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

January 15, 2023


More Rums on Sunday

As we like to do when we tackle a few 'whiskies of the world', let's start this from France, with this fine little apéritif. Well, I believe it will be fine…

The Versailles single wooden pot still at Diamond Distillery, Guyana (photograph El Dorado Rum)



Rhum J.M 'Terroir Volcanique' (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2022)

Rhum J.M 'Terroir Volcanique' (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
There was also a 'Fumée Volcanique' (pretty nice, WF 81) but this should rather be about soil, terroir…. Having said that, they rather talk about new oak, deep-charring and all that, just as lumber… I mean, whisky people are doing these days. Colour: gold. Nose: banana and maple syrup, roasted peanuts, caramel cream, nougat, earl grey, liquorice wood… You do feel that's there's been some work with wood behind this modern young baby, but I think it's been successful. There's also a saline side, sea embers… Mouth: very all right! I'm even finding rye, which cannot be normal. Rye bread, more liquorice, stolle, nougat, a little lavender, indeed some brine, and even one olive. Some fatness from some very active oak, some cinnamon as well, but then again, I find this fine. Finish: medium, candied, a little bitter now, with cinnamon mints, and once again a rather salty aftertaste. Liquorice and violets in the aftertaste. Comments: a lot of action in this rather concoctiony young rum. Modern, but we're not against well-handled modernity.

SGP:562 - 83 points.

Since we're over there…

HSE 'X.O.' (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2022)

HSE 'X.O.' (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
HSE a.k.a. Habitation Saint-Etienne have been at the forefront of the whiskisation (OMG) of rum, I even remember some Islay Finish that had been… well, excellent, actually! But if everyone keeps doing some in-cask blending of rum and whisky like this… Rum in whisky, whisky in rum…  Anyway, this XO should be 6 years old. Colour: amber. Nose: no whisky in there, rather that famous floral side (rather gorse leaf, I would say), some liquorice, a little anise, some polished oak, sandalwood, more maple syrup, a little cedarwood, a little coconut… All is well. It is more 'roasted' than the J.M. Mouth: rather a lot of oak spices, cinnamon, cedar, some orangettes (remember, zests dipped into chocolate – or Dalmore if you will), then pipe tobacco. A small leathery side, liquorice and mint leading back to cedarwood. Cedar is really running the show here. Finish: medium and mostly on wood spices, cracked pepper... Comments: a little more mature than the J.M, spicier as well. I'm not sure many whiskies would go this far as far as oak spices are concerned, on the other hand the distillates are also rather gentler.

SGP:461 - 84 points.

Panama 16 yo 2006/2022 (55.9%, Berry Bros & Rudd, LMDW, bourbon, cask #3, 304 bottles)

Panama 16 yo 2006/2022 (55.9%, Berry Bros & Rudd, LMDW, bourbon, cask #3, 304 bottles) Four stars
These secret Panamanians would tend to be Don Jose but don't quote me. This is 'early landed' rum. Colour: full gold. Nose: I don't quite know what happened here, this is more Trinidadian or Jamaican than Panamanian as it would start with some paint thinner and Diesel oil, then we have tar and olives (no heavy Caroni though), some persistent touches of acetone, even tinned sardines. It is awesome. With water: olive oil and anti-rust, cough medicine, balms and ointments, then a floral side, between gorse and 'rotting' bananas. Mouth (neat): once again, this rather feels like 200 gr esters/HLPA, with much petrol (a feeling of) and coal tar. Quite some salty liquorice too. With water: citrus chiming in, together with coriander and dill. Salty spices, chilli mussels, then more dry grassiness, around oversteeped green tea. Finish: long, very green and drying now, but all this salted liquorice keeps nicely afloat. Ashes and even some kind of peatiness in the aftertaste. Comments: some re-racking may have been done. Not such a bad idea, it seems… Big surprise.
SGP:463 - 86 points.

