



A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!


Rums from the stash

Let’s see what we have! And kickstart this with a wee aperitif…

St Nicholas Abbey 5 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, +/-2018)

St Nicholas Abbey 5 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
I thought both the 10 and the 15 yo were really good last time I tried them, around 2014. Only their bottles are a bit, well, QVC-y. If I may. Colour: straw. Nose: a pretty perfect distillate, captured at a young age, when it wasn’t tainted with wood yet. That’s the thing, local ageing is romantically and historically cool and sound, of course, but maturation in cooler climates brings more subtlety and complexity since you can push them further and benefit from longer ageing. Time is time and one year is one year. So, olive and sunflower oils, cane juice, candle wax, fermenting peaches, liquorice wood, a touch of masala, a drop of pastis, and wee notes of miso. Miso’s always welcome, in any spirits. Mouth: the liquorice and the pastis got even bigger, while some woody notes would creep in, not the greatest feeling. A touch of plain sugar too, not sure where that came from. Other than that, we’re having a little caraway and a feeling of aquavit. Caraway indeed. Finish: medium, a tad sweet and sour. Comments: I enjoyed the nose rather a lot, but the palate was a tad vulgar, if I may. Still way above average!
SGP:651 - 78 points.

Since we’re in Barbados…

Foursquare 14 yo ‘Hereditas’ (56%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Barbados, 2019)

Foursquare 14 yo ‘Hereditas’ (56%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Barbados, 2019) Four stars and a half
A single blend, that is to say a blend of column and pot-distilled rums from the same facilities. Yeah, like those Ben Nevis or Lochside blends from times gone by. I think they were doing that at Moffat as well, and probably elsewhere, but when you compose a blend, I suppose you would rather have a larger palette of choices at hand. In theory… Colour: amber. Nose: well, we’re not far from the best molasses-based ‘industrial’ rhums from Guadeloupe or Martinique, such as those well-aged ‘European’ Bellevues that are so great. Praline, walnut cakes, some menthol, honeysuckle, chamomile, liquorice, lime tree blossom, marmalade, butterscotch, oak essence, cracked pepper… So far, so perfect. With water: precious sawdusts, new dashboard in a new Rolls-Royce (hope they’re not going all lousy carbon), new cabinet, pipe tobacco, cigars, chocolate. Mouth (neat): it’s a bit on the heavy/woody side, but the fact is, it remains balanced if not too refreshing. Some cinnamon cake, aniseed, heavy caramel, Dutch liquorice, dried figs and dates, clove cookies (does that even exist?), and a wee saltiness that always works. Oh and black olives. With water: heavy oak seldomly works this well. Terpenes, liquorice, caramel, thin mints, olive oil chocolates (yep that does exist, check L’Espérantine de Marseille)… Finish: long, thick, pleasantly bitter and oaky. Comments: just excellent. To think that it’s only a blend! Right, a single blend…
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Diamond 20 yo 1998/2019 (50.8%, The Duchess, Armagnac finish, Guyana, cask #27)

Diamond 20 yo 1998/2019 (50.8%, The Duchess, Armagnac finish, Guyana, cask #27) Three stars
This baby from the Wooden Coffey still, a.k.a. Enmore if I’m not mistaken. It spent eight years in ex-Armagnac wood, for the better or… the worse, let’s see (with mucho caution). Colour: gold. Nose: possibly the lightest kind of Demerara/Diamond rum. Orange blossom, white chocolate, cranberry juice, perhaps a drop of green walnut liqueur, more orange blossom, and an Armagnacness that I cannot quite detect with much certainty. Perhaps this fistful of golden sultanas? With water: lighter yet but in a way, nicer. I enjoy hay in my spirits, while there’s quite a lot of hay in there. Notes of PIneau, or Rivesaltes, or Muscat de Lunel. Whatever. Mouth (neat): rather light, with a little scented soap at first – nothing bad – and this feeling of crunching a church candle. Then rather orange jam and Jaffa cakes. With water: rather similar. Finish: medium, still similar. Comments: I’m not too sure, honest. They say grape and grain don’t work, not sure grape and cane work any better. Some very good sides though, but we were flying so much higher with The Duchess’ latest Caroni 1998, for example!
SGP:641 - 80 points.

Time for Hampden…

Hampden 11 yo 2007/2019 (63.2%, Hunter Laing Kill Devil for The Whisky Barrel, Jamaica, 321 bottles)

Hampden 11 yo 2007/2019 (63.2%, Hunter Laing Kill Devil for The Whisky Barrel, Jamaica, 321 bottles) Five stars
I so hate all these people! For they’ve totally rocked my score scale for rums with their latest offerings, especially with their Bellevues and Hampdens. All utter swill and plain rotguts, b*s*a*d*! Hate, hate, hate, only hate, If they only knew how I hate them! Colour: the worst white wine in the creation. Nose: get lost! It’s ugly, seemingly poisonous, totally asynchronous, the devil’s work indeed. Don’t buy a bottle, they should pay you! Forgot to mention Outer-Mongolian supermarket olives, freshly cut polystyrene and goat’s dung. With water: the worst possible use of water. Otherwise, earthy sour brine. Mouth (neat): who wouldn’t just hate all this plastic, these olives (black and green) from the year before last year, this smoky beer that even a pro-Brexit English pub wouldn’t dare pouring you, and all this rubber and tar? Seriously, it is seriously extreme, I’m not joking here. Aren’t we touching some limits? With water: it is extreme indeed, very grassy and dry, sharp, extremely sour, totally on brine and concentrated lime juice. It is also a little mezcaly. Finish: very long, hauntingly long. Tar, plastic, olives, lime, paraffin, creosote. Nasty and very bad. Comments: gotta be serious, I would say we’re touching some limits indeed here. I love it, but I’m wondering if I’m not loving it just because it’s extreme. Just as I love the most extreme Sancerres or Alsatian Rieslings. How serious is it, doc?
SGP:273 - 90 points.

Booze masochists of the world, unite!...

Hampden 11 yo 2007/2019 (63.5%, Hunter Laing Kill Devil for The Whisky Barrel, Jamaica, 339 bottles)

Hampden 11 yo 2007/2019 (63.5%, Hunter Laing Kill Devil for The Whisky Barrel, Jamaica, 339 bottles) Five stars
We’ll do this one quickly, I promise. These 63.5% are illegal anyway, aren’t they. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: same(ish). Brine and stuff, just a wee tad fresher. Perhaps. Some deadly rotten pineapples too. With water: I have no ideas. We’re extremely  close to the other cask, while I wouldn’t want to split too many hairs here. To be honest, these extreme Hampdens can get a little tiring. Still love them, though. Mouth (neat): whack! This is even more extreme and would make some 10yo Port Ellen at full strength taste like diluted litchi juice. With water: holy drunken featherless crow, billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles! There are plastic-smoked salted olives all over the place here. Finish: eternal, and that’s the main problem here. Wrecks both your brain and your digestive system. Comments: bacterial fermentations, they say. Well, I’ve heard quite a few tourists are missing each and every year. Now one good thing about Hampden, when it hits you, you feel no pain (Bob Marley – sort of.)
SGP:273 - 90 points.

Good night/day.

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