Yet another Jamaica Blind-Tasting: “Gems”

Our buddy Artur, who is about to publish his very own rum blog “The Dunder Hut” (we are still waiting ;)), organised another Jamaica blind-tasting for us. Given that we know the price of the tasting and that he loves himself some older bottlings, we were very curious what we’d get. Crucially, he promised not to include any “Rumverschnitt”. Something he asked us to do however, was to say if the rum has been adulterated in the form of added sugar or not. I am glad to tell you that we got all of them right. Once you know what a basic distillate can and cannot taste like, you don’t need a hydrometer test to tell – even though it is often times very useful I must say!

Since we’ve done the blind-tasting in a somewhat larger group (at a very high pace that made the poor blogger in me almost uncomfortable) via small local meetings and a video-conference, my notes are substantially shorter than you are used to but, as you are about to see, that will not be a huge problem. Next to the abv, we include the measured amount of sugar that has been added (if applicable), as detected by Arturs hydrometer test. Finally, we will put our post-reveal comments at the end of the individual reviews.


IMG-20200701-WA0080bCoruba Blanc (late 1970s, 40%): Old, unaged Jamaicans!? In my experience, those often time were not any good but we shall not start this session with any bias. Nose: Very thin with green olives and brine and not a whole lot besides that. It is just super boring if you ask me. Palate: A lot better than the nose with paprika and spice powder, the olives and now also a mix of nuts. So yes, better than the nose, but still not too good. Finish: Next to nothing, unfortunately. It is not a terrible rum all in all, but it is incredibly irrelevant. Who needs stuff like this? (60/100)
So my experience with the Swiss based Coruba dates back quite a bit and I have never been a fan. This just adds to that. Coruba should be Appleton produce by the way.

IMG-20200701-WA0086bAppleton White (2015, 40%): Again, of course we didn’t know what this is but out of curiosity, Artur decided to include this recentbottling. Nose: Just Awful. Vodka-like with a hint of pear. Palate: Vodka with vanilla this time. A lot of nothingness. Finish: Nah, not a lot… let’s go to the next one. RTN (35/100)
This is something that I didn’t believe and still cannot believe. Now it has been a while since I’ve tasted the Appleton White and I didn’t know much about rum when I did, but I do not remember it being that bad. I know that Appleton can do better than this, but this is just a horrible, horrible product if you ask me. Just not what a brand such as Appleton should epitomise these days.

IMG-20200628-WA0059Original Jamaica Rum Black Joe White (1990s, 40%): Nose: Tea, rhubarb, seabuckthorn and lots of anise. It’s like sitting in a tearoom somewhere in East Frisia. Not sure if the Jamaicans have ever heard of that region. Add salt and iodine. Palate: Plenty of anise, kinda like Ouzo or Sambucca, i.e. not really rummy if you know what I mean. Oh dear, it is just not good. Finish: Well, well, it is getting worse by the minute, not sure what went wrong here. By the way, the finish is incredibly long. Unfortunately. RTN (30/100)
I am not sure what to add here. I’d rather forget about it.

20200522_225105bOriginal Jamaica Rum Black Joe Aged (1970s, 40%, 19-22g/l): Given Artur’s profound knowledge when it comes to dating bottlings, we know that it has to come from the 1970s, not earlier than 1974 to be more precise. Nose: Finally a proper rum! I get a mix of fruits with papaya, apricot and mango. Palate: This one tastes slightly sweetened but the overall profile is still nice. It starts with the potpourri of fruits, transitions to the sweets and ends with the watery and sugary. Quite a let-down after the promising nose. Finish: Not good. It is slightly bitter and gets worse and worse and worse. Really strange. Things started out nicely but something went terribly wrong. The nose was good, the rest so-so at best. (68/100)
These Jamaican Black Joes are weird. And that’s not only because of their name.

IMG-20200701-WA0046Hansen Jubiläums Rum (1993, 43%): Nose: Vanilla, slightly sweet and quite boozy, unfortunately. Palate: Not good either. It is very alcoholic and just not tasty at all. I’d describe it as slightly smoky with vanilla, not sure what else is to be found in this one. Well… Finish: Oh dear, this is awful. Almost disgusting. The only thing I can call out here would be “smoky”. Please just leave my mind and memory! Once again, it didn’t start out too bad -the nose was tolerable- but… I think you know the story by now. (33/100)
After the reveal and seeing the bottle, I inevitably had to think of the Pott Privat Rum, which was also really, really bad but this is a different league, even. I don’t know and to be honest, I am afraid that I actually don’t want to know, but I don’t think that the standard Hansen rum can be any worse than this.

