Google This is 2021 and we keep looking for malternatives

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

January 10, 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!


This is 2021 and we keep looking for malternatives

A few rums as usual, with a little aperitif as usual. We've tried rather many pedestrian rums over the years, but I believe we're now rather ready for phase 2, a.k.a. 'have the funk, drop the junk'. So, today's aperitif…

Mount Gay 'XO' (43%, OB, Barbados, +/-2019)

Mount Gay 'XO' (43%, OB, Barbados, +/-2019) Three stars
We've had an 'extra-old' around ten years ago and I would believe it was similarly placed within the range (although that would usually rather mean extremely ordinary, XO sometimes also means extra old). Not too sure, anyway… Colour: deep gold. Nose: it's got a slightly earthy start, with also a little leather, rubber, and quite some tobacco. Gets then a little more molassy, with more liquorice as well, more dried bananas too, but it would remain pretty dry altogether. So perfect for a dry January (oh drop that old joke, S.) Mouth: I find it pretty good, average in the best sense of that word, meaning sitting right between the French agricole style and the English 'Demerara' one. Which, from my whisky-fuelled point of view, is not unseen in Barbados – and good, naturally. Perfect dryness too (as it should be). As for the favours, there are almost identical to the nose, with perhaps a little more tobacco and liquorice. Finish: medium and possibly a little more 'jumbled'. Finishes are very rarely any access-level spirit's best side in my experience. Comments: a very good drop for sure, and not one of those toxic aperitifs we used to sometimes have last year and the decade before. As rum folks would say, a sipper.
SGP:351 - 82 points.

Since we're in Barbados…

Foursquare 10 yo (64.99%, Torrisdale Castle Estate, Beinn an Tuirc Distillers Ltd., Barbados, 2020)

Foursquare 10 yo (64.99%, Torrisdale Castle Estate, Beinn an Tuirc Distillers Ltd., Barbados, 2020) Four stars
This baby spent the last year of its life in wood in Kintyre (but not at Springbank, should that matter). The fact that they've chosen to mention 64.99% vol. instead of 65.00% vol is pretty funny, is it not. Phew, we're safe, we won't get drunk in a flash! Colour: deep gold. Nose: pure pineapple essence, vanillin and Soviet-era tyre repair glue. Which would suggest water is mandatory. With water: it is actually a pretty soft Foursquare, rather on the column side if you like, with vanilla and crushed bananas, but also some very fine and 'accurate' notes of fresh cane juice, however surprising that would be. So a rather delicate one, as it appears. Mouth (neat): anyone outside Kintyre will find this super brutal, really (no offence!) But I suppose it is like pastis, no one expects you to have it neat. So, with water: with good pipette skills, you'll unleash very fine orangey notes, other citrus, those fresh canes again, all that on a bed of liquorice and tobacco that's similar to that of the Mount Gay. Lemon. Very good and pretty pure and zesty, you'd almost believe you're having a great sugarless ti-punch. Which wouldn't be a ti-punch then, but there. Finish: medium, refreshing, with a little mint. No we never got to the finish when trying it neat. Comments: lovely freshness and purity once you get the strength right. I go for +/-43%.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Since we were in Barbados, perhaps some blend that includes Bajan rum?

Tamosi 'Port Cask' (55%, Levy Lane Rum Co., blended rum, 2020)

Tamosi 'Port Cask' (55%, Levy Lane Rum Co., blended rum, 2020) Four stars
This is interesting, they have blended together 8 yo Barbados (good), 6 yo Panama (okay), and some white Jamaicans, then finished this 'marriage' for a few months in a Port cask. So is this still 'white' rum? Colour: apricotty gold. Nose: I think this rather works, more so because you don't quite feel the Port (which is a blessing in my book). It's not easy to describe but let's try: raspberry (but you just said…), olives, fresh concrete, sour brine, ripe banana skin, some marmalade… So this works, beyond a wee feeling of home blend'. With water: swims extremely well, but many blends do. I would say Barbados took the lead, but that's certainly not for the worse. Mouth (neat): this is where it works best, there is more unity, fusion, freedom, understanding and common love. Gosh I may sound like an amateur jazzman, circa 1965. What really strikes me is that the Jamaicans – I'd love to know about the proportions – are doing a great job. Reminds of a blending class we did around fifteen years ago. Take Auchentoshan, taste. Add 5% Ardbeg, taste. Second option here. With water: more complexity, leaves, teas, metals, earths, olives… It just adores water. Finish: rather long and lovely when reduced. Comments: this one should come with an airplane bottle of Vittel or Glenlivet (water that is). It loves H2O.
SGP:452 - 85 points.

