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

October 29, 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!


Seven new rums

There are waves of rums from all over the world arriving these days, from the extreme north of Europe to the southernmost reaches of the globe, ranging from some monstrously flavoured and nauseating concoctions to the most refined and elegant single estate distillates.

Funny rugby-themed magazine ad for Santa Teresa, 2015.
And congrats to the Boks! It's like when tasting spirits,
a small point, even several times in a row, can make
all the difference, are we not right?

Therefore, it is essential that the aspiring connoisseur would be extremely vigilant about what they buy and that they educate both their palate and their opinions, if they do not wish to find themselves quickly in the hands of multinational corporations who sadly know that high levels of sugar and flattering flavourings directly translate into their balance sheets. Let's see what we have today...



Santa Teresa 'Speyside Whisky Cask Finish Batch No.1' (46%, OB, Venezuela, 2023)

Santa Teresa 'Speyside Whisky Cask Finish Batch No.1' (46%, OB, Venezuela, 2023) Three stars
Isn't it amusing that while whisky makers increasingly use rum casks to enhance their little juices, rum distillers are doing the same in the opposite direction? However, we must not forget that HSE, for example, know very well how to use whisky casks (not just ex-bourbon) and we find the result good. This Santa Teresa comes from a 'triple aged solera' - I assume that casks are filled three times in total - and was finished for 13 months in these famous Speyside casks. Colour: dark gold. Nose: I believe we're way above the few other Santa Teresas we've already tried, it's even slightly malty, pretty dry, with notes of walnut cake, toasted oak, crème brûlée and the obligatory bananas flambéed. I'm also finding a few roasted chestnuts. No pushy exuberance this far, it's actually quite the opposite. Mouth: good, dry, herbal, toasted, with oak spices, black pepper, a little hay, bitter almonds and only then more sweet cane-iness. Really rather a rumsky, as we used to say in the old days. Finish: more on sweeter rum but it would otherwise remain a little herbal, spicy and malty. Touch of grassy smoke and cappuccino in the aftertaste. Comments: I believe the malt really lifted it. A good, fatter drop, well done.
SGP:551 - 80 points.

Brugal 'Collection Visionaria Edition 01' (45%, OB, Dominican Republic, 2023)

Brugal 'Collection Visionaria Edition 01' (45%, OB, Dominican Republic, 2023) Three stars
This neatly packaged new baby was finished in 'Virgin European oak casks toasted with cacao beans'. I think they let cocoa infuse the cask before toasting the whole, then removed those beans before filling. Which reminds us of Glenmo's chocolate malt, no? You're right, not the same thing at all. Colour: light amber. Nose: extremely similar, as if the cocoa beans produced almost exactly the same result as that of the ex-Speyside wood. A little cane syrup, light molasses, herbs, crème brûlé indeed, then more pine resin and raisiny sweetness. Mouth: both sweeter and spicier than the Venezuelan, rather more on molasses and, indeed, a little maltiness. Drops of triple-sec but no obvious added sugar. Not sure I'm finding the cocoa though; those flavours are often embedded in many aged spirits anyway. Quite some maple syrup (I've just been presented with some brilliant late-harvest Escuminac). Finish: medium, still not sweet for a Dominican, with once again notes of cappuccino and Nescafé. Comments: possibly one of my favourite Dominicans. So much better in my book than all the other Brugals I could try, which had all been sweeter than sugar.
SGP:651 - 80 points.

These brands are upping their games, are they not?

Barbancourt 8 yo '160ème Anniversaire' (43%, OB, Haiti, 20,000 bottles, 2023)

Barbancourt 8 yo '160ème Anniversaire' (43%, OB, Haiti, 20,000 bottles, 2023) Two stars
New Barbancourt and old Barbancourt are not the same thing at all, now this one's integrally ex-copper column and, naturally, pure cane juice, in the style of the agricoles. Colour: hay. Nose: hay as well! That's funny. And fennel seeds, woodruff, crushed coriander (bits), old copper coins, cane juice indeed, roasted sesame oil, angelica, caraway… It's not big but it's rather complex, with even touches of Szechuan pepper. Or there, Okinawa pepper. Mouth: mirrors the nose for a short while, just with a little more liquorice and sourer spices, soursop leaves, a little tamarind perhaps, marmalade… Having said that, it's rather thin, I believe it would have been better to bottle it at 45/46% vol. Frustrating. Finish: short and rather on tea, hay and bagasse. Comments: I find it rather a little better than an earlier version of the regular 8 yo, but still close and perhaps not extremely celebratory. Then again, I'm not rum expert, at all. 
SGP:340 - 70 points.

Shakara 12 yo (46%, OB, Thailand, 2023)

Shakara 12 yo (46%, OB, Thailand, 2023) Three stars
It's well Shakara and neither Shakra nor Shakira, right (diving to new lows, S. – Ed.) Let's see if this is any close to the very good Chalong Bay and Issan from Thailand. They've used local molasses, distilled it with a column, and aged it in Thailand. I have to confess this is a first at WF Towers. Colour: deep gold. Nose: awesome, are we sure this isn't agricole-style? Cane juice rather than molasses? Eucalyptus leaves, patchouli, lemon zests, thyme tea, potting soil, tobacco, bidis, touches of pistachio nougat… This is a great nose, let's see if the song matches the feathers, as Jean de La Fontaine would have said… Mouth: absolutely. No really high esters in this one, but all these lemons and, indeed, Thai coriander and basil make wonders. It is very fresh, getting a notch sweeter after fifteen minutes but it remains very all right.  Finish: rather long, on marmalade and eucalyptus tea. Coriander is back in the aftertaste, together with some candied lemon. A feeling of sugar in the aftertaste, no big deal though. Comments: excellent proposition, a real surprise. I hate to add that it should go well with Thai cuisine. Really.
SGP:560 - 81 points.

