Going vertical with Uitvlugt (French Savalle Still)

We didn’t review many real Uitvlugts so far, i.e. rums from the French Savalle still and neither Port Mourant nor rums from other stills that have temporarily been residing at Uitvlugt distillery. In fact, I think the really good rums from the Savalle still I know can be counted with the fingers of both hands, so I guess that might explain why we didn’t have more so far. The only “winner” we’ve reviewed so far was the Velier Uitvlugt 1996 18YO “Modified GS” and as we are about to see, it apparently requires the collaboration of our Italian friends to bottle gems like these. Please DDL, help yourself!

legustb (2)Le Gus’t Uitvlugt 2007 9YO (50%): Even though we’ve tasted only one rum by Le Gus’t, it was so amazing that my expectations are quite high now. Let’s pour some. Oh my paleness! I hope the colour is not an indicator here. In the nose I can find… not a whole lot. It’s quite salty with an unripe fruit basket in the background. The alcohol isn’t particularily well integrated and there’s not a whole lot to discover either. I hope the palate improves upon this. It kinda does. I get a mix of salty and fruity (nashi, nectarine & tangerine) as well as mixed maritime herbs in the background. The rum has a certain spicyness as we are used to with the Demeraras but all in all this is not what I am looking for in these rums. I am not really sure what my problem with this particular one is but it is not very balanced and the profile just isn’t to my liking. Maybe a finish might have helped here!? (j/k, let’s not go there…). Finish: Medium long with salt and the nashi, eventually shifting towards the herbal notes. A very extreme Uitvlugt that should be more harmonious, even though we are usually into these very edgy expressions. Too bad. (74/100)

moonu (2)Moon Import Uitvlugt Sherrywood 1998 14YO (46%): The 1998 batch is probably my most notable exposure to Uitvlugt’s French Savalle Still as it is (or much rather was) the one that has been bottled the most. However, I do not think it is any good, which is why you’ve never found a true 1998 Uitvlugt on this blog. They were all just to pale and flavour-neutral if you ask me. This is probably the reason why Moon Import and Pellegrini added a Sherry Finish to their rums so let’s see if this helps. Note that there is also a Moon Import Demerara Sherrywood 1998 from Diamond! Nose: Quite salty/ maritime. Alga, dark caramel, lots of wood but really no sign of the finish. However, I remember the ex-Bourbon 1998s to be even flatter than this. After a while the maritime notes shift towards more foresty associations such as moss, grasses and herbs. This might sound interesting, but it really isn’t. At the palate we find more salty notes such as pretzel, salted crackers or brine. Then more wood than we should expect at 14 years and chocolate. It really hits me now. Nougat, cheap milk chocolate and nutella. This has to come from the finish but all in all the salty notes are really incompatible with the chocolate flavours if you ask me. Finish: Relatively long and salty with wet wood and chocolate chips. Some people might like this but I just can’t get along with the rum. (75/100)

dtu (2)Duncan Taylor Uitvlugt 1997 18YO (53,5%): This is declared as a pot still distillate, which would mean Port Mourant or Versailles but I am 99% sure that this is a mistake. The rum just screams column still. My guess is that they accidentally interchanged the label with another Uitvlugt 1997 that’s declared as column but that’s clearly a Port Mourant. Nose: Even after a long time plenty of alcohol. Then vanilla, caramel, coconut and candle’s wax. Blindly, I might have put this to Angostura (TDL). There isn’t a whole lot in here and I have a hard time picking up any individual aromas. The wax is very dominant and the alcohol masks many of the other nuances. The alcohol isn’t as present at the palate anymore but I still wouldn’t call it smooth or mild. I get vanilla, coconut and candle wax – basically the same notes I’ve already found in the nose. Now also brine and chilies. It’s not at all to my liking… Finish: Short and spicy. Argh. Well, it is not a good rum. Way too simple and alcoholic. Let’s just leave it at that. (69/100)

That was a lackluster first half, but no worries, the second half will be one for the ages.

