Diamond 2004 (Versailles)

This is a batch that has been released en masse lately. The very first release that I remember was the Whiskybroker 2004 12YO, where we already learned about the mark: “MDXC”. While I still don’t know what this is referring to, I am 99% sure that the last C indicated coloured, since we’ve got coloured and uncoloured versions from this batch and the uncoloured ones wear the mark “MDX”. Coloured here means coloured by DDL, in case you were wondering. Now “M” and “D” should refer to Main and Diamond, respectively, while the “X” should somehow reference the Versailles still. With that in mind, we know the (rather ancient) marque SXG, which might refer to Schoon Ord & Goed Fortuin, but that’s not much more than speculation. Here, the X doesn’t have much of a meaning anyway.
Now the first Whiskybroker release (there is also an inferior follow-up release, see below) was really good but subsequent rums were mostly letdowns. We’ve had this pair of TCRL releases for instance. What follows are all the remaining samples from this batch that I’ve found in my sample-box.

en04ulti (2)Ultimatum Guyana (Versailles) 2004 12YO (46%): The notes for this rum date back a bit and back then I wasn’t sure what the still of this is. Nose: Wooden still is pretty obvious here but for Versailles it’s too light, for Enmore it’s a bit too heavy and while I get some of the typical Versailles notes (pencil, prunes, herbs), everything else screams Enmore. Other associations would be Riesling, slate and quince. The nose isn’t too bad, and a lot better than that of the TCRL’s mentioned in the introduction for example. The palate cannot keep up with it once again, unfortunately. The flavours translate almost one-to-one but here the overall impression isn’t nearly as harmonious as it was in the nose. The first thing I get are the slightly sour, unripe fruits together with the (settled-down) Riesling. Later the Versailles-like notes such as wood and herbs (oregano!) but somehow I don’t care a lot about it. The finish is medium long with pears, pencil shavings and prunes. It’s not bad but it doesn’t leave any lasting impressions either. Maybe at a higher maturation!? We shall see but I really doubt it to be honest. thumb-60x60 (78/100)

en04ra (2)Rum Artesanal Diamond Distillery (Versailles) 2004 12YO (53,7%): A dark one, so “MDXC” and one that kinda sticks out. It’s very mentholy with plenty of herbs such as mint, sage, cola and also some lavender in the background. Nice! Behind that dark liquorice, salt and olive tapenade. It follows the standard profile, but sets very lovely nuances. Palate: Not as heavy on the herbs as the nose but they are still very present, especially the sage. Moreover I get muscovado sugar, tobacco, conifer and liquorice. This one isn’t too bad, really! Finish: Medium long with the herbs, wood and some sugar. A good rum and at the danger of repeating myself, I really like the twist this one provides. thumb-60x60 (83/100)

en04kdb (2)Kill Devil Diamond (Versailles) 2004 12YO (61,1%): It’s another pale one by the way but nevertheless it is some woody juice, like all of these rums. I get conifers, Turkish bread, sesame, falafel and flatbread. The named associations might sounds different but nevertheless it is rather typical, though slightly below the ‘median’ rum of the vintage as far as the nose is concerned. Palate: Again, very typical but absolutely nothing special. The alcohol isn’t integrated very well but the texture is quite thick at least. An unripe fruit mix joins the sesame and falafel-like aromas and the palate seems to be at least a bit better than the nose. Then different woods and random herbs as well as hints of citrus (grapefruit). Finish: Short and flat with wood and the citrus notes. If you like the style, you might give it a try, I’ll keep on looking for better ones. thumb-60x60 (76/100)

en04wb (2)Whiskybroker Diamond Distillery 2004 12YO “MDXC” (62,4%): This is quite close to the Berry Bros & Rudd (see below) or the first Whiskybroker release (not in terms of quality regarding the latter though!). The nose is strong on conifer and the woody notes (mahogany, new furniture) as well as dark caramel made from muscovado sugar but it has a rather strong alcoholic note as well. Aroma-wise it is rather nice but the poorly integrated alcohol really reduces the nosing experience. What a pity! Additional notes include dry tobacco and now more and more polished mahogany. This is something between elegant and boozy, really weird. Palate: Quite alcoholic, with conifer, fir cone, pepper and other spices, dry tobacco and wet wood. Most importantly, the alcohol is still way too prominent for my liking. Later some large Asian mushrooms, allspice and bitters. Finish: Quite long, slightly bitter and really dry with wood and burnt muscovado. Quite disappointing, especially since it apparently had the potential to be a lot better than this. Oh well… thumb-60x60 (79/100)