And now, murder, sin and damnation… (because of the strengths…)

Labourdonnais 5 yo 2017/2022 (64.4%, OB, Navigate World Whisky exclusive, Mauritius, ruby Port cask, cask #AO/P12, 310 bottles)

Labourdonnais 5 yo 2017/2022 (64.4%, OB, Navigate World Whisky exclusive, Mauritius, ruby Port cask, cask #AO/P12, 310 bottles) Four stars
This is pure sugarcane juice, distilled in a large column and fully matured in some ex-Ruby port cask. I suppose even if the maturation time was short, you can't quite call this a finishing, can you. Plus, this rum isn't pink. Colour: gold. Nose: certainly unusual, with some fresh sawn plywood and huge scents of blackcurrant buds, tomato leaves and fermenting tobacco. Fig leaves too, peppermint, but no raspberries or other small berries that I can detect this far. But then again, 64.4% vol. With water: the tobacco is having the upper hand. I'd say some fine leaves from the best part of Cuba. It's rare than any spirits would be this much on cigars. Spectacular. Mouth (neat): very strong, very unusual. Desiccated orange squash and many leaves, I would say, plus some varnish, star anise and perhaps toffee apples. Very strong pastis with some raw cachaça. With water: triple sec, yellow chartreuse, and even drops of Cuban aguardiente to match these double-coronas that we found on the nose. Finish: perhaps the thinner part. Orange juice, herbal teas (chamomile) and… not raspberries. Comments: excellent and spectacular, but I'd have never said 'ruby Port' or even 'Port'. Never found those raspberries… (and shan't complain).

SGP:572 - 86 points.

Papa Rouyo 'Brut d'Alambic' (66.5%, OB, Guadeloupe, cuve #25, 1,110 bottles, 2022)

Papa Rouyo 'Brut d'Alambic' (66.5%, OB, Guadeloupe, cuve #25, 1,110 bottles, 2022) Three stars and a half
A brand new micro-distillery. This is fresh red cane juice twice distilled in some Charentais (cognac) still, so no colonne créole here. It is not exactly 'straight from the still' as it could rest for four months, perhaps for 'outgasification' (wild guess – but do you say that?) Colour: white. Nose: I'm reminded of Renegade in Grenada. Earthy, rather fat, liquoricy, vegetal, with many tropical fruits 'about to start to rot' and a very caney/coastal character. Some charcoal smoke. With water: more syrup, more sweetness, more pure cane juice. Mouth (neat): did you ever drink fresh-squeezed cane juice? This is its purest essence, but water is requested. With water: oranges to the rescue. So, cane juice and orange juice. Finish: medium, very caney. A salty, maritime touch in the aftertaste plus some citron. Comments: clearly excellent, but perhaps rather chilled as a dry 'rum' martini? Is there a name for that? I'm the worst mixologist in the world (which would include all surrounding planets). Reminds me of Père Labat '50', which I enjoyed a lot last time.
SGP:562 - 84 points.

A variant…

Papa Rouyo 'Blanc Maturé' (64%, OB, Guadeloupe, cuve #13, 965 bottles, 2022)

Papa Rouyo 'Blanc Maturé' (64%, OB, Guadeloupe, cuve #13, 965 bottles, 2022) Four stars
Aged for 15 months this time – you got it, maturé means matured. Not too sure what these 'cuves' (vats) are made of, that's not obligatorily wood. Colour: whiteish. Nose: same, a little rounder, a tad smokier, with more fresh mangos and bananas too. With water: once again a little charcoal, tobacco ashes… Mouth (neat): love this. Strictly not varnish, acetone, ammonia or other such molecules, rather some very bright lemons and herbs, only coated with a thin layer of cane syrup. Plus perhaps a little quince liqueur. With water: more sweet citrus, limoncello, citrons, a feeling of salt once more, and really a lot of cane juice. These Papa Rouyo are totally cane-driven, I would say. Finish: a tad longer than the 'brut d'alambic', with a little more fatness. Comments: already a sipper, and a marvellous one, but you keep feeling the need to cool it down a wee bit.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Enough with pastures new, let's have some classic Demerara…

