Last time when we’ve had Karukera we did like it but we were missing a real cracker. At least partly, that might have been selection bias as we are having what looks like the more exciting bottlings today (on paper at least).
Karukera “Four Daughters” 2011 6YO (54,1%): This one has been released for Velier‘s 70th anniversary and comes from a single (Sherry) cask. Many people have said time and again that six years is about the sweet spot of maturation in the tropics. Is that also true for Sherry barrels? Nose: The Sherry is very prominent. Right off the bat, I am not sure if I’ve ever had a Sherry cask Agricole before. I get red fruits, a mix of dried fruits, leather, apple, a tad of sulphur, cream and quite some wood. This is really promising. Palate: I must say that the symbiosis of Agricole and Sherry works a lot better than I anticipated. What is more, the strength is spot on. Red and black berries, leather, dried fruits, the apples from the nose, some slightly herbal notes which I cannot quite nail down, now more plant-like aromas as well as that well-known texture that you’ll only get from dry Sherry casks. Very nice! Finish: Sufficiently long and a good mix of the Agricole and Sherry notes. Once again, I didn’t expect to get such a good symbiosis but now I hope that there will be more rhums like this. Especially since examples of rums with a strong Sherry influence that are really good are quite rare (I wonder why by the way…); and with Agricoles that is even more true. Yet this one is just excellent! RTN (88/100)
Karukera 2000 (50,8%): Already from quite afar I can smell what you might call quintessential Guadeloupian rum. I get mellow scents of vanilla, perfumed floral notes but also plenty of more earthy, even slightly dirty nuances. Freshly dug over soil, vegetal associations (cauliflower, broccoli), bio waste and more oily notes is what I am picking up next. At least in the nose this works rather well. Palate: Here I get less of the floral and perfumed notes and more of the soil and vegetal combination. Especially the bio degradable waste (including coffee dregs and what remains after chopping vegetables) is very prominent and I am picking up plenty of wood now as well. It should be a rather old one (~ 10 years at least). What is more, even though my tasting notes don’t really sound like it, this one has a lot of parallels to some Whiskies and Brandies I know. The finish is medium long to long andfull of oak, spices and hints of soil. Also bio waste here and there. A rather unusual rhum – but isn’t that typically the case with Karukera!? It’s solid juice but diverts a bit too much from my “ideal” Karukera. RTN (83/100)
Karukera 1997 (46,3%): We’ve already done this one blindly but let’s repeat the exercise, just that we know what we are having this time. Nose: Not too bad. I get a mix of nuts and wood, with some licorice and plenty of spices from the cask. Even though they do not give us the age of these vintages, this one should be a bit older as well. With more time in the glass I also get a few deep, dark red berries. Right now, it is better than it was in my memory but hey, the mood of the day, your references and how your palate evolves all factor into these reviews! Palate: Very mature but neither too woody nor too bitter. The cask has taken over but the rhum is still very lively. I get a mix of continental fruits (fresh and dried), some yeast and wheat flour, dry wood, pomace, a certain sweetness (where is this coming from all of a sudden?), pepper, nutmeg and grain. Something else we can notice here is that the abv really doesn’t matter as long as it is full proof – this one doesn’t feel thin or watery at all. With the third sip I get hints of cocoa, more wheat and grains as well as vanilla. The finish is very smooth with vanilla, wood and a dry fruityness. A very nice way to finish this dram indeed. All in all, I must say that I am enjoying this more and more. Perhas it really is a rhum that you need to spend a lot of time with, on multiple occasions. Not because of its complexity but much rather because it seems to be strongly influenced by its reference points. RTN (84/100)