If you’ve followed the last reviews on Fiji and/ or you are really into this rum style I have a real treat for you today. Many aficionados tend to label this the best Fijian to date. Let’s see whether we agree and taste the The Rum Cask Fiji 2001 15YO!
The Rum Cask is the rum line of the German independent whisky bottler ‘The Whisky Cask’. They released their first rums in 2013 and even had a collaboration with my colleagues from Barrel Aged Thoughts at the beginning, which gave us a couple of very nice Jamaican rums. Among them was probably even the very first Worthy Park bottling in cask strength by an independent bottler. The others were a Hampden from 1998, a Long Pond from 2000 and a Worthy Park from 2005. Another truly great one has been added earlier this year, when their collaboration has been resumed. That one deserves a very special spot on this blog however.
At this point I wanted to compare the typical characteristics of the 2001 with those of the 2003 Fijians. After checking my notes on the rums, I realised that the differences are even more subtle than I initially feared, however. I have repeatedly stated that to me, rums from Fiji taste like a combination of fruity Wedderburn (at least) Jamaicans (200-300 esters per 100.000 parts of alcohol) and slightly medical and smokey Rockley W.I.R.D.s from Barbados (with a honey and beeswax profile), paired with a dirty touch slightly reminiscent of Trinidad’s closed Caroni distillery (burnt rubber). Roughly speaking, my general perception is that the 2001 vintage is slightly more on the Bajan side whereas 2003 is leaning more towards Jamaica. The dirty characterstics such as (burnt) rubber, charcoal or BBQ tend to be more concentrated in the rums from 2003. What they all share is the plastic mouthfeel but, as we are about to see, it is not very present in today’s rum.
Dégustation “The Rum Cask Fiji 2001 15YO”
Key Facts: This single cask rum has been distilled in a pot still at Fiji’s South Pacific Distillery in 2001. After 15 combined years of tropical and continental ageing it has been bottled at 59,3% cask strength in 2016.
Colour and viscosity: Burnished. A quick pivot results in a crown of tiny pearls. The rum slowly flows back down in thick streams. The oiliness is quite respectable.
Nose: I gave the rum plenty of time to breathe. After removing the aroma-lid, mellow notes of honey, vanilla and fresh sugar cane juice enter my nostrils. This is relatively close to a Rockley WIRD. Then esters, banana and strong, slightly medical herbs as well as fresh oak in the background. I can also find some rubber but not many more dirty fragrances. From this perspective and with the sun about to set in the far distance, nosing the rum is a real pleasure (even though I like the dirtier 2003 Fijians just as much). What’s interesting is that the alcohol seems to become stronger the longer I let the rum rest without the aroma-lid.
Palate: Almost 60%? Nah! I immediately taste freshly cut citrus fruits, pineapple and banana. At least the taste is closer to your favorite Jamaicans. Then the typical medical touch, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, vanilla and anise in the background. An eclectic play between different associations and notes of rubber creates an interesting mouthfeel. Starting out fruity, I can subsequently discover spices, only to turn to herbs at the end. I’d like to say that the rum is very balanced but that’s probably only true if you have tried many other Fijians before. For Fiji newcomers, this is still probably very aggressive and weird.
Finish: Long and herbal. Many spices pop up here and there but the herbal character is quite dominant. Later a touch of wood.
To answer my opening question whether we agree on the The Rum Cask Fiji 2001 15YO being the best Fijian to date: I wouldn’t disagree. It’s definitely a contender for the top spot but, as I’ve said earlier, I don’t strictly prefer 2001 to 2003. If you do, this should be your pick I’d say! It’s a massive upgrade from the Berry’s 2001s if you ask me. This rum is almost on point. It will be interesting to see how the vintage might benefit from a couple of additional years cause the rum is far from beeing too woody. I think that the it has hit more or less the sweet spot of optimal maturity. The fruity character is still the dominant feature of this rum but for the first time in our Fiji series we encounter plenty of spices and cask aromas. Then again, this has probably just been an excellent cask. All tin all, this is perhaps the most balanced Fijian so far, which of course doesn’t mean that it has lost its edges and rough spots. This is solely a within comparison.
Next time we will have a vertical Fiji tasting, comparing rums from 2001 to 2004. I am excited to see how good the two other vintages are. Till then, be friendly to eachother 😉