Let’s take a small detour to Guadeloupe, the only logical sequal to the Martinicans from the previous reviews. Today’s rum is the Velier Basseterre Vieux 1997.
Even though the label reads Basseterre (a city on Saint Kitts and Nevis), the Velier Basseterre Vieux 2007 actually comes from Basse-Terre, the western half of Guadeloupe. On the back label we can read in tiny letters “Produit par Distillerie Carrère, Petit-Bourg. Carrère, that’s the former name of Montebello at the east end of Basse-Terre. Montebello’s recent history dates to 1968, when Jean Marsolle (brother of Henry Marsolle, who owns and operates the Domaine de Séverin distillery on Guadeloupe) and his son bought the distillery and changed the name from Distillerie Carrère to Montebello. Fun fact: After the Carrère distillery ceased its operations at some point before 1966, the property was even used as a cinema. Gradually, the Marsolle family turned the distillery into a very modern facility. Today it is led by Grégory Marsolle, Jean’s grandson. After distillation, Montebello typically put their rum in oak barrels and store them in metal containers with direct exposure to the sun, which accelerates the ageing and oxidation process. Consequently, their own rums age for a maximum of eight years, after that the barrels would be more or less empty and the alcohol content starts to drop below the magical 40% borderline. If you’d like to find out more, check out my new article on Guadeloupe.
Lance informs us that this rum’s older brother, the Velier Basseterre Vieux 1995, has been stored in dead vats in 2006 to cease any further ageing until it has been bottled in 2008. Perhaps that’s the reason why we don’t find a proper age-statement on the label. I was inclined to believe that it is no different with this rum but then I saw the disclaimer on the label of the Velier Basseterre Vieux 1995, which cannot be found on the 1997. In principle, both rums should thus be of the same age. If you’ve read my review on the Neisson Vieux Single Cask 2004, you will see why this raised my eyebrows. The Caner goes on and says that “that’s something that seems to be coming up more often in relation to older agricoles […]”, especially old Millésime rhums. That would also explain some (but not all) of the issues I had with the information and numbers concerning the Neisson Vieux Single Cask 2004.
Dégustation “Velier Basseterre Vieux 1997”
Key Facts: The rum has been distilled at Montebello Distillery on Guadeloupe in 1997 and bottled at 49,2% in 2008. It is therefore at least ten years old but I wouldn’t dismiss that it has spent some time in dead vats, just like the Velier Basseterre Vieux 1995 (see above). The rum is still available, quite the sensation for a Velier that dates back to 2008.
Addendum: Eric told me that this is a mix of molasses and cane juice rum. I don’t think I would ever have come up with that solely by tasting it.
Colour and viscosity: Chestnut/ Oloroso Sherry. Thick pearls and equally thick stripes that moderatly flow back down. This rhum definitely has seen the inside of a barrel for quite some time.
Nose: I immediately get the typical grassy aromas. I picture endless meadows with different flowers. It takes some time to get behind all of these very floral notes but eventually we are entering a tiny spices-store. The vendor is selling cumin, cloves and cinnamon. Behind notes of wood we can also find a basket filled with limes and lemons.
Palate: There they are again, the meadows. But only in the background. My first impression are roasted walnuts, dipped in honey. A very lovely combination. Then more spices. Again, I can find cumin, cloves and cinnamon. The citruses are a bit reluctant to come out and play and the floral character is a bit less marked. I definitely like what I taste but I would have prefered to get a bit more of the honey walnut combination, which unfortunately gets lost way too quickly.
Finish: A finish of average duration. Not too dry and not very bitter. My associations are the spices-store and lemons.
The Velier Basseterre Vieux 1997 is a good rum, that’s for sure. This is not the first time that I am tasting this rum and I feel that I liked it a bit more in the past. Before I have tasted the Neisson Vieux Single Cask 2004, that is. Apparently that rhum left a lasting impression on me. It is still a good rhum but I am sure there are better alternatives out there, especially at this price. I was fortunate to get it a discount in Italy but I’d say it is absolutely not worth the price that it is currently being sold for (some shops almost doubled their originial asking price).
Today’s review taught me that rums are always a matter of perspective and relation, which is crucially shaped by your references. Personal taste and preferences aside, you will start to regard rums differently with increased experience and knowledge. For me, the first big step was from sweet to unsweetened rums. From there on it is all about broadening your palate and getting to know as much as possible. This helps immensely in valuing and judging a rum’s quality, which reinforced my believe that putting a score on a rum is very futile (at least for me). Half a year ago I probably would have rated this rum quite differently. On Monday we will see in which context giving scores is more appropriate!