The Secret Treasures St. Lucia 9YO: John Dore vs Vendome

When I started this blog about two years ago I’ve contemplated combining rum reviews with my views on economics (and politics perhaps), but quickly dismissed the idea because, well… I figured who would give a ****. My next idea was to combine it with music but in the end decided not to pursue this path since my taste in music is rather extreme. Now we shall give it another shot, with some more ‘moderate’ tunes than you’d typically find in my CD-player (yeah, I still use those). You can now find an embedded song at the end of the review. If you like it, listen to it along while reading, otherwise just disregard it. Well, we will see how it goes.

The Bottlings

This is a particularly interesting pair of rums. Both have the same age, almost the same abv (55% for the John Dore versus 53% for the Vendome), more than likely have been distilled in the same year (and possibly even come from the same batch of fermentations) and otherwise differ only by the still that produced them. One of them comes from a 2000l Vendome pot still which has been installed in 2003 and the other from a John Dore pot still. Now St. Lucia Distillers have two different John Dores with different capacities: a 1500l and a 6000l one. Given that these two rums most likely have been distilled in 2005 (there have been quite a few 2005s but no rum from 2006, the only other possible vintage given the release year and the rums’ age), both stills are a possibility here (the smaller John Dore dates back to 1998, the larger one to 2004). Anyway, having both of these rums allows us to discern the differences in the profiles that the two types of stills produce, which is quite cool if you ask me.


Dégustation “The Secret Treasures St. Lucia 9YO: John Dore vs Vendome”

Colour and viscosity: Both resemble chestnut/ Oloroso Sherry. The viscosity is also quite similar. A crown of small pearls and medium-sized streaks that flow back down at different speeds for both of them. The rums are quite oily for their age.

Nose: Let’s start with the John Dore. I get exotics fruits such as pineapple or ripe banana, plenty of herbs and glue as well as a decent amount of spices. It’s the whole package. We might add vanilla, a whiff of citrus fruits, white tea and more glue. Yeah! It is not the most complex nose out there but an absolutely amazing one. This intensity at this abv is rarely ever matched.

At first I thought that the banana is a lot more pronounced with the Vendome but going back and forth between both rums shows that this is only marginally though. Relatively speaking, the herbs are a bit more tamed down here, the white tea is stronger and I get a few minimally mineral notes which I fail to detect in the John Dore. I must admit that I am already quite familiar with both rums but the differences aren’t quite as big as I remember; at least in the nose.

Palate: The John Dore opens up with a mix of banana milk shake, créme brûlèe, fresh sugar cane juice with mint and other herbs as well as a first sign of the spices. Over time, these start to play a more dominant role and I can call out quite a few of the spices that you can find in English curry blends. Nevertheless, the banana and herbs are still the main characters here, there’s no doubt. Compared to the Vendome, the alcohol is a bit less well-integrated but these are mostly nuances.

The Vendome is a bit fresher and driven more by the herbs than the John Dore. It is closer to medium dry white wines (Rivaner) if you want. Then something I’d associate with slate, a shift in the set of herbs towards more medical ones and the mineral associations again, which are ever so slightly reminiscent of Light Style Caroni. There’s quite a lot going on all of a sudden and it is hard to pin down exact notes since the rum is constantly changing. This is relatively common for the nose of some rums, but at the palate we rarely have that.

Finish: Medium long with notes of fresh herbs and banana as well as some oak. It’s exceedingly dry with lasting notes of spices.

The Vendome has a very similar finish, but all in all the notes feel a bit fresher and more mineral. It is not as dry.


Verdict

Two great rums which were a real bargain a few years ago. It is a real surprise that they’ve lasted for so long. A more well-known bottler probably would have sold them in less time at a higher price but I am glad that we still have the likes of these smaller bottlers who manage to offer such bang-for-buck rums. For me, the Vendome has a slight edge but I am glad to have stocked up on both.

Vendome: (89/100)
John Dore: (88/100)

Addendum: I completely forgot to introduce todays bottler “The Secret Treasures” by Haromex Development. I’ll add a few words when I get the time to do it.