20200522_225058bAsmussen (1980s, 54%): This is an old version and unlike todays Asmussens, no “Verschnitt”. Nose: Kerosene and a bit alcoholic. Then herbal and somewhat salty notes. It’s not awful, but not good either. Palate: Way better than the nose. For the first I think. I get banana, citrus and herbal notes, followed by wood and hints of pear. It is a proper rum, that’s for sure, even though I am not a huge fan. Finish: Essentially an extension of the palate without anything that is really worth mentioning. (77/100)
I actually didn’t know that Asmussen used to produce such (real) rums. It’s too bad that this has apparently changed over the years.

20200522_224522b-minaJamaica Joe Liquore Secco Gold Quality (1970s, 40%): No sugar has been added here, even though it would be explicitly allowed given the “Liquore Secco” on the label. Nose: Yes, the nose is good! Glue, esters, vanilla – definitely something we can tolerate! Not complex, but I wonder where the palate is going here. Palate: Holy Jesus. What the heck??? This is sooo different from the nose. I am sure that this one has been messed with and it is just terrible. Musty vanilla, vanillin, vanilla aroma, flour… made for baking perhaps. Urgh. Finish: See the palate again. Nah, this cannot be it. (25/100)
My first encounter with these kind of products, and I am not ammused.

20200522_224522b-mincJamaica Joe Licore Secco (1990s, 40%, 15-19g/l): While the old version didn’t have any sugar added, this one does. Nose: Vanilla, banana and milk chocolate are my most notable first impressions. So far, so solid. There’s nothing wrong about this one. But all of a sudden I now get sweet notes, banana gum candy, …, well, it is getting suspicious! Palate: Banana, banana candy, banana liqueur and all in all, the texture does resemble that of a liqueur. Not bad, if you say it is a liqueur. If you say it is a rum, it’s a totally different story. It has certainly been messed with. (40/100)
The “messing” doesn’t only come in the form of sugar here but artifical flavouring has been, and given the label also may be, added. Probably a great collectors item!

IMG-20200701-WA0073Captain Morgan Black Label (1980s, 40%): Captain Morgan used to be a jamboree bag back then. Some were solid, some even good, and others just terrible. Nose: Demerara! Lovage, Maggie, molasses and very syrupy. That’s not bad at all and reminds me of the Enmore column still. Palate: Oaky but decent. All in all, it is way less flavourfull than the nose, however. Herbal and woody notes form the base aroma, together with some molasses to support them. Finish: More of the molasses and wood. It’s an okay one, nothing less, nothing more. (67/100)
I don’t have much to add, except that I probably wouldn’t have expected this Demerara-side in the rum.

IMG-20200701-WA0072bCaptain Morgan Gold Label (1970s, 43%): Let’s go back in time a bit. Nose: Quite soapy, yet fruity at the same time with litchi and rhubarb. I’d say it isn’t any good and something is certainly odd here, yet I cannot quite name it. Now a very pungent note, but not in the good sense. Palate: Fortunately a lot better. It is a bit like having an entirely different rum. I get quite some esters and a certain spicy, almost chili-like note. Finish: Well… basically a catastrophe. I won’t even talk about it. Nevertheless, it is definitely an okay-ish rum, even though nose and palate just won’t match at all. (70/100)
While I am not a fan of them, these old Captain Morgans are often times fun to taste, as they are typicall totally different from one-another and know how to surprise you. A perfect rum for a tasting like this, if you want.

WhatsApp Image 2020-07-09 at 21.35.59Captain Morgan (2019, 40%): Ahh, the current version. Of course we didn’t know that. Nose: Pear, apple, milk chocolate, banana and herbs shape the profile and I get associations of Worthy Park. It is indeed kind of familiar! Palate: The palate is pretty much the same as the nose, just a tad spicer and woodier. Later than actually a lot spicer and woodier, but that’s not an issue. Finish: Not too short and somewhat woody with spicy notes and hints of fruits alike. Probably the second best rum of the entire session. (71/100)
What a surprise. It is always good to keep the bast things for the last, except with these huge sessions where it doesn’t matter too much what you are actually tasting at the end. Except that it really doesn’t matter anyways with these ones.