In Guyana, all remaining rum stills have been consolidated at DDL’s Diamond Distillery at the beginning of the 21st century, making it the country’s only rum distillery today. Thus, when buying a rum from the Diamond Distillery that has been distilled after the final merger (i.e. starting in the year 2000), it is often times not clear which particular rum style can be attributed to a certain bottling. This may range anywhere from heavy, wooden pot still rum to light and delicate produce from a Savalle still for instance. Sure, sometimes bottlers state the exact still or mark but often times they do not. This is either because they do not have the information since it has never been provided by the broker or because they are not aware of the importance of it for the consumer. Usually we can be lucky to even receive whether it is a pot or column still rum but even if we know it’s column still for instance, a typical ‘Enmore’ would still taste quite differently from your standard ‘Uitvlugt’. In many cases, we hence have to find out ourselves by tasting the rums but even then it is sometimes difficult to call the exact still, let alone the style or mark of a rum. Let’s take the year 2003 as an example. What you will usually find on a label is “Diamond Distillery 2003”. Now 2003 has been featured very prominently by rums from the ‘Port Mourant (PM)’ double wooden pot still (see for example the Cadenhead’s Diamond Distillery “MPM” 2003 14YO) but we also got a few bottlings coming from the ‘Diamond’ metal Coffey still (e.g. the Our Rum & Spirits Guyana 2003 12YO), which will be the theme of todays tasting. Anyways, these two batches are extremely different and depending on your personal taste and preferences, you might want to get either the one or the other but the information on what is really in the bottle can be hard to come by. If you don’t have any of either the still, mark or distillation method, useful indicators can be the exact date of distillation (if provided) or even colour (!). It is incredibly rare for different batches to come from the same month or let alone day so if you have an explicit reference you may compare it to another bottlings. Examples of bottlers who follow this practice would be Duncan Taylor or Kill Devil. In the particular case of my example, Diamond Distillery 2003, you may notice that all Diamonds have been coloured (by DDL) whereas the PMs are not but then again, this is something that you have to know, either from experience or a source you trust.
If you are a rum nerd, you probably know all of this anyway. If not, I hope that this might be of help to you when making purchase decisions in the future ;). So on to the important stuff!
Liquid Sun Diamond 2003 10YO (51,4%): Liquid Sun is a relatively unknown Dutch Whisky bottler but from time to time they seem to be into rum as well. Nose: Lots of wood and spices. Walnuts and sticky maple syrup. I like the nose but all in all it’s very simple and minimalistic. Now also resin/ pine and fresh honey. Deeper in the glass I can find dusty furnite. There are almost no fruity elements here. Palate: The aromas translate pretty much exactly one to one to the palate. The rum is very wood-loaded with some spices and muscovado sugar in the back, without being really sweet. Then oily nuts (walnuts/ peanuts) and mushrooms perhaps. Again, I like it but I feel like I’ve had way better versions of the same rum before… Finish: Medium long with pine, wood and resin. Not too bad. It’s a solid rum, nothing less, nothing more. (77/100)
Kintra Diamond 2003 13YO (53,1%): In the nose we find maple syrup, walnuts, forest honey, old wood and mango. Later also dried apricots and raisins. There are incredibly many layers to the nose and it should be one of the best ’03 Diamonds so far. The palate opens up with gorp (dried apricots, raisins), maple syrup and fresh caramel. The rum is extremely similar to some old Sherries in a way. Wow! I always like these Diamonds but this should be one of if not the best in the post Velier Demerara era. Sweet and dry elements match just as well as fruity and woody notes. I don’t know why but despite the dilution this seems to be a huge step above the other rums of this batch. The finish is long, fruity and dry. Wood dipped in maple syrup and walnuts. This is really, really good stuff, despite the dilution and sets the bar as far as 2003 and also 2005 (see the Rum Nation Diamond 2005 11YO) Diamonds are concerned. (87/100)
Our Rum & Spirits Diamond 2003 13YO (63,7%): At first, notes of citrus and pommegranate remind me of Panamanian rums but then the maple syrup, wood, mango and walnuts make clear where this rum is from. Relative to the other barrels, this one is fruitier and more citrussy. Later coffee and other roasting aromas. The palate is again relatively heavy on the citrus notes. I then get a mix of pommegranate and mango, paired with drier, woody notes. Then gorp without the raisins. The rum gets exceedingly woody before it eventually shifts back to dry maple syrup/ forest honey. There’s this small note towards the end of a sip/ in the finish which annoys me a little bit. Too bitter walnuts perhaps!? The finish is dry, woody and long with the bitter walnuts. It’s a nice rum and I like the taste in particular. It is better than the Our Rum & Spirits Diamond 2003 12YO but not quite as good as the Kintra I’d say. (84/100)
I guess everything has been said. I like the vintage but I’d be careful to rank it too highly. It just cannot quite keep up with the older, tropical aged Diamonds or some other rum styles from Guyana. Nevertheless, I feel that every serious rum lover should at least have tried one of these rums. My ranking would be Kintra (with a huge gap) > Our Rum & Spirits 13YO > Our Rum & Spirits 12YO > Rum Nation 2005 11YO (if you want to include it) > Liquid Sun.