Google A new jaunt among the rums

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

January 28, 2024


  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!



A new jaunt among the rums

There are so many! It's a real joy, and the standard seems to be rising, even if we mostly taste small-batch and single-cask rums proposed by independent selectors. Of course, if you're tasting mainly juices heretofore unknown, laden with sugar, packaged like baubles from Swarovski's or Franklin Mint, and bearing the names of unlikely heroes of the revolucion, that will be something else. You'll notice, however, that we make sure to taste them now and again, for the cause. After all, they do exist.

(The National Air and Space Museum, DC)



El Ron Prohibido 15 yo 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Mexico, +/-2023)

El Ron Prohibido 15 yo 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Mexico, +/-2023)
We place as much trust in the age stated on the bottle as we do in the content of a speech by Nigel Farage. That said, we had tasted a NAS version of El Ron Prohibido in 2016, and we survived quite easily, and even better (Whisky Fun 78 points). And then, this baby still managed to snag the Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition! Colour: espresso. Nose: molasses, burnt caramel, and coffee liqueur in astronomical quantities, plus a bit of fresh mint that, against all odds, keeps this 'thing' afloat. One cannot help but think of After Eight thin mints. By the way, does Nestlé not own a distillery yet? Mouth: no, this is just too much. Way too sweet, it rapidly becomes sickening, almost repulsive. They're mad! Finish: quite long, alas. You immediately gulp down half a litre of sparkling water and it's still not enough to eradicate all that damn ultra-sweet caramel. Comments: well yes, this thing ought to be 'prohibido'. The NAS was much more elegant back in 2016.

SGP:820 - 25 points.

Let's go on but first drink lots of sparkling water (it lifts the sugar off your mouth's walls; and off your oesophagus, if you have been mad enough to swallow more than a mocha-spoonful of it. If you've added plenty of ice, you have an excuse.

Cartavio 12 yo 'Solera' (40%, OB, Peru, +/-2023)

Cartavio 12 yo 'Solera' (40%, OB, Peru, +/-2023) Two stars and a half
It was quite decent the last time we tried it (Whisky Fun 75) but that was... in 2009. Sweet Vishnu, 15 years ago. Colour: coppery amber. Nose: it's really another world, even if it's not very expressive. Roasted nuts, praline, roasted peanuts, remnants of sugarcane (after pressing, bagasse), a bit of chocolate, very light coffee… In short, it doesn't talk much but then again, it remains elegant. Mouth: if there's added sugar, there isn't really much of it. Anyway, after the previous one, even pure cane syrup would seem not too sweet. Return of roasted peanuts and hazelnuts, chocolate, light coffee, and arrival of brown tobacco. A few notes of humus, undergrowth, that's nice. Finish: not very long, and maybe a bit too sweet now, but honey and maple syrup add a bit of refinement. Aftertaste quite clean. Comments: boom, we're promoting it to 77. I like this Cartavio, even if it doesn't exactly set the world on fire.
SGP:540 - 77 points.

Let's move on to more serious matters, at least we hope so...

Clément 'Select Barrel' (40%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2022)

Clément 'Select Barrel' (40%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
Yes, 'Select Barrel', in English, not 'Barrique Sélectionnée' or 'Fût Choisi'. I'm not quite sure why... Well, one can guess. It's an inexpensive assemblage (there), probably quite young, but with agricole rums, one must be wary of youth, in the good sense of the term. Colour: gold. Nose: it's star anise and fennel that speak first, something that sometimes happens with young agricole rums. Then comes liquorice, fresh cane juice, damp earth, and finally vanilla, custard, and just a hint of camphor. Nothing to complain about. Mouth: very good, more woody but in an elegant way (cedar, pine, oak), with fresh mint and pineapple, anise, lemon balm water, even green apple. Alas, it lacks just a bit of oomph but I think reducing it to 43% instead of 40 would already be enough to give it some more liveliness. A pity. Finish: not very long but nicely spiced, as if the barrels had been quite active. This is felt in the aftertaste, which is rougher (sawdust, cinnamon). Comments: it remains very good. Even the most modest of agricole rums turn out to be very good, I find.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

Panama Rum 2006/2022 (56.4%, HNWS Taiwan, bourbon barrel, cask #11, 261 bottles)

