Versailles from the Diamond Era

Today we shall have a vertical tasting with a few Versailles that have been distilled during the era of the Diamond Distillery, i.e. the time from 2000 till today. The most prominent such batch would be the 2004 one, which we already treated, and shall treat again shortly, in a separate post. These Rums typically don’t have much in common with the amazing Versailles from the Enmore era which we consider to be some of the best Rums ever. The reasons are manifold but different fermentations and the loss of human know-how over the years and the courses of consolidations surely left their marks.

Barikenn Diamond “VSG” 2012 8YO (58,9%): Let’s hope this isn’t too young. Nose: Pears, vanilla vla, baked apple with vanilla sauce, hints of prunes and clearly also spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or anise. This is definitely not what I have in mind when thinking about Versailles but it surely isn’t bad. Maybe just a new style/ marque. Palate: Slightly sweet and not that sharp at all. I didn’t expect that. At just eight years, the alcohol is integrated very well and in terms of maturity there isn’t much to complain about. I get the pears again, esters, then vanilla, the spices from the nose, more oak than you’d think and towards the end of a sip also somewhat fresher notes slightly akin to mint or other herbs. With the second sip also some of those characteristic pencil sharpenings, hints of prunes and caramel. An interesting one that can easily compete with most of the older Versailles from the Diamond era. Finish: Not very long with slightly salty and smokey notes as you get them from a bonfire or burnt charcoal. Then vanilla and oak. A promising one, even though it seems that we really have to start accepting that Versailles is never going to be the same agian. But let’s see what this batch is going to taste like, say, ten years from today. (83/100)

S.B.S Guyana (Versailles) 2003 17YO (59,7%): S.B.S already released a 12YO with a Marsala finish from this batch that was solid but kinda gimmicky. I think it is rather cool to compare this to a “standard” and older maturation. Nose: Kinda sharp. Then a mix of toffee and spices. Then caramel, whipped cream, dry wood and deeper in the glass a mix of herbs that are tough to describe in more detail. While the descriptions might sound rather sweet, the Rum is actually bone-dry. It really needs some time to open up, as it is very muted initially, but reveals more fruity notes after a good half an hour. Palate: Hay and related notes, wheat and grains, the idea of dried prunes without the fruity character, lots of wood, grapefruit and here and there some spices again. I was hoping for a few more fruity or herbal notes right here but we fail to get them. What is more, the Rum is slightly boozy, which doesn’t make for a good combination… Finish: Medium long, dry and forgettable. It doesn’t leave any lasting impressions. This is a Rum, and basically also batch, that leaves me a bit puzzled. Normally, I would have said that this isn’t the best barrel but given the samples we’ve had, I am inclined to believe that none of these Rums will ever be great. (80/100)

El Dorado Versailles 2002 12YO (63%): The main difference here is that this one aged in Guyana and while some hydrometer tests have revealed that there might be a tiny amount of added sugar in this Rum, I am not sure how accurate this is. This is the amount of sweetness that’s probably only very hard to detect in a degustation. Nose: Quite fruity and not very “Versailles”. Instead, apples and bananas shape a slightly dull profile where we can also find milk chocolate, Ritter Sport Rum Trauben Nuss, a whiff of the characteristic pencil shavings, prunes and quite some molasses. It’s fine, but once again not really what we love so much about this still and style. On the plus side, it is extremely mild! Palate: Almost as mild but also with a certain bite to it. The profile starts with chocolate and molasses, prunes, burnt sugar and caramel, cocoa, wood and spices from the cask. And then… we don’t get much more than that, unfortuantely. Once again, this is solid, but certainly not what we are here for. Finish: Relatively short and spicy with molasses, rum-soaked raisins and your standard cask aromas. I almost forgot about how underwhelming this first Rare Collection series was. Fortunately things got a lot better subsequently. (81/100)