These are my notes from the latest rumexpert bling-tasting by Thomas G., who has been organising them on a regular basis for quite some time now. We have five rums and had to guess the country of origin, name of the distillery, the bottler, the rum’s age and abv, whether or not is has a special finish and last but not least, the exact bottling.
My buddies over at Rumboom (who are a trio now) participated at well. You can find their tasting notes and and impressions here (in German). It’s very nice to have these comparisons and different opinions!
Duncan Taylor Bellevue 1998 17YO (Guadeloupe, 52,5%): Colour: Tawny. Thick streaks at the rim of the glass. I smell a mixture of herbs and molasses. Then acacia honey and forest fruits, perhaps some gooseberries. The sweetness of the honey is coming through more and more. I already have an idea where this might come from. Palate: The rum is a bit more watery than the nose suggests, I have been expecting a heavier body. Slightly bitter molasses and plenty of different herbs. A few medical aromas and spices (cinnamon) at the back-end. The finish comes with many aromas from the cask such as muscat and cinnamon and is slightly bitter. Nosing the rum is a real pleasure, the taste was “only” good. A very nice rum which should be a Bellevue from 1998 (Damoiseau).
Duncan Taylor Darsa Distillery 2007 8YO (Guatemala, 52,4%) I smell a few esters and a decent amount of sweetness. Then caramel, pale berries, cherries and marzipan. I think I know what this is but I cannot quite nail it down. Later I can also smell something like… seaweed? It’s very familiar but the last penny has not dropped yet. The taste is quite sweet with caramel and pepper. There’s also a slightly bitter element in the mix. Perhaps also anise. The finish is of medium length and still sweet with pepper. It really bugs me that I cannot name this one. My guess was a rum from Grenada’s Westerhall distillery but that really wasn’t much more than a guess.
Habitation Velier Hampden HLCF 2010 6YO (Jamaica, 68,5%): Here I can immediately smell a lot of esters, grilled pineapple, sour apples and some glue. There’s no doubt that this is Hampden! Tasting this beauty reveals many more familiar notes. Again, I get the whole ester package with pineapples, mangos, glue, and green apples. The rum is relatively sour, no surprise at this ester level. Then some aromas from the cask such as vanilla and oak. Later we also witness the typical switch to a more herbal profile. Very nice! The finish is relatively long but doesn’t reveal anything new, except for leather perhaps. A magnificent rum that I have had a couple of times already. It is pretty easy to recognise this rum. My only point of criticism with this one is that it is pretty one-dimensional from nosing to finish and that the alcohol is not as well-integrated as in some other comparable rums, but that’s grouching on a high level. RTN
Rum Nation Hampden 1992 24YO (Jamaica, 61,6%) What do we have here? The rum has a relatively floral profile. I smell glue, cloves and cinnamon. Then also lovage and a freshly mowed meadows. This has a few similarities with some agricoles but it surely isn’t one. At the palate I can find esters (pineapple, banana), nuts, old cheese and pears. Later also more exotic fruits and a couple of herbs. The rum needs some time in the glass to reveal its full character, only then do I get the full spectrum of spices. It’s very Long-Pondish. The finish is long and slightly bitter with a couple of nuts and plenty of wood. A very, very good one. My guess is that this has been diluted a bit which resulted in a lighter body but you cannot have everything, can you!? My guess was Long Pond from 2000.
The Rum Cask Epris Distillery 1999 17YO (Brazil, 46,9%): Perhaps the most difficult one from the bunch for me. Once more we have a relatively floral nose except that this time I am pretty sure it is an agricole. I smell peaches and apricots, pears and a decent sweetness. The first sip confirms my suspicion as I get freshly cut grass, unripe cherries and vanilla. I have a tough time picking out many of the flavours, which suggests that this comes from a distillery that I do not know very well. The Finish has more unripe cherries, wood and a very small influence from the cask. It’s fine but not exciting, somehow to smooth and soft. I really don’t know where to put this. What helped me in choosing a specific bottling is the very light colour of this rum, which is relatively uncommon in the aged agricole segment. Sometimes testing times call for inventive methods. In this case they’ve failed.
Verdict & Addendum
Another very nice blind tasting by Thomas G., I’ve enjoyed most of the samples a lot! The perhaps most interesting rum was the Duncan Taylor Darsa 2007 8YO. We’ve already had this one in the previous blind tasting session and none of the participants (most of us took part in both tastings) managed to recognise it! What a shame. It’s not a bad rum at all and a very nice demonstration of what unadulterated rum from Guatemala tastes like but in our defense it does not really have any unique characteristics if you ask me. Maybe that’s why it was so hard to pin it down. The Bellevue and Velier Hampden were pretty easy to recognise but oh boy, what have I been wrong with number four (Rum Nation Hampden 1992 24YO). I actually own the rum but nosing from the bottle was soo different from nosing from the sample flask or my nosing glass. The aromas and the sharpness of the alcohol come along quite differently depending on where you nose from. A mistake I hopefully won’t do again.
My ranking of these rums was as follows. I’ve prefered the Hampden 2010 over the 1992. Next best and still very good was the Bellevue while all of them have beaten the Darsa and the Epris, in that order.