Google Assorted Rums by Angus

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

August 27, 2017




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild

Assorted Rums

Lets go hunting for Malternatives. In no particular order and in somewhat quickfire fashion...


Albion 1983/2000 (40%, Velier, Guyana, casks #552 – 556) Albion 1983/2000 (40%, Velier, Guyana, casks #552 – 556) The name Albion can be confusing as at the time this was made it would most likely refer to distillate from a specific type of still (some say metal Savalle, others say wooden column) being made at a different distillery. In this case most likely Diamond which is the only remnant distillery still operating in Guyana. Colour: you could really be forgiven for thinking this was a mid-aged malt whisky. These notes of natural brown sugar sweetness mixed with freshly baked brown bread and more savoury notes of lemon peel and elegant medicinal qualities are quite beguiling to a nose used to malt whisky. It’s really quite an emphatic nose which is probably about as fat and rich as a 40% abv spirit can be. A little whiff of tropical fruit and a few notes of raisin and treacle as well. Mouth: more evidently Guyanese on delivery. Chunky, earthy, savoury and supple medicinal notes balance with sweeter brown sugar syrup notes. Then bitters, spices and some natural tar liqueur. Some further notes of melon, starfruit and bitter orange peel. Finish: Warming and surprisingly good length considering the strength. A touch of TCP, pastry and molasses. Comments: Quite a historic spirit I think, and a perfect way to start a rum session. Although, I’d have killed to taste this at cask strength. SGP: 632 - 89 points.  


Caroni 18 yo 1997 (46%, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Trinidad) Caroni 18 yo 1997 (46%, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Trinidad) Colour: Rosewood. Nose: A deep and bass-like tarryness at first nosing. Oily, fat, emphatic; Caroni basically. A big earthiness as well. Some notes of pipe tobacco, furniture polish, wood resins, assorted dried spices and various medicinal notes which give an impression of elegance and complexity. Some notes of ripe banana, tinned pineapple, black pepper and a little cocoanut water. Mouth: Similarly big, greasy and tarry on delivery. Although, I feel the bottling strength has been a real asset here. As much as I’d love to taste this at cask strength you get the impression the water has kind of fused everything together rather perfectly. There’s a warmth of spice, clean wood resins that nibble but don’t bite and something akin to a very delicate rancio. Black tea, molasses syrup, greengages and a lick of sea salt. More notes of tar liqueur, blood orange, Demerara sugar and something like pine resin. Finish: Long! Still heavy on the tar, medicine, wood spice and some liquorice. In the distance a screaming car tyre or two. Comments: A terrific Caroni. Well done Berry Bros! I feel it’s an exceptionally pure example of the distillate captured at a perfect age and bottle strength. Be careful with this one! SGP: 543 - 90 points.  


Bellevue 18 yo 1997 (46%, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Guadeloupe) Bellevue 18 yo 1997 (46%, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Guadeloupe) Nose: Small similarities and huge differences to the Caroni. We’ve plunged head first into a dunder pit on Guadeloupe - pure agricole! These stunning combinations of tropical fruit syrups, earthy funk and the most beautiful natural sweetness - an ancient 5 Puttonyos Tokaji with a dusting of burnt Demerara sugar. Bananas, pineapples, a little medicine, some brake fluid, diesel oil and then a leafier side that’s back towards cane syrup and earthiness again. It veers around with great elegance and precision this one, you really have to keep up! Ground pepper, banana skins, caraway, some assorted cocktail bitters and dark chocolate. Mouth: Esters galore! This kind of clean rubbery note arrives and quickly subdues to more of these soft tropical fruits, dunder, a little rosewater, wood spices, the most elegant medicinal tones and a slightly drier manifestation of these Demerara and molasses notes from the nose. Some greengages, some tar, a fresh wild strawberry or two and more assorted, syrupy fruit notes. Finish: Long with sustained and echoing notes of medicine, sweetness, overripe fruits and a prickle of spice. Comments: Hats of Berry Brothers! One of the best Bellevues I’ve had in ages. And to think it’s only around £85 or something like that. Puts many current bottlings of malt whiskies of similar age to shame. SGP: 722 - 92 points.  


Lets hop over to the SMWS...  


