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

September 17, 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!


It's Sunday, it's Rum Day

It is rum Sunday again, and I promise we don't talk about terroir. I mean, not explicitly. By the way, we've decided once and for all not to taste series of rums from the same distillery, nor even from a single country, perhaps to keep a 'vacation' vibe to all this madness, even though we're slowly approaching our two-thousandth expression. Which means nothing, we agree. Let's kick this off from a French island…




Rivière du Mât 'XO' (42%, La Réunion, +/-2022)

Rivière du Mât 'XO' (42%, La Réunion, +/-2022) Three stars
From the largest distillery in La Réunion, distilled from molasses and not cane juice, so it is a 'rhum traditionnel' although they also make 'agricole'. They use fresh molasses from their own production, though, they don't source them. This one is said to be 12 'on average'. Colour: full yellow gold. Nose: orange blossom and just oranges running the show, together with a little fudge and caramel. Then we have honeysuckle and dandelions, while it's getting more floral with also a touch of earth and tobacco. The whole remains relatively light and certainly very gentle.   Mouth: rather spicier, with oaky accents, some cedarwood, cinnamon, very soft chilis, gentler pepper, then vanilla and perhaps a little papaya, with a faint waxy side but it'll remain rather light all along. It's rather a whisperer, as we sometimes say. Finish: same, fruits and flowers, lightly coated with some cedar and cinnamon. Funny aniseed and fennel seeds in the aftertaste. Comments: all gentleness, no real kick, but we're already way beyond our usual (and always pretty lousy) apéritifs.
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Birkenhof 'JON' (42%, OB, Germany, handcrafted rum, +/-2020)

Birkenhof 'JON' (42%, OB, Germany, handcrafted rum, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
Apparently, this is molasses from Guatemala distilled in pot stills in Nistertal, north of… Limburg a/d Lahn, Germany. Rings a bell, doesn't it. I would suggest the Guatemalans import in turn little plums from their place and start to make Guatemalan schnaps. Colour: white wine. Nose: hey hey! Nice paraffin and diesel oil, olives, capers, rotting pineapples… Did they co-inoculate 'good bacteria' together with the yeast, or something like that? It is, indeed, pretty 'mucky'. Mouth: it is almost a little Jamaican, a sweeter one. Good fun here, with some liquorice, brine, olives, tar and just a little syrup. Cane syrup. Very intriguing, pretty good. Finish: medium to short, slightly handicapped by the sweetness and the low alcohol content, I would say. Comments: The problem with this style is that one immediately thinks of Jamaican rums, or of grand-arôme. In any case, it's ten thousand times better than that other German rum we know only too well, Der Gute Pott. Entschuldigung.
SGP:652 - 83 points.

Renegade 'Cuvée Nova' (46%, OB, Grenada, 2023)

Renegade 'Cuvée Nova' (46%, OB, Grenada, 2023) Four stars and a half
This is the new all-island aged Renegade, a blend of different terroirs only available in the US for now, in the EU in spring next year. Colour: gold. Nose: I would say it's coastal rum, in the sense that briney and maritime elements are speaking up first, before anything 'old boat' would come out (tarry ropes, old boat engine, paint, putty, oil, old sardines – perhaps not…) and then several rotting (well, almost rotten) fruits, the usual pineapples, also bananas that went brown… I'm also finding pickled kumquats and various tropical chutneys. The Renegade style seems to be asserting itself, while we can't find the slightest trace of a wine cask, but is there even one, actually? Mouth: much pleased with this one, it's got the immediate fullness of some young whiskies from Campbeltown or Islay (S., A…). More brine and tar, over many overripe tropical fruits and grapefruits. There's some fatness, ala West Coast (any West Coast). Salted liquorice, a touch of mango jam, salted anchovy filets… Finish: long, still salty. Comments: I would really like to know if the majority of the sugarcane fields used here are located on the coast. Otherwise, where does all this incredible salinity come from? Hope they'll do one at 50% vol. too. Or there, 57%. I am almost certain that this juice would have already reached 90 points under these conditions, but it should reach and exceed them anyway as soon as it has benefited from just a little more maturation. This will undoubtedly place it at the forefront of Caribbean offerings. In such a short amount of time, it's quite spectacular... That said, as this first vatting is the youngest there will ever be, it could also later achieve cult status. Old Clynelish 5 yo, anyone?
SGP:563 - 89 points.