Panama Rum 2006/2022 (56.4%, HNWS Taiwan, bourbon barrel, cask #11, 261 bottles) Four stars
Generally, these secret Panamas would tend to be Don José, which sure isn't bad news. By the way, cheers to all our Taiwanese friends and congratulations on their vote last Saturday. They are proud and free people, but we already knew that. Colour: dark gold. Nose: it's almost like a jam of mirabelle plum, quince, and apricot, enriched with honey and agave syrup. Also a tiny hint of old sweet wine, like a Sauternes. In other words, this rum seems to be a real sin. With water: more on herbal teas, dried fruits, green tea... The water somewhat diminishes the jammy and fruity side. Mouth (neat): what a treat! A sweet fruitiness and menthol, orange blossom water, Turkish delights, Lebanese pastries, more apricots, oranges, and just hints of varnish, but perhaps that's just the alcohol – or the wood. We love the varnish in bourbons or Jamaican rums, for example, but maybe not so much with this kind of rounder and fruitier profile. With water: no, it's fine, it's very good, increasingly orangey, with orange liqueur, candied oranges, orange marmalade (we get it, S.) Finish: quite long but a little less interesting, it's the herbal side that comes back into play. Comments: it remains that this kind of bottle is as good as it gets for a Panamanian rum.

SGP:661 - 85 points.

Chairman's Reserve 13 yo 2010/2023 (61%, OB, Master's Selection for Rhum Attitude, St. Lucia, bourbon cask, cask # 0167032009, 239 bottles)

Chairman's Reserve 13 yo 2010/2023 (61%, OB, Master's Selection for Rhum Attitude, St. Lucia, bourbon cask, cask # 0167032009, 239 bottles) Five stars
We must admit that 'Chairman's Reserve' is a peculiar name for a rum brand; it sounds more like the name of a range within a more traditional line. For example, 'Glenmorangie Chairman's Reserve' seems to make more sense, right? And then, that could be used for all kinds of merchandise, couldn't it. That said, beyond this somewhat unnecessary comment, I confess that it's one of the brands that has impressed me the most over the last three years. It's really the product that speaks for itself, the rest — branding, packaging, and other social events — we'll leave that to the TikTokers. Colour: dark gold. Nose: very subtle, very elegant, slightly in the territory of a great malt, for example, an old Glen Grant. There's none of the mischievous rum character left, we find orange cake, blueberry muffins, toffee and fudge, nougats, a clear floral side (dandelion, lily), light tobacco notes, chamomile, Sichuan pepper, raisin bread... All that at 60% ABV! With water: initial hints of wood glue, fresh paint, putty, lanolin, then macarons and little Christmas biscuits. Yes, we're behind schedule. Mouth (neat): toasted sesame, candied oranges… And quite a bit of ethanol. So, we'll be careful. Speaking 'parenthetically', it does have a bit of a Foursquare feel to it. With water: the slightly salty and tarry notes come through, resins, fruit skins, pits as well, and salt. Salt always works. Finish: long, indeed salty, with salty liquorice, black tea, a bit of varnish, coffee… And malt whisky. I'm serious. Bitters and salt in the aftertaste. Comments: it's the complexity that is the most impressive part. Its main fault is that it takes quite a bit of your time.

SGP:562 - 90 points.

Réunion 6 yo 2016/2023 (60.8% , Hidden Spirit The Wild Parrot, La Réunion, cask ref #WP 16608, 285 bottles)

Réunion 6 yo 2016/2023 (60.8% , Hidden Spirit The Wild Parrot, La Réunion, cask ref #WP 16608, 285 bottles) Five stars
This baby aged for 1 year on the island, then 5 years in the UK. Why in the UK, I don't know. This should be Savanna, most possibly a grand arôme so high-ester tum. We had tried a disclosed Savanna by Wild Parrot back in 2019, it was very, very good IMHO (WF 87). Colour: full gold. Nose: the keyword here is balance; we're right between a rum that leans towards solvents and varnish, and on the other side, a rounder rum with notes of tarte tatin, mirabelle plums, fresh sugarcane, and perfectly ripe (but not overly so) bananas. The whole thing slightly reminds one of an unfiltered manzanilla from a reputable house. But are there any bad houses in Sanlucar? Also, some unexpected aromas of truffle and cabbage, which I believe sometimes give this falsely sulphurous aspect to grand arôme. More a typicity than a flaw, quite the opposite in fact. With water: heavy on new rubber and olives. Olives are often mentioned, but here, it's an avalanche of olives. It turns out we love that at Château Whiskyfun. Also a lot of truffle oil. Mouth (neat): very unusual. A Greek retsina side, varnish, olives and pepper, with a lot of salt but also a lot of myrtle, which is not that common in rums. With water: anchovy-stuffed olives, with a hint of lemon. When I say anchovy olives, I mean ninety-five kilos of anchovy olives. Finish: similar. Comments: the question is, do you like varnish, olives, truffle, and myrtle? If so, quickly get yourself a pallet of this slightly mad rum (if that were possible!)
SGP:473 - 90 points.


