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

October 4, 2020






More rums from the Festival des Nouveautés



I think the selection this year is particularly heavy, in the best sense of that word. No lightish caramel juice to be spotted, unless I haven’t been paying enough attention. For example…



Vieux Sajous 4 yo ‘First Release’ (50.6%, OB, for LMDW, Haiti, 2316 bottles, 2020)

Vieux Sajous 4 yo ‘First Release’ (50.6%, OB, for LMDW, Haiti, 2316 bottles, 2020)
This ‘vieux’ clairin  is technically well rum and has been matured in a dozen casks such as ex-Benriach or ex-Caroni. So this one too is pretty ‘meta’ or ‘cross’, but I doubt Benriach had much impact on it, unless that was peated Benriach. Let’s see… Colour: straw. Nose: more linseed oil and picture varnish that at any painter’s, really. Goes then towards almonds, both bitter ones and regulars, then the much expected olives and benzine, and finally some softer, vanilla-driven notes, with touches of camphor and menthol. Feels older than 4! With water: we’re off to Jamaica! Plastics, petrol, tar, olives, camphor, goat head soup (not too sure about that one, but cheers to The Stones!…) Mouth (neat): very salty, brine-y, full of liquorice, earth, parsnips, petrol and olive oil, and of course sugarcane. It’s pretty rich, with very good clean power, while retaining some of the clairins’ much appreciated ‘soft dirtiness’. With water: goes on and on like that, with added citrus and star fruit. Finish: a notch less heavy, but still very salty. Notes of graphite oil, fusain… We’re at a painter’s indeed. Plastics are back in the aftertaste – typical! Comments: I would tend to enjoy the best white ones even better, but I just love this very characterful style. Basquiat (and the Rolling Stones) in a bottle.
SGP:462 - 87 points.



Caroni 22 yo 1998/2020 ‘Balas Bhaggan’ (68.4%, Velier for LMDW, Trinidad, 1158 bottles)

Caroni 22 yo 1998/2020 ‘Balas Bhaggan’ (68.4%, Velier for LMDW, Trinidad, 1158 bottles)
This one’s in the 4th ‘employee’ series, and once again, given the strength here, looks like they’re trying to kill us all - but we will not let it happen. Plus, it is heavy Caroni. Colour: deep gold. Nose: old dirt, old furniture, black earth, cigars, fermenting kombucha, a lot of tar and a lot of liquorice, and perhaps a little mango chutney, but not too sure about that with this quasi-lethal strength. With water: humidor and balsa wood, all model glue you’d need to make a wee plane out of it, and something reminiscent of some roughish Turkish fig arrak. Mouth (neat): five rounds against Mike Tyson or something like that. And you feel it won’t do any good to your throat either, so consequently… With water: it’s sweeter and rounder than the Sajous, but both share some similar flavours too. Petrol, earth and plastics plus well-overripe pineapples and bananas. Finish: very long, with our friends the olives coming to the rescue. Earthy and cane-y aftertaste. Comments: rather rustic, as many Caronis are or were in my book, but that’s also what we like in Caroni. Excellent.
SGP:463 - 88 points.



Caroni 22 yo 1998/2020 ‘Dayanand Yunkoo Ballon’ (68.4%, Velier for LMDW, Trinidad, 1180 bottles)

