We have no theme this time, just a random list of rums I have tried recently. Cause sometimes we just aren’t in the mood to do cross-tastings. Or the rums didn’t fit in anywhere else. Or we didn’t have any suitable partners.
Or we were just lazy. Or we didn’t find the time to do it properly. Whatevs. I think it is good to start with some housekeeping, i.e. rums we have some catching up to do with.
Smith & Cross (Jamaica, 57%): An early “career” favorite of mine and still my go-to rum for mixing affordable Mai Tais. Nose: Lots of (soft) esters in the form of pineapple, banana and oranges, vanilla, ripe apples (Pink Lady), a whiff of glue and some more herbal notes in the background. Nice! At the palate we notice the rum’s relatively young age but it doesn’t matter too much. Pineapple and banana now meet more acidic, yet sweet fruits such as clementine or lychee and I also still get the vanilla notes. I know where this is produced but its profile actually contains facets of quite a few Jamaican distilleries. Then some oak, pears and a wee bit kerosene even. The finish takes over right here and while the kerosene is quick to fade away, the mix of tropical and continental fruits sticks with us for quite some time. I haven’t had this neat for some time and I was afraid that my palate has evolved quite bit since then but I still find the Smith & Cross very sippable. Value for money has always been sensational with this one, and that is especially true today. (80/100)
El Dorado 21YO (Guyana, 43%): Even at just 43% a 21 year old, tropically aged Demerara sounds quite good but El Dorado often times finds a way to screw things up nevertheless. The difference between actual and potential quality probably isn’t bigger with anyone else. Nose: Not as sweet/ sugary as I expected but all in all also quite flat. I get a mix of red fruits, some wood, some herbs, vanilla, a few roasting flavours perhaps but not much more. No, that just cannot be it!? Even after much more time in the glass it doesn’t improve so I eventually decide to take a sip. The palate is slightly sharp, a little (too) sweet with the red fruits, herbal notes and wood. With the second sip also some of the characteristic Guyanese spices but this is where I have to stop. Darn, this sure isn’t me today. The finish is short and lackluster as well, I won’t even dare picking any notes here. Well sure it is drinkable but I don’t see why we should. Most crucially, this is at least three levels below their rather nice 15YO. This is just flat and uninspiring and there’s absolutely nothing which I love about Demerara rum in this unfortunately. So I did go back to the rum after a few days but my perception and verdict hasn’t changed, unfortunately. (64/100)
Scotch Malt Whisky Society R8.5 2004 13YO “Sheer Opulence” (Nicaragua, 68,4%): There’s only one major rum distillery in Nicaragua so you know what this is. Let me also refer you to this article I wrote some time ago, a message I feel cannot be stressed enough. SMWS also bottled a sister cask of this, which might have been the best rum from the country I have had (see the reviews at the end of the article linked above). Nose: Seriously, if a Bourbon drinker ever wants to get into rum, try the indy Nicaraguans out there! Glue, some slight smoke, dark stone fruits, cinnamon, foul vegetables such as broccoli or eggplant, plenty of roasting flavour (cocoa, roasted peanuts and coffee beans), fresh mocha and then back to the initial glue and stone fruits. After a while the aromas have settled and we are left with a more homogenous, subtly sweet, bourbonesque nose. This is surprisingly good. Palate: Rather sharp and sweet with the dark stone fruits, beet-syrup, cinnamon flavoured vla, seasoned and spiced wood, still the glue (!), blueberry and sour cherry marmalade, habaneros, caramel and tobacco. Finish: Short to medium long with sulphur, caramel, tobacco and the stone fruits. Quite a complex rum. The only problem is that I am personally not really into this flavour profile but I can see why others might absolutely love this. It’s way better than many other comparable rums, especially some of those that are really being hyped these days. I am starting to like this and from time to time I might actually be in the mood for it. But then again, why not go for Bourbon straight away!? (78/100)
Ultimatum Venezuela Distilleria Centro North 2007 11YO (62,5%): Oh these distillery codenames… Nose: No sign of 60% abv column still distillate. Caramel, sugar crystals, tobacco, hot butter, hints of lemon and spices (cloves, cinnamon, perhaps even anise), pomegranate juice, mild raspberries perhaps. Quite an aromatic rum in this category actually. Palate: Really, really sweet with sweet, red berries, notes of Sherry, simple syrup, pomegranate juice, some wood, tobacco, the hot butter from the nose, same for the cloves, caramel and clearly also brine. I am starting to think that this might be an excellent way to transition from sweet rums to single cask rums at cask strength. The alcohol is integrated very well and the distillate is quite sweet, seems to be honest though. The finish is exceedingly dry but retains some of the sweeter, fruity notes as well as the caramel/ tobacco mix. Nicely done, just not to my liking. The only question is: Who exactly is the audience for rums like these!? Well didn’t we just answer that!? (67/100)
Finally, let’s get a bit crazy towards the end…
Compagnie des Indes Boulet de Canon 5 (Fumés en Tuyé) 12YO (Florida, 46%): Where do we start here? Rum from Florida (really!?) aged in a Tuyé/ thué. That sounds weird. And gross. And it smells quite like that. Mettwurst and other smoked sausages, smoked ham, mustard and mustard seeds as well as some herbal scents such as fennel or lovage make sure that you will be able to recognise this among a thousand rums even. It swings between interesting, gross, weird and “car accident” but the more time you give the rum, the better it becomes, really! Actually the nose turns out to be not bad at all after about an hour. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the palate. More mettwurst and smoked ham, mustard, cheap discounter meatballs, cheap red wine and some herbs again. Urgh. The finish is waaaayyyy too long (really, anything would be too long here, no matter how short) with the sausages from the Tuyé and now some wood as well. Was it worth a try? Maybe, but you should be happy that I did it for you. (30/100)
Okay, that was ugly but do you know what!? I do have another Florida rum from Compagnie des Indes and while the distillery is secret (excellent marketing by the way. Not.), chances are that it comes from the same one. Let’s hope it was just the barrel and storage conditions and not the distillate.
Compagnie des Indes Florida 2014/5 14YO “French Whisky Finish” (USA, 44%): I did have a few excellent French Whiskies from Distillerie Bertrand in Uberach (Alsace) which make many Scottish Whiskies look like amateurs. Now I don’t know where this cask hails from but let’s hope for the best. Nose: Not horrendous initially so a huge step up from the Boulet de Canon. But it isn’t any good either. I smell different grains, bread, vanilla, waaay too much alcohol at 44% abv, wood and baked beans perhaps. What the heck is this? It may indeed very well hail from the same distillery as the sausage party we’ve just had. Palate: The alcohol isn’t as present as it was in the nose but it isn’t integrated very well either. Flavourwise, I get the grains again, multi-grain bread, malt and malt beer, random spices, something I associate with english breakfast as well as some hay. This is a really weird and boring combination and frankly, not good. Finish: Short and extremely forgettable. There’s absolutely nothing exciting about the finish or the rum in general. Nothing that makes you want to take another sip. A real pity. Nevertheless, it miraculously manages to find its way into the “drinkable” region. At least we now understand why the distillery doesn’t want to reveal its name… (53/100)