As the title says, today we shall cover St. Lucia with their Chairman’s Reserve line selected by whoever. We do love these sessions as Saint Lucia Distillers rarely ever disappoint.
Chairman’s Reserve 2012 8YO “Salon du Rhum” (46%): 50% JD I, 50% column still. Nose: Quite aromatic and herbal, even though the dilution is clearly noticable. Then banana, honey, oak, pepper, pandan and a hint of lemon grass. So far, so good – even though it kinda gets lost between Saint Lucia’s other great barrels. After a while also pear. Palate: Even at 46%, this one is a bit sharp. Not sure if that’s the relatively young age, the column still or something else. Speaking of which, the pot still element is clearly dominant here. We get different herbs, milk chocolate, oak, green banana and Rooibos. Nothing fancy, but totally solid stuff. Coming from a Tier 1 distillery, that means that this is still good to very good Rum. Finish: Mint and menthol, oak and green banana stick around for longer than you might think. A good starter. (83/100)
Chairman’s Reserve 2011 8YO “Gall & Gall” (46%): 100% column still for this one, but remember that this is traditional column with long fermentations. Nose: I am not sure what to make out of this initially and the more I think about it, the closer this becomes to a sweet and mellow Bourbon. We get caramel, oak, vanilla, a few spices, apples and green grapes but not a whole lot more. Palate: Very similar to the nose and slightly more boozy than we expected. It’s not bad, just not the Saint Lucia quality we are used to. The “worst” part is, we know that Saint Lucia’s column can do better than this! Finish: Short and as quickly out of your mind as it vanishes from the palate. Flavourwise, we are still in the very same camps that we have mentioned above. It is drinkable, but this ain’t gonna be my go to dram. (78/100)
Chairman’s Reserve 2011 8YO “The Whisky Exchange” (46%): Another 50/50 mix between JD I and the column still at 46% drinking strength. Nose: Very aromatic and intense, no comparison to the two previous Rums. A mix of herbs meets banana, fresh sugar cane, caramel, honey, vanilla and oak. This seems to be the standard profile for this particular blend I guess. Palate: We continue in the same tradition, namely herbs, vanilla, banana, sugar cane and here also citrus fruits. I like this one, it is quite a bit better than the Salon du Rhum bottling. While the profile is incredibly similar, it just does a much better job at essentially everything. Finish: The herbs stay almost forever, the combination of oak, vanilla, banana and pepper for a bit shorter than that. This is a very nice and relaxed sipper. One of those Rums that you can enjoy without paying proper attention to it, but one that rewards you if you do. (85/100)
Chairman’s Reserve 2011 9YO “Evanius Harris” (56%): And finally we have the Vendome still. What is more, this is the pick by Evanius Harris, Saint Lucia Distillers’ master blender, so this just has to be good, no!? Nose: Right on, Vendom it is. That’s just an absolutely unique style, even though it is unmistakably Saint Lucia at the same time. Pears, rubber, glue, olive oil, oak and vanilla make the start, but they are quickly followed by herbs, mango, sugar cane syrup and warm butter. This is incredibly good and one of my two favorite profiles produced by the distillery. Palate: Banana, rubber, herbs, cane, oak, allspice, milk chocolate, hot buttered almonds, green olives and slightly bitter vanilla are just the most obvious impressions I get from this complex profile. There’s so much going on here, yet it all harmonizes as if the individual notes have been carefully assembled to make the perfect blend. Nevertheless, this is distinctly edgy. Short: I love it! Finish: Long, sweet (sugar cane, honey, ripe banana) and slightly bitter with oak and vanilla. Here and there the herbs make a reappearance. It is an outstanding Rum with a magnificent flavour profile and a maturity that hits exactly the sweet spot if you ask me. While it is nothing new to us, it amazes me time and again how such a result can be achieved after “just” nine years in the tropics. (92/100)
