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

November 12, 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 is rum day again


At Isautier, La Réunion (Isautier)


There have really been a lot of interesting new rums in the past few weeks, but we're going to start with a little aperitif, as our tradition dictates...


Roble 12 yo 'Ultra Anejo' (40%, OB, Venezuela, Single Vintage, +/-2023)

Roble 12 yo 'Ultra Anejo' (40%, OB, Venezuela, Single Vintage, +/-2023) Two stars and a half
This one's been granted the 'Ron de Venezuela' DOC, although I'm not sure about what it takes to obtain it. According to websites that know much more than us about rum, it was distilled in a 5-column still, and matured in bourbon and PX. Roble means 'oak'. You got it, this shouldn't quite be about the original distillate. Colour: dark amber with copper hues. Nose: a lot of dark chocolate, cigar tobacco and black tea, plus a few dried Corinth raisins. Some molasses and a little plum spirit too (vieille prune). Hershey's 'Exotic Dark' with blueberries and açais. A little onion soup. Very pleasant nose, but as always, the devil may be waiting for us on the palate… Mouth: it's sweet, but it's well done. No excessive sugar, rather more plums and chocolate, prunes macerated in armagnac (pruneau à l'armagnac) and all that. It does not feel excessively Venezuelan but it's good. Some cane honey. Finish: long, more on coffee liqueur and chocolate again, but that plum eau-de-vie is striking back in the aftertaste. Venezuelan Slivovitz. Comments: very good surprise, really, not one of those sugar bombs for sure.
SGP:640 - 79 points.

Let's go double the strength, mere mortal!

Isautier 13 yo 2008 'L'Audacieux' (79.5%, OB, La Réunion, LMDW Edition, 2023)

Isautier 13 yo 2008/2023 'L'Audacieux' (79.5%, OB, La Réunion, LMDW Edition) Four stars
I am not well-acquainted with Isautier, neither am I used to such strengths, the only other one I could think of was Austria's Stroh '80' (how many alpine chalets have already exploded because of it?) and two or three bourbons, particularly George T. Stagg I believe. Notably, Isautier also has a reduced version of this juice, offered at a very slender 58% ABV. Hmm-hmm... Good, my lawyer tells me I can go on... Colour: deep gold. Nose: some soft notes of leaves, bananas and pure sugarcanes, apparently, plus a feeling of heavy pastis here and there. It is true that we hold our glass about 30 cm from our nose, or nearly so. With water : it has become very smooth, fresh, very balanced between the bananas, brown sugar, hay, and yellow flowers. There is clearly more texture than in the multi-column rums of America. Mouth (neat): it works, and it's rather very 'agricole', marked by liquorice, varnish, and pepper, even though in reality it's a 'traditional' version of Isautier, so distilled from molasses and not cane juice. With water: it's really good, with a gentle woodiness, maple syrup, chestnut honey, a few salty notes, kouign-amann from the end of Brittany... Finish: medium when brought down to +/-40% vol., always balanced, with bananas flambéed and some soft spiciness. Once again, some salinity in the aftertaste. Comments: good, it was not as terrifying as the strength suggested. Excellent drop, one million times better than Stroh '80', if they still make that one. Great rhum traditionnel.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Next flight to Maurice…

Penny Blue 2011/2022 (55%, OB, Kirsch Import, Mauritius, sherry, cask #238, 216 bottles)

Penny Blue 2011/2022 (55%, OB, Kirsch Import, Mauritius, sherry, cask #238, 216 bottles) Three stars and a half
Penny Blue is made at Médine Distillery, the brand having been launched by Berry Bros. & Rudd. I've heard they also make some excellent cane vinegar, but I've never tried it. It is molasses rum. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: it's very floral from the start, with some crazy lilies, orange blossom, elderflowers... Then we have very ripe plums, mirabelles, oranges indeed… It is highly aromatic, highly floral. With water: more towards cakes, chocolate muffins, with touches of curry in the background. Mouth (neat): a dry Mauritian, no syrups in the way, rather a lot of citrus, ripe passion fruits and liquorice. With water: please just one or two drops. Geared towards more spices, including oak spices, cloves, cinnamon, caraway, some liquorice wood as well… Finish: pretty long, with a little sweetness now, Demerara sugar, and chestnut honey, one of the most tannic of all honeys in my book. Comments: these Penny Blues too seem to be improving, I remember an earlier version (XO) had been much sweeter, but that was ten years ago.
SGP:651 - 84 points.

