Welcome back to Single Cask Rum. My abstinence continues but I thought I should come down handsomely and discuss another ‘legendary’ rum. I am talking about the Velier Albion “AN” 1983 25YO.
The Albion Estate was a sugar plantation along Guyana‘s Berbice river founded by William Innes. Dating back to 1802, they most likely started planting sugar in or just shortly after 1840, when Henry Light (probably the owner of the estate back then) wrote a letter to Lord John Russel stating that Albion will start production for the first time. A report from 1846 mentions “converted into sugar” in the context of Albion. Again, it seems very likely that it didn’t take them long to start distilling rum to make use of the accruing molasses. After several mergers and ownership changes, Albion Estate, like many others, ended up in the hands of the Booker Group in 1939. Today it is still producing sugar for GuySuCo. As explained in the review of the Velier Uitvlugt “Modified GS” 1996 18YO, the Uitvlugt Distillery took over the production of four other distilleries between 1960 and 1971 and Yesu Persaud, the former Chairman of DDL, confirmed that the Albion Distillery shut down for good in January 1968. So how can it be that we get an Albion distilled in 1983? Well, it is has probably been distilled by the original Albion Still or if not it at least imitates the original style of the rum. The mark “AN” might stand for Albion and Nigg, the plantation next to Albion Estate. It seems plausible that the two merged at some point in time. Interestingly, we can find this mark in a table containing all of DDL’s marks, where we learn that the Savalle Still (from Uitvlugt) is responsible for its production these days. Back then it was distilled by a Coffey Still and on the box of the rum we can even find the information of a Wooden Continuous Still. My guess is that this is not the Enmore Wooden Coffey Still since it is refered to differently in the table linked above. Nevertheless, Marco believes that the rum has been distilled by the Enmore Coffey Still since it apparently was the only wooden continuous still at that time. I am not too sure about it, after all there exists the possibility that the Uitvlugt Distillery for example had such a still available back then but we will probably never know for sure. Given the different ways in which the stills in Guyana could have been and still are set up, it won’t be easy to unequivocally figure it out in a tasting either.
Dégustation “Velier Albion 1983 25YO”
Key Facts: This single cask rum has been distilled in 1983 by a Wooden Continuous Still in Guyana. After 25 years, it has been bottled in January 2008 at 46,4%, which is supposed to be the full proof. Since 313 bottles have been produced, something is odd here. Either the cask was very large, several barrels have been poured together over time or a mistake has slipped in.
Colour and viscosity: Polished Mahogany. Thick pearls and equally thick streaks seem to stick to the rim of the glass forever. It’s incredibly oily.
Nose: I get a mix of sweet sugar, tobacco and even glue. Then clearly coconut and a whiff of wood and vanilla. It’s amazing how this rum is still this clean and ‘unwoody’ after 25 years in the tropics. Now also different spices such as cardamom and more vanilla, but also a freshly picked flower bouquet. I love it!
Palate: The palate immediately reminds me of the nose: There is (salty/ salted) coconut, sugar, vanilla but no tobacco. It’s very delicate. Flavours come and go as they please and it is quite hard to get hold of any particular associations. There’s a slightly medical note to it but also a spice here and there. At best I can name cloves. With subsequent sips the rum is getting more and more salty and now reminds me a lot of Katjes’ “Salzheringe” for those of you who know it (sweet, salted liquorice). I really cannot describe the profile much better but the balance between all these nuances works quite well. It kinda resembles some of the Single Grain Whiskys I have tried (Invergordon). What surprised me the most about this rum is how intense and full-bodied it is given that this is basically drinking strength.
Finish: The finish is again stronger on the spices, mostly cloves. Then medical notes and more wood than before. I’d say it’s rather long with plenty of salt later on.
Just imagine what a beast the Velier Albion 1983 25YO might have been at a higher abv! It is a great rum as it is but having tasted the Velier Albion 1994 17YO I am pretty sure that a bit more might have been possible here. Nevertheless, the salty coconut flavours and (I know I have said it numerous times already) knowing that we will probably never get this rum style again did it for me. At first I wanted to touch upon the price topic and reflect on the sense and nonsense of how much money this rum is changing ownership for but I came to the conclusion that it would be futile. Let me just say that I am happy for every connoisseur who decides to open his bottle and thanks to Flo for the sample.
Other impressions: Marco had it and his impressions are very much in accord with mine. Even our associations are very similar but he thinks it’s a bit too bitter, nevertheless seems to like it a bit more than I do.