Foursquare 14 yo 2002 (57.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Barbados, #R6.1, ‘Spice at the races’, refill barrel, 210 bottles) Foursquare 14 yo 2002 (57.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Barbados, #R6.1, ‘Spice at the races’, refill barrel, 210 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: simpler than the Caroni or the Bellevue. The fruit is there but its simpler and feels a little more ‘functional’ perhaps. Dates, bananas, some cactus and a little bamboo even! Some white pepper, a little mint - enough that it could make a fun Mojito - brown sugar and some fruit cake. With water: works a treat. Becomes oilier, drier and more towards a medicinal character with these little notes of hospital gauze and carbolic soap. Mouth: Good! A lively and punchy combination of pina colada, cocoanut, pineapple juice, sugar syrup. It’s a very easy going style, nicely balanced and not too sweet. Reminiscent of those fruit salad sweets we used to have in the UK (I’m sure you can still find them). Goes on with a little tar, some root beer and even a slightly spicy mead note. Some notes of aspirin, cornflour and then more sugary notes. With water: green, grassy, more cactus, some dried herbs a little motor oil and some green tea. Finish: Good length and surprisingly dry. A lovely green, estery fruitiness with a little lanolin and lamp oil. Comments: An excellent easy going, easy drinking Foursquare. It’s easy to see why this has become such a popular distillery amongst rum/whisky enthusiasts. You’d be tempted to mix this or sip it over ice but it’s also very delicious by itself. Dangerously quaffable as it’s now become somewhat cliched to say. SGP: 631 - 87 points.  


Hampden 16 yo 2000 (52.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Jamaica, #R7.2, ‘Jamaica me crazy’, refill barrel, 199 bottles) Hampden 16 yo 2000 (52.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Jamaica, #R7.2, ‘Jamaica me crazy’, refill barrel, 199 bottles) Colour: Light gold. Nose: Wooft! Dunder, earth, medicine, wax, spice, diesel oil, shipping containers! We’re as in Jamaica as it’s possible to be! The medicine in the this is so concentrated it’s almost a hospital smoothie! Minerals, gravel, cocoanut milk, vanilla pods, burnt brown sugar, something almost Tequila-esque with this green, agave kind of aroma. Kerosene, diesel, petrol, a classic car repair garage! What a nose! With water: lighter, leafier, oilier; the medicine is subdued and kind of spread out in a way that just increases the complexity. Some aged dry madeira, tool boxes and bicycle inner tubes. Mouth: full on Jamaica! Hugely oily, medicinal, estery, dundery and intense. Baked earth, smoked wood (is that a thing), even briny aspects such as kippers and green peppercorns, some freshly baked wholemeal bread, Demerara sugar of the highest quality, TCP, antiseptic... gah! The list goes on... (is there a rumporn brigade Serge? Do they accept reverse charge calls from the UK?). Gets increasingly savoury with these beautiful notes of dried rosemary, black olives and anchovies in olive oil. With water: tar, beef stock, over-brewed tea, a stray sardine or two and a glug of olive oil. Finish: Amazing length, freshness, intensity and myriad echoing of all the above flavours. Totally brilliant! Comments: I probably shouldn’t be surprised given just how terrific Hampden can be, but this one kind of blew my socks off a bit. Needless to say: well done SMWS! What a magnificent rum. And what a Malternative! SGP: 544 - 93 points.  


Trinidad Distillers 25 yo 1991 (63.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Trinidad, #R10.1, ‘Carnival concerto’, refill barrel, 228 bottles) Trinidad Distillers 25 yo 1991 (63.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Trinidad, #R10.1, ‘Carnival concerto’, refill barrel, 228 bottles) Trinidad Distillers are the company behind Angostura rums as well as millions of litres of spirit that goes into all manner of other Rum brands and blends around the world. The base is molasses which is distilled through columns. Now, of course, immense size doesn’t mean diminutive quality... Colour: Deep gold. Nose: Ouch! Unexpectedly there’s a not insignificant prickle of alcohol. Beneath that you have vanilla pods, some wood varnish, a whiff of creosote, some sawdust. But really it’s pretty tight and closed up. I think water is called for early here... with water: glycerine, some herbal toothpaste, more vanilla, sawdust, workshops. A little sunflower oil and some very faint, indistinct fruitiness that comes across more as bubblegum than anything else. Mouth: Hmmm. It’s a tough one. Wood glue, varnish, shoe polish, a lick of medicine, some gomme syrup. But really it’s dominated by intense pepper and alcohol at first. Again water is really obligatory here... with water: it’s still pretty tough it has to be said. Raw wood shavings, pencils, strawberry liqueur, sugar syrup, a tiny lick of tar, some caraway. By and large though this is pretty extracted. Gets quite acrid towards the end and there’s a stodgy vanilla lump right in the mid-palate which is hard to get around really. Hard work! Finish: Medium length but fades quickly. Various notes of tea, more wood shavings and a little more vanilla. Comments: Not my cup of rum I’m afraid. The dodgy grain whisky of rum. The Hampden utterly destroys this one. I probably should have had this first but hey ho... SGP: 611 - 72 points.  


Back to Caroni...  


