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

November 29, 2020


More rums, still looking for malternatives

Let’s see what we have, and kick this off with one of our traditional little apéritifs. Excuse me? No, not pastis…

Mauritius 9 yo (42%, Compagnie des Indes, 455 bottles, 2020)

Mauritius 9 yo (42%, Compagnie des Indes, 455 bottles, 2020) Four stars
I’ve learnt something interesting from La Compagnie’s website, it’s that by law, Mauritius had to distil at above 93% vol. until the early 2000s (a British regulation, apparently) while they’re now allowed to do it lower, so with more ‘congeners’ in the make and so, I suppose, to use pot stills. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: any distillate enthusiast may love this. A very awesome combination that would involve butter pears (not Williams this time), ironworks (we’re almost at a blacksmith’s), holy, a lot of tarragon, sage, chervil… That’s all pretty unusual and intriguing, I would say it reminds me of some private aguardientes I could try in Cuba. Mouth: a small sweetness at first, then the same fresh pears, then rather compotes and jams than all those herbs I had found in the nose. Having said that, there are some superb notes of fresh cane juice. Plums/ Very good. Finish: medium, a tad phenolic, with those butter pears and the cane juice running the show otherwise. A little salty chalk in the aftertaste. Comments: I suppose they have a cask strength version too, I’ll try to find it, stay tuned.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

Panama 9 yo (40.6%, El Ron del Artesano, Tawny Port cask, cask #186-16, 346 bottles)

Panama 9 yo (40.6%, El Ron del Artesano, Tawny Port cask, cask #186-16, 346 bottles) Three stars
Not too sure when this was bottled, but these are enthusiastic people, so… (and?) Colour: slightly reddish amber. Nose: caramel, chocolate, raisins, a touch of smoke, and perhaps a little barbecued bacon. Nicer than any official Panamanian rum in my book, so far. Mouth: feels a bit ‘mixed’, but once again, I find it very all right, sweet but not sugary, with a leafy side (tea, tannins) and notes of triple-sec and oak. Cherries. Finish: medium, sweet, with notes of guignolet (cherry liqueur) and raspberries. Comments: a cool little transworld composition that's very well made (remember, Panama) and would go down easily. Port and rum, tja, seems to work sometimes…  
SGP:650 - 80 points.

Let’s play it randomly again…

Bonpland ‘Rouge VSOP’ (40%, OB, Germany, blended rum, +/-2020)

Bonpland ‘Rouge VSOP’ (40%, OB, Germany, blended rum, +/-2020) Two stars
Rums from various origins blended in German Mosel. The faux Victorian packaging is similar to that of many new Facebook-compatible botoxed brands, while the word 'rouge' may refer to canne rouge, a.k.a. red cane. A bit scary…  Colour: straw. Nose: well, the packaging is scary but the nose isn’t. It’s very harmless, light, with perhaps a few nice Jamaican petroly touches in the background, otherwise hay, oranges, and overripe apples. Light and rather okayish, in fact. Mouth: not bad, really, just light. Once again, feels ‘schnitty’ but some Jamaican touches here and there keep it afloat for a while, until it would just start to sink to the bottom. Sour fruits and basta. Finish: short, with some sweetness. I remember an old bottle of Havana Club…  Comments: a rather honest drop but once again, as with so many newish brands, the voice isn’t quite like the plumage.
SGP:430 - 72 points.

Okay, perhaps less randomness, what do you say?...

Uitvlugt 30 yo 1989/2020 (55.8%, Silver Seal, Guyana)

Uitvlugt 30 yo 1989/2020 (55.8%, Silver Seal, Guyana) Five stars
Yeah right, from a Kia Niro to a Ferrari 250 GTO. This one was bottled in Scotland, and if we’re anywhere near the sumptuous old WIRD that Silver Seal had issued at the same time, we’re in for a treat. Fasten your seat belt… Colour: dark amber. Nose: naturally. Nosing an old Uitvlugt is like going see Botticelli at the Offices for the umpteenth time, you know exactly what to expect but you would just never miss the opportunity. Diesel oil, old varnishes, oil paint (the Offices, got it?), olives, new electronics, new tyres, fig wine, chocolate, fresh fermented tea… With water: metal polish and engine oil in majesty. Nosing the engine of that 250 GTO. Yeah right, who’s ever going to nose batteries? Although they do have smells, not obligatorily bad ones. Mouth (neat): it’s pretty strong and even a tad raw and rustic, but that’s actually an asset. Mind you, thirty years. Some varnish, some olives again, some engine oil, salted seashells, dog rose tea, old woods, ground coffee and raw cocoa… With water: oh! Please call the Anti-Silver-Seal Brigade! I mean, the Anti-Rummoporn Brigade! Perfect black olives, brine, oils, double ristretto, antiseptic, earth, chocolate… Finish: long, there. Lovely dryness and not even one microgram of sugar. Comments: whether this was sauced-up/obscured  or not before shipping to Europe doesn’t matter. By the way, I forgot to mention Dutch liquorice.  
SGP:373 - 92 points.

