Day three started with a private Rum & Breakfast session at Mr. B. from B.’s place. Apparently half of our group understood that the “Breakfst” part is only an indicator for the time as they did have breakfast before already. I was among those who thought that we will actually have breakfast together. But well, the best tastings are done on an empty stomach, right!? At first we did have the Hereditas from Sixteen as a starter, just to get acquainted with alcohol. And indeed, it might be the best Sixteen to date thanks to the incredibly creamy Sherry texture. The one-eyed is king among the blind, or how do they say!? Next, there was the Wray & Nephew 17YO (click here for Flo’s review). THE legend. I already had a sniff on day one (unknowingly) but didn’t really get much from the sample bottle on that day. The nose was quite typical for good Jamaican Rum from that time, the taste was rather disappointing though. I am blaming this partially on oxidation but given the other Rums I know from that time it seems very likely that that was simply the general quality of Rum back then. Knowledge, skill and technology have improved tremendously over the last couple of decades and we can be extremely happy to have access to so much better Rums today! Since I am talking about old stuff already, let’s just forget about the chronoligical ordering and go by topic if you want (I am afraid I already forgot about half of what we’ve tasted anyway…). My absolute highlight was the Black Head Rum (sorry, I didn’t come up with this) from Martinique, which dates back to the 1920s. As always with these old Martinicans I have no clue where it has been distilled but it was absolutely fantastic. If you ever get the chance to try that one, do it! Next was a Captain Morgan Black Label from the 1980s, a time when it still used to be a very good product. And indeed, it didn’t disappoint, even though it was rather special (black bugs, right Johannes!?).
It all kinda makes sense though since the profile has quite a few similarities to Myer’s, just at a different quality (both should come from Clarendon (Monymusk) after all). We’ve also had the chance to compare the original Felicite with Bristol’s new Felicite bottling (an old OB by Caroni). The latter is the result of tons of original bottles which have been opened and poured together for further ageing. A real piece of history if you want, but trust me, none that you real need to try. The original Felicite is just flat, boring, mellow and full of vanilla (much closer to TDL or St. Nicholas Abbaye than to Caroni, say) and while the Bristol bottling is a hundred times better and more complex, I still wouldn’t say that it is a good Rum. Nevertheless, quite the interesting comparison.
Something else we’ve done was rebuilding our very own Caroni ceremony. None of us has been there but a few very nice and generous people from the rum scene have shared some samples with us, so that we’ve had a session with seven Caronis in total at the end. I am afraid to say it but my general impression was that a) these really are mostly the leftovers and b) that most should have been bottled some time ago already. So about half of them were good, the other half, not so much. The only really good ones were a pair of 1996s (one each from the Guyana and Trinidad stock) and one of the 1998s. After them there was quite a gap in terms of quality. Some of us also tasted the Caroni Triology (and the Eataly) but I decided to get back to some nice Bristols from Mr. B.s stock. Versailles 1985 is just the uber-nuts if you ask me and while I didn’t think that the Bristol 13YO was a particularily good one when I tasted it among other 1985s, I am quite sure that any bottling from that vintage will always stand out, no matter what you are pairing them with. They are just THAT good. What was just as good, and perhaps even better, was the Versailles 1984 with a Port Finish. It’s just love in a bottle and it really is a pity that we are not getting the same quality with Versailles these days. I am not sure if they used different fermentations back then (well, they certainly did) or if the knowledge on how to properly operate the still has not been passed on but those Rums were special. Their Long Pond 1986 16YO is amazing anyway and the Port Mourant 1986 12YO is solid, but couldn’t keep up with the rest of this spectacular line-up.
Other stuff we’ve had included, among others, Nimorod’s Israelian Monster Rum (to the best of my knolwedge the country’s only distillery – keep up the good work!), an old Barbancourt (miles ahead of current releases!), Rum Nation SBRR Savanna Grand Arôme 2006 12YO (good, need to compare it to the new release!), Blackadder St. Lucia 1999 (another legend, if I may say so), HSE 2005/2018 Châteu La Tour Blanche Finish (surprisingly good), Ekte Long Pond 2000, a sample from WIRD’s Vulkan Chamber still (the potential is amazing, I just hope they are going to make use of it!) as well as the Duncan Taylor Fiji 2003 (good, but not on the same level as the Cadenhead’s 2003 for example). At least these are some of the Rums I remember having, I am sure there were more. Anyway, it was plenty of good rum in a rather short time period, you simply cannot complain about that. Thanks for the hospitality, Mr. B. and family!
Subsequently, we went to the fair again but I only had a very brief stay since I had to catch my train back home. This meant missing out on the Bar Lamp/ Shinanoya Caroni, which Dirk Becker, organizer of the German Rum Fest, has been sharing with the Rum geeks. But there’s usually a second chance, but I also missed a split on FB already. The rare third chance is on the horizon though…
Last but not least, thanks to everyone who made this a fantastic weekend, no matter if new or old acquaintance. I’ve had a very great time.