I am having two Skeldons in the closet. Okay, let’s start over. You’re probably aware of it when you are a frequent reader of the blog and thus tend to belong to the very tiny amount of people who are part of this small, nerdy subsection of the rum-scene but the “Skeldon” labled rums have not been distilled at the Skeldon Estate but much rather at the Diamond Distillery, where the old rum style has been emulated with their metal Blair column still.
Unlike the distillery, the Skeldon sugar estate, established in the middle of the 19th century, is still around. Their founders adopted the most modern labour saving practices then available and vacuum pans were installed already early in the estate’s development. Despite all of these achievements, the only Skeldon rums we’ve ever got outside of some at best average blends were two Velier bottlings, which are among the most expensively traded bottles these days. It seems that DDL is slowly but steadily understanding the hype around these bottlings and that there is a lot of money to be made. The only question is why it took them so long but I have high hopes that some kind of rethinking is currently going on at DDL.
El Dorado Skeldon “SWR” 2000 18YO (58,3%): This one is already really dark. 18 years in the tropics definitely leave their marks and as we are about to see, there aren’t many reasons to let them age for much longer than that. Viscosity: Fat streaks and thick pearls. Nose: Full, intense and rich. I get a mix of molasses and caramel, salted popcorn, quite some wood and tannins, walnut oil, bamboo sprouts and some other vegetal notes as well as antique, dusty furniture. This has to be a very mature distillate, perhaps even too mature but we will see, I mean taste… Palate: The rum is really mild and the only sharpness comes from a pronounced bitterness – the rum is really adstringent. Behind the initial wood and walnut oil we find savoury notes of thoroughly seasoned beef, plenty of tannins, orange zest and bitters (which might be typical for the ‘Diamond Still’), iodine, hints of grapefruit and wood lacquer perhaps. Later also dark chocolate and burnt coffee beans. This is all quite elegant but somehow I am missing a thing or two; maybe the wood has already taken over too much. Finish: Long and quite woody with notes of coffee and seasoning. I’ve had my difficulties scoring this as there are many things I like about this rum but on the other hand it feels slightly interchangable, lacking this certain characteristic note. A really good one nevertheless, mind you. RTN (87/100)
Velier Skeldon “SWR” 1973 32YO (60,5%): This is the second time that I am having this particular rum and let me tell you right away that I thought it was a bit better when I did have it for the first time (blindly back then). Now it is clear that 32 years in the tropics are extreme, in all senses of the imagination and I already know that we will experience exactly that. Colour: almost black. Viscosity: as oily as it gets. Nose: deep and rich but mild espresso, exotic fruits such as papaya, tobacco, leather, dried fruits, plums, wood (of course), slightly salty/ maritime notes in the background and towards the end quite some nuts, cashews mostly. The nose is just great I must say and only gives us an idea of what we are about to taste. Palate: Oh my woody bitterness! I get lots and lots of (too) strong espresso and coffee and basically only the barrel – there isn’t much left over of the distillate. Here and there some spices, walnut oil (a common component at least!), lots of tannins, foul grapes, but again, basically mostly wood. If the palate would deliver what the nose promises this might be a rum for the ages but in my humble opinion this should have been bottled much, much earlier. Finish: Almost infinite with a wall of cupboards, wood and tannins. It sure crossed its zenith many years ago. Legendary rum or not, I definitely prefer the younger El Dorado. RTN (84/100)