On paper, this should be a fun session. Exactly the type of session we’d love to do every time. I am afraid we cannot, though. It doesn’t help, but these old Enmores and Versailles from around the 1970s are probably my personal favorites of all time. This magical style, paired with the patience of these long maturations simply produced Rums like no other. It is just the style of Rum I love the most – you have been warned!
Cadenhead’s Green Label Demerara (Versailles) 1969/70 25YO (46%): We do not know exactly when it has been distilled, only with certainty that it has been bottled in 1995. That means it must come from 1969 or 1970. Nose: Quite nutty with rich, oily, old walnuts, roasting aromas (cocoa, coffee), molasses, wood, hints of varnish, some prunes perhaps but then more and more of the nuts. Now maybe the scents of a pencil that has been lying around forever collecting dust. The label doesn’t say it but I am quite sure that this is also an “XPD”. The similarities to the 1971s are too obvious. By the way, did we mention that this just smells amazing!? Palate: The dilution is just fine since the Rum is easily sippable and still ultra intense and aromatic. It all starts with the nuts and the wood again, before we get cinnamon, molasses, ever so slightly bitter black tea, cardamom, lacquer and resins, cocoa, papaya, gorp (i.e. the nuts again, but also dried fruits) and ever so vaguely herbs in the background. What a way to start this session! Finish: A sudden sweetness between the wood and bitter notes. I’d describe it as raspberry or amarena cherry. Oh boy, it is just perfect. Unfortunately we do not know how much better the full proof version of this Rum would have been but I am inclined to believe that it wouldn’t have made a big difference. It is just that good. (94/100)
Thomson’s Enmore Distillery 1977 (46%): I believe this should be a rather young one but I have no idea when it has been bottled. If you have any information, please let us know. Nose: There are these old Demeraras that are not all that old but that give you the impression that they are moderately mature, which is a very particular and rather unique profile. This seems to be one such Rum. I get prunes, Rum soaked raisins, rhubarb, licorice, some wood, ever so slightly salty or medical aromas (yeah, yeah…), tobacco and charcoal perhaps. Sure, why not!? Palate: I am not sure why but this Rum kinda reminds me of Gardel 1982 (see here for example). Or is Gardel 1982 just reminding me of this one? It does have this bamboo, muscovado, burnt wood (the charcoal again!) and molasses profile that is just so typical. But indeed, it is probably more typical for Enmore than it is for Gardel (is that why we like the old ones that much? Most certainly!). All in all, it is very good juice, with a note that’s slightly off that I didn’t mention so far, and that is hard for me to describe. Finish: Quite long and salty with that wooden ship’s plank that spent too much time at sea. Later also bamboo as well as burnt wood and sugar. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but at the end of the day is is definitely a very good Rum with a small minor flaws. But this old school profile is just too unique and good to be rated much lower than this. By the way, I am relatively sure that this should be an EHP, i.e. a product of Enmore’s wooden coffey still. (89/100)
Silver Seal Enmore “EHP” 1977 32YO (64,4%): If this is the Thomson’s just at a higher maturity and strength, it should be great. Nose: It actually smells quite different, much more modern and cleaner if you want. It starts with roasting aromas (cocoa, coffee, peanuts), sugar, glue, wood, just a little bit of varnish, spices such as cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg and cumin, then roasted coconut and a very subtle fruitiness which only reveals itself after about an hour or so in the glass. Magnificent! Palate: Yes, what a Rum! I get caramel, varnish, something between walnut and coconut, cocoa, coffee, muscovado sugar, a mix of dried and candied fruits such as plums, raisins and even cherries, now also mango, tobacco and whatnot. With the forth and fifth tiny sip that I have been taking I also get oranges, hints of marzipan even (the salty version I guess), that whiff of thyme we’ve also found elsewhere and definitely also licorice. Finish: Long and giving. It doesn’t provide anything new as we get mostly the notes from the palate but with a Rum like this it is absolutely no problem whatsover. If you close your eyes and think about Demerara Rum, this is what you get, at least for me. It just sums up all of the different styles and characteristics in a single Rrum like no other does. And that at a quality that is second to none. (94/100)
