Good Diamonds are hard to come by and the Velier releases aside, I think I can count the decent bottlings with the finger of a single hand. That’s a real pity, given how much potential is being wasted right there but you know the story… and of course that’s not a phenomenon that’s exclusive to the Blair still. But let’s not get into that again… but wait, I think we will anyway.
Velier Diamond “SVW” 1996 15YO (64,6%): This is a rum I know quite well, at least I’ve had it several times and from several different bottles already; and it was always great – just about time to review it. Nose: Column still (Demerara) par excellence. Simply outstanding. I get muscovado, iodine, quite some vanilla, unripe banana, a hint of caramel and then plenty of anise, all embedded in wood, tobacco and leather. I know that you can’t really smell it but yes, this does smell salty, and incredibly umami as well. Palate: Oh boy. True greatness. There’s so much going on here. Between the impressions of muscovado, banana, caramel and iodine, flavours such as sugar, slightly bitter oranges, something close to apricot of figs, salt, tobacco, anise, perhaps also cloves, vanilla pudding or cinnamon come and go. It’s another example of those column still Demeraras where describing the flavours seems futile: they are just so fragile and volatile that its difficult to get hold of them. Now this doesn’t always work, but when it does, it produces rums like no other. There are only one or two distilleries outside of Guyana which would fall into that very same category (I think I need to dig into them again very soon; hint: they produce Rhum Agricole). Finish: Long and lasting. I get a mix of muscovado, wood and spices (cloves, anise, cinnamon), but also the bitter oranges again. You know it already, I just love these Demeraras and even at “only” 15 years, you get close to perfection. In fact, there’s even a younger Diamond that I’d say might be the perfect rum. All I am saying is that it can be so simple, apparently – yet so much seems to go wrong. While I can understand some of DDL’s decisions from a financial standpoint, my inner rum nerd is at loss. (95/100)
Velier Diamond “SSN” 1996 16YO (63,4%): The Diamond still produces (produced?) all kinds of marques but SSN is that one marque that I just cannot put into a box. Probably because this is the only such rum that I am aware of. Nose: Incredibly mellow and just as intense as many pot still rums I know. I get a potpourri of fruity notes including apricot jam, dates, yellow plums and sweet quince. Then molasses, caramel and sweeter notes close to maple syrup. Grade A, of course ;). In that sense, it is also a bit Bourbon-esque as I now also get marshmellows, but also dark grapes and a hint of tannins. Really complex and interesting. Palate: We start with the sweet notes (caramel, maple syrup, marshmellows) but then move on to some wood, ginger, spices (nutmeg, anise) and again that hint of molasses. The latter is really different compared to some of the really heavy, dark Demeraras I know. Instead, this is mostly elegant, with licorice, cocoa and now also sweet, rich amarena cherries. Really nice! Finish: Really long but not too long, as we have it with some other fellows. The perferct duration if you ask me. Again, I get the notes from the cask (wood, spices) but also plenty from the distillate (caramel, sugar and even some of the fruits from the nose again). Almost a perfect finish, I’d say. I really like this rum. It is not necessarily what I have in mind when I am thinking about Demerara rum, neither does it have this certain “wow-factor” a rum like the SVW has, but noone else knows (or knew…) how to produce this style at this level. Fermentation, distillation and ageing are spot on. A real textbook example on how to produce rum. (91/100)