Another rum from one of Fiji’s two major vintages, 2001 being the other. Unlike the Cadenhead’s Fiji South Pacific Distillery 2003 13YO, it has been sold out already. However, many people prefer 2001 over 2003 anyways. Personally, I can’t decide between the two. We will encounter all available vintages in due course. Before that, let’s check out the Pellegrini Fiji “Enfant Terrible” 2003 13YO.
Even though we already encountered a rum by Pellegrini on this blog, I have yet to introduce the bottler. Founded by Pietro Pellegrini, the great-grandfather of the current owners, in Cisano in 1904, they started out as a wine merchant, just like most other Italian bottlers. More than 100 years later they acquired Va.Ma Distribuzione srl, which strengthened Pellegrini’s position in the wine and distillates market and eventually brought us their first rums (to the best of my knowledge, their first releases date to 2010). For more information on Pellegrini, simply follow the link above.
On Fiji, most of the sugar cane is grown completely organically. Moreover, the sugar cane on the distillery’s plantation is still cut by hand, supposedly yielding a richer cane juice with fewer tannins. Similarly, the distillery claims that its traditional sugar mills and production techniques produce a molasses that is very rich and has a particularly high base sugar, which has a decisive influence on the uniquely flavoured final product. Interestingly, they also recognise the importance of climate for ageing, stating that “the heat and the humidity (on Fiji -SCR) […] accelerates the ageing process. This produces more complexity of flavour over a comparable period in colder climates”. And we can taste this ourselves! We know from Compagnie des Indes that their 2004 Fijian rums have been ageing on Fiji until 2010. To the best of my knowledge, the first Fijians by independent bottlers saw European market shelves in 2011. This suggest at least a huge shipment in 2010. If this is true, all the Fijians that we are getting right now should have spent a large part of their lives in tropical climates, which would explain their relatively high maturity. The Pellegrini “Enfant Terrible” 2003 should thus have spent around seven years on Fiji and another six in Europe.
It will be interesting to compare these rums with those distilled after 2010 one day. So far, the latest vintage that I am aware of is the aforementioned Compagnie des Indes from 2004. But now on to the tasting!
Dégustation “Pellegrini Fiji “Enfant Terrible” 2003 13YO”
Key Facts: The rum has been distilled at South Pacific Distillery in a Pot-still on Fiji in 2003. After 13 years of ageing, a large part of which took place in the tropics, it has been bottled by Pellegrini at 50% in 2016. 270 bottles were available. This indicates a diluted single cask bottling but nothing to that effect has been mentioned on the label.
Colour and viscosity: Yellow/ old gold. The rum is incredibly oily for its age as it very slowly descends along the inside of the glass.
Nose: After giving the rum some time to breathe, I detect pleasant aromas of vanilla, caramel, honey and lemons. Then glue and esters. Very nice! Deeper in the glass I can also smell wispy herbs but I don’t dare naming any, its slightly medical. A touch of oak bundles the fragrances, further revealing fruity aromas such as mango and pineapple. The profile contains something slightly bitter as well.
Palate: Figuratively speaking, I am biting on plastic. I further taste sweet lemons, honey, rubber and some flavours from the gas station. Then exotic fruits and esters in addition to flavours of vanilla and oak. The herbs are in the mix as well, but they are not as medical as the nose suggested. Besides vanilla, I also get a couple of other spices such as cinnamon and cloves. The herbs become more dominant after a couple of sips. Eventually, I get a couple of additional fruits such as mango, peaches and apricots.
Finish: The finish is relatively long with plenty of herbs and a few spices. Mangos and peaches enter here and there.
Oh boy, I like this one. The Pellegrini Fiji “Enfant Terrible” 2003 13YO is not as dirty as the equally old Cadenhead’s Fiji South Pacific Distillery 2003 13YO from last week’s review but it plays up in different ways. That might be the result of dilution, by the way. Fijians tend to be very forgiving to the addition of water but we will dig deeper into that next time. I don’t really have much more to say about this one though: It’s great, it’s sold out and I am no particularly happy about not stocking up on time. Fortunately, we have great alternatives that are still available. The Cadenhead’s Fiji 2003 13YO was just one example, we will explore more of them in the weeks to come.