Today we taste four Monymusk from 2003. We’ve already encountered two bottlings from this batch before, one of which was the excellent Moon Import “I Pappagalli” Monymusk 2003 13YO. Even at a drinking strength of 45% it easily beats most other Monymusk I know. All in all I think we can say that the 2003 Monymusk batch is way less aggressive than 2007 for instance, which was a lot more extreme in many regards. I’ve already reviewed the very youthful L’Esprit Monymusk 2007 9YO but I don’t think I did a particularly good job at pointing out the differences between the vintages. I guess I will have to follow-up with a 2007 cross-tasting shortly but as it stands, 2003 is probably more easy-going and relatively more elegant, whereas 2007 is rather impetuous and wild. Just one more note before we start: The tasting has not been done semi-blindly this time since the differences in colour (I am really thinking about getting dark nosing glasses) and abv are just too high. It wouldn’t have been a big deal figuring out which rum is which bottling.
Kill Devil Monymusk 2003 12YO (46%): Right after pouring todays rums their fragrances fill the entire room. I get a mix of exotic fruits (pineapple, papaya), intense citrus notes and sour pears. After a lot of time in the glass more herbal notes start to develop, never make it out of the background though. I am not sure if it was the dilution or simply an inactive cask but we do not get much from the latter. I do like the general character though. Palate: Oh yes, now we can really notice the dilution. The mouthfeel is quite watery and I feel as if something is missing here. After all, where missing about 25% relative to the rum’s original cask strength. The aromas from the mouth map one-to-one to the flavours I recognise at the palate and the citrus fruits are quite dominant again, as is the (sour!) pineapple. Then the herbal notes and now also some of the typical elements from the cask (sucked out vanilla bean, anise). Going back to the nose, I still cannot find them however. The finish is short to medium long with some oak and herbs as well as fresh citrus fruits. It’s an okay rum but given better alternatives (at higher abvs) I cannot really recommend this one. (76/100)
Duncan Taylor Monymusk 2003 10YO (53,5%): We’ve already reviewed a sister bottling by Duncan Taylor, which was quite nice. The extra abv compared to the Kill Devil makes a real difference here as the texture in the nose is fuller and creamier already. I get the same set of tropical fruits but the citrus notes are not as pronounced. Instead, we get more oak and hints of spices (vanilla, anise), even though the rum is quite a bit younger. This trend continues at the palate (pineapple, Haribo Goldbären) and the influence of the barrel (cinnamon, wood) is really the biggest plus here relative to the Kill Devil. Also the herbal flavours are more pronounced, at the expense of he citrus fruits (I was wondering whether we can tickle them out by adding a few additional drops of water but here they simply aren’t quite as present). The finish is medium long and fruity with some wood and pineapple. Compared to the Kill Devil, it is just a more balanced product with a better mouthfeel. Overall it is just another solid one though but I am quite positive that the session will get a lot better with the next two bottlings. (78/100)
Adelphi Monymusk 2003 14YO (58,8%): For me, Adelphi means Sherry finish. I only had one Adelphi before but that one also had a one. Nose: Oh, this one is nice! And it is rather atypical, being much closer to high ester Long Ponds I’d say. We get the butyric elements, warm butter, fresh resin and orange zest but also more herbal elements and black elder. Makes sure to give this rum quite some time to open up by the way, it really needs it imo. After about an hour it offers new nuances such as banana bread, american pancakes and rosehip. I wonder if it is going to be like this at the palate as well. Yes, pretty much. The typical Monymusk notes are really only noticeable when you know what you are looking for. Instead I get bitter fruits such as the orange zest, rosehip and black elder in the cloak of esters. On top of that again the herbal notes (lovage) and later also the black elder again. The mouthfeel is quite dry and relatively adstringent but never too thin. Finish: Again, dry and adstringent, lasting for quite some time. We get the orange zest and rosehip, paired with flavours from the cask. Wow. I didn’t expect such a great rum to be honest, but why shouldn’t we!? I love it. I’d say this easily beats the vast majority of the recent Monymusk and Long Pond releases. Well done, Adelphi! (88/100)
The Rum Cask Monymusk 2003 14YO (60,7%): When there’s Jamaica, we can almost be sure that there’s The Rum Cask as well. They really became the kings of bottling Jamaican rum. After lifting the aroma lid we get faint notes of butyrat, lots of sour and ripe apples, some of which have been dipped in candyfloss, as well as pears and a mix of spices, mostly vanilla. The profile is quite similar to that of the Duncan Taylor but it here it works a lot better. It’s way fuller, smells creamier and isn’t even slightly alcoholic. The creaminess continues at the palate and provides the basis for notes of mixed apples, sour pineapple, vanilla pudding, butyrate, slightly grassy flavours and in the background more of the spices. The mouthfeel is very nice but the flavour profile cannot quite keep up with the Adelphi. It is a good Monymusk nevertheless! It’s probably on a very similar level as the Moon Import “I Pappagalli” Monymusk 2003 13YO, even though that one only had 45%. Finish: medium long with spices and oak. Here and there also unripe fruits. Definitely the least interesting part of the rum but that’s fine. Good stuff but not even on the same planet as the Adelphi. (84/100)
We have two winners and two losers. The Kill Devil and Duncan Taylor bottlings weren’t really interesting or particularly good I think. Other Monymusks from 2003 were simply that much better. The The Rum Cask for instance, which has almost everything I am looking for in these rums. On the other hand, it means quite a lot if even a heavily diluted rum might actually be better. The Apelphi on the other hand is just the nuts. This is a prime example on how to do fortified wine finishes with medium-aged spirits. I might have to stock up on it…
The featured image on this page has been kindly provided by Matt Pietrek.