If the name of the article doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry, it is actually quite simple: Everything we know tells us that the Gardel distillery was already closed by 1998 (my information is that the still(s) have been scrapped in 1992). Now either these Rums have been labelled incorrectly or there have been distillations in that year, for instance just like Hampden was closed in 2007 but “try-out” batches have been produced and sold anyway. Think about a mobile still maybe in the vein of what’s going on in Armagnac perhaps!? The Gardel sugar estate is still active after all! Nevertheless, I just don’t believe in it personally and as we are about to see, the flavour profiles don’t really seem to match 100% either. Right now we don’t have the means to do the research, but it will be a nice exercise for the future (or for someone else…)!
Alchemist Gardel 1998 10YO (46%): An odd bottling, in all facets. Not only does it come from a bottler that we don’t know anything about, it also claims to be something that it probably cannot be (see the introduction). Nose: Slightly maritime and “salty” with iodine, Marmite, molasses, different sorts of seafood, carrot pickles, wood and some spices from the cask. Did we just say “in all facets”!? Oh yes, the profile is very unusual as well! Palate: Quite delicate and clearly Guadeloupean but I don’t dare guessing where it hails from. I have one or two strong guesses but that’s it. Flavourwise, we get somewhat salty notes (Marmite, molasses, seafood) but also a mix of wild herbs (thyme), slightly smokey tobacco, honey and also a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. That’s actually quite cool and in this particular case I even think that the dilution has helped the Rum by making it less boozy – something that’s rather rare! Finish: Relatively short with more of the same – it is basically an extension of the palate. All in all it is a nice Rum that’s just a bit too thin for my liking. At a higher strength with another year or two in the cask on top this might have been a really good one, potentially. (83/100)
Port Royal Gardel 1998 (46%): Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how old this one is or when it has been bottled but I think that it should be around ten years old as well. Nose: Slightly boozy but fatter than you might think. I get honey, walnuts, wood, tobacco, orange peel and then also this hint of seawater. This one definitely has Damoiseau written all over it, way more so than the Alchemist, but let’s check the palate first. Palate: A weird mix between thin (watery) and fat (full-bodied). While the dilution is clearly responsible for the former, I’d say that the strong honey note gives us the latter. Unfortunately, the palate is a also lot less complex than the nose and in direct comparison, I must say that I liked the Alchemist’s flavour profile a lot more. Finish: Short and peppery (chili) with a few spices and wood. The nose was good, the rest not at all. Oh well… (77/100)
Renegade Gardel 1998 11YO “Chateau Latour Finish” (46%): Chateau Latour, c’est le Premier Grand Cru Classé à Pauillac, Médoc, un Grand Vin Rouge de Bordeaux. D’accord!? Nose: Very light and quite different from the two previous Rums. I really don’t think these Rums come from the same distillery even, let alone Gardel. Now, there’s vanilla, wood, unripe grapes, a mix of red fruits perhaps (the finish I guess – tatatataaa!), some leather even but all in all, this feels very interchangable and lacks a certain distinct character. Palate: A bit on the dry side without being adstringent and frankly, slightly too thin for my personal palate. Fruit-wise, there’s a mix of pear and pineapple, which are followed by brine, hay and clearly also smokey notes. What have you done here, Mr. R.? Oh dear… We always welcome experiments, yet somewhat schizophrenically are quick to bash the resulting fails. I know, I know. Finish: Medium long and nutty with oak, vanilla and dry spices. Nope, this one didn’t convince us either, and the even the finish wasn’t of any help I think. (75/100)
Let’s hope we will be able to find a few real Gardels for next time 😉