Since we had been on La Réunion…

Savanna 6 yo (58.5%, OB, La Réunion, Germany exclusive, Unshared Cask, ex-cognac, cask #6, 768 bottles, 2022)

Savanna 6 yo (58.5%, OB, La Réunion, Germany exclusive, Unshared Cask, ex-cognac, cask #6, 768 bottles, 2022) Four stars
The label is a bit frightening, but it's a change from the butterflies and tropical fish that you see elsewhere. Not too sure whether this is a 'high-ester' Savanna, but we should soon see… It is a 'traditionnel' too, just like the Rivière du Mât, so molasses. Colour: pale gold. Nose: oh I see, fennel, dill, aniseed, pine needles, angelica, eucalyptus, balms, fresh camphor… Then toffee, roasted pecans and peanuts… Then  tar, tobacco and Maggi. There are several rums in this one, several phases. Great fun, while you would believe they've used amburana or mizunara (or 'stuff'). With water: touches of metal polish, old silverware, leek and bok choy, lovage… That's the 'Maggi' part but there isn't any lovage in Maggi. Yes I've asked them. Mouth (neat): spices, green curry and a lot of cardamom. And alcohol, so quick… With water: many dried exotic fruits, around longans, lychees, jujubes… It's a soft landing. Finish: medium, and very different depending on the amount of water you've added. Comments: better not add too much water. A lovely piney side.
SGP:571 - 86 points.

Port Mourant at Uitvlugt 1995/2022 (53.4%, Swell de Spirits, Flashback Series, Guyana, cask #12)

Port Mourant at Uitvlugt 1995/2022 (53.4%, Swell de Spirits, Flashback Series, Guyana, cask #12) Five stars
We won't tell the story of that wooden still stuff for the umpteenth time. Colour: pale gold. Nose: of course. Bakelite, engine oil, petrol, sardines and anchovies, tapenade, garlic sauce (aioli), then cigars, cigarettes and the interior of an old Italian car. Someone's been smoking Toscani cigars in it for at least three decades. With water: tighter, more coastal, and very bizarrely, reminiscent of the Renegade, which is extremely odd from a chronological standpoint. Mouth (neat): cologne and petrol, or rather petrol and cologne, then more salted fish, olives, and everything that usually comes with that. With water: truffles, salts and waxes. A bit 'love it or hate it' at this point; I'll let you guess which side I'm on. Finish: very long, very salty, diesely. I've realised rather recently that many die-hard malt aficionados had never tasted these rums, well they still have wonderful things to discover. Comments: another case of stunning imperfections making a spirit dazzling.
SGP:463 - 90 points.

Caroni 1998/2023 (61.9%, Swell de Spirits, Trinidad, Private Garden #3, Cuvée Clos des Spiritueux)

Caroni 1998/2023 (61.9%, Swell de Spirits, Trinidad, Private Garden #3, Cuvée Clos des Spiritueux) Four stars
I find their packaging always very elegant, which is a nice change from the random designs we see here and there. Colour: golden amber. Nose: it is a soft Caroni, but that may be the super-high strength. A little warm wood, roasted peanuts, autumn leaves, bourbony varnish… Not much else but I'm sure it's blocked by C25H6O. Correct, that's ethanol. With water: there, patchouli, bidis, eucalyptus, pine needles, 'a walk through a Mediterranean forest'... I agree that's not very 'Trinidad', but there… Mouth (neat): it is very harsh, very piney. I believe that H2O is absolutely necessary here. With water: it is not easy to get the amount of water right. What's sure is that it gets softer, but we remain around pine, fir, resins, needles and oils. Finish: very long, resinous, piney, and we won't mention 'that substance' they produce in vast quantities in Morocco. No, not argan oil. You're right, that would be liquorice, ha-ha. Comments: love it but very tough boy.
SGP:373 - 85 points.

Please more elegant packaging…

Long Pond 2006/2023 (66.9%, Swell de Spirits, Jamaica, Private Garden, for Cave St Seurin)

Long Pond 2006/2023 (66.9%, Swell de Spirits, Jamaica, Private Garden, for Cave St Seurin) Five stars
The packaging is very elegant, indeed, but there must be a typo in the alcohol content. They could at least proofread their labels! If you swallow the wrong way, it kills you instantly. Colour: golden amber. Nose: Jamaican class. I'm not a huge fan of strictly all Long Ponds, but unless it would change a lot once brought down to civilised strengths, I have the impression that we're having a winner. Superb varnish, petrol, olives, brine and overripe bananas. With water: Formica (all the rage again), pencil shavings, olives, pickled lemons, gherkins, olives (twice?), nail polish, new sneakers, coal tar… Mouth (neat): you could even swallow a drop or two. Feels perfect, with litres of acetone (I know). With water: just splendid at +/-45% vol. Salty, with some oysters, acidic as it should, full of petrol and lemon juice, even more full of liquorice… It's just a little, say  a bit cutting, but we're somewhat masochistic; otherwise we'd be drinking Heineken. Finish: long, fat, perfect. Little bergamotes dancing a jig in the background. Salty and tarry aftertaste, as requested. Comments: incredible, it is not a tasting session, it's an MMA fight or a great molasses explosion! (see below). Exceptional Long Pond, but what was the marque again? They should sell it in a bundle with a double-magnum of Vittel (boo Nestlé Waters, the cheque never arrived!)
SGP:564 - 91 points.

I think we've reached the end; nothing could come after that Long Pond.

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







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