There’s so much debate going on about the Barbados GI and to date I didn’t really comment on it. And that won’t change today for two reasons. Firstly, the disussion is really tiring and annoying. Secondly, others have come up with way better arguments and it should be easy for the concerned reader to come up with a sensible judgement without me adding my humble opinion. Anyway, let’s start with a duo from the West Indies Rum Distillery (WIRD) that we cannot match with the “Rockley” style. As a side note, WIRD definitely produced the very best Bajan rums ever, there’s no doubt, but… you know how the story goes on… What is more, we shall see WIRD’s “true” face today.
The Rum Cask WIRD 1999 17YO (53,6%): It’s labeled as pot still rum so could this be another “Rockley” vintage!? Nose: Certainly not, unfortunately. I get sweet fruits such as peach and apricot, sugared, very candy-like peaches (New Grove!?) and aromatised sugar. All in all it smells really parfumed, even though TRC would surely never doctor with their rums. Anyway, I assume the worst here. Palate: The rums is really sweet, but not quite as sweet as the nose suggested. I get the peach and apricot combination again, but now also tobacco, cheap fake leather/ rubber, caramel and some other flavours I typically associate with column still rums. That’s actually fitting since the body is rather light. Finish: Short, thin and basically a parfumed extension of the palate. Rums like these are always gambles, with the casino winning most of the time… (57/100)
Silver Seal Barbados 1996 10YO (46%): I am not exactly sure where this comes from but it just has to be WIRD. At least I am very positive that a tasting will give us clarity. Nose: Rather sweet with plenty of vanilla, sweet fruits (peach, strawberry) and sugar. Oh my, it is not good but I am already convinced that it is WIRD. Here and there some oak and, with lots and lots of imagination, some herbs but that’s about it. Palate: Not quite as bad as the nose but still nothing the rum world has been waiting for. Some fruit (mango, peach), some sweet (sugar, candies) and some tobacco make this a rather unusual one. But wait… now I get it… This is finished, as in Sherry or Port wine. It is too obvious as I am now also getting further notes such as plums, leather, pepper and more tobacco. The finish is short and boring with lots of wood and tobacco, as well as a faint echo of the fortified wine. This might be a real cracker for people who are into adulterated rums such as Dos Maderas and actually it isn’t a bad product (it beats the aforementioned rum easily). Just not something that’s to my liking. (64/100)
Oh good lord, that was terrible. Mount Gay then.
Habitation Velier Last Ward 2009 9YO (59%): You might know that this has been distilled at Mount Gay Distillery for the Mount Gilboa brand. Nose: Quite close to the 2007 and 2008 in terms of overall profile. Initially, it is quite alcoholic but this mix of spices (cardamom, vanilla), fruits (banana) and nuts (almonds) is very characteristic for these Gilboas. While the nose is rather nice, the subpar integration of the alcohol and its simplicity make us deduct a few points here, unfortunately. Palate: Again, rather sharp but then cocoa, coffee, mix of nuts (mostly almonds), oak and an undefinable mix of spices make this familiar territory. Behind that, plantains and unripe banana as well as sweet potato perhaps. I really like this profile, you probably know this, it is just that the quality is a bit lacking unfortunately. Finish: Short to medium long with quite some wood, cocoa, cardamom and all of a sudden a large amount of herbal notes. Quite cool, but it is gone a tad too quickly for my liking. You see that I really want to like it, perhaps even with some personal bias, but that I am not convinced entirely. It’s definitely a rum that’s a lot of fun, if you can look past some of its minor flaws. (83/100)
Mount Gay XO (~1960s/70s): We don’t know the abv of this one but I am pretty sure it must be around 43%. Nose: Definitely recognisable as a Mount Gay and from what I remember, this should be quite a bit better than current releases of the XO. There’s this barnyard smell paired with almond, milk chocolate (Kinder Country perhaps), hints of oat and clearly also banana. It is quite nice. Palate: Ah, the dilution. The one thing that always slows down my excitement I am having with Mount Gay OBs. Flavourwise, we are still pretty much in the milk chocolate, oat, Kinder Country and banana camp and I must say that it is quite nice. The texture is also quite fine but nevertheless I am really missing something, i.e. the power this rum would need to be really good. Well, well. Finish: Short with oat, oak and an ever so slightly bitterness. Definitely the weak spot here. A solid rum and a step above where I’d rank today’s XOs. (81/100)
And last but not least I’ve found a blend.
Compagnie des Indes Barbados Multi Distillers 1996 20YO (45%): An undisclosed blend of Bajan distilleries from 1996. Guess who these might be ;). Nose: Sweet and rather column-y with peaches and artificial peach flavour, mango, sugar and hints of citrus. At first I thought it was terrible, but the artifical sweetness (I am not saying that it is adulterated, just that it’s the aroma impression I am getting) settles over time and becomes less obtrusive. Add some nuts, oak and the typical cask aromas and you have something that is, well, very interchangable. Palate: Oh my, there’s lot of bad WIRD distillate in this one. Coconut, sweetness, pineapple and more artificial sweetness (though again, not adulterated). Pretty close to a “clean” version of Plantation’s Anniversary Barbados rum, I am just not sure who needs that. Later more alcoholic and herbal notes. Oh dear, let’s just get this over with. Finish: Short and uninspiring with wood, vanilla and ever so slightly fruity notes. (62/100)
I really don’t want to finish the session like this but enough is enough.