Chairman’s Reserve 2011 9YO “Rum Artesanal & Rum Tasting Notes” (59,8%): Rum Tasting Notes is now RumX and Rum Artensanal doesn’t feel like the company that it used to be without Dominik, but hey, this is “our” pick! Note that I personally didn’t pick the barrel so I think we can score this without risking to fall victim to any severe biases. Before we forget, this is a blend of John Dore I and Vendome. Nose: A bit on the sweet side with banana, honey, sugar cane, vanilla and oak. Quite straightforward, and without many of those typical herbal notes, or the rubber-like impressions we sometimes get with Vendome. Palate: Very tasty but in direct comparison not as complex as a few other related Rums. The oak is already present and the barrel left quite some vanilla. Next to that we get honey, herbs (oregano, thyme and even sage), ripe banana, a tiny bit of black tea with lemon juice and sugar cane again. Finish: Things are starting to become a bit more interesting all of a sudden as the herbal spectrum expands to include much, much more than the aforementioned aromas. On top of that we get white chocolate, cocos, vanilla and wood. A very good, yet not very spectacular Rum that turned out to be an uncomplicated sipper. (87/100)
Chairman’s Reserve 2009 11YO “The Netherlands” (46%): 100% Coffey still and 46%. That sounds like easy drinking but with St. Lucia Distillers that still might be something intersting. Nose: Column still done right can be a thing of beauty and this seems to be rather nice. We get mint, toothbrush, sugar, citrus, clearly oak and vanilla, some glue, prunes and non-sweet candyfloss. This is surprisingly good! Palate: Not too thin but slightly sharp, because of the dilution that is. Flavourwise, we get a mix of herbs, sugar, quite some wood, caramel, a relatively strong bitterness (think orange peel), a few spices here and there but not much more. That’s all fine though, as the maturity is very high. Finish: Oak, spices (bitter vanilla) and a whiff of mouthwash. The nose was very good, the palate “just” good. Still way better than we thought this would be and a lot better than the “Gall & Gall” bottling. I guess St. Lucian column still Rums can deliver after all. (82/100)
As you may have noticed, the previous Rums have alle been distilled between 2009 and 2012. Let’s finish the session with a 2005 and one from the last century.
Chairman’s Reserve 2005 15YO “Grape of the Art & RumX” (61,5%): If you follow the blog, you’ll now that both, Grape of the Art and RumX are part of our closer environment but just for the record, we didn’t have anything to do with this bottling. What you may have noticed as well is that RumX has now participated in two Chairman’s Reserve barrel picks, the Rum Tasting Notes bottling together with Rum Artesanal above and now this one, under the new name. And before we forget, this is a mix of JD I and Vendome as well. Nose: A welcome change as this has way more spices than all other Rums of the session. What is more, there’s this note containing sulphate and I am not sure if it does belong here or not. Then the herbs, oak, fresh caoutchouc, banana, guava, papaya and old rubber. It surely knows how to entertain us! Palate: Quite different from the nose and a bit thinner overall, with a stronger emphasis on the fruity notes, most notably guava, papaya and citrus. Right after that we get fresh cane juice, different herbs, oak, vanilla and other spices (cinnamon!) as well as different notes related to caramel. I think this is very good, even though it is a profile that requires some time getting used to. Finish: Long with those esters, banana, citrus, oak, herbs and spices. Yeah, there’s so much going on here, it is crazy! Easily one of the better Chairman’s to date! (89/100)
Chairman’s Reserve 1999 21YO “Rum Exchange” (67,1%): The good old JD I. There were a few amazing St. Lucian Rums that have been distilled in 1999 by it. Those were the bottlings that put Saint Lucia Distillers on the map for most of us I guess. I wonder if this is basically the same kind of Rum but I actually doubt it. Nose: Oha. There’s quite some glue here. Next to that plenty of mint, some sugar cane, banana, honey, more and more herbs, salty licorice perhaps, pineapple, guava and whatnot. After close to an hour the glue is almost gone and the nose is shaped by tropical fruits now. I am totally into this! Palate: What is going on now? There’s not all that much left from the nose, at least not with the first sip. Instead you’ll notice the dominance of the cask now, with its oaky, spicy, and unfortunately also bitter notes. This should have been bottled much earlier if you ask me. Flavourwise we get honey, banana, almonds, herbs, oak, more spices than we’ve had in any other Saint Lucia I think and stale black tea. It kinda reminds me of those super mature, tropically aged Guyanas and Jamaicans, i.e. those that are celebrated by some, and despised by others due the extreme bitterness. Here it is not that bad, but beyond what’s enjoyable for me. Finish: Yeah, those bitter notes, paired with oak, mint and menthol, herbs and spices. I am sure that it will have its fans, but for these kinds of spirits we rather resort to Yak. (84/100)
Now, let’s keep on amassing new Chairman’s Reserves for the next round!
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