Getting your hands on a bottle of Habitation Velier has never been this difficult, has it!? Anyway, we managed to get a bundle of all three new releases -we’ve split them of course- and are keen to check them out.
Habitation Velier Privateer 2017 3YO (55,6%): I’ve read that this one contains not only the three year old rum from 2017 but also 5YO juice. Now all our previous encounters with the distillery have been very lackluster but let’s see what our friend Luca chose for us. Nose: Oh my sweetness. It is not as sweet as the Privateer profile I’ve had in mind but sweet notes such as sugar, caramel and toffee shape the profile. Of course it is a “clean” rum, but the sweetness is overwhelming. Then mushrooms (very dominant actually) and some corn here and there. I cansee why lovers of soft Bourbon might like this. Palate: Oh my sweetness part two. This sugary profile is dominating everything. Once again, let me state that this is a proper rum but it must be some of the sweetest, natural rum I’ve ever tasted. I get a whiff of Sherry like in a short PX finish, grenadine, sweet raspberry, mellow corn and some wood. Finish: Short, sweet and likely corny, in both senses of the word. Then quite some wood. All in all, it is a very flat, uninspiring and one-dimensional rum, but clearly well made. I really wonder how they get this sweetness into it though. RTN (70/100)
Habitation Velier Mount Gay 2011 9YO (52,3%): This is another rum that was distilled for the Mount Gilboa series and I would have expected this one to carry the name “Last Ward” as well – not sure why it is a “Mount Gay” all of a sudden. I can recall Mr Ward insisting on not calling this a Mount Gay rum. Anyway, nose: Clearly Mount
Gay Gilboa but it actually reminds me more of the standard Mount Gayprofile than it reminds me of the other Mount Gilboas/ Last Wards. I get almonds, grapes, swlightly sweet citrus fruits and herbs such as thyme or basil. This is another simple and straightforward rum but its profile is so much more to my liking. My next impressions are a hint of glue and the familiar marzipan and milk coffee combination. Nice! Palate: A bit sharp at first. I had to look up the abv again; is this really only 52%!? Then very grassy notes and frankly, this is closer to Rhum Agricole than to a few actualy Agricoles (think Neisson, for example). There’s greek yoghurt, small fried curd balls, the herbs from the nose again, leek, and something that reminds me of Earl Grey tea. Quite the weirdo. It isn’t great but definitely interesting and fun. If only the alcohol had been integrated better, but that has been an issue with almost all of these Gilboas. Finish: Short to medium long with the yoghurt/ herb combination and slightly bitter wood. Think als the tea again. It is a rum that’s definitely worth getting a sample of, but probably not more than that. There are simply too many better alternatives. RTN (82/100)
Habitation Velier Hampden “C<>H” 2010 10YO (68,5%): A “Continental Hampden”, but no worries, it has still been aged in the tropics ;). By the way, the bottle label reads barrel proof while the box says high proof. Hello, intern! Nose: Good lord, so much acetone and nail polish remover. Then peach, foul mango and banana as well as different sour notes that do not come from citrus fruits exclusively. For me, this sourness that tends to increase with the ester levels with Hampden is really starting to become a minor problem. All things considered, marques like <>H or HGML simply do have much more to offer if you ask me. Nevertheless, it is quite good and I now get pastry (Baklava), olives and intense chorizo perhaps. Later even cherries. Palate: Once again slightly sour but all in all this is much more balanced than the nose, even though this acidic/ sour side is still incredibly dominant. Then tangerine and oranges, Brioch, a hint of chocolate/ cocoa but also pineapple and banana. With the third sip also cherries, something close to apples and pears as well as plenty of cider vinegar. Finish: Long and intense with lots of cider vinegar once again. This is stuff for the ultra high ester freaks of course and while I would not not call myself among them, I am starting to realise that I clearly prefer some of the more balanced Hampdens, which are still ester monsters by all means. The sweet spot is clearly withing the range HLCF, <>H and HGML for me. At least that would be what I’d choose if I were to pick a barrel. RTN (88/100)