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

August 15, 2021


Five crazy rums

Oh-my-God, last time we tried to do a single distillery rum session that quickly became a chore, despite the fact that all rums (six Caronis) were absolutely splendid. Nutshell: rum is not whisky (no sugar Sherlock) so we'll simply never do that again and rather always seek variety. And, yep, fun.


And we'll start right today, with five rums from five different countries…

Rhum J.M 6 yo 2014/2020 (54.8%, OB for HNWS Taiwan, Martinique, cask #160311, 273 bottles)

Rhum J.M 6 yo 2014/2020 (54.8%, OB for HNWS Taiwan, Martinique, cask #160311, 273 bottles) Four stars and a half
This little tasting note with a thought for heavily Covid-struck Martinique, where they make great rhum but do not want to get vaccinated. J.M is one of the most celebrated agricoles and I have to say some recent batches have really impressed me. The distillery, called Fonds-Préville, is located in Macouba, in the north, while they take care of no less than 150 hectares of cane fields. It's a 'smoking distillery', meaning that they do make rum and are not content with using brand names and just buy white rum made by someone else – or with 'selecting, and blending'. Colour: deep gold with bronze hues. Nose: rather stunning if you enjoy apricots and heather honey as much as I do. The spices are sublime (Timut pepper, softer curry, turmeric etc), the fruits marvellous (all kinds of bananas) and the flowers and herbs just charming (patchouli and mint). A little custard from the oak. With water: lovely, with more hardwoods and more pines too. Thuja and yew wood, liquorice, curry, really a lot of caraway now, Kummel… Smells of ancient times to me, which is absolutely charming. Mouth (neat): it's rather all on spices and tropical fruits. Really a lot of caraway and juniper, spread over small white pineapples and stewed mangos. Wonderful and not aggressive at all, however that there's really a lot of liquorice wood and cinnamon jumping out onto your tongue after a few minutes. With water: this is where it would get really dry and woody but in a good way, as none of those woods would be… oak. Pines, fir, cedar…  Tends to become very mentholy. Finish: long, a tad gritty (remember, 6 years) and perhaps a little more rustic. Still rather 'wow', if not 'wow wow wow' (S., try harder). Comments: I was even at 90/91 until the finish, which was a tad drying and rather austere for a rum. But great J.M! Not 100% sure water was to be added.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

Off to Barbados…

Foursquare 13 yo 2007 (63.3%, Malt, Grain & Cane, for Indonesia, Barbados, 255 bottles)

Foursquare 13 yo 2007 (63.3%, Malt, Grain & Cane, for Indonesia, Barbados, 255 bottles) Four stars and a half
Apart from some crazy local beers that I could drink in Jakarta a long time ago (and funnier stuff yet in Kuta, ehm…), I believe it's the first time I'm trying some drink that's exclusive to Indonesia and am both pleased and proud. It's to be noted that this baby spent its first 12 years in Barbados and was then shipped to Europe where it was finished for 1 year in first fill bourbon. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it is extremely interesting to nose this after the J.M because despite the fact that the processes are totally different (cane juice + colonne créole vs. molasses + self-blended pot still and double-column) in my book both rums share a similar philosophy and even style 'as seen in the glass', a combination of spicy firmness and gentler, almost 'lighter' floral fruitiness. Which would give you a feeling of 'elegant fulness'. Yeah I now, a lot of drivel but there, bananas, mirabelle nectar, fir honey, cinnamon rolls, zucchini flowers, dog rose tea, ginger cream… But boy, let's be careful, this is 63.3. With water: notes of bourbon (varnish, vanillin, coconut) but also many teas, mint, lime tree, peach leaves, young pu-her, garden peat, geranium flowers (not leaves mind you)… Mouth (neat): very sweet and bonbony but I'm sure that's the super-high strength and shall water this down immediately. With water: indeed, we've left the candy store and while this remains a little lighter and kind of thinner than the agricole, plums, quinces, figs and jujubes are running the show. Lovely. Finish: only medium but really fresh and floral. Hay jelly, cinnamon, Thai basil, fresh ginger…  Comments: superb, just a little difficult to get right when you add water. We're wondering, what are Apple doing? When are they going to release an iPipette? Oh and an iTaster while they're at it, that would give me a rest.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Let's swim to Guyana (do they have sharks?)

