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

March 5, 2023

  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!


A few more rums

The caney tide keeps rising and more and more indies are stepping in, slowly changing the landscape from the top of the pyramid.

Wonderful old colonne Savalle at Savanna (picture Distillerie Savanna)



New Grove 'Bourbon Cask' (40%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2022)

New Grove 'Bourbon Cask' (40%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2022) Three stars
From Grays Distillery. The disease is striking the world of aged rum too, with fewer age statements and more talking about wood and casks. A little depressing in my opinion… Colour: gold. Nose: not that depressing after all, it is a fine rum on the nose, with some firm spiciness that would hint at the French West Indies. Some vanilla and light honey, possibly from the bourbon casks, honey drops, a floral side (dandelions – never mow and never weed, keep them for the bees!)… No, it's really pleasant. Mouth: some freshish oak feels a little bit but other than that, it's pretty pleasant indeed, on honey and maple syrup, then a little ginger and cedarwood. Pancake sauce. Finish: medium, rounded, not too oaky, with some fresh pollen this time as well as the expected custard. Some tea in the aftertaste (oak). Comments: probably very young – or they would have told the age – but really fine. No detectable added sugar.

SGP:541 - 80 points.

Something new on WF…

Offrian 8 yo (40%, OB, Panama, +/-2022)

Offrian 8 yo (40%, OB, Panama, +/-2022)
Made at Las Cabras (makers of Cana Brava) and aged in charred American oak. Naturally, this is a molasses/column set-up. Should we have hope? Colour: light gold. Nose: very shy, slightly grassy, pretty silent. Some fruit peel perhaps, but that's pretty it. I'm reminded of young Havana Cub. Mouth: very light and sweetened (although not in Bumbu/Don Papa amounts). Not much to add, this is pretty weak in my opinion, and certainly not a sipper. Once again, young Havana Club springs to mind. Finish: almost none, only some sugar and a little Cointreau. Comments: not totally detestable, but I find it boring to death and having some plain sugar remaining on your palate is always a very nasty feeling. Worse than Coke in that respect (but I suppose you could mix them together!)
SGP:730 - 40 points.

There, an idea, try conventional vs. organic, what do you say?..

Neisson 'Profil 105' (54.2%, OB, Martinique, agricole, ambré, +/-2022)

Neisson 'Profil 105' (54.2%, OB, Martinique, agricole, ambré, +/-2022) Four stars
These ambrés are usually very young, two or three. The 'profil' here refers to the way they have charred their casks, in this case the latter were new and refill American oak. They use other profils too, 107, 62 etc. Oh, and Neisson always ranks highly at Château WF. Colour: white wine. Nose: very lovely, very fresh, full of honeysuckle and elderflowers, with a little olive oil and just fresh cane juice. Low oak impact, but you do feel it's there and would have brought some kind of extra-oiliness. With water: mown lawn and samphires. Olive oil. Mouth (neat): a notch brutal, but very citric. You'd almost believe they've blended sauvignon blanc with granny smith and lime. A touch of sorb spirit, another one of artisanal cachaça. With water: it's getting very subtle, on tiny white and yellow berries, more flowers as well… And just apples. Finish: just more of that grassy and floral profile. Comments: awesome given its just an 'ambré'.
SGP:451 - 86 points.

Neisson 'Profil 105 Bio' (53.3%, OB, Martinique, agricole, ambré, +/-2022)

Neisson 'Profil 105 Bio' (53.3%, OB, Martinique, agricole, ambré, +/-2022) Four stars and a half
What I don't quite know is whether this is a follow-up bottling of the Profil 105, this time fully organic (bio means organic, in case you didn't know) or if it's an organic variant. What I've seen though is that the price for the regular 105 is rather like 50€, while that of this Bio is rather 80€. Sure I could drop an email to Neisson, but time is short… and we are thirsty. Colour: white wine, slightly darker. Nose: more ethanol here, wood alcohol, antifreeze (joking), agave juice, varnish, less roundness… It is very different and I doubt that's the fact that it's organic, is it. Pretty acetic, almost kind of bacterial. Which, naturally, we like, ha. With water: new electronics, rubber, olives, varnish, cane juice… perfect! Mouth (neat): very powerful again, rich, olivey, even tarry… With water: this one reminds of some artisanal Cuban aguardiente that you could get under the cloak – if you are kind and do not behave like a big fat capitalist (ha). Very good, with some lovely rubber, but don't drown it. Lemon juice and root vegetables. Finish: long, really grassy. Do they grow olive trees in Martinique? Comments: frankly, there is no reason why an organic version should be organoleptically better. This is simply not the same rum. Love this drop.
SGP:461 - 89 points.

Go for the organic! In the meantime, while we're in French territories…

La Réunion 19 yo 2003/2022 (67.2%, The Duchess, cask #5)

La Réunion 19 yo 2003/2022 (67.2%, The Duchess, cask #5) Five stars
La Réunion suggests either Rivière du Mât or Savanna. Right, everybody says it's Savanna. The name The Duchess is a seal of quality, unless she would be the Duchess of Sussex, naturally (but we're republicans, not out business). Colour: dark amber. Nose: it's full of walnut stain, pipe tobacco, old varnish, the darkest, strongest chestnut honey, and an avalanche of ganache (chocolate and raspberry in this case). Some very old, sooty and flinty oloroso too. With water: that's funny, some sugarcane and some shoe polish coming out, esters, rather black olives this time, albeit in moderate amounts, and a serious amount of liquorice and chocolate. Mouth (neat): careful, it tears you apart. Very heavy juice, all you would detect is some bitterer marmalade. No chances taken… With water: the best part, it becomes very tarry and salty, and ridden with precious tobaccos, cold meats and walnuts. Nocino! Finish: very long, thick, saucey. Chocolate and say sauce. Something floral in the aftertaste, perhaps borage? Comments: in France when you say rum/rhum, everybody thinks Martinique or Guadeloupe, but La Réunion, a.k.a. l'Île Bourbon, should never, ever be overlooked. Now, where did they find this cask?! They are very rare, I think.

