At first glance, the Le Gus’t Demerara 2002 14YO is just another diluted rum from Guyana. On closer examination, we learn that a very special cask has been used for its maturation. After all, rum with a rum cask finish is a real rarity, especially if the cask previously contained rum from the Caroni Distillery.
Le Gus’t is a French distributor of beer, wine and spirits, who, at least as far as rum is concerned, distribute some of the more uncommon brands, for example from Ecuador or Paraguay. Led by Philippe Markey, the family business established privileged links with many producers of (especially) wine an whiskies by visiting the producers and their production sites. Eventually they also started bottling their own selections, which, due to their good relations, allowed them to offer some high-class products. Of course this is easier for wine and whisky than for rum but apparently they were also successful in this market. After an Uitvlugt from 2007, which they accidentally found while they were looking for Whiskies in Scotland, the Demerara 2002 14YO is now their second rum bottling. When a chummy European importer went to DDL’s warehouses in Guyana to select a few barrels, he found one which had “Caroni” written on it, without any indication of the still however. It took about a year until Le Gus’t finally had the chance to taste this very special rum themselves but they were immediately excited and decided to bottle it. I guess that this barrel is part of Velier’s “Guyana Stock” of Caronis, which became available after several barrels have been poured together. DDL must then have filled it with some of their own make as an experiment. Consequently, the rum is fully tropically aged.
The rum is offered in two versions, one at 46% (300 bottles) and one at 61,6% (120 bottles). Both are diluted however, as the original strength of the rum was a lofty 67,8%. The higher proof version is the abv which they thought is optimal for this rum but it never went on sale. Probably they’ve just shared it with their friends and a few other selected people. Unfortunately I am not among them so we have to be content with the lower proof version.
Dégustation “Le Gus’t Demerara 2002 14YO”
Key facts: The rum has been distilled in 2002 by DDL in Guyana and put in a barrel which previously contained rum from the closed Caroni distillery. After 14 years of tropical ageing, it has been bottled at two different abvs, 46% and 61,6%.
Colour and viscosity: Burnished. The rum quickly flows back down and isn’t very oily. The dilution is very visible.
Nose: Caroni galore! Everything you need. Tar, roadworks and tires. Then perhaps even gasoline. It’s amazing how many of the Caroni aromas the cask added to the rum. It must have been a very good one! Blindly, there’s no way I would have placed this somewhere else than Caroni. Later also vanilla and burnt sugar, sweet oranges and lovely notes of vanilla, perhaps also a few herbs. Actually I wouldn’t attribute any of the scents to the actual distillate, which is very remarkable.
Palate: Again, the first thing I can think of is Caroni! There must have been some excellent stuff in this one. I can taste the typical Caroni aromas as described above, paired with sweet orange juice, and a mix of wild herbs. Then very pronounced chocolate notes. This must be the Demerara rum. I must say that this is a perfect symbiosis. This rum should come from one of the distillery’s column stills. At first I wanted to say Enmore but now I am strongly leaning towards the French Savalle-still. I really like this one and wonder what the high proof version must taste like. The dilution isn’t really annoying but the rum lacks the oilness and mouthfeel which the other version probably has.
Finish: Long and decidedly Caroni. First dirty with tar and inner tube, then fresh with mint and oral douche.
Almost a hundred bucks for a diluted 14 year old Demerara is not exactly chicken feed but the Le Gus’t Demerara 2002 14YO is a very good and special rum. A real rarity if you want. And it’s certainly better than most of the diluted Caronis out there (hello Bristol). There’s no doubt that I would have put this to Caroni blindly. Only the taste was a bit telling but even then, the nose was just too typical.
While everyone knows Islay and Sherry finishes/ ageing, I think we may just be scratching at the surface of what is possible with different types of barrels, even if these come from the same spirit, i.e. rum. I wish that more bottlers and producers start to experiment more with these kinds of things. Just think of what might be possible with Hampden finishes for example. Oh my.