Silver Seal Enmore (Versailles) 1975 32YO (50%): This comes from the magnum bottle. Nose: Dear lord, this is unbelievably good. I get thick, almost syrupy molasses, licorice, prunes, leather, caramel, muscovado, sweet mango, an orange and some thyme perhaps, quite some wood but not at all in the bad way, a mix of high quality olive and avocado oil and actually, we could go on and on… I almost fear taking a sip because that is only going to reduce the amount of this nectar we have available for the tasting but we have to do it, of course. Palate: Almost as good but I feel that the reduction made this Rum slightly sharper than it might have been at full proof. I get wood, wood varnish, lots and lots of spices from the cask, carob, more bitter elements than we like, raisins and other dried fruits (think cranberries), burnt sugar, molasses and more wood… Nope, the palate simply doesn’t play at the same level as the nose but we cannot have it all, can’t we!? Finish: Long with wood, carob, wood varnish and spices. The flavours are good, but it is just slightly too bitter for my liking. The nose is one of the best noses in all of Rum, heck, in all of spirits though. It is too bad that the palate has a few drawbacks. (92/100)
Silver Seal Enmore (Versailles) “XPD” 1971 32YO (71,8%): Look at these numbers; beautiful, aren’t they? Nose: Glue, cocoa, chocolate, a mix of nuts (mostly walnuts, Brazil nuts and cashews), more fruity notes such as prunes, or dark berries (think brambleberries), lots of wood, cherries, It is this very subtle sweetness behind all of these roasting aromas as well as dry and woody notes that is absolutely fascinating here. Later lots and lots of creamy caramel as you get it in a Twix bar, or let’s say Raider since it fits the era better. Palate: 70+%? You gotta be kidding me, this is smooth like silk and the texture is just insane. Flavourwise, it strikes this great balance between dry, woody, roasting flavours as well as slightly sweet and fruity, even though it is a tiny tad too bitter if you ask me, especially towards the end of a sip/ in the finish. It does have this stale black tea element to it which can sometimes be great and completely ruin a Rum at other times; here it is really just in between the two. No matter what, I’d say this one is a real experience. Other impressions include, but are surely not limited to candied cherries, ripe mango, orange oils and cedar wood. Finish: Super long, intense and bitter with the black tea, wood, cocoa and other roasting aromas. We have been criticising quite a bit about this one but please note that these are really just those wee nuances that seperate one of the best from the very, very best. (94/100)
Cadenhead’s Enmore Distillery (Versailles) “XPD” 1971 29YO (64,7%): Nose: At first a whole doze of glue but then dusty pencil sharpenings, the wooden table that hasn’t been cleaned for some time, old varnish, walnuts and walnut oil, molasses and muscovado, salty licorice and clearly also coffee. This is the moment where tasting fatigue would usually set in, but not with crackers like this. These Rums just keep on giving, here in the form of more fruity notes such as oranges, figs and mango. Absolutely lovely and it really rewards you if you give it some more time than you usually would! Palate: There it is again, this ultra intense, almost syrupy and just overpowering melange of the roasting aromas (walnuts, cocoa, coffee), notes of sugar (molasses, muscovado) and the wood and spices where you never know if it comes from the distillate or from the cask. This is something that only these Rums can do! Going over all the individual notes is absolutely doable here, but futile. The complexity just cannot be described by them, no matter how many impressions we list. What I do love though is that it always comes back to this very unique note of wood and olive oil, irrespective of whether we have just tasted charcoal, cocoa, varnish, stale mint tea or resins before. Finish: Long and full of dark fruits, those familiar Demerara notes such as the spices, burnt sugar/ caramel, wood and salt as well as the varnish that seems to be typical for that era of Enmore. I know that it might sounds inflationary in a tastings like this but it is a Rum for the ages. Fullstop. (96/100)