The Selected Cask Community (SCC) is a monthly rum subscription by the self titled “sensorisches Wunderkind” (sensoric prodigy) Nicolas Kröger. Sorry, I just had to mock that ;). But who cares as long as his selections live up to what’s advertised. With this subscription we get a 10cl sample of one absolutely unadulterated rum per month, which is then also available for purchase. The only thing they do is to filter the rum through a cloth. Also, there are no proper labels, hence you won’t find the usual images next to the descriptions here. And before I forget, the have the nice slogan “No bullshit” and if you want to subscirbe it says “Yes, I want the most amazing rum”. Some marketing, and perhaps some bullshit after all but we will see. All in all I think this is a nice concept, it is just that we were, mildly put, very sceptical of the rums’ qualities. Hence we decided to split the samples with multiple persons. What do you have to lose, right!? And if one of the rums really kicks ass, there’s still the option to buy a large sample (Note to self: I really should have tried these rums earlier). If you want to learn more, click here.
Since all rums were bottled in 2018, you can easily calculate backwards to find out the vintages. Unfortunately these information have not been provided (why??) and there’s always some ambiguity. The first violation of the “no bullshit” rule. You will see that most of the rums are quite young and have been ageing at least partly in rather uncommon barrels. Usually this screams below average distillate but it can also make for a very interesting rum!
What follows are the rums from January to June 2018 in chronological order.
SCC Compania Licorera de Nicaragua 6YO (3y ex-Bourbon, 3y ex-Sherry, 50,2%): If written quite extensively about the Compania Licorera de Nicaragua and the labour conditions in the country here, but let’s just focus on the product. The nose is quite sweet and nutty with a few medical notes here and there. The smokiness is rather subtle and is accompanied by (medical) herbs. The finish has influenced the rum noticeably by adding black and red currants. At the palate these berries transform into ripe gooseberries, which are actually really dominant. The mouthfeel is very syrupy and the rum is sweeter than you’d expect after nosing. Now some of the herbs again. While I wouldn’t say the rum is better than those I’ve reviewed in the article linked just above, the profile is way more to my liking. The ageing in the ex-Sherry cask really upgraded the rum I must say. The finish is short and herbal with more gooseberries. I am pleasantly surprised! At the right price I would certainly stock up, it would be the perfect rum to bring to a barbecue. (78/100)
SCC Jamaica (Hampden & Monymusk) 6YO (First fill ex-Sherry, 56,7%): On paper this one sounds very interesting! And the colour of this, oh my. After just 6 years that very promising. I can smell quince, guava, citrus, but not a whole lot I would usually associate with these distilleries. Similarly, I don’t get many of the ‘typical’ Sherry notes. Weird. At the palate we get a hint of Hampden with grilled pineapples and nail polish remover. Unfortunately these associations fly away way too quickly. The rum is now drier and quite adstringent. Once more, I get notes of dark and red berries such as unripe raspberries or bramble but all in all the sherry is not present enough for my liking. Finally some leather with the fourth sip together with slightly minty notes. The finish is relatively long but not very flavourful. Well, this doesn’t work, at least not for me. Let’s just call it a failed experiment. (73/100)
SCC Barbados Foursquare 10YO (5y ex-Bourbon, 5y ex-Sauternes, 55,4%): This is unmistakably Foursquare and at least in the nose I probably would have mistaken the rum for an official bottling. I won’t judge whether that’s a good or bad sign but you can guess. The alcohol is very present, which it really shouldn’t be at 55%. I get the sweet wines, burnt butter, sweet olives and brine but all in all this is not to my liking. It just feels like I’ve already had better versions of the exact same rum before. At the palate is milder but still quite alcoholic (Maybe it is the heat so I decided to try it again at a later point and it was a wee bit better but maybe that’s just my imagination). As far as notes are concerned, I am picking up sweet and salty brine, rasp- and strawberries, warm butter, some herbs and actually quite some flavours from the cask. The finish is still sweet and briny and of medium length. As I said, the main problem with this is that it is a rum as we’ve had it time and time again. If your overarching theme is to experiment with different types of barrels, why not do something else entirely!? (70/100)
SCC Guyana Diamond Distillery 5YO (Single Malt Whisky Cask, 62,9%): An alcoholic weirdo. Knowing what is inside the glass, I get Whisky, Rum and alcoholic aromas at equal shares. Judged by the nose I’d say Port Mourant but that’s not much more than pure guessing – the alcohol is just too present to transfer any of the more aromatic scents. I’ll give it some time and then maybe even a few drops of water. After about half an hour it starts to open up and blindly I would have called this a Whisky based on the nose. It’s full of grain, barley and oaty notes. Behind that spices from the distillate and sulphates, probably from the barrel. At the palate lots of chocolate and nougat. It is still very oaty and has more characteristics of the Whisky than of the rum. It is not unlike some Nine Leaves’ I have tasted but I don’t like this rum here at all. The worst one so far. The finish is short with the chocolate and oat mix. D’uh. (63/100)
SCC Trinidad Angostura 10YO (4y ex-Bourbon, 6y ex-Sherry, 59,1%): At first glance, this sounds quite promising. In the nose we can find many of the typical Sherry notes such as raisins and other dried fruits, some gorp, plums, fat milk chocolate and only behind that some of the actual distillate. I get hints of candle wax, minerals but not much more but who cares, the Sherry character is quite nice. Palate: Subtly sweet with lots of Sherry. Dark cherries, chocolate and mild coffee, plums, leather and tobacco, a wee bit of the wax/ mineral combination. Yup, that works for me. The Sherry cask maturation definitely improved the rum. Finish: Sherry and more sherry for quite some time. Here and there some mineral notes but not too many. I must say that this rum really reminds me of some of the prominent Whiskies with Sherry cask maturation and it doesn’t have to hide behind them. Sure, there isn’t much left over of the distillate but I can live with that here. Easy sipping is not a bad thing but some more character also never hurts. (83/100)
SCC Belize Travellers Distillery 9YO (4y ex-Bourbon, 5y German Oak (red wine), 73,7%): At least on paper, this sounds great. I do like Belize, don’t mind their young age too much and the high abv and wine cask maturation has some potential. Nose: I’d say this is a good mix of the typical Travellers profile and the wine cask. The alcohol burns a bit but yeah, you’ve got to live with that. Then tobacco, fir cone and pine, leather, a mix of red berries, dark cherries, bark and some chocolate. Let’s just hope this is sippable. Somewhat to my surprise, it is. It’s sharp, yes, but again, no more so than you’d expect. However, my taste buds are a bit overwhelmed by the alcohol and I don’t get much more than dark chocolate, cherries, fir cone, peanuts and some herbs. Adding a few drops of water doesn’t reveal much more however and while it’s a good rum, I was hoping for an even bigger influence from the barrel. The finish is rather short with some roasting flavours (peanuts, coffee) and very briefly also slightly bitter notes. (80/100)
I am kinda starting to gain an appreciation for some of the Nicaraguan rums out there (the independent bottlings that is) and this rather young, Sherry-heavy bottling was a pleasant surprise. The next triplet was somewhere between below average and terrible and I was starting to fear the worst. Fortunately they managed to turn the corner with the May and June bottlings and I hope they continued this trend. More on this next time.