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

November 7, 2021


It is rum's turn on this very Sunday

Yet another rum-fuelled malternative Sunday! We'll kick this session off with a little Guadeloupean and then see where the winds will blow us from there…

Séverin 'VSOP' (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2020)

Séverin 'VSOP' (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
This is agricole, although AFAIK Guadeloupe doesn't benefit from the appellation, while neighbours Martinique do. I'm afraid I am not well-acquainted with Domaine de Séverin. Colour: gold. Nose: fresh, fruity and very floral, mostly on ripe bananas and pineapples, gorse, vanilla, dandelions, with touches of lime honey and perhaps one or two mirabelles. Pretty elegant, easy, subtle and clean, with something reminiscent of some good young cognac. Mouth: perhaps a little sweet, even slightly syrupy, but the fruits are good, banana and pineapple once again, those two mirabelles, a little guava… The good news is that it would then get drier, cleaner and fresher, losing its slightly cloying sweetness over a few minutes. There's a little custard and maple syrup in the background, though. Finish: medium, rather honeyed and with once again a little maple syrup. Some orange jam too, litchis, plus the mandatory bananas flambéed. Comments: easy, fresh, rather subtle, pleasant. The easier side of Guadeloupe 'agricole'.

SGP:640 - 84 points.

Let's paddle out to Martinique...

Neisson 'Profil 62' (49.2%, OB for LMDW, Martinique, agricole, 900 bottles)

Neisson 'Profil 62' (49.2%, OB for LMDW, Martinique, agricole, 900 bottles) Four stars and a half
Straight from the small star distillery in Martinique. We've already tried quite a few stunning Neissons but watch this one, it's ex-new oak so let's be careful… Colour: light gold. Nose: coastal rum! I'd swear I'm finding oysters behind these lovely whiffs of liquorice wood, fresh-squeezed lime juice and cane juice. Some curious touches of rye too, violet, a little turmeric, beeswax, camphor, eucalyptus, then some warm praline and toasted cake… As complex as Neisson can be, even if this is probably quite young. Mouth: the fresh oak does feel, as it does in many new 'modern' malt whiskies. No problems, welcome to 2021. Cedarwood, chocolate, cinnamon, then once again a feeling of rye (with some lavender this time), then more tropicalness, bananas, papayas... Finish: rather long, on similar oak-coated notes. Comments: indeed, modern rum with 'enhanced wood technology' inside. I'm absolutely not against that, mind you, as long as it remains 'a variant'. I mean, if I may…
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Why not take the next wee flight to Haiti?

Clairin Sajous '41 months' 2017/2020 (56.8%, OB for Navigate World Whisky, Haiti, whiskey cask, cask # SJ16EW-1, 214 bottles)

Clairin Sajous '41 months' 2017/2020 (56.8%, OB for Navigate World Whisky, Haiti, whiskey cask, cask # SJ16EW-1, 214 bottles) Four stars and a half
A bottle exclusive to South-Africa, aged in an ex-Evan Williams cask. I've got a good feeling here, given that I love clairin… Colour: white wine. Nose: kerosene, pickle juice, muck, salted liquorice, tar and rubber… What's not to like? Love it that the bourbon does absolutely not get in the way of this superb distillate. With water: stunning, it loves water. Asparagus, apple peel, metal polish, diesel oil… Mouth (neat): I would say this clairin got a little 'Jamaican' after those months in bourbon wood. Gherkins, tar, salt, olives, then fermenting, even slightly rotting tropical fruits. I mean, ultra-ripe bananas! Some cane 'honey' in the background. With water: very 'sweet and salty' and close to some kind of pure fruit juice; it's just that that fruit remains unknown to mankind. A little vanilla too but we're safe. Finish: long, pure, very 'clairin', whatever that means. The casks behaved! Brine and a curious feeling of peat smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: hugs and kisses to Haiti. They make one the best distillates in the world and this is another wonderful example.

SGP:562 - 88 points.

