Supposedly sacred Savannas

Aliterations are awesome, aren’t… ahhh… athey.!? Once again, we are essentially one release series behind, but I don’t think this page has ever been about the hottest current stuff.

DSC_0046R4g7jPXUCWHnW (2)Savanna 2004 14YO “Unshared Cask Rum Artesanal” (53,6%): This traditional rum (i.e. molasses with “normal” fermentations) has been bottled exclusively for Rum Artesanal, Savanna’s German partner. It comes from cask #263. By the way, does the label also scream Caroni to you? Anyway, nose: Another great traditional column still rum from Savanna, I think. They really demonstrate what’s possible within this subsection (if you can call it so) of rum. I get a mix of caramel, tobacco, sulphur, grain, rye, wood and now also more fruity notes such as pear or gooseberry. The rum really requires some time to breathe but it will reward you with additional notes of blueberry, muffin dough, banana bread and sweet plums. At first I thought it is just so-so, but after about half an hour the rum demonstrates its full potential. Palate: Pretty much driven by the grains and the rye from the nose, but a pronounced fruitiness kicks in towards the end of a sip as well. Oatmeal, apricot, mango and pear would be other impressions, as well as the blueberry-muffin combination I’ve also had in the nose. The downside is basically that the palate doesn’t offer anything else than the nose but we are still dealing with a very fine rum! Finish: Drier and spicier than the palate. It’s not super long but this is a rum that wouldn’t benefit from a long finish either, I believe. While these traditional rums are not necessarily our favorites from Savanna, I’d say that no-one is better at producing this particular style either. A few Guyanese distilleries used to, but these days seem to be gone… Kudos, my friends! thumb-60x60 (86/100)

One heck of an appetizer. Let’s continue with a pair of rums that have been finished in HERR casks, an agricole and a Grand Arôme.

savannjapantribute (2)Savanna Agricole “HERR Japan Tribute” 2012 6YO (56,4%): This rhum agricole has been finished in the Japan-HERR cask. Wait, there has already been a Grand Arôme that has been finished in that very cask so this is already the second rum that entered the barrel after the HERR has been liberated. Nose: Rather faint at first and actually a bit boozy. Then apples, vanilla, apricot but not much that would hint at the finish. Hmm, I am not sure what to make out of this, the nose really doesn’t hit it if you ask me. Palate: A mix of the fruits from the nose and now also more grain-y notes (rye, corn, wheat) but once again, not too much from the finish. There’s this certain intensity that is different from what I am used to with Savanna’s Agricoles but it doesn’t come with any additional, leave alone “special” flavours. Well, I am a bit puzzled. It is clearly a good rhum, just not what I was expecting. Finish: Long with the grains and apples and now a whiff of Wick Blau. A real weirdo and at this point probably more of a collector’s item than anything else. I guess that the HERR flavours have already been sucked out by the first finish. thumb-60x60 (84/100)

16907 (2)Savanna Grand Arôme 2007 10YO “Omaggio – HERR Finish” (55,1%): This is a Grand Arôme that has been finished in the Velier HERR cask. (This means that the Velier HERR cask already had to be emptied in 2018!). Nose: Mmhh. Quite different. This isn’t your super high ester Grand Arôme but it is really eclectic and complex. Let’s start with the fruits, even though that isn’t necessarily the first thing you’ll notice. Ripe papaya, strawberry and ultra ripe pears form a very interesting bouquet that is joined by malt, nuts (cashew, macadamia), pastry, a hint of Wick Blau and the perefect amount of influence from the cask I’d say. It isn’t really spectacular at first, but it is extremely good! Palate: Again, decidedly different from some of the in-your-face Grand Arômes (the 2004 14YO bottling for LMDW comes to my mind) but it works incredibly well. It starts with a combination of strawberries, papaya, cherries and bubble gum, continues with slightly herbal notes (thyme, spicy oregano) and different sorts of wood and ends with something between macadamia and grain. In between we can find Earl Grey tea, citrus (bergamot), mint and menthol. It is a bit like if this rum actually hasn’t been finished, in the good sense that is. It is very homogeneous and the combination is what I’d call a perfect match. Finish: Excellent! Very long with its “fresher” notes that make you really want to take your time until the next sip. I think this is a rum where everyone can agree that it is great. It will probably never be the most celebrated one out there, but it is super consistent. Nicely done, Savanna! thumb-60x60 (88/100)

