The rum market has been flooded with Worthy Parks by independent bottlers lately. Once more this revealed a relatively well-known pattern: The best casks tend to be bottled first, while the rest is held back for further ageing. Moreover, the great maturities and successes of a couple of relatively young, though at least partially tropically aged Worthy Parks has spawned a bunch of imitators, with mixed results. Then again, there are perhaps enough exceptions to make the previous lines look silly! But let’s see…
Let’s start with an odd and a young one.
Eifel Rum “Vintage Pot Still” 2005 10YO (49%): Eifel Rum is a very young german bottler that is bottling all kinds of spirits (Eifel Whisky, Eifel Roggen etc.). This is a single cask rum that has been finished in a “Bordeaux Barrique cask with new grounds made of german oak and new, strong toasting”. Aha. At least we now know where the money goes. The “follow-up” to this rum, the Eifel Rum ‘Melaza’, is a blend of rums from Trinidad, Guyana and Jamaica by the way. I haven’t tried it so far. Nose: What is this? Definitely not your typical Worthy Park. The banana is there, as is something very odd. This has not been sugared so I’d blame it on the wine. Let’s not waste too much time with it. Palate: Plenty of alcohol and flamed banana, peppercorns, some gasoline and again a weird component. Yep, it’s the wine. Since I am not really a fan of wine finishes this will get a pass. I know people who didn’t think it’s that bad. I do. 2005 had a few nice Worthy Parks but this is certainly not among them. Finish: Spicy, kerosene and some cask aromas. Let’s just move on… (72/100)
Transcontinental Rum Line Worthy Park 2013 Navy Strength (57%): I’ve written a short article on TCRL here. According to the label, this one has spent <2 years in the tropics and >2 years in continental weather. Nose: I immediately get the banana and a bit of fuel. I must say that I can find the fuel in quite a few Worthy Parks of deficient maturity, which seems to have little correlation with age in Worthy Parks. There’s also a floral and grassy agricole-like touch to it. Again, the nose isn’t very promising. Palate: Not very balanced, poorly integrated alcohol, banana, young and delicate herbs such as thyme and spicy ginger. It’s a lot better than the nose, but for my palate this is too raw. The finish is slightly spicy with the typical herbal character. I wouldn’t necessarily blame TCRL for this but rather the rum market and the availability of good casks in general. Still, I surely would not have released this one. At least not at this immaturity. But who am I to judge!? (78/100)
Getting more mature we have…
Ultimatum Worthy Park 2006 10YO (46%): Reducing their rums down to 46%, Ultimatum is able to offer rums from established and upcoming distilleries at very low prices. At face value, they outcompete the likes of Mezan, who have been among the major players in this segment, but let’s see whether their cask selection can keep up with their contenders. They are definitely already ahead in terms of providing the consumer with information. Well done! Nose: Interestingly, the banana, even though present, is not nearly as dominant as in most other Worthy Parks. The profile is rather herbal in fact, with more than a handful of esters. Then grain, apples and aromas as they can also be found in many Speyside whiskies. Palate: Again, just some banana and instead plenty of herbs. Also hay, banana bread and fruitcake. With the second sip I can also sense a mild pepperiness stemming from freshly chopped peppercorns. Finish: Short and quite forgettable with an almost unpleasant mix of bananas and herbs. A decent rum for everybody’s budget. Worthy Park also works at drinking strength and you might give this as shot if you typically avoided Worthy Park due to its strong banana flavour. At this price you cannot go wrong! (80/100)
Kintra Worthy Park 2006 10YO (61,8%): Kintra is another new bottler on the increasingly populated rum market. Coming from the Netherlands, it can look back on about seven years in bottling whisky. Recently, they’ve acquired their own distillery to produce gin, genever and whisky. I’ll keep my eyes open. I think this one needs some time to breathe. Eventually I can smell dried mangos, banana chips, citrus, fresh oak and delicate herbs. The alcohol is tickling a bit in the nose but that’s no coincidence at almost 62%. At the palate, its relatively mild for its abv and the relatively young age. Interestingly, there is not as much banana in this one as in most other Worthy Parks, which seems to be a common feature of this vintage. Instead I can find citrus fruits, pineapple, rosemary, gasoline, and some oak. With the second and the third sip I get more and more banana flavours as well as dried fruits. Perhaps also some tropical fruit mix gelee. The finish is quite long with banana chips and a couple of spices such as cinnamon. After some time the dried fruits make a reappearance. This is a decent expression at a decent price. Nothing less, nothing more. It’s one of many rums in the large field of good Worthy Parks. (80/100)
Cadenhead’s Worthy Park 2005 11YO (57,9%): Another more recent release but distilled in the year of the reopening of the distillery. I get fresh and foul banana, vanilla, wet wood and small doses of glue. In the background I can further smell rotten mangos and old herbs, rosary perhaps. At the palate, the rum is milder than expected. A mix of fresh bananas, exotic spices and crème brûlée awaits. The alcohol is only really present when “pulling” the rum across your tongue. After some time, the rum switches to a more herbal and earthy profile, quite typical for a Jamaican. The finish is of medium length, with spices (cinnamon), banana flavours and leather. It’s not too bad, but it doesn’t really knock my socks off. I’d say this one places itself somewhere in the lower half of the 2005 ranking. (79/100)
The Rum Cask Worthy Park 2005 9YO (57,9%): The Rum Cask also has a Worthy Park from 2005 with 57,9% but their rum is two years younger than the Cadenhead’s. I think it was this rum that ultimately put Worthy Park on my radar. Nose: All possible sorts of banana that you can imagine, wine gum, vanilla and crème brulée, oak, mint-like alcohol and plenty of different herbs. The “attack” is quite smooth. The initial burst of alcohol quickly transforms into pleasant notes of fresh bananas, crème brulée, milk chocolate, cinnamon and oak. Especially the chocolate is an interesting twist on the standard Worthy Park profile. Later the obligatory herbs. Once more, the finish seems appropriate, this time featuring quite a few herbs and not too many cask aromas. Even though this one is two years younger than the Cadenhead’s, it is much more balanced and flavourful. Easily the best one so far. (85/100)
S.B.S Worthy Park 2006 10YO (58,4%): After a great success I’ve decided it’s time for one more. S.B.S is the rum line of the Danish spirits bottler 1423 World Class Spirits. Starting with whiskey in 2008, they already bottled the first barrel of rum at the end of the same year. This should be the first of their releases that I get to try. Colour: Deep copper. An appropriate oiliness. Nose: The rum has a very herbal profile. Right after that I get flambéed banana, leather and perhaps diesel fuel. Taking a small sip, there are ripe bananas, soft mangos, a mix of herbs and spices such as vanilla and cinnamon. The rum has a relatively oily mouthfeel. Later more and more herbs. The finish is surprisingly long with plenty of herbs and cask aromas. It’s quite good. Until this one I was not really sure how to judge the 2006 Worthy Park vintage but I think this one gave me a better idea. I’d definitely rank this one a bit higher than the Kintra. I’ve already done a cross-tasting with the latest, tropically aged 2006 Worthy Park from Habitation Velier and I must say that the two are way closer than you might expect. But more on that another time. (86/100)
A pretty mediocre tasting that fortunately got better towards the end. Once more The Rum Cask has set the bar quite high and the S.B.S has been a very pleasant surprise. Both should make the top 5 of my Worthy Parks ranking. Moreover, I am now more hopeful that the 2006 vintage can produce great rums! Generally speaking, I think I prefer it to 2005, but there are exceptions of course. The Cadenhead’s definitely was not one of them and neither was the TCRL. But perhaps we are just too spoilt by some of the young, tropically aged rums.