Foursquare 14 yo 'Touchstone' (61%, OB, Barbados, Exceptional Cask Selection Mark XXII, 2023)

Foursquare 14 yo 'Touchstone' (61%, OB, Barbados, Exceptional Cask Selection Mark XXII, 2023) Five stars
This is a complex blend of 12 yo Foursquare finished for 2 further years in Camus cognac plus 5 yo Foursquare further matured for 9 years in cognac as well. We continue to follow the rules of Scotch; less than three years is a finishing, beyond that, it's maturation. Yep. Colour: amber. Nose: I don't think Foursquare and good cognacs are very far apart from each other stylistically, which just means that the double maturation/finishing doesn't exactly feel as such, I mean as some flavouring. Everything seems to have merged into some spicy herbs and even flowers dipped into liquid caramel and fudge, nougat, pecans and vanilla. Some bourbons are close too, but that may be those 61% vol. Light varnish. With water: earths and tobaccos popping out, a little incense, cedarwood, touch of compost... Mouth (neat): admirably strong. Lovely citrusy liquorice and a little acetone, probably the high strength at play once more. With water: bingo, we tamed it. Citrus and sugarcane, tobacco, cardamom, black nougat, perhaps vine peaches from the cognac, geranium jelly, edible flowers, borage, wee pansies… Finish: long, a little more on burnt caramel and coffee. I hope no one will take umbrage if I mention Starbucks' Frappuccino. Comments: one of my favourite self-blends from Foursquare so far (but we are eagerly awaiting an 8, 10, or 12-year-old ex-pot still – you say that exists?) The cognac doesn't really come through as cognac, in my opinion.
SGP:651 - 91 points.

Neisson 'Zetwal' (49.4%, OB, Martinique, 2023)

Neisson 'Zetwal' (49.4%, OB, Martinique, 2023) Five stars
A multi-vintage vatting of the years 2000, 2005, 2012 and 2013, so it is a 10 yo. Zetwal means étoile in French creole. It's a bit on the expensive side at 1,990.00€ but remember you can present your mother-in-law with the decanter for Christmas. Once you've emptied it. Oh and Neisson is Neisson. Colour: full gold. Nose: of course it's great. Sublime liquorice, gentian, flowers (wisteria, jasmine, lily), mentholy fudge, thin mints, coriander seeds, pistachio amaretti, acacia gum, orgeat, Seccotine, white Meursault (of course there's red Meursault)…  Stunning roots of all kinds in the background. Mouth: OMG. Think pastis, manzana verde and woodruff syrup, blended together. Add a drop of crème de menthe, some lemon, a good few drops of amaro, and there, you've recreated this splendour., should you have found the right proportions. Finish: incredible vivacity, stunning citrusy herbs. Ganache and oranges in the aftertaste, plus a few drops of ultra-old grain whisky. And pastis is back in the post-aftertaste, good one! Or rather what we call a perroquet, which is 4 shots pastis plus 1 shot green mint syrup, topped with chilled water ad lib. Comments: I'm sure they have a secret.
SGP:562 - 93 points.

Good, we are already in the absolute ethers, but let's try a last one...

Hampden 32 yo 1990/2023 'C<>H' (54.6%, Impressions by The Colours of Rum, LMDW New Vibrations, Jamaica)

Hampden 32 yo 1990/2023 'C<>H' (54.6%, Impressions by The Colours of Rum, LMDW New Vibrations, Jamaica) Five stars
Fully aged in Europe. The marque C-diamond-H would suggest this long-fermented juice was harbouring 1300-1400 gr esters by HLPA at time of filling, which is a lot. Cane juice vinegar alert! Colour: white wine. Nose: someone in the neighbourhood has been burning old tyres for the whole day, while someone else was grilling sardines with olives and pickles on a rusty old barbecue that had been started with gasoline. Does that sound good enough to you? With water: no actual changes, just some new plywood from Ikea's and a little formic acid. Mouth (neat): continental aging in 'old wood' lets the spirit travel very long distances while keeping fresh and never over-oaked. I believe this glory will remain totally fantastico until at least the year 2100. Well not this very one as they've bottled it, but any sister casks would probably live eternally. It is exceptionally varnishy, shock-full of olives, acetone, ammonia and just old-school glues. And salted liquorice, as usual. With water: the best vinegar ever, plus seawater, concentrated lime juice; pickled anchovies and various plastics and oil-driven elements. There are probably quite a few people who think we're crazy when we say we love this style. Finish: same for a very long time. Stunningly acetic, salty and petroly. Tar and a feeling of benzine in the aftertaste. Comments: ten times more rustic and even simple than the Neisson, but I love it just as much. The two sides of a gold coin.
SGP:473 - 93 points.

See you soon for more new rums.

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







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