Caroni 15 yo 1999/2016 (45%, Alambic Classique, Trinidad, cask #15706, 221 bottles) Caroni 15 yo 1999/2016 (45%, Alambic Classique, Trinidad, cask #15706, 221 bottles) Colour: Mahogany. Nose: Ahh! It’s really a world apart from the TD. We’re back in this marvellously tarry, briny and earthy world of grease, various mechanical oils, workshops, black olives, dried herbs, cured fish and a mix of creosote and tarry old rope. Again there is this wonderful medicinal complexity alongside some very specific seashore and coastal qualities which seem to belong more precisely to rum than to whisky. Although whisky lovers would really find sibling qualities in this to old Islay whiskies - particularly old Ardbegs or some of the drier Lagavulins. Goes on with various exotic hardwoods, assorted spices and some tropical hints of mango and pineapple. Mouth: the phrase that comes to mind is ‘hot climate’. This really feels like the best example of hot climate maturation, and the bottling strength - as in the Berry Bros - really works here. There is a thickness and syrupyness to the distillate that is totally compelling. There’s even something Bourbon-esque about the sweetness and spiciness of the wood. Tar, wood resins, liquorice, menthol, various green fruits, banana skins, various oils. Beautiful complexity and quite devastating drinkability. The woodiness is perfectly balanced by the drier and more medicinal aspects of the distillate, it treads a perfect tightrope. More notes of black olive, anchovy, pine resin and smoked meats. Finish: Wonderfully long. An undulating reveal of tar, antiseptic, black pepper, brine, wood spices and camphor. Comments: I’m not normally as evangelical about Caroni as others seem to be but it’s hard to see this as anything other than totally brilliant. Probably the perfect jumping off Malternative for the serious whisky lover who is yet to be convinced by rum. SGP: 444 - 91 points.  


Caroni 1989/2016 (52.5%, Isla Del Ron, cask #IdR015, 152 bottles) Caroni 1989/2016 (52.5%, Isla Del Ron, cask #IdR015, 152 bottles) Colour: Amber. Nose: This one is lighter and a little more subdued than the late 1990s Caronis. More on diesel oil, esters and this curiously dundery note of slightly overripe fruit. Very soft notes of camphor, paraffin, dunnage and even something rather ‘dungy’ in a positive farmyard sense. Digging deeper there is a wee mix of green fruits, brown sugar and some mustard powder. With water: Still oddly subdued and elegant on the nose with water. Some curious notes of lilies and wildflowers with a little cut grass, some mechanical notes and ink. With time it starts to become really quite funky with these big notes of plasticine, farmyard, tar and some smoked meads. Mouth: Wow! Wasn’t expecting that! You can almost feel it glueing your teeth together! This is some fat, syrupy, earthy, tropical farmyard juice. More towards this high ester style with biting wood spice, a massive whack of creosote and then more tar, rope and gravel. You could probably use this to make bombs or something. With water: still sticky, fat and thick. You could stand a wooden spoon up in this stuff. Tar liqueur, gasoline, mentholated tobacco, banana syrup. It’s a bit of a beast this one. Finish: Long and remaining on this kind of sticky, very funky style. Comments: Quite a departure from the precision and very obvious beauty of the other Caronis we’ve tasted today. I find this one excellent and very entertaining but also a little tough. It’s a hard one to score... SGP: 474 - 87 points (for the record only really).  


Let’s finish with a final, exceedingly random ‘thing’. Something fun and totally whacky...  


Old Club Whisky (43%, South Pacific Distilleries Ltd, Fine Old Vatted Malt Whisky with Fiji Cane Spirit, bottled 1980s) Old Club Whisky (43%, South Pacific Distilleries Ltd, Fine Old Vatted Malt Whisky with Fiji Cane Spirit, bottled 1980s) What devilment yonder lies...? Colour: Gold. Rather surprisingly this isn’t too bad. It’s got a strangely pleasant balance between the medicine of the rum and the sootiness of the malt. I mean, who knows what on earth the alchemy behind this is but whatever the mix the result is green olives, some brine, a few oils, some peppery notes and pleasingly resinous and camphory side. Add to that a sliver of lemon peel, some coal dust and a raisin or two and you have a surprisingly aromatic dram. Mouth: Something is wrong. This is still good. The whisky really dominates. There’s some peat, green fruits, tar, a little muesli and some candied citrus peel. Goes on with some metallic notes and a sense of dustiness, typical gentle OBE in other words. You could say this was a good old blended whisky with a high malt content and get away scot free I’d say - or even a pure malt, which it kind is. But also totally isn’t. A little mineral note and some fruity floral aspects emerge towards the back of the palate. Finish: Decent length all things considered. Gently medicinal, a whiff of peat, a few black olives, some brine and tolerable touch of OBE. What on earth is this thing!? Comments: Well, who knew! Maybe we should all start bulk buying Fiji cane spirit and using it as a mixer, after all, it would appear that South Pacific Distilleries Ltd are still active... SGP: 425 - 82 (yes really) points.  


Well, what have we learned? By and large that was a terrific session with several stellar Malternatives. Personally I’m starting to ‘get’ this whole Caroni obsession and while I expected some serious quality from the Hampden, I wasn’t quite prepared for the full frontal brilliance of it. Also, I look forward to the Fiji cane spirit investment boom of late 2017...  


Thanks to Jonny! (Maybe ask for a commission from the South Pacific Distilleries Ltd...?)  







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