SGP:563 - 90 points.

Would'nt we do some Jamaicans?

Hampden 2012/2022 'HLCF' (59.5%, Samaroli, cask #10)

Hampden 2012/2022 'HLCF' (59.5%, Samaroli, cask #10) Five stars
Remember the marque HLCF, unless I'm wrong once more, means 'Hampden Light Continental Flavour', so 500 to 700 g esters/HLPA. Bah, in my book there is not light Hampden anyway, unless you drown it down to, say 12% vol. But who would do that? This one was bottled in Scotland. Oh, forgot to say, when we tried all marques as whites, on January 1 this year, HLCF has been my favourite. I must be a very continental guy. Colour: gold. Nose: not an ester monster, but it could be that the nearly 60% alc/vol do block it. Whiffs of seawater, tar, liquorice and olives. As usual indeed. With water: cassis buds, geranium, even tomato leaves, varnish, a little garlic, olives, gherkins, new Pirellis, car battery… (so basically, a Tesla)… Mouth (neat): oh gooood. This make is boringly irresistible. We'll be content with mentioning lemon juice, brine and liquorice. With water: just a perfect Hampden. Finish: same. Dazzling lemon + salt + olives + tar combination. Comments: stunning and dangerous. Silvano had sold his company a long time ago, way before he sadly passed away (well, obviously), but I believe he would have been rather a little proud, perhaps secretly, of this one bearing his name. Note to self, look for the HLCFs…
SGP:463 - 91 points.

Last call…

Jamaican Rum 12 yo (64.3%, Secret Cask, octave sherry cask finish, cask #1021, 2022)

Jamaican Rum 12 yo (64.3%, Secret Cask, octave sherry cask finish, cask #1021, 2022) Five stars
Secret but said to be Hmpdn. It's funny how we don't need vowels, no? Colour: straw. Nose: acids, ammonia, acetone, varnishes and glues, that suggests a 'high mark' of Hampden (to say the least), but between us, it could be high-ester Monymusk or Long Pond just as well. The thing is, at 64.3%, we won't try to find out for too long… With water: brand new IKEA stuff, more UHU and Pattex, kerosene and fermenting pineapple. Mouth (neat): very high, possibly C<>H or <DOK, really. I'm sure you know that you spell <> 'diamond', which I find charming. Next, 'honey, I brought you a diamond!'… A true Mr Bean moment and divorce down the road… With water: fab. No ideas if that wee octave had any actual influence on this more than massive Jamaican rum,  maybe it did. What's sure is that the end result is rather frightening. Positively frightening. Finish: very long. Tarred oysters and mussels in the end, really. Comments: a whirlwind of glues, varnishes and rotting greens. Always warn your guests before pouring, this is almost pure nail polish. Say Dior (same owner as Ardbeg, ha).
SGP:463 - 91 points.

Wouldn't we have a little room for one more?...

Jamaica WP 2015/2022 (55%, LMDW Singapore, Rum of The World, cask #WP15CA96)

Jamaica WP 2015/2022 (55%, LMDW Singapore, Rum of The World, cask #WP15CA96) Five stars
Aged for four years on location, then in France in an ex-Caroni cask (BTW, many untasted Caronis soon on WF). Now, WP doesn't mean Work in Progress, that should rather mean Worthy Park, what do you think? Colour: gold. Nose: I love Worthy Park, it is always a tad softer than Hampden in my book, rather a little closer to the best smoky malt whiskies, and this is a fine example. Smoked fudge and tarred butterscotch, a little rhubarb, stewed, apples of all kinds, fresh branches and walnuts… A true Caol Ila of Jamaica, I would say. With water: more brine, seawater, oyster juice, but also more ripe apples and pears. Mouth (neat): splendid. Peppered pears, custard and praline, liquorice ice cream (a killer), some kind of smoked tarte tatin… There's some kind of charming unstable equilibrium between smokes/tars and fruit jams/compote. Rather fascinating. With water: it goes on, on this thin line. Which marque could this be? WPL? WFM? Finish: not terrifyingly long but easy, smooth, with a lovely liquoricy aftertaste. Comments: splendid. Water's optional here.

SGP:552 - 90 points.

Rums, especially the Jamaicans and the agricoles, are really creeping into the 90+ category at WF Towers and will soon rule it, even more so if you only consider recent bottlings. Where are the 'official' Scottish distilleries? Living in the past or too busy with silly woods and wines? Fortunately there are the indies… And in rum those nasty, made-up, overpackaged start-up rums by smart 'brandbuilders' straight from London Business School. Take the money and run... My advice is, if you ever spot a bottle of rum youy've never heard of and that looks like it's been designed in 1910, run in the opposite direction! Peace.

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







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