Caroni 1998/2020 (57.1%, RumSponge, Trinidad, 258 bottles)

Caroni 1998/2020 (57.1%, RumSponge, Trinidad, 258 bottles) Five stars
Scarlet alert! After whisky and then cognac, The Sponge is now doing rums too. A little bird even told me that were in the pipeline SpongeOliveOil, SpongeBrakeFluid, SpongeLubricant, and even, glory amongst glories, SponChampagne and even SponGin, the Sponge's gin. Obviously, total world domination is near, but I suppose it will have really gone full circle when The Sponge will also do… sponges. Seriously, it's good to learn from the label that this was heavy style Caroni, and early landed (so matured in Europe) Colour: deep amber. Nose: I always like it when I first get old copper coins from Caroni (and sometimes the Jamaicans), as well as these whiffs of metal polish, old brass and pewter, then thyme, tarragon and basil, sauna oils, shoe polish, rotting tropical fruits, very old petroly rieslings, and just our friends the olives. I just love this nose so far, it's more complex than many other otherwise excellent Caronis. With water: I wouldn't say it changes much. Perhaps even more shoe and metal polishes. Mouth (neat): woohoo! Long time no see this style. Caol tar, rosemary, juniper, silver spoon, heavy liquorice, and this feeling of crunching church candles (which I used to do when I was a wee lad, seriously). Black olives, more shoe polish. With water: utterly excellent, bone-dry, very phenolic and congenery, with carbon, waxed cardboard, more polish, and of course olives. Finish: long yet balanced and kind of refreshing. That's always a good excuse whenever you'd like another glass (tip of the day!) Saltier and tarrier aftertaste. Comments: something Ardbeggian here. Best rum of the year so far, no doubt, but it is true that this is January 10. Seriously, fantastic Caroni.
SGP:363 - 92 points.

Only a Jamaican could 'climb over' such a well-aged heavy Caroni…

Jamaica 2010/2020 'Secret Distillery - WPL' (55%, Barikenn, Jamaica, bourbon)

Jamaica 2010/2020 'Secret Distillery - WPL' (55%, Barikenn, Jamaica, bourbon) Five stars
With a marque such as 'WPL', could be either What People Love, or Worthy Park Light, so approx. 100g esters/HLPA. Which is not the distillery's lightest mark mind you, that one being WPEL (extra-light I suppose). Colour: light gold. Nose: sublime. Mind you, light doesn't mean light in Jamaican language, it just means less heavy. Superb whiffs of anchovy brine in a small shop in Essaouira (what?) then cough medicine, menthol, overripe bananas, broken olives, drops of Worcester sauce and tabasco, chilli (right, pili-pili shrimps in Essaouira) – I'm sorry I'm talking silly but since we can't quite travel with bl**dy Covid… Oh well. With water: more crushed anchovies, carbon dust, drops of wine vinegar, some dill perhaps… This on gravlax! Mouth (neat): impressively oily, salty and lemony. If this is light rum, Trump is a Cuban ballerina. You almost feel like you're drinking the Atlantic ocean - may include HFO from the ships, so heavy fuel oil – while having very heavy overripe bananas and other tropical fruits about to be rotting. Tar, salt, lemon, olives. With water: saltier yet. Salted liquorice diluted in lime juice, with a few drops of aquavit. Finish: long, on the same marvellous notes. Comments: the Caroni was more complex, but it was also older. I believe I've tried enough rums now to be able to state that this is clearly one of the top-five juices around (in my humble personal opinion, naturally).
SGP:463 - 91 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all rums we've tasted so far







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