Caroni 22 yo 1998/2020 ‘Dayanand Yunkoo Ballon’ (68.4%, Velier for LMDW, Trinidad, 1180 bottles)
Cool, another readymade Molotov cocktail! It’s a blend of six casks, with the angel’s (well, the demon’s) share reaching 80% altogether. Indeed, same strength, that’s not a typo. Colour: golden amber. Nose: I find it rather rounder and softer than its brother, perhaps a little more on banana cake and cognac, and less on petroly elements. But only water will really tell… With water: not really, nail polish remover, olive oil, engine oil, tarmac, wine vinegar, rotting fruits… Mouth (neat): ouch! Officer, I have the names of the culprits! Extremely strong, varnishy, acetone-y, ethanoly, and just wacko-wacko. Not the kind of bottle to bring on a plane I suppose, but would anyone let you do that? With (a lot of) water: more pepper, some lemon too, cough medicine, lip balm... It got pretty medicinal, and some spicy olive oil is never far away. Now both bottlings really converge at this point. Finish: extremely long, spicy and medicinal at first, then more on barbecued fruits (pineapples) and Russian black tea. Comments: I think I liked this one a tad better today, but they’re very close as far as quality’s concerned and the outcome could be the other way ‘round right next week.
SGP:563 - 89 points.



What could climb over some heavy Caroni? You say Hampden?..



Hampden 9 yo 2011/2020 ‘LFCH’ (60.3%, OB for LMDW, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #296, 250 bottles)

Hampden 9 yo 2011/2020 ‘LFCH’ (60.3%, OB for LMDW, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #296, 250 bottles)
There’s a lovely bird that’s probably featherlight on the label for this most heaviest rum, although I believe this mark would rather suggest this is some low-ester Hampden, let’s see… (it seems that only OWH is lighter than LFCH) Colour: gold. Nose: well, this is still rather petroly/estery/phenolic to me, but indeed, after a few notes of oil and tar, we would rather be going towards stewed vegetables, a little metal (iron), and flowers such as wisteria and jasmine. With water: yeah well, whichever the mark, Hampden is Hampden. Notes of old books, ink, tar, rhubarb jam, cracked pine needles… Mouth (neat): pretty balanced but certainly not light. As if someone would have smoked citrons and thrown ashes into some cane juice. Add cinnamon and a little brown sugar (crikey, The Stones yet again!) With water: salt, lemon, ashes, tar, olive oil and an agave-y side. Notes of fermentation for sure, ale… Finish: long and really fresh, with various kinds of lemons. I’m wondering if you couldn’t make a kind of rum Margarita out of this – but I seldom drink or do cocktails, so I could tell. The aftertaste is a little drying and bitter/sour, perhaps. Big chillies too in the end, Tabasco. Comments: lighter and, above all, cleaner and straighter than the Caronis. Quality’s just as high in my book.
SGP:552 - 89 points.



Hampden 8 yo 20112/2020 ‘OWH’ (61.7%, OB for Whisky Live Paris 2020, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #667, 250 bottles)

Hampden 8 yo 2012/2020 ‘OWH’ (61.7%, OB for Whisky Live Paris 2020, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #667, 250 bottles)
Here it is, I believe the lightest mark at Hampden’s (40-80 g. esters/hlpa). Mind you the highest, DOK, shelters 1500g or more, as it appears. So no automatic toothpaste this time… Colour: gold. Nose: I hope you’ll forgive this truism, Hampden remains Hampden. Awesome natural rubber, pencil eraser, acacia gum, then indeed, some braised apricots and papayas, that’s not very common. Probably some cashew and pecans too. I find this pretty complex, if not as wham-bam in-your-face as most other Hampdens. Awesome! With water: yes yes yes, pine needles, fern and moss, tiger balm, eucalyptus… Mouth (neat): low-esters? No way, this is clearly estery indeed, even pretty smoky, with a feeling of chewing a candle (rather paraffin) and quaffing retsina, that Greek wine that harbours resin – our Greek friends confirmed there were great un-touristy bottles to be found here and there. But this Hampden is strong, so… With water: we’re going towards bone-dry and flinty white wine. And lime and bamboo shoots. Finish: long, perfect, rather refined and driven by high-class lemons and a little green pepper. A funny touch of HP-y heather honey in the aftertaste. Comments: they were all superb, but this is our winner today. Do you know why? Because it’s also moreish and almost refreshing. Well, I’m exaggerating a wee bit now.
SGP:462 - 90 points.




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