Diamond 2004/2022 'Versailles Still' (55.8%, Rock & Rhum, Guyana, 243 bottles)

Diamond 2004/2022 'Versailles Still' (55.8%, Rock & Rhum, Guyana, 243 bottles) Four stars and a half
A new wee bottler in Belgium. Remember the incredible journey of the wooden Versailles still, at Versailles until 1974 -> Enmore until 1994 -> Uitvlugt until 1999 -> Diamond Distillery till this very day. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: close to the El Dorados, only with no sauces or sugars or syrups that you may have felt on the nose. Peonies, black nougat, tamarind jam, a little putty, more peonies and geraniums… With water: some chocolate and some coffee joining the party, plus some kind of savoury toffee. Mouth (neat): good fun. A tad hot and rustic, although clearly floral again, with some varnish, a lot of liquorice and black olives plus some ham. Lovely juiciness on top of some assorted oak spices. With water: it loves water, and further opens up, with several roasted nuts (pecans…) and always this salty and savoury je-ne-sais-quoi. Finish: rather long, with the expected black pepper chiming in on top of all this liquorice. A curious feeling of rustic, varnishy armagnac in the aftertaste. Comments: one day I'll check why they had called the early Distillery 'Versailles' back in the days. It couldn't have been Louis XIV!

SGP:562 - 88 points.

Since we've mentioned Uitvlugt, a last one…

Uitvlugt 22 yo 1999/2021 (43.2%, Whisky Concerto, Guyana, refill American oak, cask #39)

Uitvlugt 22 yo 1999/2021 (43.2%, Whisky Concerto, Guyana, refill American oak, cask #39) Five stars
I can't quite see what would go wrong. Sadly, 1999 was Uitvlugt's very last vintage, but not too sure this was the Versailles still. Colour: gold. Nose: tighter, saltier, more on olives, anchovies in brine, also fresh putty, new furniture, a little wine vinegar, overripe bananas… The lower strength doesn't seem to have done much bad, while this nose would remind me of that excellent Portuguese anchovy paste they spread over bread. Lovely with the best vinho verde. Mouth: no signs of weakness whatsoever, rather some salted liquorice allsorts (I know that doesn't exist) with some olive oil and various fish sauces. There's a petroly side as well, of course, plus something clearly 'Bowmore', which I think I had noticed before in these late-period Uitvlugt. Finish: rather long, fully on putty and liquorice, with this trademark salty aftertaste. Comments: I think it is to be wondered if Uitvlugt didn't do it as Port Ellen or Brora did, as I've always found the last months (in PE and Brora's cases that was early 1983) frankly better than wat the makes used to be in the previous few years.
SGP:463 - 90 points.

I agree we should try to find out if my 'PE theory' holds…

Uitvlugt 24 yo 1997/2022 (53.4%, Wealth Solutions, The Colours of Rhum, cognac cask, cask #5, 262 bottles)

Uitvlugt 24 yo 1997/2022 (53.4%, Wealth Solutions, The Colours of Rum, cognac cask, cask #5, 262 bottles) Five stars
Wait, this stems from the DOUBLE Wooden Pot Still, so not Versailles, which is a single wooden still, but Port Mourant at Uitvlugt. Colour: pale gold. Nose: extremely close to the 1999, just a notch rounder. I doubt that would be the extra 2 years, it's possibly the cognac wood. Other than that, this is as perfect, briney, with this petroly side, linoleum, fresh-sawn plywood, cedarwood, soft spearmint… With water: seawater and those tarry ropes. Shall we mention Bowmore again? Mouth (neat): these Uitvlugts are really excellent, even if this one's got an unexpected fizzy side, a feeling of ginger tonic perhaps… But this blend of bouillon with varnish and salted lemon juice just does it. With water: tar, petrol, olives, lemon and tinned sardines. Finish: long, bright, on tar and lemon. Salty aftertaste and even some oyster. Comments: not too sure about my aforementioned theory but we'll try again later.

SGP:463 - 90 points.

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