Nicaragua 25 yo 1998/2023 (57.1%, Valinch & Mallet, The Spirit of Art, cask #16, 188 bottles)

Nicaragua 25 yo 1998/2023 (57.1%, Valinch & Mallet, The Spirit of Art, cask #16, 188 bottles) Four stars
More lovely labels, this time it's a painting by Giacomo Modolo called 'Redemption Run'. Not 'Rum'. We would suppose this one's stemming from Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua, that is to say Flor de Caña. Colour: deep gold. Nose: twenty-five years, mind you. Lovely varnishes and polishes, praline, pecan pie straight from the oven, really a lot of maple syrup, molasses honey (cheaper pancake sauce), fresh-charred wood, tobacco, ristretto coffee… With water: macchiato and soft nocino. How Italian is that. Mouth (neat): not that much on the sweet side, and not that thin as far as the distillate's concerned, but full of grassier honeys (fir, perhaps white clover too) with some tropical sticky toffee pudding. Which, naturally, doesn't exist to my knowledge. With water: a little sucrosity beyond more oak and some pineapple juice. Careful with water. Finish: medium, rather on tropical fruit juices, with a little coconut and pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: not my favourite style but within this style, it's probably one of the best I've ever tried. I mean my favourites. Loved the coffees.
SGP:750 - 85 points.

Why not a young Guyanese?

Demerara Distillers 6 yo 2017/2023 (64.79%, The Nectar of The Daily Drams, LMDW New Vibrations, Guyana, bourbon barrel)

Demerara Distillers 6 yo 2017/2023 (64.79%, The Nectar of The Daily Drams, LMDW New Vibrations, Guyana, bourbon barrel) Four stars
A self-blend from Diamond, involving both pot still and column rums. I suppose you could call it a Diamond just as well, no? Colour: gold. Nose: petrol and dandelions, I would say, plus fino sherry (I've noticed it was bourbon) and walnut wine. Rather a lot of burnt woods, pine cones, chestnuts, even acorns, then more petrol yet… With water: I would say the salty, tarry, petroly side is having the upper hand. Was this one blended at birth? Mouth (neat): lovely oneness, after all it's a self-blend. The core is not that heavy but the coating does the job, with tar, anchovies, oysters, olives and whatnot. It burns a little bit, at, err… 64.79%. I'm sure that's the extra 00.09% vol. With water: saltier. Seawater, liquorice and tar. Finish: long, on similar salty and liquoricy notes. Comments: we're not that far from, say a 20 yo Uitvlugt, honestly, it's just a tad less bold. Navy rum, upgraded.
SGP:463 - 87 points.

Since we are in Guyana…

Guyana 23 yo 1999/2023 (51.5%, Hidden Spirits, The Wild Parrot)

Guyana 23 yo 1999/2023 (51.5%, Hidden Spirits, The Wild Parrot) Five stars
I hope it's not going to become a trend in rum too, hiding the names of the distillates because either you have no clues (pretty uncommon) or because you've been told by brokers or brand owners you could not display it. Please, please no secret Port Mourants, Enmores or Uitvlugts! Unless they're blends, naturally… Colour: pale gold. Nose: dazzling. Almost an old Caol Ila aged in a barrel of oil. Stupendous bitter almonds, new Barbour raincoat, new car, olive oil, bakelite, smoked granny smith (eh?), whelks and clams, beach pebbles… With water (not necessary, but there): a little green chartreuse, a little aquavit, caraway, juniper berries… Mouth (neat): grand, and this time it is old Laphroaig. Smoke and mangos, old ointments, balms, salted liquorice, balsawood… Terrifyingly terrific. With water: perfection. Gets wonderfully dry, herbal, with those bitter almonds returning. Some lemon balm. Finish: medium, very dry, ashy, smoky, wonderful. Olive oil and a little sage in the aftertaste. Comments: what a perfect, most elegant beauty. Sorry about those useless Scottish analogies but remember this is a whisky 'blog'.
SGP:373 - 92 points.

We might need a Hampden as the last one, it's our go-to signature. Side note, where's Worthy Park?

Hampden 5 yo 2018/2023 'The Younger – LROK' (47%, OB, 300cl)

Hampden 5 yo 2018/2023 'The Younger – LROK' (47%, OB, 300cl) Five stars
Lighter Hampden from a double-magnum, how does that sound? They had done it before, this is the newer expression. Remember LROK means 200-400gr/hlpa esters, which is very high but pretty low for Hampden. As they say, it's not linear anyway. Colour: light gold. Nose: indeed it's not linear, this is smoky, carbony, petroly, with many rotting fruits, some rice vinegar (any, really), one litre of proper riesling and two litres of seawater. It is pristine. Mouth: a lighter marque, but of course. Salted liquorice ad nauseam, Mediterranean seawater (said to be saltier), black olives rather than green ones, touch of rotting pineapple and a tiny bit of pretty old parmesan cheese. Oh, and glues and varnishes. Finish: long but not stuffing. Glue, olives, tar, rubber. Comments: this size of bottle is rather for bartenders, apparently. Well, how do you become a bartender? So good…
SGP:364 - 90 points.

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







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