Today we continue with my impressions from the second day of the Cologne Spirits. For the first day, click here.
Friday’s session was tough and I contemplated whether to go for a quick run or not. The bad conscience of breaking Lent had to fight a (very mild) headache and the sudden snow. Surprise, surprise, it didn’t win the fight. Back at the fair it was time for more from Rene’s rarities. We already noticed the Velier Albion 1986 25YO on the previous day but that one didn’t have a price so that we couldn’t try it (and thought it is going to be way above our budgets anyway). Now it still didn’t have a price so it had to be for free (remember!?)… Anyway, this was just one of the bottles we’ve opened. Others include the absolutely magnificent Cadenhead’s Gardel 1982 20YO and an old flagon which supposedly dates back to 1954 (see featured image). Another wonderful drop! I also remember tasting another Murray McDavid Demerara (Versailles 1990) but that must have been more or less it. We then met Samual Pitarch from Savanna who had two samples of potential future releases. It was a joy talking to him and to see how passionate the people at Savanna are about rum. They are one of the very few rum distilleries to understand the needs of us rum nerds and I hope that they will finally get the recognition they deserve!
Simon’s had a special bottling for the fair, a very young rum from a port cask. It wasn’t bad but the cask completely dominated the character of the distillate, which didn’t make it too interesting for me but I can see why the “non-freaks” may like it. We then met Worthy Park‘s Alex Kong and Velier‘s Seale Jr who gave plenty of inside information on topics that were of interest to us. Alex justified Worthy Park’s move to force independent bottlers to remove the distillery’s name from their bottlings while Mr Seale elaborated on what they are doing against rum investors etc. If I understood this correctly, he is unfortunately the only one at the company who really tries to tackle the problem. Foursquare’s subscription list was a nice start but by no means an ideal solution. I am definitely looking forward to what can be done here!
Worthy Park was represented by 1423 World Class Spirits, who also brought their S.B.S single cask selections. The absolute highlight, and perhaps even my favorite rum of the entire fair was the S.B.S Port Mourant 1998 19YO, which got to age in a former Oloroso Sherry cask. I will definitely write a review about this one! They also had Foursquare from 2008 that has been finished in a Marsala cask. I must say that I liked it way more than the Destino for instance. Next we tried Worthy Parks new official bottling at 45% and even though I knew it already I should say how happy I am about another distillery just getting it right. Way to go! They also brought some molasses from Worthy Park and it was way nicer than the molasses I know. It’s character was also slightly different which again made me wonder why people keep claiming that there is absolutely no terroir in molasses. There just has to be something in the raw material that is responsible for differences in taste. Joshua from
1423 World Class Spirits/ S.B.S is an absolutely amazing guy by the way who explained their selection processes and how they are dependent on selling sweetened rums to pay the bills. As it seems, the two-pronged approach of having punches and rum will only continue for quite some time. There’s also a positive aspect to that though: fewer people actually drink the good stuff… Thanks to Alex and Joshua we also got to try a few exclusive, yet unreleased Worthy Parks which they all of a sudden pulled from under the table. Among them was a good 4YO from a Madeira cask and an even better 12YO. The best of the bunch must have been the ‘Gunpowder Proof Dark Rum’, an unaged, heavily coloured rum at 54,5%. I forgot about the details but this should be one heck of a release for both, drinking and mixing.
Meanwhile, Marcus, the organizer, was strolling around and poured some 50 year old (Solera of course ;)) Sherry. Great stuff which we’ve dubbed liquid gorp. We got a few more drams here and there but there was nothing among them that is worth talking about I’d say.
For us, the day ended with a visit and drinks at Ona Mor (Seiberts, Spirits and Little Link were too full already), where we met Seale Jr and Alex Kong again. Sometimes even megapolis’ can feel like small places. Back at home, I had to take another nose of the Albion 1986 25YO. Oh my…
All in all, it was a great fair, especially if you keep in mind that this was the first time they have organised it. Everything from entry to the cloakroom and the booths was seemingly flawless. It could have used a better handling of the allocated tasting coins as well as a few more agricoles (Marcus told me that he got a few cancellations just a few days before the fair) but I guess that seeing how successful the event was, we will be seeing a few more next time. For me, the best part was its role as an ‘alumni reunion’ though. Next up should be Berlin I guess. Finally, thanks a lot, Marcus, we are all looking forward to coming back next year!
Other impressions: In the meantime, Flo from BAT also put together an article. Needless to say, it is more or less simply a German version of what I have written.