u97 (2)Velier Uitvlugt 1997 17YO “ULR” (59,7%): ULR stands for Uitvlugt Light Rum and it was also one of the experimental rums they have done around that time. Nose: Super lovely but I’d argue that this isn’t so light at all. At least not if you consider that this is a column still rum. My first impressions are almonds, marzipan, apricot and mango perhaps but I also get hints of nail polish remover (ever so slightly), wood and then more fruity notes such as ripe oranges or pineapple. Then something close to tobacco or caramel – the “typical” column still notes if you want. Extremely delicate! Palate: Just as nice! It starts with the apricots and the mango as well as a whiff of nuts but all of a sudden a certain fragility becomes apparent. None of the flavours really want to stick with you for very long, instead they come and go. The rum is also much lighter now than I thought while nosing. Usually that wouldn’t get me excited but we seldom get such light rums that are this intense and flavourful! Now marzipan, orange peel, sour pineapple, grapefruit perhaps, maybe elderflower, but also wood, spices (pepper, cumin) and tobacco. Deep in the back hints of burnt caramel. There’s a pronounced bitter note as well. Finish: Long with marzipan, oranges, tangerine and more citrus fruits as well as slightly bitter wood and ever so faintly, spices. Now where do we get rums like thisw today? (91/100)

That was an excellent appetizer and already a really great one. Now on to the real heavy weights, basically the reason why we are here.

u88 (2)Velier Uitvlugt 1988 17YO “ICBU” (52,9%): If you’ve read the backgorund information on Uitvlugt, you will have figured out that the mark ICBU stands for Uitvlugt’s first owner, Ignatius Charles Bourda Uitvlugt. Nose: Much more mature and elegant than the ULR but just as fruity and intense. I get a mix of muscovado sugar, papaya, oranges, apricot, some pepper, hints of wood glue, tobacco, some leather and now clearly also plantains. Easily one of the better noses I’ve had in quite some time. Now more spices such as cloves, cinnamon, cumin and salt à la Albion. Extraordinary! After about an hour or so it is starting to become much more intense and especially the fruity notes are becoming more and more dominant. Oh my… I cannot wait to taste it. Palate: Holy moly! What a rum! This is becoming evident already within the first milliseconds. Glue, esters and fruits galore. I actually thought this is a Jamaican at first but the rum is constantly changing and new and different notes are constantly entering my taste receptors. Mango, iodine, Demerara sugar, ripe, almost bitter oranges, cocoa, a mix of spices, apricot, wood, salt, hints of tobacco, caramel, more exotic (citrus) fruits and we could go on and on. It is crazy just how much is happening here. This profile, this intensity, this smoothness… tasting notes just cannot do justice to rums like these. It is an experience that cannot be put in words, you just have to witness it. The only downside to the rum, and yes, here it really is the only downside, is the slight bitterness towards the end but everything else is like a crazy journey. Finish. Insanely long with the whole sequencing of fruity, glue-like, woody and bitter notes, as well as the spices, sweet sugar and what not. Again, it is simply futile to describe what’s happening here. It is love in a bottle – the crazy journey every serious rum aficionado should take at least once. It is one of the most rewarding rums I’ve ever tasted. (96/100)

uf30e (2)Velier Uitvlugt 1985 27YO “UF30E” (60,7%): Again, let me decipher the mark, even though I probably won’t have to. It stands for Uitvlugt Field 30 East, which denotes the parcel of land that grew the sugar cane that was responsible for this liquid piece of history. Nose: 27 years in the tropics but this definitely isn’t too woody. It is super intense with plenty of oranges, mangos and ripe papaya. Then muscovado sugar, sweet white chocolate, icing and then the full spectrum of spices (anise, cloves, red pepper) and quite some ginger. Later also lemon, tobacco and of course also wood, but again, definitely not too much. What a monster! Palate: An insanely smooth texture, perhaps one of the very best ones ever. Blindly, you might mistake this for a <50% rum but the intensity is second to none. Flavourwise, it is actually closer to some Versailles than to other Uitvlugt, I’d say. Crucially, it is much different from the nose and frankly, just great! I get Demerara sugar syrup, plums and prunes, raisins, rich fruit cake, tobaccco, quite some wood, ripe oranges and indeed, a huge amount of pencil sharpenings. Later also the glue-like notes and something close to mango. Boy, it is just great. Unlike the 1988, it is not the most comlpex rum ever but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the greatest ones ever. The finish is really long with wood, molasses, caramel spices and now even ever so slightly herbal notes. Very nice. It is a true masterpiece and essentially rum history. I don’t think we will ever get rums like this again, even though DDL might even be sitting on some… (94/100)