There are just so many rums from this batch out there, we just had to do another session. And before the questions start to appear again, yes, these are all from Damoiseau!
Cadenhead’s Bellevue “GMBV” 1998 16YO (57,1%): We start with a slightly older bottling. GMBV is a typical Main mark by the way. I don’t think you need any more help decoding it (for everyone who is new to this: Guadeloupe Main Bellevue). Nose: Very typical with its notes of herbs, tar, honey and molasses. Compared to the other rums of the session, it is a bit fresher at that but moreover, it seems to be a bit more alcoholic as well. Then tobacco, caramel (not in the “Spanish” column still sense), wood and more herbs. Very solid, but as we shall see, these rums will become a lot better! Palate: The alcohol is much better integrated than I feared and we are having a very nice and thick texture. It’s quite pepper-y with wood, tar, more wood, a mix of herbs, molasses, sweet caramel and burnt toffee. Very good, I must say. The finish is medium long and a slightly saltier and chalkier extension of the palate. It is here that we are getting brine-y and olive-like elements. A good rum, but just an appetizer compared to some of the rums we are about to have. RTN (86/100)
Blackadder Belvedere 1998 17YO (57,1%): While basically everyone calls these 1998 Damoiseaus ‘Bellevue’, Blackadder apparently decided to label them ‘Belvedere’. Please don’t ask the obvious question, I have no idea why. Nose: Atta boy! It’s quite a bit alcoholic but the profile is exactly what we are looking for. A mix of herbs, forest honey, wood, licorice, some tar, burnt caramel, perhaps some tobacco, glue and old fruit cake. Quintessential and intense Damoiseau 1998, if only the alcohol would have been integrated a bit better. How about the palate then? It’s not too sharp and relatively light in fact (really only relatively!). I get plenty of olives and tapenade, a mix of parsley and mint, muscovado, raw honey, resin, banana bread, wood and also spices such as anise, cinnamon or pepper. Really good! The interplay of the aromas works very well and were are getting closer and closer to full potential! I especially like this bittersweet note towards the end of a sip, just before the finish kicks in. Speaking of which, the finish is sufficiently long, ever so slightly bitter with walnut oil, wood, some spices and here and there some herbs. Easily one of the better rums of the batch we’ve had so far and I wouldn’t decline another dram of this but I am afraid it is going to be hard to find anyways these days. RTN (88/100)
Blackadder Belvedere 1998 19YO (56,6%): I think we are slowly reaching the point at which further ageing doesn’t do these rums much good. But this smells fine. Sweet licquorice, mint, salty molasses, peanut butter, tar, olives, Marmite, Earl Grey tea, more herbs, fresh cane juice and quite some wood. The nose is increadibly complex and just great. And so is the palate. It starts with salt, iodine, beet syrup, Marmite, and forest herbs, continues with mixed pickles, fresh soil, caramalised carrots and menthol, only to turn to wood, licquorice, tar and tobacco eventually. The profile is a bit special, even for this batch, but it comes with many interesting notes which make this rum stand out a bit. The finish is rather standard and medium long with wood, tar, walnut bitters and olives. Yup yup. RTN (89/100)
Kill Devil Bellevue 1998 20YO (58,6%): There are so many rums from that batch by Kill Devil! Some have been really amazing. Nose: Very earthy and dirty. Besides soil, molasses, licorice, tar and stale black tea I also find hints of bamboo, olives, brine and even chalk. What a complex nose! Palate: A little sharp at first but we quickly get the full doze of sweetness (sugar, caramel), dirt (tar, molasses) and brine-y notes (olives etc.). The profile is really to my liking, my only complaint is that the alcohol could have been integrated a tad better. With the second sip also the chalk, followed by pepper, dried dates and old plums perhaps. Nicerino! It is getting better and better. Finish: Orange jam, apricots, olives and a good amount of wood. Oh yeah, we are getting closer and closer to the ideal rum of the batch. RTN (89/100)
Kill Devil Bellevue 1998 20YO (58,8%): Maybe this one!? Nose: We are becoming woodier and more mature. Different sorts of wood, molasses, caramel, tar, fresh mud, orange bitters, a mix of herbs and even a hint of sweet pastry make this one rather nice. Quite to my surprise, I can find little to no bitter notes in the nose. Palate: A bit more on the sweet side of things, its the sugar and caramel combination that dominates here. I don’t mind that at all! Then petroleum, tar, wood, papaya and mixed fruit jam. Oh dear, this one is amazing. Eventually also a touch of floral notes, jasmin perhaps. Mmhhh. Palate: It maintains the sweetness from the nose but manages to keep a better balance as well. I get plenty of tar, lots of earthy notes, caramel, tobacco, the characteristic herbs, some honey, oyster mushrooms, Earl Grey tea and bergamotte, pepper, brine and foul mango. Yummy, yummy. The finish is long but not too demanding with more fruits than ever before (mango, papaya, oranges), wood and molasses. Easily one of the better rums of the batch so far. The idea I’ve had previously that we are about to reach the perfect maturity for these rums is being confirmed. At this age, they really belong in the category of some of the best rums ever. RTN (91/100)
Rum Artesanal Bellevue 1998 21YO (53,8%): The value for money kings are back with a Bellevue. What can go wrong? Nose: Hmm. This is… very uninspiring. Quite flat, even slightly alcoholic and we only get a glimpse of how much joy this batch can bring. There’s tar, muscovado and licorice/ Marmite, essentially no herbs and some wood. All in all, this just doesn’t really match. I have no idea what happened here but this was definitely one of the weaker barrels. Palate: Even with a cold you can tell what batch this is but nevertheless this is a) not really as aromatic as most other rums of the batch I know and b) slightly too alcoholic for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a decent rum, just not at the same level as the rest of the batch. Relatively speaking, the emphasis is on the drier, burnt muscovado side but this really doesn’t stand out in a good way. Then wood, licorice, Rooibos, and different grains. Oh well. With the third sip finally some of the herbal notes that make these rums so special. Finish: Medium long with the grains, wood and burnt, bitter sugars. I think everything has been said. I guess my comments made the rum worse than it actually is but within the context of such a great batch, this one clearly disappoints. RTN (80/100)