We might do Port Mourant more than anything else and there are two straightforward reasons for this. Firstly, it is usually pretty good and secondly, I doubt there’s any other rum style that has been bottled more often than this. Let’s start with two rather young, low abv PMs from 2005 and see what we can find.
Mezan Port Mourant 2005 (40%): I believe this dates back to 2016 or 2017 so it should be about 11 years old, I am not exactly sure though. Nose: Uhh, water. I am afraid many of the nicer notes got lost here or at least the dilution has changed the aromas quite a bit. Green bananas, anise and sour fruits (not your typical citrus notes though). All in all it is rather fresh, so really different from the dry wood/ wet wooden ship’s plank Port Mourants we know. Also none of the more typical salty notes but rather faint toffee and random herbs perhaps. It’s not bad, only different, but it could be more intense for my liking. Palate: Initially I get the same impression as with the nose, namely flavoured water. Then lots of anise, some salt, wet wood now, the green bananas again and soursob perhaps. It started out quite week but is constantly growing with every additional sip. With the sird sip I also get pears, which are quite dominant now. I must say that the 40% aren’t a huge issue anymore right now and that this is not bad at all! Finish: Ok, here the low abv really makes its presence felt. It is short, forgettable with lasting impressions of oarchard and pear trees. Well… I’d say at this price you cannot go wrong. (79/100)
Compagnie des Indes Port Mourant 2005 12YO (45%): The nose is already slightly more alcoholic than the Mezan but still not really intense. After quite some time in the glass I smell a combination of green apples and citrus fruits, a wee bit of the charateristic anise, freshly cut fennel, coriander (leaves and seeds!) as well as soursob. The rum has more facets to it than the Mezan based on the nose alone and that trend seems to continue at the palate. Here I find wet wood, sour apples, sweet soursob, citrus fruits, fennel seeds, anise and even slightly grassy notes. I wouldn’t describe the rum as maritime but salt and somethink akin to seaweed can be found as well. The extra abv makes a huge difference here. Finish: Medium long, fruity and rather dry. I can mostly name soursob and the fennel/ anise combination. Solid but still too thin overall. (81/100)
Let’s see what else we can find and just go backwards in time.
Duncan Taylor Diamond Distillery 2003 10YO (54,4%): Young Port Mourants can be tricky. The two 2005s demonstrated many signs of immaturity and this is even younger. The higher abv might be helpful though. Nose: Really alcoholic and many connoisseurs might already be deterred. I smell quite some vanilla but this seems to come from the distillate, not the barrel as I get few of the other typical cask-aromas. Then an unripe mix of fruits (apples, papaya, green mangos), pepper, anise but not a lot more. On the plus side we have that the aromas are rather nice, the downside is that this is not enough and that the alcohol is too dominant. How about the palate then? The texture is really creamy and the rum has a pronounced smokyness to it, slightly reminiscent of BBQ or ash. Behind that we can find mango and banana as well as further spices such as anise or pepper and now even chamomile. Later also vanilla and wood, but once again I’d say this is mostly due to the distillate. I am a bit torn: On the one hand this is all rather nice, on the other not well balanced and still rather alcoholic. The finish is rather short with some alcoholic burn, chamomile and the spices. With 2003 evertyhing seems possible. This could have used a few additional years if you ask me. (81/100)
Auld Allicance/ Corman Collins (Samaroli) Port Mourant 2003 14YO (45%): A rather special bottling as this comes from Silvio Silvano’s private stock. It seems to be the final cask that he has decided do buy but unfortunately couldn’t bottle anymore (R.I.P. Silvano!). Somewhat to my surprise, I can find a lot of grapes, some pears and probably also ripe plums in the nose. Behind that delicate wet wood, anise, fennel and again the chamomille. Perhaps this might indeed be typical for this batch. Rather unusual I must say but really good. The palate is a bit drier, less fruity than the nose but overall still fruitier than most Port Mourants. In that sense it does go into the direction of the 2005s. Then more wood though and the full dose of spices, more or less exactly what we already found in the nose. Towards the end it is getting increasingly bitter, which makes for a nice and at least medium long finish. Here I get more of the bitter elements, oak, anise and fennel. Highly sippable and easy, relaxed drinking. The reduction is just fine but I am a sucker for cask strengths, what shall I do!? (83/100)
2002 then. I also found a Port Mourant with a wine finish from that year but let’s save this for some other time.
