Essentially antique Port Mourants today. Some have an excellent reputation, others, well, rather an average one. I am not stressing it all time but that’s why we do semi-blind tastings whenever possible. Sure, the difference in abv can often be telling but it is still the best we can do. At least colour is not going to be an indicator today. Let’s see if the “crowd favorites” also come out on top for us. The only real omission should be the Norse Cask by the way.
Rum Nation Demerara 1975 25YO (45%): The youngest rum of the session. Indeed, this has been bottled about 20 years ago. Nose: Lots of wood, sligtly bitter oranges, a whiff of sour cherries, caramel, molasses and some licorice. All in all, it is perhaps the most reluctant and faintest (as in least intense) rum of the bunch. Palate: A bit too much on the woody side, I am afraid. There’s a mix of really nice notes (salted caramel, buttery buiscuit) and rather dull ones (molasses, cocoa), to put it in a nice way. Wooden sticks, prunes, pepper and peppers (i.e. paprika) are my other impressions. Behind that we constatly get this dusty/ musty notes, which is a bit irritating if you ask me. It’s clearly Port Mourant but it is lacking some of the typical, characteristic notes that we like so much about this style. Finish: Short and somewhat forgettable, if it weren’t for that rather strange note that’s somewhere between molasses and caramel. A solid rum in a strong field, that’s never an easy task. RTN (86/100)
Now there’s quite the series of 32YO bottlings. It seems that all of a sudden, plenty of 1975 PMs were made available by the MRC.
Cadenhead’s Demerara 1975 32YO (40,3%): Now just like the other Cadenhead’s Green Label Demeraras from 1975, this one should be a Port Mourant, and if not, at least a blend that is mostly made up of Port Mourant. It is said to be full proof/ cask strength. Nose: So this is one is clearly good but in direct comparison with the other rums it definitely loses out. Rather fruity with rum soaked plums (a slightly boozy version), sour cherries, molasses, pepper, wood, cinnamon and very little anise. Now also chocolate and Mon Chéri. Again, there’s absolutely nothing wrong about it and on its own it would probably stand out, but here it is the weak link if you want. Going back to it, I can find a pronounced cheesecake note. Where’s that coming from now? Palate: Not just a victim of the low abv, it also lost to the wood and bitterness. Compared to the two other Cadenhead’s from we’ve had (see link above), it is really lacking quite a bit. Plums, cherries, tobacco and caramel form a nice profile, but the wood and bitterness behind that, paired with the odd texture (mature but thin) doesn’t really match. The word on the street is that this hasn’t been diluted (well, at least not after releasing it from the barrel) but it is not the level of quality we came to expect. Finish: Medium long with sweet cherry, plum and spices. The rum really turns the corner here as the finish provides the necessary context to make sense out of all of this. Nevertheless, it lacks the common theme, introduction, main body and conclusion all tell a different story, making it like a good bock you just cannot read. Ulysses anyone? RTN (85/100)
Berry Bros & Rudd Demerara (Port Mourant) 1975 32YO (46%): Nose: Right after lifting the aroma lid I was about to say that this one is just great but after a couple of seconds the intensity is kinda gone and we are left with a slightly musty profile. The reduction is noticeable but, compared to the two previous rums, not a problem as this is way more intense and concentrated. Plenty of wood, molasses, fermented pepper, anise, slightly smoky salt and more wood are my main impressions. I am really missing some of the fruity notes here, even though I can be a sucker for these ultra dry Demeraras from time to time. Palate: The dilution isn’t a huge deal, which is a big plus. Flavour-wise, I get lots and lots of spices such as pepper (the fermented one again), cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and fennel seeds (the small, not the big ones you may have in mind). Then stale black tea and old, cold coffee. Finish: Medium long with molasses, wood, spices from the cask (i.e. not the rum) and now also some herbal notes. It is a really, really nice rum, but it is going to get a lot better! RTN (88/100)
