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

March 7, 2021



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!


Rhum for your sum

I agree that headline is lousy. But so are many rums these days, I'm even wondering if rum's not a 'lost category' with many missed opportunities. Having said that, only sales figures count…  

Don Papa 'MassKara' (40%, OB, Philippines, +/-2020)

Don Papa 'MassKara' (40%, OB, Philippines, +/-2020)
The newish brand 'Don Papa' has become synonymous with 'junk' or 'fake' rum, which has been a blessing for other very wacky and dodgy brands such as Diplomatico, Dictador and all the rotgut they pull out of the DomRep such as Oliver & Oliver's and others. Esclavo, Marti, Bolivar… We're still awaiting a 'Guevara' brand, are we not? Bottom line, sugar kills. Colour: gold. Nose: LOL. Pear cake, mandarin liqueur, Mandarine Impériale, Cointreau… But certainly not rum. This is to rum what MacDo's Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese is to western gastronomy. Forgot to mention Toplexil and kids' toothpaste. Mouth: holy featherless crow, what a liqueur! Even Starbucks wouldn't sell it, but to be honest, it's got some charming sides, it's just that it's a liqueur and in no way a rum. Finish: long, very sweet, but also finely citrusy. Comments: let us be honest, this is not a bad drink and I'd even quaff this with pleasure, on a ton of crush ice, around the pool and with young friends. It is just not rum; I'd put it in the same category as Campari's. But bad it is not, honestly. Now as for playing with words and the name 'Mascara', where they used to produce the best wines on northern Africa, I'm not sure that's a very smart idea… Try to find a rare old bottle of 'Coteaux de Mascara' and you'll see what I mean.
SGP:840 - 65 points.

Off to La Réunion…

Savanna 5 yo 'Unshared Cask' (50%, OB, Salon du Rhum Belgique 2021, cognac cask, 840 bottles, 2020)

Savanna 5 yo 'Unshared Cask' (50%, OB, Salon du Rhum Belgique 2021, cognac cask, 840 bottles, 2020) Four stars
Some say savanna is the best rum in the Indian Ocean, and that's most probably true. I mean, it is true for sure. Dead sure. Colour: gold. Nose: too easy after the Don Papa! Seriously, this is very traditional rum, rather on overripe bananas and just cane juice, with a wee petroly side – just what's needed -  and really a deep feeling of 'rum français'. With water: carbon, tar, brine, capers, new Formica, olives. Classic. Mouth (neat): great classic French rum, grassy, fatter, a tad medicinal, also with wee notes of smoked fish and certainly some green olives. A little varnish too, which belongs here, and some tar that's certainly not unwanted. Good highish esters. With water: saltier yet, with tars and olives. Finish: long, very 'Antilles', while we all know the Antilles are located around twenty thousand kilometres away from La Réunion. Kind of and anyway, it's all a matter of spirit. Comments: cool, dry, and good. Fond of the olives in  there.
SGP:362 - 86 points.

Caroni 1997/2020 (49.2%, The Whisky Agency, Keep Going, 262 bottles)

Caroni 1997/2020 (49.2%, The Whisky Agency, Keep Going, 262 bottles) Five stars
Let's not forget that when Caroni is good, it is actually magnificent when you just cut any ambient BS. Colour: amber. Nose: it is a softer, leafier Caroni, rather on tobaccos (ever visited a tobacco factory?) and smoked herbs and fish. Smoked oysters, smoked tea, smoked butter (Monsieur Bordier's), shoe polish and brand new leatherette. Junk plastic stuff you would have ordered from Wish's. Don't. Mouth: oh! Stunning high-extraction pine resins, sauna oils, retsina wine, hashish, Bakelite, a drop of acetone, new plastics, heavily salted Dutch liquorice… With water:  just more of all that. Totally extreme, tarry, 'chemical', possibly stuff bottled for the board at British Petroleum. Finish: long and very tarry. Comments: extreme rum, ridden with chemicals and wrong intentions. I'm no rum guy but I've heard some gals or  guys mention the word 'pirate'. Not my thing but I would say this, is a pirate's rum.
SGP:273 - 90 points.

Off to pastures new...

El Destilado de Panela (43.15%, OB, Mexico, +/-2020)

Aguardiente de Panela (43.15%, OB, Mexico, +/-2020) Two stars
What is this? Panela is solid concentrated cane juice obtained by cooking, so some kind of unrefined sugar 'bread'. It's also called 'galabé' in some French islands. Let's try to find out… What's sure is that it is white. Colour: white. Nose: eggplants, capers, olives, carbon paper, cucumber, cabbage. This might be existential, unnecessary, anecdotal, and forgettable. Mouth: yes and not. Yes because it is funny. No because it's is too dissonant, bitter and sour, green, acrid, unpleasant… I would not actually drink this, but I would let some salmon marinate in this. Finish: yes. Comments: possibly a bacterial feast – a wild guess – but frankly, it's rather just a talking point. Ham and chocolate. Yeah, sure it's better than all gins… Right, I'm rather a fan of the most experimental spirits, but this time I'll pass.
SGP:272 - 70 points.

River Antoine (69%, OB, Grenada, 2020)

River Antoine (69%, OB, Grenada, 2020) Four stars
White rum from Grenada, made without electricity, apparently. I suppose this will just kill us, so I say bye-bye, see you in another, friendlier, more philosophical world, without Boris and Macron… Colour: white. Nose: it is so extremely strong, but I would identify the usual olives and a large bag of whelks, liquorice, and crushed slate. With water: no, great distillate, hyper-bacterial, salty, sour secondary, fermentary, on Greek yoghurt and tapenade. Mouth (neat): someone's distilled sardines, apparently. Seawater, brine, rollmops, smoked herring, urchins and curry sauce. I would say white Hermitage, such as the good Sterimbergs, as matching wines, but I think we're digressing. With water: salty rum indeed. Sardines, anchovies, oysters, urchins. Not for everyone but what a distillate! Finish: same, even spicier, saltier, and even more on urchins. A feeling of drinking diesel oil. Comments: one of the saltiest and most petroly spirits I've ever tried in my whole life.
SGP:263 - 85 points.

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