TECA, a mark that can most likely be associated with the long-time closed Tilston Estate, is imitated by Long Pond Distillery these days. Pretty much in the same way as DDL is producing many of the old Demerara marks if you want. Anyway, few styles have been polarising the rum scene as much as TECA lately. I must admit that I am already very familar with the 2003 15YO and I have already reviewed it together with the guys from Rumboom but since there has been another aged TECA release we can finally do a proper cross-tasting.
But let’s first take a small detour and focus a bit on where this blog started: Detailed background information! Unfortunately we do not know too much about the Tilston Estate though. It dates back to the 18th century and has been owned by the Simpson family for a long time. Among them was also a certain John Simpson of Fair Lawn Kent, who inherited Vale Royal (sounds familiar, eh!?) from Thomas Pepper Thompson. This must have happened in the mid to late 19th century, which already indicates an increased concentration in sugar estate ownership relatively early on. Things become interesting when Dermot Owen Kelly-Lawson (check the initials; if that didn’t ring a bell, he was the owner of Hampden Estate back then) became the owner of the estate in 1910. We don’t know what happened next but my guess is that Tilston shut down for good in about the mid 20th century since this table from ~1967 doesn’t list it anymore. If only the mark has been carried over by Long Pond or if they also adopted one or several of their stills is not clear.
Usually we start with the more recent vintage and younger rum but of course we are having them next to eachother. Due to my familiarity with the 2003 I shall list it first this time.
Velier Long Pond “TECA” 2003 15YO (62,5%): So I didn’t like it too much last time, how about today!? The nose is really freaky and it seems as if the oxidation has helped tremendously. It all starts with the extremely weird sweat and raw as well as frozen meat combination (!), followed by the esters, pepper, horsemeat, frozen Lahmacun (very dominant!) but also fruity elements such as papaya (sometimes pleasantly sweet, other times closer to scents of vomit) or foul banana. Eventually I also get something close to sweetened almonds or marzipan and even slightly floral notes. It’s weird but I am amazed at one moment, disguested at the other. What a nose! Palate: While the nose was a real rollercoaster and extremely nice at times, the same cannot be said about the palate. While it is incredibly complex and comes with many nice and interesting layers, the association of sweat and raw meat ruin this rum for me. In the nose it was all going back and forth and in a sense it is the same at the palate but somehow these notes overshadow everything else, no matter how nice they are. Other associations include rottings fruits, bio-degradable waste, wood, glue, persimmon and more herbals notes. Finish: Incredibly long and relatively dry with wood, menthol and Lahmacun. What did we just have!? In short: Is it drinkable? Absolutely and even though I have my difficulties with the rum, I have the urge to get back to it every now and then; out of curiosity and because it is so unique and flavourful. Maybe with another year or two of oxidation it will be even better!? Anyway, it’s just not a rum I can drink comfortably enough but one I am glad to have. Sounds weird, but so is the rum. (74/100)
Habitation Velier Long Pond “TECA” 2005 14YO (62%): Nose: So there are similarities but also differences to the 2003 vintage. Relatively speaking, we are having way more almonds/ marzipan bread here and I can even find hints of milk chocolate. The frozen meat has turned into a medium-rare, well seasoned filet and the papaya is much, much closer to the texture we are looking for. Fortunately, all the things which were on the “disgusting” side (some might call it interesting) seem to be gone here and the nose is incredibly nice I must say. Palate: Quite fruity and strong on almond pastry. I get ripe apples, persimmon, foul banana, hints of strawberry and nuances of the meaty/ sweaty note but here I’d almost go as far as saying that they are actually a crucial element of this tasty palate. The mouthfeel is quite thick and furry in a sense; it is a very adstringent rum, without many tannins however. The wood is also quite strong but not overpowering at any point in time. I know that it is all getting a little descriptive right here but the alcohol is integrated rather well, even though that was also the case with the 2003. Finish: Not quite as long as the 2003 but this one almost doesn’t want to end either. Wood, persimmon, papaya and almonds are my main impressions. What shall I say!? A good rum with some minor flaws here and there but it demonstrates that TECA can be an excellent rum style. Now its major strength is also its biggest shortcoming: It lacks the, let’s call them “weird”, elements of the 2003 vintage. All in all this is certainly a rum I’d buy. (86/100)