I have written relatively extensively about St. Lucia but for some strange reason I have yet to introduce its island’s rums! Let’s start with the latest addition by an independent bottler (IB), the Velier St. Lucia 2010 7YO!
This rum is part of the “Khong” series, a selection of Velier bottlings which all come with labels designed by the Singaporian artist Warren Khong, who has already produced artworks for Whiskys of the Japanese Karuizawa distillery/ brand. What you probably don’t know is that I have a special connection with Singapore as I have been living and studying there for some time. I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of modern art so his name did not ring a bell but while browsing through his works I realised that I must have seen a few of his paintings and exhibits before. Anyways, the series is part of Velier’s 70th anniversary and also includes rums from Nine Leaves (Japan), Chamarel (Mauritius), Mount Gilboa (Barbados) and Hampden (Jamaica), among others. Given my weakness for St. Lucian rums and their rarity with IBs, this is probably the one that I was most curious about.
You don’t see it every day that an IB gets the opportunity to visit the distillery and select a special cask, especially not since distilleries typically want to keep the best casks for themselves. Velier already had this chance with, among others, the Guyanese Demerara Distillers Ltd (DDL), and now they had it once again. To that end, they’ve “sent” Ian Burrell, the global rum ambassador, to St. Lucia to select it for them. This rum is what he came up with so we ultimately get the chance to evaluate whether Ian is worthy of his title ;). I hope that some day I’ll be in a position where I can make such a selection but for now these are just dreams of the future…
Dégustation “Velier St. Lucia 2010 7YO”
Key Facts: This single cask rum has been distilled by St. Lucia Distillers’ John Dore 2 pot still (6000 litre volume) in 2010. After seven years in the tropics, it has been chosen by the global rum ambassador Ian Burrell and bottled at 58,6% by Velier in 2017.
Colour and viscosity: Chestnut/ Oloroso Sherry. A very thin crown forms inside the glass. The rum quickly flow back down in medium-sized streaks.
Nose: Notes of sugarcane, forest honey, fresh herbs and even glue slowly crawl out of my tasting glass after lifting the aroma lid, followed by oak, vanilla and exotic fruits. I perceive bananas and papayas. This is unmistakably St. Lucia, there’s absolutely no doubt about it. Then more and more banana and honey, a bit reminiscent of the typical Chinese desert you might know. Deeper in the glass I can also smell sweeter notes of marzipan. Then again the herbs. There’s fresh mint and rosemary. It’s so lovely, I could keep on sniffing this stuff all day long…
Palate: Most of the aromas directly translate to its corresponding flavours at the palate. While the alcohol gently makes its presence felt, mint, sugarcane, rosemary and the papayas create an explosion on my tongue. After that we also get the forest honey and bananas, as well as slightly creamy elements. The rum is extremely complex and the mouthfeel is almost surreal. At first it feels like you are battered by all of the flavours until they suddenly vanish and then reveal themselves in different combinations and interactions. Then more bananas, flambéed perhaps as I often find them in rums from Worthy Park. The flavours are very concentrated and intense. I love it!
Finish: Long, intense and fruity. The herbs and honey come and go, almost in tandem. The perfect finish to round off this beauty.
In a way the Velier St. Lucia 2010 7YO is a standard St. Lucian rum. Its aroma profile is very similar to that of some of my other favorite St. Lucians but it’s also distinct enough to warrant its existence. Especially the notes of bananas enrich the rum’s profile in a way which we haven’t had before from St. Lucia. At first I was inclined to say that this is probably the best rum we have got from St. Lucia ever but after a cross-tasting with four other rums from the two John Dore Pot Stills I am not sure whether I can still stick to that claim. While the 1999 and 2002 batches (both John Dore I) are somewhat similar in style and substitutes to some extent, I’d say that the other relatively well-known vintage (2005/06 which we’ve got from The Secret Treasures) is more of a complement and not really lacking in terms of quality. And there’s the Vendome Pot Still as well… It just wouldn’t do justice to the other rums as most of them are playing in the
Premier League Bundesliga anyways! Of course that doesn’t take away from the magnificence of this treasure. Now all we have to do is to hope that we will be getting more stuff like this in the future.
Long story short: It’s an absolutely wonderful rum. Ian definitely knows how to select his barrels. Kudos!
This time me and some of my friends are very grateful to Ludovic, who kindly split his bottle with the community.