Montebello are the guys who store their barreled rhum in large steel containers in order to fasten the maturation process. Since all the fuss is about tropical ageing these days (well, not just these days), I wonder how we should call this!? Tropical ageing+, tropical ageing 2.0 or perhaps super ageing!? But it in the end all of this doesn’t matter if the quality of the rhums cannot keep up with these fancy techniques so let’s try a few expressions. The only aged rhum (their Blanc is pretty good by the way) from Montebello we’ve had was the Velier Basseterre Vieux 1997, which I really liked a lot. But now enough of the bla bla, on with the tasting!
Montebello 6YO (42%): Nose: Quite mild and herbal. Most obviously I get dill, but estragon, basil and thyme can be found as well. Behind that (dill-flavoured) marzipan (yup, rather weird indeed), cane juice and a very pleasant layer of oak. Now wild garlic and jasmin petals perhaps. It has the potential to be both, quite good and very weird so let’s take a sip. Palate: More dill and wild garlic but also mild and spicy oregano. Moreover I get spices oranges, jasmin-flavoured green tea, freshly cut grass, oak, hot ginger, gingerbread as well as unripe grain. Good juice! Finish: Slightly more bitter with oak, spicy ginger and basically all of the herbal components, which come and go. An extremely herbal rhum overall but still rather well-balanced at that. Sufficiently complex but easy enough to sip next to your meal or during a chat. (84/100)
Velier Basseterre (Montebello) Vieux 1995 (58,2%): The 1997 (see above) was one of the very first rhums, and the first agricole if I remember correctly, I’ve reviewed on this blog. This should be on a similar level from what I’ve heard. Nose: At first only vanilla but it quickly gives way to make place for wild honey, herbs (thyme, spicy oregano), very faintly and deeper in the glass also marzipan, tonka bean, dulce di leche and crème brûlée. Definitely Montebello but with interesting new nuances. Palate: Spicy ginger and spicy oregano are my first thoughts. Yes, it does have a rather spicy profile, at least in direct comparison. I am not talking about the alcohol by the way. Next I get wild honey, walnuts, vanilla, Stracciatella and zuppa inglese, wood and something that reminds me of chilli. The high abv is really nice but I’d say that it didn’t improve the rhum, or much rather that dilution doesn’t do much harm here. Finish: Medium long and spicy with wood, spicy notes (chilli, ginger) and the familiar set of herbs. I don’t have much more to say. Really good juice. (85/100)
Montebello 2000 14YO (50,6%): Very woody with the characteristic herbs but also caramel pudding/ crème brûlée, cardboard, cinnamon, dry marzipan, soft milk chocolate and some random Italian desert. I should have done this completely blindly since I’ve heard many bad things about this but I must say that at least the nose isn’t bad at all. Palate: Okay, I see where these voices are coming from but nevertheless, it isn’t awful. The notes of wood and cardboard are clearly too dominant and we lost much of what we are looking for in Montebello but… wait… I am starting to get it…. some old and woody rums that are entirely driven by the cask are, well, all identical but still somewhat elegant; this is not. I might name different sorts of wood (sandal, cedar, oak) but that’s it. For me it is a very forgettable rather than terrible rhum and I stick to my initial impression/ opinion. Eventually I get some more of the herbs and Italian desert mix but there should have been more of that I’d say. Finish: Long with different woods, vanilla and caramel. I think I my verdict is clear. (77/100)