Google Drums of rum

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

June 21, 2020


Drums of rum

Well, not really. It's true that armagnac and ‘artisan’ cognacs are rather having the upper hand these days at WF Towers, as far as malternatives go, while you need to remain extremely selective when choosing a rum. For example, you can’t go very wrong if you choose an armagnac or a Scotch malt whisky at random for, say 60€ whereas if you do that with rum too many times, you’re dead. In France for example, of all spirits that are deemed illegal by the authorities (because of forbidden additives, false strengths, excessive obscuration, too much sugar, fake age statements and so on, and on, and on…), 31% are rums, which is huge as that global ‘spirits’ category also takes liqueurs, creams, eaux-de-vie or say gins into account. All whiskies of the world, including unlikely ‘foreign’ blends only account for 10% of those problematic spirits, and brandies only 2% altogether (thanks for the data Florent Beuchet at La Compagnie des Indes). So, let’s be careful…

Takamaka Bay ‘Extra Noir’ (38%, OB, Seychelles, +/-2018)

Takamaka Bay ‘Extra Noir’ (38%, OB, Seychelles, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
Some other Takamakas have been rather to my liking, especially the 8 yo ‘St André’ (WF 79). But this Loch-Dhu-ish expression is a tad scarier (noir means black, as you know). The low strength too. Colour: amber. Well, it’s not black at all! Nose: soft, and rather typical of the rums from the Indian Ocean, especially from Mauritius or Madagascar. But not from La Réunion! So soft molasses, a little liquorice, chestnut purée, milk chocolate… Then pink pepper (Timut style) and blood oranges. All that is pretty fine, fragrant and well balanced. Mouth: I rather like it indeed, it reminds of some of the best cooking rums we used to have in France. Really. Quite a lot of chocolate before it gets more molassy, and rather dry. What’s really cool is that they did not kill it with too much sugar, a bad habit they seem to have in Mauritius, as far as I can tell. Now it’s also rather thin and would go straight from the arrival to the finish. Indeed, like Usain Bolt. Finish: short and a tad gritty. Some plain sugar in the aftertaste but it’s not Diplo either. Wood. Comments: very fair and probably much better yet on location.
SGP:530 - 78 points.

Let’s do a long hop to…

English Harbour ‘Madeira Batch Number 001’ (40%, OB, Antigua, +/-2017)

English Harbour ‘Madeira Batch Number 001’ (40%, OB, Antigua, +/-2017)
Sadly a finish and only NAS, possibly trying to go the Scotch malt way but there. Not much luck with these little Antiguans this far, but I’ve hardly ever tasted a handful of them. Colour: gold. Nose: there’s something a little bizarre, between burnt vegetables (cabbage) and leather. Indeed, that could be sulphur. Notes of orange peel, a little mustard, walnut stain, ginger tonic… Bizarre, you said bizarre? How bizarre! (a quote from an old French movie… oh forget.) Mouth: ouch. Pepper, mustard, oak, leather, tannins (used teabag) and then saccharine. Pass. Finish: rather long, peppery and sour. Mashed parsnips and more mustard. Comments: what was that? Another finishing that went wrong, that’s for sure in my opinion. Still kind of acceptable provided you’ve got litres of orange juice and lorryloads of crushed ice.
SGP:371 - 65 points.

Dominican Republic ‘A.F.D.’ 8 yo 2010/2019 (62.4%, The Rum Mercenary, Black Label Collection)

Dominican Republic ‘A.F.D.’ 8 yo 2010/2019 (62.4%, The Rum Mercenary, Black Label Collection) Two stars and a half
AFD stands for Alcoholes Finos Dominicanos where, according to their website, they also make biomass and fertilisers. Which is cool! Colour: full gold. Nose: it is not, mind you, one of these bland DomReps that we’re seeing elsewhere, it would rather be a very nice ‘bourbon’ of rum, meaning that the distillate was probably not too silent. Vanilla, sugarcane indeed, coconut balls, honey, touch of banana… With water: going rather Cuban if you ask me. Light, with touches of preserved pineapple. Mouth (neat): strong and wood-shave-y, but there are some flavours, possibly around oranges. But water is more than needed… With water: pleasant, really. Sure it’s not Hampden but it’s not totally empty either. Finish: medium, with more oak and this feeling of sucking Haribo crocodiles. Works with bears and babies too. Comments: to sip while listening to Las Chicas del Can. There, one more point.
SGP:630 - 79 points.

Bellevue Guadeloupe 21 yo 1998/2020 (55.8%, The Rum Mercenary, Black Label Collection)

Bellevue Guadeloupe 21 yo 1998/2020 (55.8%, The Rum Mercenary, Black Label Collection) Five stars
Good that they mention ‘Guadeloupe’ since there’s quite some confusion between Guadeloupe’s Bellevue (Damoiseau) and Marie-Galante’s Bellevue, not even sure I’m getting it right. Even more so since the island of Marie-Galante is part of Guadeloupe. So basically, this one should be a Damoiseau from Grande Terre, located at Le Moule in Guadeloupe. Aaaall right. Colour: dark amber. Nose: gherkin brine, olives, garlic bread, menthol and liquorice. Totally love this, even if it reminds me of… Marie-Galante’s Bellevue. I must be missing something. With water: precious woods, more liquorice, earth and fern, dried bananas, cigarettes, a wee whiff of rosewood… What a fantastic nose! Mouth (neat): totally superb, these Bellevues range amongst the best rums in the world if you ask me. Liquorice poured over rotting bananas, with a dollop of crème de menthe and a lot of proper tapenade (olives and anchovies crushed together). Can’t quite beat this. With water: excellent, firm, salty and briny, with more liquorice and a touch of cough medicine. Finish: long and much subtler that you would imagine. Salty honey sauce, flaxseed, borage, cane juice, honey… Pretty exceptional indeed. Comments: always been a sucker for these 1998s, no exception here. So, I have to work on the various Bellevues – it’s typically French, why simple when you can make complicated?
SGP:663 - 91 points.

That called for more Bellevue…

Bellevue 18 yo 1998/2016 (56.6%, The Rum Cask)

Bellevue 18 yo 1998/2016 (56.6%, The Rum Cask) Four stars
This is Guadeloupe’s Bellevue, but then again, Marie-Galante is part of Guadeloupe. Oh forget! Colour: deep gold. Nose: this one’s much shier, more ‘columny’ (they all are, but there) and indeed I believe this could rather be some mainland Guadeloupe Bellevue as it’s more floral and less briny. Zucchini flowers, ylang-ylang, bananas and pineapples, prickly pears, honeysuckle… It is really lovely, and clearly softer than the Rum Mercenary. With water: some medicinal notes ala Laphroaig. Bandages, sandalwood, peonies, a pack of marshmallows… Mouth (neat): no, wait, it’s got this putty-like almondy side, salt, brine, even tar, liquorice… Mushrooms too, then jams. Perhaps tamarind, quinces, greengage jam (love that)… With water: more brine chiming in, pepper, pesto rosso. A little unexpected, but funny. You could pour this over your spaghettis. Finish: long, with a little cardboard. A little syrupy in the aftertaste, not something that happens often, but gets then tannic, peppery and drying. Comments: a little more jumbled and imprecise than the fab V&M, but it’s still very superb rum.
SGP:562 - 87 points.

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