Since we've mentioned Jamaica…

Hampden 19 yo 2000+2001/2021 'JMH' (55.4%, Rum Sponge, refill barrels, 420 bottles)

Hampden 19 yo 2000+2001/2021 'JMH' (55.4%, Rum Sponge, refill barrels, 420 bottles) Five stars
Well, neither does it state it's Hampden, nor does it clearly tell about the vintages, it just says 'JMH V00 & V01'. But come on, let's get the ball rolling… Colour: straw. Nose: this one's acetic, acetone-y, ultra-grassy, and pretty wild. You can't make them drier and even the craziest Spanish olive oils gather less olive-y notes than this. Did any top chefs already try to cook with or for this? With water: liquorice, benzine and seawater having the lead now. Wee touches of apricot eau-de-vie too, or rather almondy prussic acid. Mouth (neat): there's some sweetness (limoncello) this time, otherwise it's pristine, flawless estery Hampden. Green liquorice and more olives, grapefruit zests, salty manzanilla… With water: game, set and match. It even got a little 'easy', which is a clear asset. Finish: long, a kind of cocktail involving olives and liquorice. Any mixologist keen on trying that?  Comments: big and balanced, two concepts that do not always tango well. They do here. I like this pretty quaffable Hampden very very much, well done Sponge, there's even something a little Ardbeggian to it. Wait…

SGP:562 - 91 points.

Finest Jamaican Rum 25 yo (50%, Duckhammers/Wu Dram Clan, 164 bottles, 2021)

Finest Jamaican Rum 25 yo (50%, Duckhammers/Wu Dram Clan, 164 bottles, 2021) Five stars
This one truly is secreto. Colour: gold. Nose: there sure is a family resemblance, this one being just a little rounder, perhaps a little subtler yet, with even more vegetables and more straight cane juice, as well as plantains and other moderately aromatic tropical fruits and roots. Some wonderful esters for sure, this was a top top-dresser. With water: oh it doesn't really need water. Pulls the olives out. Mouth (neat): absolutely wonderful juice, salty, gherkiny (what?), tarry, liquoricy, with some acids and then some sweeter liquorice. Drops of bitter orange juice, also small berries, sorb, elder and such. With water: forget about water, that tends to make it a tad sugary, unless you would just bring it down from 50 to 48% vol. No point. Finish: long, classic. Cane juice, liquorice, overripe bananas, olives, brine, tar. Comments: rather extraordinary, but the Sponge's multi-vintage was just a tad 'clearer', a tad more racy.

SGP:552 - 90 points.

Should you want to try a last one, where would you go?

Long Pond 2010/2021 'STCE' (60%, Habitation Velier, LMDW 65th Anniversary, Jamaica, bourbon, cask #16, 331 bottles)

Long Pond 2010/2021 'STCE' (60%, Habitation Velier, LMDW 65th Anniversary, Jamaica, bourbon, cask #16, 331 bottles) Four stars and a half
STCE means 'Simon Thompson Cambridge Estate'. Not that (very engaging) Simon Thompson of Dornoch fame, I suppose? In any case, it shouldn't be one of those, cough, slightly too extreme 'TEC' marques, what I'm not sure about is whether this is some kind of 'single-estate', or 'parcellaire' rum or not. Colour: deep gold. Nose: gentler than the Hampdens, that's sorted, although I'm rather finding this very acetic too. Some fresh plywood too, linoleum… But at 60% vol., it's just water that you need. With water: very green, still a little acetone-y, Ikea-y, with also capers and olives, and clearly something that would remind me of the clairin. Mouth (neat): bone-dry and ultra-drying. Biting into a pear four weeks before its ripe, see what I mean? With water: a tad easier, but gritty, carbone-y, tarry, acetic if not vinegary. Unripe olives and the most extreme fino sherry. Finish: long and salty, with some vanilla in the aftertaste. Comments: I'm a fan but I would say that whilst the Hampdens do clearly stand on their feet, many Long Ponds that I could try gave me a feeling of 'component', meaning that they were not quite meant to be quaffed as 'single rums' in the first place. But I could be totally wrong once again…
SGP:573 - 86 points.

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