Appleton Estate 26 yo 1994/2020 (60%, OB, Hearts Collection, Jamaica, 300 bottles)

Appleton Estate 26 yo 1994/2020 (60%, OB, Hearts Collection, Jamaica, 300 bottles) Five stars
Part of a new series that’s recently been fragment-bombed all over social media, with and for very good reasons, obviously. This is pure pot still, high-ester Appleton (+/-1,200 g/hlpa), and heavily pushed by the house Velier (once again, with and for very good reasons). Beyond the noises, let’s see what gives, if you don’t mind… Oh by the way, this was integrally aged in the tropics, so some heavy wood extracts may be found… Colour: bright dark copper amber. Nose: it’s great to nose this after the old Demerara, because there are obvious similitudes, and no-less obvious differences. This Appleton is rather as tarry and briny, but fruitier, more candied, more on fruity spices (Himalaya pepper), perhaps a tad easier too. Pear pie, banana jam, macadamia nuts, a little ozone… But let’s not forget about the 60% vol., so, with water: changes directions, gets very dry, on coal and tar, metal polish, heavy liquorice, seawater, guns, touches of pinesap and fresh paint, Barbour grease (but do you ever need Barbour stuff in Jamaica?) Mouth (neat): high-powers Appleton, that’s rather new to me. A feeling of tarred fruit jams, perhaps, menthol, embrocations… But boy is it strong! With water: wins you. Peppermint, tar and papaya jam, that’s some combination. Finish: long and, as expected (hehehe), much drier and more herbal. Eucalyptus, menthol, pinesap, myrtle. And in the aftertaste, the love of my life, olives. Comments: the whole shebang oozes of smartness, I’m afraid. Same high-league as that of the Uitvlugt, well done everyone (if I may).
SGP:762 - 91 points.

We’ll try the other vintages in this series later, I’d rather move to another island just now…

Fernandes ‘Vat 19’ (43%, OB, Trinidad, for Italy, 1960s)

Fernandes ‘Vat 19’ (43%, OB, Trinidad, for Italy, 1960s) Two stars and a half
A seminal company in Trinidad and a history very well researched by our friend Lance the Lone Caner here. So this appears to have contained some Caroni, but it was well a blend. There’s a year handwritten on the label, 1963, I suppose that’s when the bottle was bought. Colour: gold. Nose: this reminds me that most spirits, back in the days, were finished in the lab. Or in the kitchen. In no way could there have been this many pine buds in a rum, this much Vicks, embrocations, camphor, toothpaste, eucalyptus, juniper berries, dill, aniseed, menthol, wormwood... Noses almost like an old bottle of Ricard and that just cannot be just the effect of, well, of old bottle effect. Mouth: indeed. It’s extremely fresh and vibrant, not tired in any way, not metallic, neither is it oxidised in the slightest manner… Which means that this baby was ‘composed’ this way, that is to say shock-full of mentholy and pine-y flavours. I find this very nice, but we’re closer to a blend of Chartreuse and Jägermeister than to any recent bottling of Caroni, Angostura (there are connections to Fernandes, apparently), TDL or else. Finish: medium, very resinous, pine-y, fresh, herbal, with some added sweetness. Comments: frankly, this is a pretty good drop, we’re just quite far from rum as we know it now in the West.
SGP:680 - 78 points.

Why wouldn’t we fly back to Guyana?...

Diamond (Versailles Stills) 16 yo 2004/2020 (58.9%, Tamosi – Kanaima, Guyana)

Diamond (Versailles Stills) 16 yo 2004/2020 (58.9%, Tamosi – Kanaima, Guyana) Four stars and a half
A fine little brand from the Netherlands, where they have been knowing their rums for centuries! Colour: deep reddish amber. Nose: this Versailles is a little quieter than the old Uitvlugt, but it does have the Demerara DNA for sure, with a tarry, almost tarmacky earthiness, some fresh concrete, new plastics, plasticine, shoe polish, notes of rollmops perhaps, fish sauce… With water: rather sour fruits, seawater, lime, oysters, also kilograms of clay and tons of crushed slate. And a first rainwater after months of drought. Mouth (neat): ah, salty guavas and liquorice-y bananas, that’s pretty funny. A metallic side too (copper, silver spoon) and some roasted peanuts perhaps, but once again, boy is this baby strong! Is all rum bottlers’ secret aim to kill us all? Find a cure for you-know-which virus? With water: just awesome, on miso soup, onion soup, cane juice, and just touches of old papers. That part would grow if you added too much water, so keep it above 50%. I know. Finish: long and just excellent. Tar, and a newcomer: a bunch of olives! Olives will save the world, I believe I’ll soon start Pretty salty aftertaste. Comments: top notch salty drop, with a welcome eau-de-vie de canne à sucre side.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

(Merci beaucoup KC! A good friend, we’re just missing the Sunshine Band, if I may…)

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