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

July 24, 2016


Finding malternatives

More rum but let’s be serious today, and avoid any lousy sugar bombs like the plague. Only ‘natural’ rum, no glycerine, no cooked stuff, no unlikely extracts, no faked ages, no made-up stories, and no old-brands-de-la-muerte that nobody’s ever heard of.

Trois Rivières 2001/2014 (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, cask #L169)

Trois Rivières 2001/2014 (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, cask #L169) Three stars Trois Rivières is a huge plantation in the south of La Martinique. It was once owned by Fouquet, one of the main ministers of Louis XIV. This is one of the rare official single casks. Oh and remember, agricole means it’s distilled cane juice, not molasses. Colour: gold. Nose: very Martiniquan, starting with tinned pineapples and fresh liquorice, and developing on a bit of oak vanilla and, above all, really a lot of fresh cane juice. Also oriental pastries, honeysuckle, chamomile and just a little yellow curry powder. Mouth: rather powerful, almost hot, and really extremely liquoricy and spicy. The oak feels a little too much for me, but other than that, I find it very fine. Cinnamon cake. Finish: long, oaky, spicy, with some ginger, nutmeg, and cloves from the oak. Comments: very good, for sure, but you have to like oak. Feels ‘modern’, as modern whiskies do. SGP:451 - 80 points.

Rhum J.M ‘Cuvée 1845’ (42%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2015)

Rhum J.M ‘Cuvée 1845’ (42%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2015) Four stars and a half We’re in the north of La Martinique this time, and this is a ‘prestige’ decanter. All rhums inside are more than 10 years and were matured in older casks. Hurray, no excessive vanilla and spices to be expected this time! Unless… Colour: deep gold. Nose: this one’s very floral, pleasantly metallic (old copper kettle), and delicately fruity. Rather overripe fruits, crushed mangos, bruised bananas… Also a little incense, sandalwood, cigarette tobacco, a touch of menthol… This is right up my alley! Mouth: really special, and totally in keeping with the nose, since there are exactly the same flavours and aromas. Chamomile tea, overripe bananas and mangos, a wee metallic touch, some tobacco, a faint dustiness that’s anything but embarrassing, and perhaps a touch of rose jelly. Yes, or Turkish delights. Finish: medium, a tad spicier. Cinnamon and orange blossom water. Comments: sadly no surprise, I knew this was going to be excellent. A perfect malternative! SGP:562 - 88 points.

St Lucia 14 yo 2000/2015 Rum (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, St Lucia)

St Lucia 14 yo 2000/2015 Rum (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, St Lucia) Four stars and a half Some high esters to be expected this time… Colour: pale gold. Nose: indeed, you’re putting your head into an old fuel stove, or even above the engine of an old English car (includes leaking engine oil, brake fluid, and petrol). Add fermenting fruits, some tar, some liquorice, and really plenty of hay. I like this a lot, but that was this session’s whole point, wasn’t it. Mouth: really super good, tarry, sardine-y, salty, with more salty liquorice, coal tar, cigar ashes, black olives… It’s the salty side that’s really noticeable, there’s less of that in the Jamaicans that, other than that, share more or less the same style. Finish: long, on rotting fruits, salted liquorice, and tarry ashes. Comments: my style. Very well selected, BB&R. SGP:452 - 89 points.

Speaking of La Jamaïque…

Monymusk 12 yo 2003/2015 (Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Jamaica, 292 bottles)

Monymusk 12 yo 2003/2015 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Jamaica, 292 bottles) Five stars Please fasten your seatbelts. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s very interesting to nose this after the St Lucia. This Monymusk is rather less tarry, and rather more citric, but other than that, styles are very similar indeed. Same feeling of old engine oil, Bakelite, liquorice, fermenting fruits, bicycle inner tube… But on top of that, there’s a drizzle of lemon juice. Or is that grapefruit? Or even orange? That’s very lovely, I assure you. Mouth: oh yes, very very good. What’s really superb, once again, is how the tarry Jamaicanness blends well with all this citrus, and make this baby feel like some light heavy rum, if that makes any sense. Half a green olive, some lime, grapefruit peel, and plenty of heavy and tarry liquorice. Finish: long, strong, yet kind of zesty and fresh. Great cask. Comments: great job by Hunter Laing. I find this new range really awesome, and even the price is kind of fair (approx 60€ for this one). SGP:452 - 90 points.

