Travellers Distillery (Belize)

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Travellers’ triple column still

Belize Travellers Distillery produces some of the better rums in the Spanish style if you ask me. I’ve already introduced the distillery and reviewed a few bottlings of the 2005 batch here, which were all very solid. I’d describe the typical profile of the distillery as rum’s version of Bourbon and if you’ve ever tried a rum from Travellers I think you know what I mean. Today we will taste two bottlings each from the 2006 and 2007 batches and compare them to yet another 2005 bottling. In a previous tastings I was quite sure that 2006 is a bit better than 2005 but we will give it another shot today. 2007 has been completely unknown to me so far. The tasting does not have been done blindly by the way.

bt05wb (2)Whiskybroker Travellers Liquors Distillery 2005 11YO (64,4%): The nose is quite typical but also slightly more sulphatic than I remember the other 2005s being. The alcohol is rather sharp but I get notes of sandalwood, olive oil and the characteristic pine cone. Other aromas include muscovado sugar and caramel. There’s a weakly fruity element in here as well, slightly reminiscent of black currants or brambleberries perhaps. Deeper in the glass also a whiff of applesauce. All in all it’s rather straightforward stuff. The first sip is quite spicy with pine cone, resin and sandalwood. Behind that some of the berries, vanilla and slightly sweeter notes like quality candy. The finish is rather dry and comes with pine cone and a few bitter elements such as walnuts from the cask. It’s another addition to the solid set of Travellers but I am quite positive that the other two vintages can up the ante. (78/100)

bt06trc (2)The Rum Cask Travellers Distillery 2006 11YO (63,2%): Yes, I was right – the 2006 batch is quite a bit better indeed. And this is already apparent in the nose. Compared to the 2005s this one is much fruitier, more ‘open’ and just nicer. The sandalwood is there but not quite as dominant. Then glue, applesauce, some spices (mostly cloves), a mix of dark berries and brown sugar. With this one, the alcohol isn’t as sharp. At the palate I get red, starchy apples, applesauce, sandalwood, resin and fresh tobacco perhaps. This might sound like a weird combination but I think it works. Finish: Rather short with applesauce and some of the typical cask elements. Not bad at all and as I said, quite a bit better than any bottling from 2005. (80/100)

bt06sbs (2)S.B.S Travellers Distillery 2006 11YO (64,7%): The nose is incredibly similar to the The Rum Cask with one crucial difference: the rum is incredibly mild and the alcohol is very well-integrated. Besides that, blindly I would have called this the same rum based on the nose alone. Hence I shall not repeat my associations here. I am looking for relative differences but the rums just are too similar. Perhaps it is a bit stronger on the glue but well, that’s really it. How about the flavours then!? Well, it’s a similar story. Again, the rum is milder than its direct competitor. Relatively speaking, the applesauce is placed much further in the background and the sandalwood, black currants, pine cones and spices are the most prominent associations. The tobacco can only be found in the finish, with is medium long and comes with a few additional spices which we couldn’t find before. All in all it is a more balanced and superior product compared to the previous two rums, even though these are mostly nuances. (81/100)

So let’s see where we can place these 2007s…

bt07ka (2)Kintra “The Travelling Man from Belize” (Travellers) 2007 9YO (66,4%): I just realise that both (i.e. all) 2007 bottlings come from Dutch bottlers. Oh my madness, Dutch friends! Nose: Right of the bat I am missing the glue but given more time in the glass it slowly starts to emerge, without ever becoming incredibly dominant however. I’d say it’s a bit of a combination of the 2005 and 2006 vintages with a fruit-intensity just in the middle of them. If it has the best of both worlds remains to be seen, however. After a while I get vanilla sugar, cake batter, olive oil and pine. It’s definitely on the sweeter side but so far I cannot find anything bad about it. Palate: Slightly sharp but given the high abv and the rather young age that was to be expected. Nevertheless, the rum is quite oily but it is not sweet at all – something you might have expected after nosing. My initial thoughts are black currants, unripe raspberries and different spices but that seems to be about it. Complexity is not the rum’s strength but it doesn’t have to be. With the fourth sip we might also add leather and some dried fruits. The finish is quite short with sweet berries. Perhaps the best part of the rum even. The rum doesn’t have to hide behind the 2005 bottlings but I wouldn’t really put it in the same category as the 2006s. Also, I think it needs a few more years or at this age an interesting finish maybe, who knows. But it is not bad at all! (79/100)

bt07td (2)The Duchess Travellers Distillery 2007 10YO (66,6%): Devilish! By the way, what is it with these ultra-tacky labels, my Dutch bros!? But we came for the rum, so whatevs. Unfortunately, the rum’s nose doesn’t want to give too much away. Sometimes alcohol just doesn’t seem to translate into aromas. I am thinking about adding a few drops of water actually. It seems to help at least a bit. I now get dark berries, some sulphatic aromas, powdered sugar and pine but this isn’t quite the same level of intensity we’re used to with Travellers. My first impression at the palate is red berries, which is a nice change from the predominantly black berries with the other Travellers. I’d say the few drops of water are really helpful at the palate as well. Comparing this to the ‘raw’ rum it becomes clear that we have tickled out a few new nuances. Sure, we get the pine, resin and spices in both versions but the diluted one just works a lot better overall. Then again more of the sweeter notes (raspberries!). The finish is a mix of sweet, woody and fruity elements and again works surprisingly well. To sum up, the nose is a disaster (well, figuratively) but with the dilution the palate is rather pleasant. I think you need to bring this down to at least 60-58% to enjoy it. Otherwise it is just a dull, one-dimensional rum. (77/100)


Verdict

The 2005 bottling by the Whiskybroker gave us pretty much what we expected but the reason to include this rum was mostly to have a benchmark against which we could evaluate the other rums. As I strongly suspected, the 2006 batch is a lot better than and here the S.B.S has a slight edge over the bottling by The Rum Cask. The 2007 bottlings borrow from both previous vintages but here I don’t feel like making a final statement yet. The Kintra was a bit too young/ immature to keep up with most other bottlings and the The Duchess was basically only interesting enough with quite a bit of water. We need to increase the sample size here but I am positive that we will get a few nice rums from that year as well.