16909 (2)Savanna Grand Arôme “Thunderstruck” 2004 14YO (65,1%): A “standard” Grand Arôme, if you can ever call such a rum standard. Nose: Not as aggressive and direct as some other Grand Arômes by Savanna and in profile actually closer to rums from New Yarmouth, say. I get glue, sweet pastry, almond paste, esters (foul papaya, pineapple) and mild olives perhaps. It isn’t very complex and again, somewhat atypical I’d say but I can see where the title “High Voltage Rum” comes from. Palate: While the nose was very Jamaican, the palate is unmistakably Savanna. Sure, many of the aromas from the nose are still there but here we have this bubble gum-y profile and texture that is oh so typical for the distillery. Strawberry, cherries, a mix of herbs, some wood and hints of the HERR-typical Wick Blau ice candies. Once again, quite good, but I am lacking a few more nuances that we’ve had with many other Grand Arômes. Finish: Medium long with dry banana, some wood, ever so minimally bitter notes (walnut bitters) and cashew perhaps. All in all, it is a very nice rum but we did have even better Grand Arômes in the past. thumb-60x60 (85/100)

123 (2)Savanna Grand Arôme “Unshared Cask Belgium” 2007 10YO (57,6%): Nose: Here I am getting many impressions that remind me of a fortified wine barrel, even though it apparently has not been used for this one. I get chocolate, cocoa, coffee, plums, prunes, lots of wood, some leather and quite a few spices such as cinnamon or cloves. Once again, I was expecting something else but this is a really cool twist I must say. Behind that bitter oranges, some bubble gum and dark cherries. So far so good, but I often have a hard time with this chocolate-heavy expressions. Palate: Good news, the chocolate isn’t as intense as the nose suggested and the rum is actually very well-balanced. Dark plums and cherries meet almost syrup-y prunes, bitter oranges, leather and sweet mango. Really cool! I even get images of a few Demerara rums popping up in my mind. I must say that they are doing many things the right way here and know how to distinguish their expressions from one-another! Finish: It is here that the rum really resembles fortified wine in a sense, with its sweeter and chocolate-like elements as well as the dried fruits. It brings the rum to full circle. I like it, but I know that there are even better Grand Arômes out there. Let’s not talk the rum down though, it is really good. thumb-60x60 (87/100)

savannaporto (2)Savanna Grand Arôme Port Cask Blend 2004 15YO (49,2%): This is another selection by LMDW. Hey Sam, when do I get to select a cask!?!? Nose: The higher age and maturity relative to the Unshared Cask for Belgium are apparent. I get plums, bubble gum, strawberry, Kalamata olives, rich chocolate, coffee and wood. In direct comparison, the nose is much more elegant and balanced than that of the rum above but it isn’t necessarily more interesting or better, just different. Palate: Lots and lots of chocolate, the fortified wine, a mix of dried fruits, sour cherries, sugar syrup, leather, a mix of dark berries and quite some wood. Then herbs, bubble gum, frozen strawberries, wood and slightly bitter notes (bitter oranges) as well as the olives again. It is indeed a bit like a more grown-up version of the Belgian Unshared Cask and I am starting to think that these Grand Arômes are really suitable candidates for different cask types – as long as the former content of the cask (unless it was rum as well, of course) isn’t too dominant. Finish: Medium long to long with chocolate, strawberry, cherries, herbs and wood. At the danger of repeating myself, this is a very mature and elegant Grand Arôme, which just by itself is neither worse nor better than the younger expressions, it is just different. I guess both can have their moments to shine. thumb-60x60 (87/100)