After the success Velier had with their experimental “Blended in the Barrel” Demeraras, it was evident that El Dorado might walk down a similar path. Nevertheless, we’ve just learned that these rums are basically not much more than leftovers that didn’t fit into the blends. But with these experimental casks, that was to be expected of course so they might perhaps be more interesting after all. Nevertheless, I have one major question: Where’s Versailles???
El Dorado Blended in the Barrel Diamond/ Port Mourant 2010 (49,1%): The order of the tasting session is more or less random. Nose: Quite sulphatic and heavy on the Diamond I’d say as I basically get none of the characteristic Port Mourant (PM) notes. Then there are caramel, candy floss, tobacco, cinnamon perhaps, and frankly, not much more. Based on the nose, this might also come from Guyana’s western neighbor… Palate: Quite sweet with caramel, tobacco, leather, strong coffee and grain. Where’s the PM??? Now perhaps with a hint of salt but that’s it. Finish: Medium long with salt, wood and leather. Oh boy, what do we make out of this? I really don’t know. Let’s say this confirms the “leftover-hypothesis” but I probably would just have thrown this into some blend nevertheless if I were DDL. It just isn’t expressive and good enough. (72/100)
El Dorado Blended in the Barrel Port Mourant/ Uitvlugt 2010 (51%): Let’s hope this isn’t quite as bad and that it has some more pot still distillate. Nose: Indeed there’s some more PM in this one but I am not sure if I would have been able to detect that blindly. Once again, it starts with caramel, adds toffee, also even slightly sulphatic notes and fortunately also a certain spicyness that we’re looking for with this one. Then clearly paprika powder. I must say that the nose doesn’t really sweep me off my feet. Palate: Interesting. A rather odd spice mix, where Szechuan pepper really sticks out, is my first impression. Then wood, molasses, burnt caramel, light cocoa and more and more of that Szechuan pepper. It’s not too bad but also not much more than a one-trick-pony if you ask me. It’s funny but the more time I spent with the rum, the fewer aromas I find, exactly the opposite of most other rums – after a while it is only the Szechuan pepper. Finish: You guessed correctly, plenty of Szechuan pepper, but also wood, sticky caramel syrup and Marmite. A good rum but none I’d choose often. (83/100)
El Dorado Blended in the Barrel Port Mourant/ Uitvlugt/ Diamond 2010 (49,6%): So after Diamond/ PM and PM/ Uitvlugt we are having PM/ Uitvlugt/ Diamond. Very creative. Nose: Plenty of oranges, ripe and bitter. Then walnuts, a slightly alcoholic note, cloves, wood and a whiff of cinnamon perhaps. This one really just screams blend but in a way it is also the best one so far. Palate: Indeed, the first rum of the session that I’d call a typical Demerara rum. Plenty of spices (pepper, cloves, cinnamon), quite some wood, bitter oranges, walnuts, roasted peanuts, molasses and hints of cocoa. This is the first one that indicates the distillery’s potential but then again, I just cannot get rid of the feeling that a) we’ve had much better variations of this already and b) that the rums might have worked way better individually. But of course that’s just guessing. Finish: Lots of spices, especially pepper and now even hints of anise. Also salty wood and ever so faintly menthol. I feel like this would be a good rum for people who are looking to transition from the El Dorado standards to “cleaner” rums but of course the bottling is way to expansive for that. For my liking, it really could be more edgy. (79/100)
El Dorado Blended in the Barrel Uitvlugt/ Enmore 2008 (47,4%): This is the only rum of the quartett that’s not from 2010. I wonder how a pure column still blend will work. Nose: Quite intense and woody (from both, the distillate and the cask). This one has Enmore written all over it and real Enmores (EHP) are getting quite rare these days, well, they always have been. Notes that remind me of rice crackers are quite dominant but we also get spices such as pepper or nutmeg as well as caramel and molasses. Palate: Exceedingly herbal with lovage and related herbs. Also molasses, licorice and beet syrup. Again, all rather typical. Finish: Medium long with Marmite, the herbs, wood and dark, syrupy notes (molasses, beet syrup etc). Another good but not really interesting rum. If I am not mistaken, there should be quite a few fans of profiles like this. Personally, I am not among them and in my opinion, the quality simply cannot keep up with some other expressions of this style. (82/100)
All in all, all of these Blended in the Barrel rums but one were solid, yet also quite disappointing. This just isn’t the quality I expect from Demerara rums, let alone tropically aged ones. It is just that they are to a large extent quite interchangable and that none of them really stood out in a characteristic way. Now why were the Velier expressions that much better? I believe the reason is rather simple. Luca also just got the so-called leftovers, i.e. rums that didn’t fit into the El Dorado portfolio. He wasn’t free to chose from the entire Guyanese rum stock as many people seem to believe. Instead, Yesu Persaud presented him a set of casks from which he could chose. So what’s going on here? Velier’s bottlings have alle been distilled in the era before the closure of the Uitvlugt distillery, whereas the new El Dorado Blended in the Barrel rums come mostly from the post-Uitvlugt (and therefore also Enmore) era. I think it is pretty evident that a lot of knowledge has been lost over the years due to rationalization measures. That includes knowledge on how to set up fermentations, how to operate the “heritage” stills and even barrel management. Let’s just hope that DDL manages to find the right employees or develop their current ones so that the old styles can truly be replicated to the extent that actually does them justice.