High Spirits Demerara (Port Mourant) 1975 32YO (52%): High Spirits used to have a few formidable rums back in the days. Nose: A bit heavier on the molasses and licorice notes than the other rums. In a sense there is a pronounced Enmore side to this one. A very edgy expression with a minimally acidic note to it in the background. Then hints of plums, green mango, apricot, wood, cocoa, coffee and something close to sweet potatoe. Now I am starting to think that the acidic note might actually be related to the coffee I am getting. Certainly interesting and quite a bit different from the others. With more time, more and more fruity notes come through. This one is really growing on me! Palate: Oh dear, I love it! This is like PM syrup – super sweet and concentrated, yet very mature and rich, dark juice. I get raspberry, cherry, caramel, vanilla, only a hint of anise, molasses, I’d say the right amount of wood, towards the end slightly herbal notes and we could go on and on. Simply excellent! The spices are actually limited to a bare minimum and the cocoa/ coffee-like notes are spot on. Finish: The drier notes last for an average amount of time, the sweeter notes for much, much longer, which makes for an interesting interplay. This is my kind of Demerara! (93/100)
Rendsburger Bürgermeister Rum Port Mourant 1975 32YO (56,9%): Oh dear Bürgermeister, such lovely rums have come from you… This shouldn’t be any different. Nose: This is the first rum where I’d say that everything is coming together. It has a lot more power than most of the other rums and it has to be one of the higher abv ones. The rum’s major advantage over all others is that it also comes with glue. Next to that it is a bit like the perfect combination of everything else and there’s really no need to go through the individual notes again – it is the balance and harmony that makes this one shine! Palate: The glue-like notes continue at the palate, something that is extremely rare. If you had told me that it has been tropically aged I might certianly have believed it. Then molassess, sugar, caramel, sweet amarena cherry, cookie dough, red and black currents, dark chocolate and hints of oranges. I understand that my dry and dull notes often fail at delivering how I really “feel” about a rum, but here it is love in a bottle. Finish: Looooong a interesting. Once again, it is not any indiviual notes sticking out, rather the interplay of aromas that makes this one so special. I am constantly shifting back and forth between the High Spirits and this one but I feel like I might have a personal bias for the High Spirits; this one ought to be a tad better objectively. It is a bit like the “dark” counterpart to the High Spirits. While the sweeter notes had the center stage with the former, this one has its strong moments with the drier notes. Which one you prefer is up to your palate of course, I’d say that I’d love to have both of them. RTN (94/100)
Velier Port Mourant “PM” 1975 32YO (56,7%): How could we do this without the Velier bottling? It is another small batch expression made up of three barrels, by the way. Nose: Super woody. If there’s a rum in this session that should have been bottled earlier it is clearly this one. I guess it might have been a solid one but the cask has definitely taken over here. What a pity. Next to the wood I get molasses, cardboard, cocoa and cold, stale coffee but not much more. I hope the palate has a bit more to offer but after a nose like this, that’s seldom the case. Palate: Good news first: It is ultra smooth, not as woody as I feared and goes down your throat like warm butter. Bad news is that it is neither the most interesting, nor the most complex profile out there. Molasses, wood and licorice dominate the rum and while it is definitely a very good one, it barely manages to beat the Berry’s at just 46%. It’s just too one-dimensional all in all, even though the extra power and smoothness certainly helps. The more I think about it, the more I am starting to believe that these are really the only points the rum has in its favour. Finish: Medium long but drying out very quickly. The wood sticks with you for quite some time, the actual rum not for very long. Clearly not the best of the full proof Velier Demeraras, yet it is definitely not as bad as some people say it is. RTN (89/100)
Silver Seal Port Mourant 1975 37YO (51,1%): Last but not least, this is the oldest rum of the session. Note that there’s another version of it with 49,9%, which is also good, but not quite as great. Nose: Just like the Rendsburger, this one is super well-balanced and just lovely. Quite fruity with the cherries and mango but with all the woody notes, spices and the molasses that we’ve also found with the other rums. Mmhhh. Funnily, there’s really nothing that’s sticking out here, yet I feel that it is rather special in a way. Let’s add tangerine, vanilla yoghurt and tonka to the by now well-known profile. I am really curious to find out what this might taste like. Palate: Another one that’s really to my liking and I cannot find any faults here. Now of course the rum isn’t perfect, all I am saying is that within its scope, it is not doing anything wrong. The profile starts with the molasses, cocoa and spices, but also comes with a somewhat fresh, slightly herbal note close to rosary. Then foul mango, plums, bitter oranges, cinnamon, cloves, wood and black tea. Pretty much exactly what I am looking for, really. Finish: Long with wood, tobacco and molasses. An excellent Demerara from the old days. Oh how I miss these rums… RTN (92/100)