Happy New Year! Today we shall have some rums from Trinidad Distillers Ltd (TDL). Even though TDL is now Trinidad’s only rum distillery, they will always be the island’s “other distillery” for me. But let me tell you right away that we do have a few pleasant surprises!
Moon Import “Remember” Trinidad (TDL) (45%): We do not know the age and vintage of this rum, just that it has been bottled in 2015. There has been at least one follow-up series in 2016 though, which I didn’t try. Given its rather cheap price, it should be quite young. Anyway, at 45% it should be a good starter. Nose: Sligtly waxy with caramel, hints of tobacco, roasted almonds, some sulphur and spices such as cardamom or pepper. It’s not exquisite, but I didn’t expect to get a rum with that many facets. Palate: Very mild and mellow with plenty of vanilla and candyfloss. Then the roasted almonds and caramel but few of the waxy elements that we typically like with TDL (when they are present). Some glue-like notes aside, the palate is very similar to the nose but I now get a pronounced oakyness, which makes me believe that the rum isn’t that young after all. I am guessing at least 10 years in continental climate. Finish: Once again, quite some oak and I am getting the spicy elements again. The finish is a clear weakspot here though. A good aperitif and an excellent entry level rum, just like the rest of the “Remember” series. (78/100)
S.B.S T.D.L. “Madeira Finish” 2008 10YO (57%): I know that I have said this multiple times already but Joshua and S.B.S just know how to do finishes. And a rum like TDL should be well-suited for one. Nose: Very sweet with lots and lots of vanilla, some pastry, rum soaked prunes and raisins, ginger as well as more exotic spices such as cardamom or cinnamon. Very ‘easy’ if you know what I mean but at this point the palate could be about everything. Palate: Even sweeter than I expected with plenty of Madeira. The fortified wine is dominating everything now – if you like that or not is up to you. I must say that this is not the symbiosis I was hoping for at least, as the rum isn’t able to assert itself against the finish. Nevertheless, there’s something about it that I really love, something that reminds me of ginger cake/ bread and, even more so, kesari. Kesari is usually a love it or hate it thing, and the same might be true about the rum. For me, it is too one-dimensional because of the strong Madeira influence but folks, this is an honest rum nevertheless. Finish: Quite long but once again only with the notes that you’d associate with the Madeira wine. I just cannot deceide which camp I am in (love it or hate it) but for my liking, the finish is way to dominant. (77/100)
Compagnie des Indes T.D.L. 2006 12YO (60%): This one is high proof, not full proof or cask strength. So just a little bit of dilution. The reason is beyond me but fine. Nose: Very simple and straightforward with vanilla, caramel, milk chocolate and peanuts perhaps. Well… Malicious tongues have it that it is really boring… Palate: Pretty much a copy of the nose. Perhaps some corn or maple syrup on top but that’s it. Let’s repeat outselves: This is rum is really, really boring. Not bad, but boring. On the plus side, the alcohol is well-integrated, for what it’s worth. I am really trying hard to find more good aspects here but if you are a reader of this blog and thus most likely have some more experience with rum, you will find little to no joy with this one. Finish: Short and forgettable with peanuts, vanilla, spices and oak. There are two more Compagnie des Indes bottling, so let’s hope that 2006 is just a bad T.D.L vintage. (65/100)
Compagnie des Indes T.D.L. 2003 16YO (63,5%): Nose: In a way it is similar to the 2006 Comapagnie des Indes bottling with its vanilla and caramel notes but there’s more. Here we have a fresh and clear herbal touch next to that, which is very welcome. It reminds me of mint or menthol but fresh rosary or basil can be found as well. In the background some licorice and beet syrup, as well as something that reminds me of sweet bell pepper. Then sugar and fresh cane juice as well as plenty of white chocolate. This is really, really good – I don’t know why I am so surprised, but if the palate can keep up with the nose this might be something to look out for. Palate: Great stuff! Lots of herbs (see nose), quite some esters, cherry-flavoured bubble gum, lime, milk chocolate, spices (cardamom, pepper, vanilla). Column still par excellence and it reminds me a bit of Savanna! Heck, this is even on the same level! Nice. The finish is medium long and just right, with a good mix of the elements from the palate. It does have a really interesting, syrupy and sticky feeling to it which is quite to my liking. What a surprise this one is, an excellent rum that’s really different from what I typically have in mind when thinking about TDL. (86/100)
Compagnie des Indes T.D.L. 2003 16YO (63,8%): So let’s hope that this one can keep up with the 63,5% sister cask and that it wasn’t only an exceptional one, i.e. that the entire vintage is good. Nose: Indeed, the batch-specific similarities are obvious but relatively speaking, this one is stronger on the vanilla/ pastry and weaker in the herbal notes. These are really nuances only, that vanish over time. All in all, we find less of what made the 63,5% cask interesting but nevertheless both rums are rather similar (of course, why shouldn’t they!?). Deeper in the glass we also find plenty of passion fruit and going back to the previous rum, it is also in there, I just wasn’t able to name it. Do you know Solero ice cream? It’s kinda like that, just with this herbal note on top. Palate: Milder than the 63,5% one but as intense and multifaceted. Sour passion fruit, hints of grapefruit, esters as well as vanilla, sweet whipped cream and what I’d call bitter pastry. Then spearmint and basil, as well as almonds, cherry tomatoes and strawberry. Finish: Medium long and ‘fresh’ with lots of mint as well as some wood and spices. At first I was inclined to rate this a notch below the previous one, than one mark above. At the end of the day, this one would get the edge but still that’s not enough for a higher score. (86/100)
S.B.S T.D.L. 1991 26YO (66,2%): Probably the most widely known T.D.L. vintage; but I’ve never liked it. In my memory it is very mineral and, more importantly, flat. How about this one!? Nose: Yup, exactly what the batch is like in my memory. Very “Spanish” and flat with, plenty of mineral notes, some vanilla, hints of tobacco and caramel, but nothing of what got us excited with the 2003s… Let’s take a sip but given that I know the batch reasonably well, I am not expecting anything special here. Palate: Mineral notes, vanilla, a very mellow texture, lots of wood, a whiff of spices, too much bitterenss than the rum supports… really not my cup of tea unfortunately. With the second sip the typical waxyness but we now know that it needs to be paired with what we’ve found in the 2003s. Just by itself, that’s just not sufficient. Finish: Dry and slightly bitter with oak and waxy notes. Here and there also some spices. I think everything has been said. I am just not a fan of this batch and I probably never will be. (72/100)
Or can a fancy finish do the trick!?
A Dream of Scotland T.D.L. “Brandy Finish” 1991 28YO (56%): Brandy refers to a Spanish Brandy finish and the nose immediately offers a mix of “orange” fruits: oranges, grapfruits, persimmon and papaya. Behind that the batch-specific mineral and vanilla notes. I must say that the Brandy really does wonders here without being too dominant. Before we forget: The nose is incredibly sweet, but without any added sweetness and little of that sweetness probably comes from the finish – with rums like these there’s absolutely no reason to mess around with them. It’s all about cask selection. Palate: Totally different from the typical 1991s and definitely diverting in the right direction. I get the orange fruits from the nose, sugar cane, maraschino cherries, vanilla, minerals, toffee, puff paste and pommegranate. Really interesting. The finish is medium long with plenty of oak and fruity notes. A great demonstration of what an unusual finish can look like, and upgrade an otherwise below average rum. The rum might not not be the chameleon the label suggests but good job (or at least, nicely chosen) nevertheless, Marco! (83/100)