It finally happened. DDL released two of the styles everyone and their mums have been waiting for since the company stopped giving Velier the exclusive right to bottle from their warehouse. Albion probably requires few introductory words and if the name doesn’t ring a bell just let me refer you to the Guyana country article or the review of the Velier Albion 1983 25YO, which came in at 91 points despite being perhaps the weakest rum of the bunch. Perhaps you now get an idea of why I am so excited.
El Dorado Albion 2004 14YO “AN” (60,1%): Let’s see if it can keep up with the “legends”. I’ve heard that about 2000 bottles have been produced but I am not sure how accurate this is. Nose: I’ve already tried this in the Blender’s glass a few days ago and it was much more alcoholic than it is now. In the Copita I don’t have any problems whatsoever. I get salt, salted caramel, iodine, plaster, slightly maritime notes, muscovado sugar, apricots, foul mango and papaya, cocoa and cinnamon. Really, really nice and it is only getting better with time. Palate: Albion! Yes! Orange zest meets salted coconut, rubber and caramel. Especially the salted coconut is really characteristic here. Then more salt, molasses, quality grain whisky and cocoa. The rum is bone dry, even slightly adstringent but manages to make the switch to intense fruity notes (bitter oranges, tangerine, apricot) every now and then. In direct comparison with the other rums you’ll notice that it is quite a bit less mature and more alcoholic, which is especially noticeable in the finish. Here you can find wooden sticks, charcoal, ash and salt. It great, but also a bit too sharp for my liking. At first I wanted to give the rum a slightly lower score since this tasting has demonstrated the rum’s (very minor!) deficiencies. That’s complaining about first world problems, really. Neverthless, I just love this style so much and the rum’s quality just cannot be denied. It’s an extremely delicate and flavourful rum and I am extremely happy that we finally got more of this style! (90/100)
Velier Albion 1994 17YO “AN” (60,4%): A small batch of four casks. Compared to the 2004 El Dorado, the nose is less salty and not as medical but a tad fruitier and bit more balanced overall. Glue, apricots, yellow plum, overripe banana, rubber, salted caramel flavoured chocolate (not as strong as with the El Dorado), cocoa, roasted peanuts and we could go on and on… What an awesome nose, really! Out of the four Albions I’ve had so far I’d say this is the most typical since it provides a good combination of the other rums. Palate: Holy moly, this is intense and simply magnificent. The rum is bitter, fruity, salty, clean yet slightly dirty at the same time; basically just as balanced as the nose. I get overripe, almost rotting fruits such as papaya, mango or apricot, salt and minimally maritime notes, some tar, iodine, medical herbs, caramel, molasses and once again, we could go on and on. There’s just that much to discover here. The rum is incredibly savoury with an almost beefy structure and the finish is simply excellent. Completely indecisive on what it wants to do. First we have wood and tannic notes, then intense fruit, next the salty and medical aromas only to switch to the dirty tar-like nuances eventually. A crazy good rum. (93/100)
Velier Albion 1986 24YO “AW” (60,9%): I am not exactly sure what the different mark might indicate here but this is a 24YO single cask fully aged in the tropics! Nose: Quite a bit different from the other two actually. Rather musty and dusty at first and it takes seemingly endless until it opens up. Antique furniture, dried fruits (apricot, yellow plum, cranberries), earthy and mineral elements, old scrap metal, granulated sugar, molasses/ beet syrup, caramel, coconut, just a wee bit iodine and fresh mint even. There’s also a slightly smoky note akin to burnt rubber (Caroni!?). Now intense, sweet, overripe fruit. Wow! If you ever get to try this one, make sure to give it a lot of time (two hours minimum!). Palate: Again, quite a bit different from the “AN”s. Foul, not too bitter grapefruit / bitter orange, salt, liquorice, tar, old car tyres, some scrap metals (yes, there’s quite some Caroni to this rum!), spices such as anise or fennel seeds, overripe papaya, popcorn, caramel and molasses. Later hints of cocoa/ coffee and cashews. The finish never ends and the combination of sweet liquorice, foul papaya, wood, Caroni and fennel seeds will stay with you for hours. The rum’s nose was probably the weakest of the bunch (relatively speaking) but the palate is just other-worldy. (95/100)
It was a tasting I was dying to do and it sure did not disappoint. This is what rum heaven must be like. The new El Dorado doesn’t quite reach the same level of excellence as the older Velier releases but it also doesn’t have to hide behind them. Without this cross-tasting I might have scored it a bit higher, even. All in all, I can only hope there’s more to come!
Concerning the other two rums, the 1994 is probably the most well-balanced Albion out there and should suit most palates but the 1986 is just a monstrosity of a rum, even though there are many aspects in the 1994 which might make it the better rum overall.