Duncan Taylor Diamond Distillery (Port Mourant) 2002 14YO (53,8%): Duncan Taylor seems to have them all, eh!? The nose is heavy, full and intense. I get scents of anise, dry cheese, macadamia nuts, brine, crème brûlée and decided herbal elements. Then more salty and slightly chocolaty notes but basically no fruity associations at all. The palate follows in a similar fashion, starting with anise, nuts, cayenne pepper, chilli, medical notes and nutty flavours. The rum is surprisingly spicy, but not in the alcoholic sense. All in all it is a very well-known, simple profile. The finish is medium long with spices and medical notes. A very typical, very average and almost interchangable Port Mourant, even though it is far from a characteristic textbook example of the iconic still. Yes, that does sound contradictory but if you’ve tried the rum you’ll know what I mean. (81/100)
Compagnie des Indes Port Mourant 2002 13YO (58%): And indeed, Compagnie des Indes is also featured with a second bottling. Nose: Fuller and more aromatic than the 14YO Duncan Taylor. Besides the apparently batch-characteristic notes of cayenne pepper, pepper and chilli I get quite some oak and vanilla (from the barrel this time), green apples, dry wood, a mix of nuts and deeper in the glass also cinnamon. No worries, anise is also in there. Let’s hope the palate can keep up. It’s still rather spicy with the associated aromas from the nose. I must say that I don’t really like this side of PM too much for some reason. Ship’s plank, spicy salt, green apples, greenery and ginger are other impressions I get. Finish: Somewhere between short and medium long with the spicy notes, spices and wood (both, distillate and barrel). I do seem to have my difficulties with the batch but I’d still place it a notch above the more immature expressions of some other batches. (82/100)
This is starting to become excessive but let’s finish with a pair from 1999, which was still produced at Uitvlugt Distillery, with possibly different fermentations.
A.D. Rattray Port Mourant 1999 10YO (46%): Yes ladies and gentlemen, 1999 should eat up all of the previous rums with ease! Nose: Full and mellow with quite some vanilla, oak and dry wood. Even at 10 years this doesn’t seem immature. It’s difficult to get hold of the fruity notes at first but after a while I can find a continental fruit basket. But before that a lot of toffee, crème brûlée, popcorn and salted caramel perhaps. Later a mixed bag of spices but nothing really sticks out in particular. Now also some earthy or vegetal notes. Palate: Rather thin and the reduction didn’t work quite as well as with Samaroli’s selection. We get a mix of the fruit basket (now way more dominant), spices and woody notes. None of the elements sticks out in particular as the rum is nicely balanced between all these nuances. For most of you that should be great, for me it could be a bit edgier but let’s not complain about that. Later more bitter notes akin to grapefruit or wood lacquer. The finish is rather short with the bitter notes (especially the lacquer), cardboard and spices. I just feel that there should be a bit more to the rum but more years in the cask probably wouldn’t have been it. (82/100)
El Dorado Port Mourant 1999 15YO (61,4%): Fully tropically aged, my friends. And extremely dark; I don’t know if it has been coloured though. Nose: Oha! Glue, and not too little. Then the full spectrum of spices: anise, fennel seeds (the small and big ones!), cardamom, cloves and coriander seeds, all of which are embedded in a mellow blanket of vanilla and oak. Behind that different berries (blue- and gooseberries, mostly) as well as warm blueberry cheesecake. Nice stuff without any signs of alcohol whatsoever. If the palate can keep up this time, we are in for a real treat. Call me crazy but the texture is a bit Caroni-esque. The pronounced wooden notes here inevitably make me think of old, tropically aged Caronis, even though the texture is obviously rather different. Now fruity notes in the form off papaya, overripe apples, gooseberries, grapefruit, many of the spices from the nose (but not the full set anymore) and again plenty of wood, most of which I attribute to the barrel this time. It’s really good stuff. Especially the nose is magical but maybe, just maybe, a year or two less would have resulted in an even better rum. Just saying. Still easily the best rum today. (86/100)
No matter what, PM is a sure indicator of quality. Unfortunately there was only one true gem among them this time, but also no disappointment. I recently learned that this is what branding and marketing is actually all about; not getting disappointed.