A good blend is more than just the sum of its parts. Of course that statement is supposed to be correct, yet most blenders don’t manage to live up to that standard. I guess at the end of the day many producers are just trying to disguise bad barrels. Nevertheless, a few blends manage to deliver and at Single Cask Rum our goal is to locate them, of course. By the way, did you know that the German word “Blender” means “imposter”!? Often times very fitting, indeed.
Bristol Guyana & Guadeloupe (Guyana & Guadeloupe, 59%): Blindly, I wouldn’t have had the ghost of a chance guessing what this might be and even now that I “know” what it is I have a hard time putting it into boxes. In the nose I get a weird combination of spices, very raw molasses rums, pine, olives, brine, tapenade and cornichons perhaps. The palate helps making sense of all of this. In essence this is a Guadeloupian Agricole Blanc (the raw, dirty ones) with some, I would almost say woody, Guyanese nuance to it, which resembles some Versailles. If you know what you are looking for, there might be some pencil sharpenings and prunes in there. The latter associations are actually rather nice, even though I am still not entirely sure what to make out of this. It’s not interesting enough to be drunk straight and not characteristic enough to make a cool drink, but then again, I am not a cocktail nerd, so what do I know… Some Martini variatiom perhaps, as I have quite some green olives in the medium long finish. All in all it is a rum that falls between the cracks but I’d say try it if you can find a sample. (72/100)
Silver Seal Old Navy Rum (Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados, 57%): Navy blends seem to be rather popular these days. Not sure why but if they are well made, why not!? The nose comes with plenty of vanilla and banana as well as some herbs. It’s amazing how the Jamaican component dominates everything in these blends and I am pretty sure that we are dealing with Worthy Park here. At least that’s where I would have put it blindly. The trend continues at the palate and besides the vanilla, banana and herb combination I now also get some pear and hints of kerosene perhaps. This really is very standard Worthy Park and I’d say that the other rums provided some more body to the distillate, but also made it more flat and boring in a sense. Finish: Banana chips, some wood and eventually some herbal notes. Well, I’d just go for a good Worthy Park instead. (73/100)
Pirates of the Danubian X-Mas Edition 2017 (unknown, 57,6%): The third Danubian after an excellent 2015 and a rather good 2016. With this label, we have to assume the worst though. Nose: Very parfumed with artificial vanilla, white chocolate, raspberry-syrup, excessively sugary popcorn, Jasmin-petal flavoured green tea perhaps and a mix of herbs deeper in the background. If I were to be very mean I’d say this might be Senor Popo’s most recent special edition. Ouch. Palate: Not sharp, not too sweet and really different from the nose. It’s decidedly more woody with a very strong faulty note that carries throughout the length of a sip and into the finish. I don’t know what this is but it’s bad… Besides that some vanilla, lots of herbs, bitter elements from the wood slightly akin to walnuts. Finish: Not too short with the unpleasant faulty note, bitter wood, walnuts and citrus. I really hate to say this, especially since I’ve liked the previous releases and some of Slowdrink’s other stuff but this just isn’t any good and falls below the magical 50 point mark at which spirits become drinkable. (35/100)
Now on to more serious stuff.
Sea Wynde (Jamaica & Guyana, 45%): This must have been one of the first rums I’ve really been digging back then. At least three batches exist, however, and I do not know which one I have :(. Nose: It’s funny because when I tasted this many years ago I had absolutely no clue what I was having, today I can definitely point out the elements of this blend and it always suprises me how well Demerara pot still rum can assert itself against those Jamaicans. It’s shaped by the salty Port Mourant character with its anise and wet wood but fruity notes such as pineapple, mango or papaya (i.e. those Jamaican elements) can be found as well. It’s still really good I must say. Palate: The Versailles still was already part of the nose but these pencil sharpenings and prunes clearly form the basis of the flavour profile. Then rum soaked raisins, banana, almost Sherry-like notes (plums, leather, dry fruits), whipped cream, muscovado and a good but not too dominant mix of herbs, spices and wood. The finish is medium long with what I’d call the Sherry-like notes. In that sense, it reminds me a bit of old Wray & Nephews. Right on, this is what blends must taste like. You probably know that we aren’t the biggest fans of blends but this is just great. Mostly, we have to deduct points because of the drinking strength. (89/100)
Velier Tiger Shark (unknown, 57,18%): This is the follow-up release to their great Royal Navy Blend. This time we do not know the exact composition but the weighted average age (geez…) is 14 years. Nose: Very Worthy Park-ish with kerosene and flambéed banana as well as a mix of herbs in the background. But there’s more such as spices like cloves or cumin, woody notes and more leaf-like scents. After a while I also get some more dirty notes but all in all this doesn’t feel like a blend at all – which is neither good nor bad actually. The palate isn’t as heavy on the Worthy Park anymore and quite a bit more complex than the nose promised. It is drier, less fruity, “less Jamaican” with less banana but with a wider range of spices and dried fruits such as apricot or peach instead. It is actually really, really nice. Not what I would associate with a Navy blend but with a very good rum. Some wet wood now makes me think Port Mourant but, some of the spices aside, I cannot find much more of that. A hint of tarry notes seems obvious but they are covered in foul banana mush. Mjam. The finish is medium long with foul banana, kerosene, wood and later more herbal notes (once again, that is very Worthy Park-ish). Nicely done, Mr. Tiger Shark! (86/100)
And let’s have a bonus, a real Navy Blend from a flagon from the 1950s.
British Navy Rum Flagon 1950s (unknown): We’ve sampled quite a few flagons from that time over the years and they are typically between good and magnificent. The origin of this one is unknown, as is the abv but it should come from Guyana, Trinidad & perhaps Jamaica and be around 57%. Nose: Strong on the Demerara rum. I immediately get set back to old Versailles, the extremely woody ones à la XPD or KFM. I just love this style! Molasses, wood, muscovado, dark chocolate, coffee and something slightly akin to papaya make up the general profile of the rum. If you had told me that this is an old Enmore Versailles, I would have believed it, as there is essentially nothing else to be found here. Palate: Basically a more bitter version of the nose, perhaps ever so slightly too bitter and woody. It doesn’t offer anything else, really, but the chocolate has turned even darker and the coffee more into stale espresso, say. But yeah, good stuff. Finish: Long, bitter and woody with licorice, prunes, wood and coffee. Aweomse! We’ve never had a flagon that was this much dominated by the Versailles notes, which might be why I like this so much. It is always fun tasting these rums, as they are always completely different and always give you an idea of what rum has been like back then. This is easily one of the better ones we’ve had so far and it would probably go into the 90s if we were to score it. (no score)