The history of Beenleigh dates back to 1865, when the Englishmen John Davy and Francis Gooding purchased 300 acres of land along the Albert river, whichy the have named “Beenleigh” after their old Devonshire farm. Planning to grow cotton, it turned out that sugar cane was actually more lucrative. The story goes that a certain James Stewart was operating a floating sugar mill aboard the S.S. Walrus on the river and quickly found a productive use for the excess molasses he produced. In 1884, the ship was washed ashore Beenleighs banks, with noone aboard except for the copper pot still that Mr. Stewart was operating – the distillery was born. It’s a story that can easily keep up with that of some of the best Gins out there if you ask me. Today, the distillery is operated by only four people who do all the work. You cannot say that they don’t have a lean structure, eh!?
The Rums of this session have all been distilled in 2007, probably the most prominent and most widely known Beenleigh batch to date. The fermentation time for these Rums is said to be 12 days, with ester counts in the range of +/- 175 g/hlaa and volatile substances beyond 500 g/hlaa. Those are lovely numbers, my fellow Rum nerds, aren’t they!? But numbers mean ****, if the actual Rum doesn’t live up to them, so let’s just taste these distillates, shall we!? We already know what to expect though: When Worthy Park’s slogan is “Who doesn’t love bananas!?”, Beenleigh’s has to be “Who doesn’t love pears!?”, so let’s see!
Rum Artesanal Australia (Beenleigh) “MAIC” 2007 12YO (50,4%): MAIC stand for Main Australia Inner Circle of course and while we have not reviewed Inner Circle so far, I am sure that it rings a bell with most of you. The story behind them shall be explained in a later review, when we actually taste those Inner Circle Rums. But yes, it is Beenleigh. Nose: Pears, herbs, slightly medical notes, vanilla, oak and persimmon make the start. Especially the medical, almost slightly smoky notes are interesting here and, unlike with the rest of the bunch, we find almost no apples or quince – as we are about to see. Palate: 50% can be nice for a change, don’t you think!? At least if they are this aromatic! Nevertheless, the texture feels a bit thin and after checking back, it has been diluted indeed. That’s too bad. Flavourwise, we are getting pears, banana, herbs, oak, vanilla and now also quince. The tropical aging made this Rum very mature, but we will see that even another year or two in continental climate can make a big difference (or maybe it is just the dilution, who knows…). Finish: Medium long with pear, oak and honey. The nose was remarkably good, the rest a small let down but all in all, this is still a darn good Rum. (85/100)
S.B.S Australia (Beenleigh) 2007 13YO (55%): Nose: Rather restrained. I think it needs time. Then quince, pear, vanilla, a few nuts here and there as well as something along the lines of prunes, dates or figs. With more time we also get more and more pears, just as it should be. Maybe we need to travel to the region of Calvados again… Palate: The integration of the alcohol isn’t perfect but the texture is incredibly creamy. Apple tart, ripe pear, mild (perhaps even sweet) lemon, crumble and bitter vanilla are my main associations, supported by olives, brine and oak. Fantastic, if it only were a little bit less boozy. Finish: Medium long and dry, with those supporting notes we’ve just mentioned. It definitely works for me, even though I am constantly thinking that this was oh-so close to being quite a bit better, even. (86/100)
Plantation Australia (Beenleigh) 2007 14YO (49,3%): The first thing I did here was to google which fancy trickery Plantation have done to this one. To my pleasant surprise, there’s neither dosage involved, nor a fancy finish (besides the typical Cognac barrel of course). Nose: These Plantation Rums always seem to be tamed versions of their respective siblings and since there’s no dosage, it has to be because of the dilution and the finish. More crucially though, the profiles are often times also altered considerably and indeed, here we get more typical Cognac notes such as yellow stone fruits, wood and raisins. Only behind that do we find those pears, the vanilla and with plenty of imagination maybe some cider. Later also coconut. Well… Palate: Pears, pears and more pears. At least here. But then apricot, peach, raisins and old wood. That combination is actually very good, but again too tame and brave for my liking. Cognac lovers will go nuts about this one though, I am sure. Quince, quince jam and oak are other associations. Finish: Quince, pears and oak, with a few more common Cognac notes here and there. This is a Rum you can approach from two angles: You can embrace it for the change it brings and the proximity to Yak which we exceedingly endorse, or you can critcise it for the adulteration and the messing around that has been done to ultimately make this an inferior product compared to the “natural” expressions. I shall leave that up to you. (82/100)
The Rum Cask Australie (Beenleigh) 2007 14YO (58,2%): Nose: I am getting some Fijian vibes here, as the Rum reminds me of nail polish remover and plastic, albeit not as pronounced as with South Pacific Distillers’ pot still distillates. Deeper in the glass we can also find pears, vanilla, crisp green apples and lime. Very good. Palate: More mellow than the nose. We get a mix of apples and pears, paired with vanilla and lime. Behind that subtle oak influence. This isn’t anything fancy at all, but incredibly well-made Rum in a good cask. Towards the finish also a wee taste of that acetone. Finish: Long, but more of the same. But do you know what!? I don’t mind that at all. This has to be one of those bottles that goes down much, much quicker than you realise. (87/100)
Rumclub Australia (Beenleigh) 2007 14YO (65,5%): Full force ahead! Nose: I am afraid that this is another expression that needs a bit of time as we initially don’t get much. It seems to be quite a bit different from the other Rums which makes me wonder if this is the same stuff after all (given the numbers, i.e. tropical to continental aging (ten and four years, respectively), it has to be)!? Then I get pears, apples, chocolate, nutmeg, nougat and more spices. Not sure if it is because of the higher abv or if the cask was simply more active. Let’s take a sip. Palate: Not sharp at all and very thick. Once again we get that mix of cocoa, chocolate and nougat, followed by spices such as vanilla, pepper or nutmeg and the fruits (pears, apples). The barrel clearly left its mark. Finish: Very long with oak, cocoa, nougat, pear covered in chocolate and spices from the cask. The maturity is remarkable, but as a frequent reader of the blog you will know that we are not big chocolate fans. If you are, feel free to add two or three points to my score! (85/100)