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

May 7, 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!


Rums of the world


What a lousy headline! We'll never catch up anyway, as rum is literally exploding at Habitation Whiskyfun… Today we shall visit Fiji, La Réunion, Panama, Belize, Trinidad and Jamaica. Not bad.



Isle of Fiji (40%, Plantation, Fiji, +/-2021)

Isle of Fiji (40%, Plantation, Fiji, +/-2021) Two stars
Some young rum from the South Pacific Distillery, I would suppose, finished in cognac wood. Perhaps a little unlikely, let's hope it's not too sweet, we know they make excellent dunder-stye rum at that distillery. Colour: white wine. Nose: some typical diesel oil, olive brine and crushed rocks, with a layer of pineapple liqueur all over it. That creates some funny dissonances, but let's check the palate… Mouth: we're okay, it's been sweetened up but that's not unbearable, even if once again, some dissonances have been generated. Notes of copper, silverware, plus indeed pineapple liqueur. Some kind of readymade cocktail, perhaps. Finish: the heavy sugar really calls for ice now, it's getting tough even if it's not quite sickly sweet. Comments: not sure the Fijian had anything to win here. Now I could quaff this, provided we've got piles of crushed ice. And good friends. And a swimming pool.

SGP:730 - 70 points.

Savanna 5 yo (43%, OB, La Réunion, +/-2021)

Savanna 5 yo (43%, OB, La Réunion, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
This is 'traditionnel', so molasses rather agricole-style cane juice. Savanna is high in my book. Colour: gold. Nose: pretty easy, rather on oranges, zests, Jaffa cakes, light caramel, blancmange, bananas… It is light, but no quibbling. Mouth: touches of petrol, as always with Savanna, tiny bits of olives and gherkins, then clear vegetal notes, zucchini soup, cucumber water, plus some petroly sugars, very pleasant. Finish: medium, a little tarrier. Excellent balance. Liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: we're not used to have Savanna at 43% vol., but I have to say that rather works, even if it's certainly not a grand arôme.

SGP:452 - 83 points.

Oh, we were having this older Don Pancho…

Don Pancho 21 yo 1996/2017 (50%, Sansibar for Slainte, Panama, 285 bottles)

Don Pancho 21 yo 1996/2017 (50%, Sansibar for Slainte, Panama, 285 bottles) Two stars and a half
I know, Panama, scary. This is from Las Cabras, where they make difficulty sweet rums (Offrian, Cana Brava) but also much better batches that some good indies will them catch just for us. This is, or rather should be an example. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: burnt sugars, molasses, garden earth, tomato leaves, tamarind jam... hey hey, this is rather nice. With water: this is funny, we're finding notes of old solera casks, oloroso, musty cellars… Mouth (neat): it's been liqueured-up for sure but as some herbal liqueur in the Jägermeister style, it rather works, but you have to stand all this sugar… Bitter caramel, heavy herbs and roots, pine resin… With water: gets just lighter while the sugar/caramel will never vanish. Finish: medium, getting difficult because of the sugar. Comments: not quite for us, I would say, but I've got quite a few friends who'll just love it.
SGP:720 - 78 points.

Travellers 14 yo 2006/2021 (65.6%, malt grain & cane, Belize, Rum of the World, 252 bottles)

Travellers 14 yo 2006/2021 (65.6%, malt grain & cane, Belize, Rum of the World, 252 bottles) Four stars and a half
A collaboration with La Maison & Velier, aged in the tropics, then in the future tropics. Right, in Europe. Given the strength, let's be extra-careful. Colour: amber. Nose: lovely Travellers, a tad petroly and varnishy at first, then on bananas flambeed and tarte tatin. Some pancake sauce too, but at 65%, no chances should and would be taken… With water: no changes! Mouth (neat): very good, deeper and more on liquorice and even tar than other Travellers. Absolutely excellent this far, but again, careful… With water: awesome, full, coherent, focused, on banana jam and maple syrup. Very oily mouthfeel, more 'rhum' than 'ron' in my humble book. Finish: very long, on 'liquid Mars bars' (see what I mean) and cane honey. Ever tried cane honey? It would never feel 'sugared-up' and I doubt it was. Comments: possibly the best you could do within that famous 'Spanish' style. I absolutely love this one, even if it is ex-multiple-high-columns. I should have tried it earlier.
SGP:641 - 88 points.