Albion 2004/2018 (60.1%, OB, El Dorado, Guyana, Rare Collection Siver Edition)

Albion 2004/2018 (60.1%, OB, El Dorado, Guyana, Rare Collection Siver Edition) Three stars
I haven't tried many Albions in my life, but I just loved the first 'new' ones by Velier.  Naturally, this doesn't come from the original Albion distillery (closed 1968) and was rather made at Diamond with the Savalle continuous still that they would have tweaked to produce the Albion style (marque AN). Colour: deep gold. Nose: it really is a bourbon of rum, with a lot of praline, caramel, molasses, corn syrup, varnish… We're almost nosing a pack of Mars bar. Some cigarette tobacco too, café latte, more caramel... They could sell this at Starbucks'. With water: resinous teas and liquorice over all this caramel. A feeling of After Eight thin mints.  Mouth (neat): extremely sweet and molasse-y. A lot of caramel, pancake syrup, maple syrup, vanilla, popcorn and nougat… Indeed, a bourbon of rum. With water: some sugarcane coming out but once again, it would change really a lot while you add drops of water. Malt whisky is rather easier to water down, I think. Notes of oranges this time, over-infused earl grey… It's hard to avoid the oak and any tannicity. Finish: medium, with obvious tastes of candy sugar and caramel. Comments: I'm mildly disappointed; big body, much smaller engine.
SGP:640 - 80 points.

What more do we have… right, this time I suppose we'll have to fly…

South Pacific Distillery 2012/2021 (58.5%, Barikenn, Fiji, first fill bourbon, 291 bottles)

South Pacific Distillery 2012/2021 (58.5%, Barikenn, Fiji, first fill bourbon, 291 bottles) Five stars
Fiji, molasses, pot stills, rugby. Right, maybe not rugby. Barikenn's a nice new wee French bottler who's already granted us with some very lovely juices, while I've always found these Fijian rums rather a little… Jamaican. Colour: gold. Nose: yeah right, new rubber boots, brand new tyres, heavy petrol, olives and capers, coal tar, coal smoke… This is almost as if some absent-minded blender had inadvertently mixed Hampden with Port Ellen. With water: it's almost as if it wouldn't even take water, as the viscimetry is just immense. Wonderful to watch. Other than that, someone's crushed some carbon paper and mixed it with seawater, ink and Diesel oil. Mouth (neat): love this. Salty, tarry olives with a dollop of caramel and a spoonful of fir honey. Tomorrow morning, you'll believe you've eaten a whole pack of salted liquorice lozenges while binge-watching a new Outer-Mongolian crime series on Netflix. With water: saltier, more on brine, olives, pickled fruits, anchovies… But it is a little less dry than the most extreme Jamaicans. I just love this restless rum. Finish: very long, tarry and salty. Some kind of smoothie that you would make using bits of tyre, liquorice, olives and seawater. Not for the fainthearted. Comments: most certainly a dresser for cheap blended rums originally, but I would say that's part of its charms. You know, US $5 a gallon and presto, ecstasy and bliss…
SGP:464 - 90 points.

Since we've mentioned Jamaica (and passionate French bottlers)…

HMPDN 2011/2021 (67.4%, Swell de Spirits, Wonders of The World, Jamaica, cask #435034)

HMPDN 2011/2021 (67.4%, Swell de Spirits, Wonders of The World, Jamaica, cask #435034) Five stars
W d nt nd vwls, d w? The marque here was 'H', which means this is some high-ester rum (<H> means +/- 1000 g/hlpa esters at Hmpdn, which is terrifyingly huge). Colour: gold. Nose: it is like peat, the feelings are not proportional to the, well, to the proportions (well done S.) and I find this relatively gentle, well in the same category as the Fijian, that is to say full of olives, diesel oil, tar and rubber, but with some welcome roundness (vanilla, fudge, marmalade). In fact, this is unexpectedly civilised. With water: fig wine, really? Mouth (neat): no, it is extreme on the palate. Reminds me of the Baiju you could buy for US €1 a litre in the 1980s… And they would give you back some change. Salty, fermentary, bacterial, deviant, on loads of tar, coal, and just a whole bag of indistinguishable rotten fruits. Very crazy spirit on the palate. With water: why did I mention baiju? All I'm getting now is.. baiju. That'll teach me. Notes of strawberries too, did you even notice that the biggest, most extreme spirits could display notes of strawberries? Finish: back to Jamaica, for a long time. More on olives liquorice, brine and tar. Phew. Comments: love this kind of crazy spirit that'll really make you travel. And not to Craigellachie, mind you…
SGP:663 - 90 points.

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







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