I told you, real malternative rums…

Uitvlugt 18 yo 1997/2016 (45%, Compagnie des Indes, Guyana, cask #MGA4, 637 bottles)

Uitvlugt 18 yo 1997/2016 (45%, Compagnie des Indes, Guyana, cask #MGA4, 637 bottles) Five stars A Demerara from the famous old four-column Savalle still. I think I’ve already written about what I think of la Compagnie des Indes – and of Uitvlugt. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s really fascinating to notice the parentage between the St Lucian, the Jamaican, and this Guyanese. Same tarry start, same kind of liquorice, same olives and other briny things, and same old English engine. Now, this time it’s the coastal side that’s a little more noticeable, anchovies in brine, old leather grease, dried kelp… In a way, it’s the most ‘Islayian’ of them all. Mouth: to be honest, had I tried this baby blind, I’d have said ‘Jamaica’. And no, this is not the first time I’m trying Uitvlugt. Perfect salty liquorice, anchovies, olives, and a kind of salty smoke. Totally lovable, but please be careful, at this approachable strength, it goes down a little too well. Finish: long, salty, tarry, rubbery in a good way, and always pretty coastal. Smoked oysters? Comments: would kill many high-peaters from that famous island west of Kennacraig. Besides, I found it more phenolic than other Uitvlugts. SGP:352 - 91 points.

Fijian Rum 11 yo 2003/2015 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd)

Fijian Rum 11 yo 2003/2015 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd) Four stars In theory, some rum from Fiji would have nothing to do within such a session, except that we recently tried some by Cadenhead (South Pacific) and that we thought it was quite splendid. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s rather less focussed than the previous ones, so a little more disjointed (kind of) but once again it’s some heavy-style rum, with an obvious tarry side and some kind of metallic brine. Say some seawater that you would have kept for one week in a copper pot. I like it because it’s got what many modern boozes are lacking, character and individuality. Mouth: nah, it’s great. Most probably from South Pacific Distillery. Salty and metallic fruits, passion fruits, mangos, liquorice, seawater, olives, sucking old coins, oranges… It’s this feeling of tarry oranges that’s so great. Finish: rather long, tarry, salty, tropical. Perhaps a little hashish in the aftertaste, with this sappy side. Perhaps… Comments: ah, Fiji! We only knew about their rugby team, now we know about their excellent rum. SGP:452 - 87 points.

Perhaps a last one, and since we were talking about Cadenhead, and since we haven’t been on La Guadeloupe yet today…

Bellevue 17 yo 1998/2015 'GMBV' (54.3%, Cadenhead, cask strength)

Bellevue 17 yo 1998/2015 'GMBV' (54.3%, Cadenhead, cask strength) Three stars and a half I’ve seen on a friendly and well-reputed website (an online retailer in the UK) that this baby ‘ought to make quite an impression in cocktails and would also be rather enjoyable served over ice.’ What? The effects of the Brexit, already? Colour: deep gold. Nose: probably the firmest and the most phenolic of all agricoles (cane juice/vesou distillate) but this time, we’re rather finding a lot of bubblegum and jelly babies. A pack of strawberry bonbons and some light office coffee. Perhaps is that the higher strength? With water: ah wait, it changes a lot! Patchouli, Cuban cigars, fresh walnuts, caraway… This is almost a U-turn. Mouth (neat): unexpectedly sweetish and bonbony indeed when neat. Syrups, sweets, maple syrup… I find it rather un-Bellevue when unreduced. With water: yes, indeed, it needs water to display all its agricoleness, even if that comes with a faint soapy/rubbery side. Bitter oranges, peppermint gum, chlorophyll… Finish: long, more herbal. Verbena, mint… Comments: pretty restless, this baby keeps changing. In a way, its greatly un-commercial, but it may lack that unstoppable immediacy that some of the others had. Like it a lot, though. SGP:462 - 83 points.

Seven rums, and six and a half proper malternatives, I’m happy.

More tasting notes Check the index of all rums I've tasted so far







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