By the way, did you see that Belize is looking at ditching Charles as their head of state to become a republic?

An antique now… Quite.

Caroni 17 yo 1996/2013 (63%, Velier, Trinidad, 1460 bottles)

Caroni 17 yo 1996/2013 (63%, Velier, Trinidad, 1460 bottles) Five stars
Heavy Caroni by Velier, what could go wrong? Angel share > 80%, whole maturation at the distillery, and the first release of a vintage 1996. Colour: deep red amber. Nose: fresh-sawn hardwoods, cellulosic varnishes, blood oranges, glue, coal tar and cedarwood. Plus a lot of ethanol. With water: and theeeere, olives, more varnishes, pine needles, eucalyptus wood, fresh tarmac, cedarwood, oranges, cigars, petrol, cough medicine… Just totally first-class. Mouth (neat): catches your tongue and wouldn't let it go. Varnish and brine, 50/50. And pliers. With water: phew, we got it back, while some sumptuous brine and liquorice juice would start to rule everything. Finish: long, curiously fresh and mentholated, beyond all the tar ad liquorice. Perfect saltier aftertaste. Comments: I'm not sure the 'tropical style' always works better than the continental one, beyond politics and romanticism, but in this very case it sure did. As long as you're not afraid of a little glue in your spirits. I'm sorry I've been ten years late with this one (of course I'm not).
SGP:464 - 91 points.

Right, if Hampden is the Ardbeg of Rum, (heavy) Caroni sure was the Port Ellen. Right, let's move on… while staying in Trinidad.

T.D.L. 2003/2012 (62.7%, The Whisky Jury, The Many Faces of Rum, Trinidad, refill barrel, cask #4, 250 bottles)

T.D.L. 2003/2012 (62.7%, The Whisky Jury, The Many Faces of Rum, Trinidad, refill barrel, cask #4, 250 bottles) Five stars
Trinidad Distillers Limited, a.k.a. Angostura. We've tried some superb ones already, others having been more 'pop music'. I know what I'm trying to say. Colour: amber. Nose: absolutely ravishing, with both tarry/olivey/petroly notes and many ripe or even rotting tropical fruits, including bananas of all sizes and colours. Even those wee blue ones! The combo works stunningly. With water: we're getting into mangos and passion fruits. Next step is paradise. Mouth (neat): glorious. Spruce resin, pink grapefruits, all-vitamins fruit juice, tar, clove, peppermint, liquorice, parsley, borage, oxalis, propolis… That propolis part would then grow bigger and bigger, leading to some heavier liquorice and pine resin. No problems. With water: loses points now because of the heavy, drying resins, but it's true that we were very high. Oh come on… Finish: long, with more resins yet, bitters, propolis indeed, mint drops, PulMoll pastilles... Right, I believe that's a French thing. Comments: holy Suzy, there sure isn't/wasn't only Caroni; on the other hand I'm not sure I've ever encountered such an 'Angostura'.
SGP:663 - 90 points.

Last one. Didn't we say 'Not a session without a Jamaican?'...

Clarendon 26 yo 1995/2022 (57.1%, The Auld Alliance and Precious Liquors, Jamaica, cask #433941)

Clarendon 26 yo 1995/2022 (57.1%, The Auld Alliance and Precious Liquors, Jamaica, cask #433941) Five stars
Remember, Clarendon is Monymusk. This one was aged for 21 years in the tropics, then on the continent. Which continent?  (oh come on, S.) Colour: full gold. Nose: this is like when you try your first Bordeaux after having wandered throughout all other wine regions in the world, it studently feels like home. Sharper varnishes, black olives, walnut stain, liquorice lozenges, earths, olives, charcoal, pine needles… With water: a little more fruity sweetness, more earth as well, crushed slate, clay, limestone… Mouth (neat): very dry, resinous, tarry, it's like if you've just wolved down a family pack of salted liquorice, more or less. With water: brilliant, the saltiest of them all today. Now someone's thrown approx. ten kilograms of liquorice into this cask and while they were at it, they've also poured one bottle of Enzian schnapps. And for good measure, the little rascals have also added a bottle of tar liqueur. Finish: long, saltier, perhaps a tad narrower than the makes from other Jamaican distilleries. Not too sure. Comments: none, it's just excellent and very Jamaican.

SGP:563 - 90 points.

Oh and apparently, Jamaica too wants to become a republic!!

(Merci encore, Nicolas)

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