This review features another Demerara from the Diamond Distillery. This time we know for sure that it comes from the Diamond metal column still. Let’s see whether it can smash its competitor from the previous review. Today’s challenger is the Rum Nation Diamond 2005 11YO!
The Rum Nation Diamond 2005 11YO is part of Rum Nation‘s new Small Batch Rare Rums (short: SBRR) series, which could be regarded as a rethinking of the company’s positioning in the market. Single cask and cask strength bottlings are becoming increasingly popular and customers now demand more information on the product they’re buying. While their new releases are still mostly blends of two or three barrels, they noticeably upped the drinking strengths of their rums, which really does them good if you ask me. I also welcome their new approach to labeling as we are finally getting the names of the distilleries and information on ageing. Even though the real rum geeks could usually figure out the distillery anyway, getting this information from the bottler is typically taken for granted these days. I think Rum Nation did themselves a great favour by taking this approach.
Disregarding the exclusive bottlings (e.g. for La Maison du Whisky), the SBRR series now gave us five Demeraras: Two Port Mourants, two Enmores and this Diamond. After Velier lost its exclusive right to bottle carefully selected full proof tropically aged Demeraras, it is nice to see that Rum Nation is trying to fill the resulting gap. While these new releases have not been aged in the tropics (a rather important feature, admittedly) and more than likely are not even full proof, they are excellent products nevertheless and come quite close to the quality of Velier’s releases. Anyways, it’s no use to mourn these longtime sold out and now insanely expensive bottlings. After all, this review also is not about Velier but about a (relatively) new Rum Nation.
The metal column still of Diamond Distillery is the only Guyanese rum still that is still standing at its original location. All others have either been scrapped or moved as sugar estates got closed, absorbed or ceased to produce rum throughout the course of history. This is the first Diamond rum of the 2005 vintage that I know of and I hope that we will see a few more bottlings of this batch in the future.
Dégustation “Rum Nation Diamond 2005 11YO”
Key facts: This heavy column still rum was distilled in Guyana’s Diamond still in 2005 and has been bottled in 2016 at 58,6%. That may or may not be cask strength but I doubt it. It is a blend of casks #108 and #111, which yielded 473 bottles after 11 years of both, continental and tropical ageing in third fill sherry casks.
Colour: Ruby red/ brown sherry. The rum has most likely been coloured before getting filled into the cask like all extremely dark rums produced by DDL.
Nose: Wow, there is so much ripe mango here that it makes you feel relocated to an exotic bazar. Then there is nougat, caramel and toffee. This could also be a good chocolate bar. Some hints of dried goose- and raspberries, also a touch of raisins. Deeper in the glass you get some wood and cask aromas in the form of cloves and extremely discreet vanilla. Moreover, I can also scent herbs such as lavender or sage.
Palate: Less mangos than in the nose but still extremely fruity. The mangos are consorted by fresh oranges in their Christmas variation with cloves, vanilla and cinnamon. Then I get the full dose of mangos again. There is plenty of sweetness coming from the fruits, but there is no sign of caramel, molasses, Demerara- or muscovado sugar, as it can be found in other Demeraras. Now I notice some delicate apricots, but they vanish as quickly as they appeared. It takes a while to notice the wood aromas, which are not too present. Finally there is some gingery Curiosity Cola to round things off.
Finish: Drier than expected given its fruitiness. Then the herbs from the nose return, but this time they rather give me association of thyme and rosemary. It is not too long.
When compared head to head to the Our Rum & Spirits Diamond 2003 13YO, it has a lighter body and the alcohol is not integrated as well, but these are only nuances. On the plus side, it is much fruitier. The cask has definitely not been as active here but I do not mind it. Which one of the two you prefer depends a bit on whether you like to have a more fruity rum or one with more spices and flavours from the cask. In my first cross-tasting last week, the Rum Nation Diamond 2005 11YO had a slight edge over its competitor. After another cross-tasting, I have both rums pretty much on even footing. I am getting the impression that the Our Rum & Spirits needed some time to grow on me, whereas the Rum Nation is more of a one-trick pony, relatively spoken. It has this initial “wow-effect” which the Our Rum & Spirits is lacking. At the risk of repeating myself, both Diamonds are only substitutes to a limited extent and it ultimately depends on what you are looking for. If we also take the price into account, it is an easy choice. I do not know how long these rums are still going to be available. Especially the Our Rum & Spirits might be sold out soon since it has been out for a year now and just won a gold medal at the last German rum fest. Personally, I am happy to have a bottle of each of them as they are probably two of the best Diamond rums we have gotten in the post Velier Demerara era.