It’s absolutely beyond me but for some weird reason Savanna is still flying under most people’s radars and doesn’t receive the recognition they deserve, even though that has changed quite a bit with the most recent release wave. Since we do have plenty of catching-up to do, let’s have the previous one first.
Savanna Traditionnel 2006 11YO (59,4%): They call this “Type G2”, a rhum with a long fermentation that has been distilled in their Savalle and got to age in an ex-Cognac cask. The result are 130g/hlpa esters. Nose: Very interesting. Immediately after pouring I thought this is a rather Spanish profile but after a good five to eight minutes the rum opens up to reveal notes of mint, cherries and cherry cola, lemon zest, tobacco, granulated sugar, salt and pepper and perhaps even slightly maritime notes. This is one of the rums where you immediately notice that there is more to it than it appears at first but where you have to look for its aromas very actively. Palate: The palate is quite different actually. It all starts with salted caramel, tobacco and caramel vla to transition to foul melon, papaya, lots of pepper and nutmeg as well as cereal-like notes. In a sense it reminds me a bit of the Velier Antigua Distillery 2012 6YO but it is also quite different of course. Finish: The foul melon is now an overripe galia melon and the cereal turns more into something I’d associate with caramelised corn. It’s not extremely long but quite interesting, with some more herbal notes in the background. It is incredible how nice and complex column still rums can be these days but as I am preaching all the time, it is all about the fermentations. And Savanna seem to be excellent at that. (86/100)
Savanna Grand Arôme 2004 14YO “Sélectionné par LMDW” (64,2%): The traditional was really good but these Grand Arômes are what we’re here for. Nose: Quite some glue, lots of esters and nail polish remover à la Hampden or New Yarmouth. Wow! What an intense rum this is. Behind that we can find pastry, sweet pistachio paste, cheap bubble gum, menthol and toothpaste as well as as some more unusual cask aromas. Speaking of the cask, the maturity seems to be spot on! Palate: Very nice! The texture has this ever so slightly thin column still character but given the intensity of the rum’s aroma that’s barely noticeable. In fact, I doubt most people would be able to figure that out in a blind-tasting. Flavourwise, the palate is very close to the nose, but given how excellent that one is that’s really not an issue. With the third sip I get a few slightly nutty notes but nevertheless, the rum doesn’t really become bitter. I am sure that this cask has been bottled exactly at the right time! Finish: Really long. I get non-bitter walnut oil, wood, menthol and something close to chestnut. An excellent rhum and perhaps my favorite “regular” Grand Arôme by Savanna to date. (89/100)
Savanna Grand Arôme “Chai Humide” 2007 10YO “Sélectionné par LMDW” (59,1%): The first Chai Humide was very much to my liking and I even prefered it to the HERRs (see here and here). Nose: Not as in your face and ester-heavy as the previous Grand Arôme; much more elegant in fact. In direct comparison it almost doesn’t smell like an Grand Arôme at all but that’s highly deceptive. Instead, I get plenty of vanilla, Rooibos, cinnamon, tonka, something that reminds me of Chai latte (not just because of the word…) and deeper in the glass also quite some esters. Excellent juice, especially if you don’t want your rum to be too straightforward. Palate: An even better balance between the settled, spicy notes and the fruity, mentholy esters. Next to most of the associations from the nose I get wet wood and cardboard, exotic woods, sour cherries and hints of foul peach perhaps. Then the oriental spices and Chai latte again. This is excellent juice! Finish: Long and rather dry with lots of spices, some wood and every so slightly bitters. Please Savanna, get your cellars even wetter if it produces rums like these! (91/100)
Savanna Grand Arôme “HERR cask” Japan Tribute 2007 10YO (61,3%): Note that this is not a HERR but a Grand Arôme finished in the “Japan HERR” cask. It has been bottled for Shinanoya/ Bar Lamp. Nose: Immediately after pouring the rum the entire room gets filled by its fragrences. While the characteristic HERR note unmistakably comes through, the rum still isn’t dominated by it. Instead, we get a rum that is closer to the previous Chai Humide, than to the LMDW Grand Arôme, say. I get esters with a decisive herbals touch (mint, menthol, basil) but few of the exotic spices that we like so much with the Chai Humide. There’s also a certain “sharpness” but that might also be an scent that resembles chili flakes. Let’s check the palate: Some wood, quality bubble gum this time, clearly strawberry (ripe, artificial and foul), Wick Blau, menthol and spearmint (toothpaste), esters (grilled pineapple and a wee bit of acetone), cashew and macadmia and with the third and fourth sip also more of the spices, but here they seem to be mostly a note from the cask. On the one hand, the maturity is spot on once again, on the other hand, the HERR finish could be even more extreme for my liking. Finish: Like with the others, it is really long and this time mostly with “fresh” notes (strawberry, mint, peach). Here and there some more bitter notes and wood. It really makes you want to taste more though. It’s a really cool rum. I wish more producers would do special “Rum finishes” like these. (88/100)