en04bbr (2)Berry Bros & Rudd Guyana (Versailles) 2004 13YO (62%): As mentioned above, this is very similar to the 62,4% Whiskybroker, ye a smoother, mellower version of that. The distillate is still pretty much driven by the wood but the alcohol is tamer, making the nose more enjoyable overall. Additional notes include wood chips, bark mulch, walnut oil, orange peel and sesame perhaps. Usually the nose has been okay with these rums and things started to go downhill with the palate. How about this one? Palate: Wood, conifer, spices, Tiramisu, dry tobacco, walnut oil and mocha are my first associations. The texture is thick and creamy and while the alcohol could be smoother we’ve had way worse. There’s this certain, slightly off spiciness though. Flavour-wise we might add dark caramel, vanilla and cinnamon-heavy spice tea. Solid but it also doesn’t really stick out. Finish: Rather long, dry and bitter with mocha, dark chocolate and orange peel. Well, at the end of the day these rums are becoming more and more similar. thumb-60x60 (79/100)

en04smws (2)SMWS R2.7 “Pleasing and teasing” (Versailles) 2004 13YO (63,4%): This is the only one that is neither pale nor dark, rather golden in colour. However, it is probably also the only one that didn’t mature in an ex-Bourbon cask as we’re having a 2nd fill French oak barrel here. Nose: Considerably heavier and a bit more intense than the other rums of the batch. The French oak really upgraded this one! I get tapenade, rich olives, parsley, falafel, conifer and even some glue. Very promising. Palate: Yes, this is a good one. French oak, French oak, those seem to be the keywords here. It’s crazy how certain types of barrels can totally lift otherwise average distillates into the “good” category! This is complex, elegant and rich, with certain similarities to good brandies. Once again I get glue-like notes, dark chocolate/ mocha, dried grapes, pepper, chillies… it’s quite spicy actually. Later faint herbs and spices but nothing I would want to pick out here in particular. Finish: Medium long with glue, red grapes and lots of wood. A nice one! The only downside is a certain sharpness. I doubt these rums can get a lot better than this, with the rare exceptions of course. thumb-60x60 (82/100)

en04trcw (2)The Rum Cask Diamond Distillery “White” “MDX” 2004 13YO (61,2%): Our companioned German bottler The Rum Cask also has two of these rums in their portfolio, an uncoloured and a coloured expression, this is the ‘pale’ one. Nose: Extremely shy and time doesn’t help much. Some wood from the distillate, cheap white bread, a seemingly random spice mix, stale and old black tea as well as sesame perhaps are my impressions here. I hope the palate is better than this, otherwise it would clearly be another miss. Palate: Much, much milder than I expected after this nose. It’s quite smooth and balanced actually, but still not great… Plenty of (different) wood(s), a pronounced sweetness (where does this come from!?), sugar and simple syrup as well as some quality fruit schnaps describe the flavour palate quite well. I must say it is growing a bit one me (natural sweetness, what more can you ask for!?). The finish is short, oaky and quite flat. Just when I thought it is getting better…. TRC, I expected more from you! So I was prepared to grade this extremely low after the nose, lifted it up because of the palate and made a small adjustmenet downwards because of the poor finish. thumb-60x60 (78/100)

en04trcb (2)The Rum Cask Diamond Distillery “Black” “MDXC” 2004 13YO (62,5%): This is a double cask maturation and while there was a Scotch and a Bourbon barrel involved I don’t know which, when and for how long (well, we could have found out but… you know the deal…). Nose: Oh yes, there is a certain smokiness to the nose which we didn’t find in the other rums of the batch. It’s extremely subtle though. Since we’ve had so many of these rums now, let me just mention the noteworthy differences. Next to the smokiness I get salt, cold ash and cold coffee, cocoa, peanuts, some more alcohol than I’d like and a slightly herbal, menthol-y note. Now also rich chocolate and mocha and yeah, the woody notes are all there, of course. Palate: Very chocolate-y, slightly smoky with some salt and definitely also cocoa/ mocha again as well as Tiramisu. Now this one isn’t too bad and once again it is all about the barrel and using something ‘special’ to lift the ordiniary. I also get something close to oyster and soy sauce, quite odd but also quite good. Finish: Medium long, rich and full of wood, soy sauce, pepper and cocoa. This works for me! thumb-60x60 (82/100)

I think it is fair to say that we are done with this batch. Including these, I am not counting eleven reviewed rums from it and while some were quite nice, none of them reached the level of the very first Whiskybroker release. What is more, the average level doesn’t seem to be that great and I doubt we will get a huge surprise in the future.