Jamaica 12 yo 2010/2023 (66.2%, LMDW, Flag Series, cask #MM10VF52, 220 bottles) Four stars and a half
Hold on, is that the Jamaican flag on the label? No too sure… An artist's impressions, perhaps… Or Usain Bold running so fast that the flag on his shirt is going pretty blurred… As for what this undisclosed Jamaican actually is, I suppose the cask number gives it way (MM, Mony-Musk). Colour: gold. Nose: rather low-ester this time, but there are some, with a little olive oil and concrete dust at first, but almost no solventy notes, rather stewed peaches, fresh mint and a little masala. And really a lot of ethanol. With water: steamed artichokes, sultanas and just touches of diesel oil. Uncommon, but extremely pleasant combination. Mouth (neat): massive, rather on mangos and tangerines, as liqueurs or as jams. And once again, a rather lethal dose of ethanol. With water: more saltiness, more coastalness once water's been added. Yet peaches and mangos keep expressing themselves. A little salted liquorice in the background. Finish: pretty long, this time with a little varnish again, three olives, some lemon and some unexpected williams pears beyond the peaches. A little cough syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: it's true that these lower-ester-count Jamaicans can be more complex than their beastly colleagues.
SGP:652 - 88 points.

Caroni 25 yo 1998/2023 (61.3%, Rum Sponge, LMDW New Vibrations, 1st fill barrel, 243 bottles)

Caroni 25 yo 1998/2023 (61.3%, Rum Sponge, LMDW New Vibrations, 1st fill barrel, 243 bottles) Five stars
Roughly 12 years in the tropics and 12 years in Europe. Yeah that sounds like the life of a biotech whiz. It's not often that bottles for France would display interpretations of the Parisian Metro rather than the Arc de Triomphe or the Tour Eiffel. In any case, we're delighted to hear that there's a new subway station called 'Rum Sponge'; we'll try to pay it a visit. As long as this Caroni doesn't come with a 'Mind the gap' warning, we should be alright... Colour: full gold. Nose (neat): oh my, it shifts gears rapidly. A lot of shoe polish initially, then patchouli and mothballs, followed by industrial solvent, then old rags in an old wardrobe, and old paint pots forgotten in the cellar... Well, you get the picture. We won't dwell too much on it at 61% ABV. With water: it becomes very elegant, almost refined, with a slight old cognac aspect. One could enjoy it at the bar of The Lanesborough. Sorry, I mean the Hotel Raphael. Mouth: you're realizing that they're having us drink a mix of petrol, very, very ripe crushed bananas, acetone, and motor oil, and once more, with hints of quite herby green olives. It's just missing an address on the label for us to write a complaint. With water: beautiful, really focused on these olives, smoked almonds, lapsang souchong, licorice... And much less on all things hydrocarbons. Finish: completely different depending on whether you've added water or not. Black Sabbath or Mozart, as it were. Comments: it's a 'heavy' Caroni that's quite different, which seems to have followed its own path, even if it retains a, let's say 'British Petroleum' side. It loves water, as long as you don't drown it. It's almost the whole history of civilization that you have here in your glass (typical exaggeration); well not sure though that the Paris metro is a great example of that civilization.
SGP:463 - 91 points.

You might have noticed that we always put the rubbish at the beginning of the line-ups to give them a chance, to let some positive aspect come through. Just imagine what it would have been like if, for example, we had tasted the very humble Prohibito after the Caroni!

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


Wgiskyfun 101

  Make your own alcohol-free 'rum'

A nice little trick with this kind of very 'heavy' rum, especially when you're going to drive (or vote, ha):

  1. Put glass in a clean freezer.
  2. When chilled, fill with a little rum and swirl thoroughly.
  3. Empty your glass, do not rinse.
  4. Fill glass with taste-free sparkling water.
  5. Cover and keep for an hour or two at room temperature, to allow the bubbles to escape.
  6. Taste. You almost get the profile of the rum, while ingesting infinitesimal amounts of alcohol.

Alternatively, you could use cold sparkling water and drink your 'alcohol-free rum spritzer' immediately instead of letting the bubbles go away and the rum warm up.
Please note, this won't quite work with light rums or ultra-doséed ones.







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