Thanks to a few bottle splits by Freddy I got a new bag of Savannas, including a traditional rum, an agricole, two unaged Grand Arômes (High Ester) and a HERR that has been bottled exclusively for Japan’s Shinanoya Tokyo & Bar Lamp. While Grand Arômes are always of great interest to us, the former two have a few tricks upon their sleeves as well. The traditional Intense has been finished in the cask of the HERR (High Ester Rum Réunion) while the Créol (Agricole) was aged in ex-Cognac casks before receiving a finish in former Calvados casks. Definitely interesting! For a refresher on Savanna, let me refer you to what would now be Part I of this cross-tasting and the information I have compiled in this overview on rum from La Réunion. Before I forget, this tasting has not been done blindly.
Savanna Intense HERR Finish 2006 10YO (50,8%): What should I say? Just from nosing, this is very evidently a curbed version of the HERR. The cask was still very active and enriched the rum with all of the aromas we’ve found in the HERR, namely foul and rotting strawberries and Wick Blau ice candies. On top of that there’s a minty, menthol-like touch. “Intense” really is the name of the game here. The first sip still has pretty much the same notes we’ve found in the nose but now we also get a better idea of the actual distillate’s profile. It’s mostly dominated by different spices and dark stone fruits such as plums but it is indeed rather difficult to “look behind” the very dominant finish. I like it a lot and basically would describe it as a more drinkable HERR. The finish is nowhere near as long and challenging as the HERR’s but doesn’t leave much to be desired. The flavours such as mint, eucalyptus and toothpaste are all there. Well done, Savanna! (86/100)
Savanna Créol Calvados Finish 2007 9YO (61,4%): As stated above, before being finished in casks that previously contained Calvados, this has been ageing in ex-Cognac casks but this is pretty much the standard for Savanna as far as I can tell. On top of that, it is not very common to get Agrcioles with an abv >60% vol. In the glass, the rum is way less aromatic than from the sample bottle so I give it some time. Eventually the rum opens up and we indeed get Calvados par excellence. Somewhat surprisingly, blindly I would have called pears rather than apples. Then plenty of quince and unripe plums. Once again I feel set back to my parents’ garden and its fruits. Now sweet and ripe gooseberries and broken branches that freshly fell off the tree. Very nice! The taste is way sweeter than I expected and reminds me a bit of mixed fruit jam. After that, the full dose of Calvados. Bämm! Nevertheless, it supports the rhum rather than dominating it. This is how you finish your product, guys. I feel that many other producers and bottlers should take a leaf out of Savanna’s book. The aromas from the nose come and go, we have a very interesting and complex rhum that you can spend a lot of time with. The only ‘downside’, if you want, is that I don’t think I would ever have attributed this to Savanna, but maybe that is exactly what they intended. The finish is relatively short with more quince, apples and pears and it makes me want to take another sip. Once again, well done! J.M also has an agricole with a Calvados finish, maybe I should give it a try. (86/100)
Savanna Lontan “57” 2017 (57%): An unaged Grand Arôme with a very long fermentation period of 6 days, resulting in an ester concentration of 578,7 g/hlaa. Like the previous r(h)ums and almost all Savannas, it has been distilled in a Column Still (Colonne de Clivre). In the nose, it has a few similarities to Haiti’s Clairins. It is very aromatic with a very soft and floral profile. I get a mix of berries (mostly rasp- and gooseberries) and some notes from the compost heap. Tastewise it is a bit different. There are plenty of pears, just a few raspberries, and flavours of bitter green tea. The abv has been chosen adequately and is neither to strong nor to mild. This should make one hell of a Ti Punch or Daiquiri but can also easily be sipped straight. The finish is very mild, quite long but lacks a depth of flavour which would make this rum a great one. Nevertheless, I’d say it works very well overall but Savanna came up with a different animal for the freaks among us. (82/100)
Savanna HERR Blanc 57 2017 (57%): Ironically, at 423,4 g/hlaa this rum has a lower ester concentration than the Lontan 57, despite an even longer fermentation period of 11 days. The crucial difference though is that it has been distilled by an Alambic Pot Still. Right after pouring the rum it reveals striking parallels to the 10YO HERR. I am very happy to see that they are continuing what the have started more than ten years ago with a new batch. I am already looking forward to tasting an aged HERR from this vintage. The nose features overripe rather than foul strawberries with a mix of rotting bananas and strawberries in the background. The typical Wick Blau ice candy can also be found if you are actively looking for it. Nice! At the palate a few surprise await us. First, there is a pronounced smoky note! I surely didn’t expect that. Then compost heap, foul fruits and old coffee dregs. Wow! It really messes with your senses but it is just soo good. Pointing out more flavours is futile as this is a rum that works only through your individual associations and imagination. For me, the finish has more coffee dregs and compost heap and they seemingly don’t want to leave us. Magnificent! (84/100)
Savanna HERR 2006 11YO (Japan Exclusive) (63,2%): The nose is already quite different from that of the Savanna HERR 2006 10YO. While it is unmistakably a HERR, it is more earthy, less fruity (not so as many foul strawberries) and weaker on the ‘fresher’, minty notes than the 10YO. Besides that, I get plenty of ripe papayas behind a slightly smoky wall of iodine and phenol, perhaps also sulphate. It’s good but the 10YO clearly has the edge in the nose. At the palate I now encounter the Wick Blau ice candies, spearmint bubblegum, foul strawberries and tomatoes as well as a few slightly earthy and mineral notes. It’s a little less intense than the 10YO but the differences are rather marginal. Here and there we can find the odd exotic spice (anise) but they cannot assert themselves against the other, more dominant flavours. The finish is, who could have guessed, incredibly long and more or less exactly like you get it after finishing your ice candy. All in all, it’s really, really good but the 10YO is just a wee bit better in all categories. It might sound ridiculous but the 11YO is relatively more easy to drink – and that’s not what we are after when having a HERR. (88/100)