Last time we’ve had the thirty year old Rum Nation Jamaica (even though the average age is probably a bit older than that) and today we add a year to make it 31. However, these are 31 tropical years and I wonder how much rum, relative to the adulteration from the wood, has survived.
I don’t think many introductory words are needed here, neither on Velier, nor on their tropically aged, full proof Demeraras. Nevertheless, true ‘Diamonds’ are rare, and I am not aware of an older one than this, at least if we leave out blends such as the El Dorado 50YO. Alas, it is no surprise that Velier states an angel’s share of >94% – that’s absolutely incredible; and economically almost infeasible. We should be grateful that DDL and Velier enable this bottling nevertheless. Officially, this rum is a small batch bottling consisting of three barrels but the high angel’s share gives away that there must have been more originally. And indeed, 37(!) barrels have been poured together over time to produce this rum, which counts 810 bottles.
The stated mark, S<W>, looks somewhat familiar but I don’t know another rum with this combination. The ‘standard’, traditional Diamond mark SVW is similar and we can be pretty sure that the symbol ‘<>’ denotes a diamond. Most likely it is just a different way of putting SVW (rotate the V by 90°) or an incremental variation of the original mark. But once again we are probably putting more thought into this than we should.
Dégustation “Velier Diamond “S” 1981 31YO”
Key Facts: This vatting of three, originally 37 barrels, has been distilled at Guyana‘s Diamond Distillery in 1981 and bottled by Velier in 2012. After 31 years, 810 bottles at 60,1% have been left over. The stated mark is S<W>.
Colour and viscosity: Deep amber. A crown of thick streaks and tiny pearls. Medium sized streaks stick to the rim of the glass like glue, eventually forming a second crown beneath the first.
Nose: After letting the rum breath for about 90 minutes under an aroma lid, a mix of rather heavy caramel and tobacco as well as more fragile notes of exotic fruits (think rambutan or papaya) penetrate my nostrils. Then slightly vegetal notes (green tomatoes, sweet potatoes) and even a touch of glue. At least in the nose the rum is not excessively woody, rather graceful and noble, with further aromas of cinnamon and milk chocolate. I wouldn’t say that it is extremely complex or interesting but the maturity is apparent. It’s lovely stuff but somehow I am hoping for a bit more at the palate. Maybe my expectations were just too high.
Palate: The 60,1% are almost like drinking strength. The rum is at the same time smooth and sweet but also bitter and adstringent. After the initial caramel, coffee and molasses, naming further impressions and associations becomes more difficult. Peanuts, bitter kumquats, iodine, and a mix of spices are the most obvious candidates for me. While I wouldn’t say that the rum is too woody (well, there’s plenty of oak though), I am still wondering whether it might have been better at a younger age. Some of the bitter notes feel a bit misplaced and I have a feeling that we’ve lost quite a few of the more interesting fruity notes of the distillate over time.
Finish: Long and (too) bitter with roasting flavours (peanuts, coffee), tobacco and later even some herbs.
While I was hoping for more at the palate when nosing, the taste was rather a step down from the aromas I have been sniffing. The nose is solid, gentle and welcoming, the palate demonstrates the flaws that these long periods of tropical ageing can entail. Apparently, there seems to be a limit to what tropical ageing can do, eventually even reaching a point at which it becomes counterproductive, both in terms of quality and economic thinking. That makes the Velier Diamond 1981 31YO a good rum, but not one that should be put in the same category as some of the other, legendary full proof Demeraras by Velier if you ask me.