Probably THE most iconic batch of Fiji’s South Pacific Distillery. At least, it is the best one so far if you ask me and defines the distillery’s style like no other. As always, we shall start with the youngest one that’s left over and ascend in age.
The Rum Cask Fiji 2001 18YO (55,7%): Nose: A lot of distillery character but also quite a lot of oak already. It’s definitely not as “fresh” as The Rum Cask‘s 15YO or 16YO expressions. I get a mix of soft red berries, banana, glue, sweet honey BBQ ribs, that hint of charcoal, a few of those typical medical/ herbal notes but only very little plastic. It’s a rather tamed cask, yet you can still sense the batch’s greatness – even though the nose isn’t ready to tell the full story. Notes of vanilla, salted caramel and seaweed round it off. Palate: Very mild and in a sense unspectacular. This one doesn’t come with quite the same “wow-effect” as its sister casks but it is still pretty good! It starts with honey, cherries and raspberries, moves over to more herbal and smokey notes and finishes with a pleasant oakyness, paired with vanilla, pepper and other spices from the cask. In direct comparison, it feels kinda soft I have to say, but mind you that this is still a very extreme high ester Rum, relatively speaking. Later bananas, some pineapple and more glue-like notes join the party. Finish: Medium long and dry with oak, dried tropical fruits (think banana chips, dried pineapple) and again the spices from the cask. Now also the characteristic plastic. Not my favorite Rum of the batch, but still a darn good one all in all. (89/100)
The Rum Cask Fiji 2001 19YO (54,8%): Nose: This is even drier and woodier than the 18YO The Rum Cask and it definitely needs some time to open up. I get banana, esters, polymers, honey, lavender, clearly oranges (and other citrus fruits) and fewer smokey/ medical notes than with the other Rums. But wait, after another ten minutes they are clearly there as well, albeit a bit more subtle than we are used to. Then sugar, cherries and more fruity notes (tropical ones and esters) that are kinda hard to pin down. Very nice! Palate: My first impression was watery and another sip kinda confirms that. I am relatively sure that this baby hasn’t been diluted but the texture isn’t as great and creamy as I feel it should be. Flavour-wise, we are doing damn fine though, as we get vanilla, cotton, red berries, a mix of herbs, honey, a hint of gauze bandage, pepper, salty (think pretzel) and even more vegetal notes. Finish: Medium long to long and rather on the medical/ smokey side. Charcoal, ash and BBQ are constant companions, as are medical herbs and extremely dry wood. Not my favorite finish though. It’s still very good, as the only major problem remains the rather subpar texture. (89/100)
Isla del Ron Fiji 2001 19YO (57,2%): Nose: Unmistakably Fiji and already with the first sniff we are in familiar territory once again (we do love these 2001s after all). I get honey, that typical note that reminds me of melting plastic, a wild mix of herbs, sour cherries, slightly medical and smokey notes reminiscent of BBQ, more honey, papaya and a very pleasant oakyness. I love it! Palate: Again the full doze of honey, but this time paired with mint, mango and passion fruit. Behind that the BBQ again, a rather tuned down plastic note and with the third and fourth sip also most of the other associations from the nose. Moreover, I can now also detect spices that I didn’t get before, as well as more creamy notes, vanilla vla and maybe even toffee. The Rum is incredibly complex and frankly, just great. My only complaint is that the alcohol isn’t integrated perfectly, which makes me not scoring this one even higher. Finish: Medium long to long. It doesn’t make sense to point out individual notes here as you get a potpourri of many of the notes we’ve encountered before but that honey layer is omnipresent. Another truly great Rum of this fantastic batch, that almost makes you forget about the old “Rockleys”. (90/100)
Rum Artesanal Fiji 2001 20YO (62,8%): Notice that we are going up in abv here. Nose: Very intense and the additional “watts” clearly help! It starts with vanilla and esters but very quickly continues with a mix of sweet and sour cherries, some glue, unripe pineapple, not as much oak as you might expect, pear and only with plenty of imagination those characteristic notes of plastic and smokey honey. Quite the unusual one, that is much closer to a younger Jamaican than it is to an older Rockley WIRD. Palate: At least here there’s absolutely no doubt where this one is hailing from though as it has everything that you need in a very balanced form, with a lot of banana on top. Plastic, medical herbs, sweet and smokey barbecue, cherries, oak – you name it. But yes, then more and more banana. Finish: Long with more alcohol than before, plastic, banana, pear and oak. Compared to the Isla del Ron, the alcohol is integrated much better here, but I think I prefer the profile of the former a little bit. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how you twist and turn it, these are all darn good Rums! (90/100)