Savanna at random

Let’s have some Savanna and let’s also throw in some stuff from the times before the distillery was hip. If only they had never started with marketing… But we shall have some newish stuff first.

Savanna Bois Rouge 1992/2022 (57%): Contrary to what you might believe, this is a five year old Agricole. I must admit that I am not really a fan of the name due to its misleading nature. Nose: This one does have several Savanna styles to it and the nose doesn’t necessarily scream Agricole. I’d say that this could much rather be a mix of cane juice and molasses based Rums. We get glue, hay, cut grass, freshly grilled fish, spices such as allspice, pepper and nutmeg, lemon, scallop, white wine and something I’d associate with slate. Not bad. Palate: Give me more of that grilled fish! There are quite a few smoky notes, now also resembling BBQ sauce, spices, garlic and related leeks, rich sugary notes, apples, something between pepper and chili and that lovely lemon pie here and there. I am quite fond of this, even though it also has a few shortcomings. It is a unique profile, that’s for sure! Finish: Herbs and more herbs, paired with spices from the cask and that white wine again. Wow, there are really many layers to this Rum. The major problem is that it all doesn’t quite add up at the end of the day and a year or two on top might have done the required polishing here. But just go ahead and taste it, will you!? (83/100)

Compagnie des Indes Savanna 2008 12YO “Hampden Finish” (58,3%): Savanna Grand Arôme with a two year Hampden finish? Right on, these are the experiments we love to see! Nose: Oha, lots and lots of Hampden (who would have thought, eh!?). Grilled pineapple, plenty of oranges and tangerine, sweet almonds, sharp lime, a hint of cheap bubblegum here and there, now more and more rotting strawberries, vanilla yogurt with chocolate chips, apricot jam… I think we could go on for quite some time, it really is a wild ride – but a coherent one! Palate: Rather smooth and constantly on a razor’s edge. Here we have the Savanna profile including those foul strawberries, Wick Blau drops and that bubblegum, over there the Hampden cask with the ripe oranges and other citrus fruits. What becomes pretty much apparent relatively quickly though is that we are eventually going to fall on the onto the Savanna side – i.e. that of the underlying distillate. Put differently, this is how to do finishes. Nicely done, Florent! Other associations include menthol, mint, oak, somewhat salty notes and iced coffee. Darn, this is good! Finish: Menthol, Wick Blau, some herbs, oak and those oranges. This one just does it for me, especially since it always sticks to its own roots. (89/100)

Rum Nation Savanna Grand Arôme 2007 13YO (62,6%): 10 years of its life have been spent on La Réunion in the tropics. Nose: Quintessential Savanna Grand Arôme, albeit a bit tame, almost. We start with sweet overripe apples and at least as overripe raspberries, grenadine, some bio-degradable waste, jasmine, curry leaves, cherries and now that I get it, Em-eukal drops. I’d say it is really good! Palate: Nothing short of the nose, as we often times have it. Apples, strawberries, cherries and wild berries have been thrown into a pot, mixed and left to rot. Give it a pinch or two of sugar, add seasoning to your taste and there you go. This is the type of unmistakable profile that you only get with these Grand Arôme Savannas. Finish: Seemingly infinite. While mostly an extension of the palate, it adds a twist here and there, mostly in the form of slightly herbals notes (mint) and tannins. I should have tasted this beauty much, much earlier… (88/100)

Savanna 1999 18YO (46%): This is single cask N° 798, a traditional Rum distilled from molasses. Nose: I could have known but this Rum has a really hard time in this session and in a way I feel that we aren’t treating it fair and square but it just cannot keep up with the other Rums in terms of intensity and power. Anyway, I get fresh apples, grass, sweet chestnut, pepper, soil and quite some oak. The Rum gives you a very mature feeling but it absolutely loses out in terms of complexity, unfortunately. Palate: We are getting a very similar story here. At first, we get the full dose of apple but after about two seconds, all I can think of is pepper. Later oak, more spices and an apple slice again but I was really hoping for more here. It is too bad. The drinking strength doesn’t help either. Finish: Once again, apples, pepper, apples, pepper… So again, this is a very mature and elegant Rum but it leaves us totally unimpressed. If it weren’t for the big 18 on the label, we surely wouldn’t have cared about it at all I think. But yeah, it is a solid fella all in all. (80/100)

Savanna Créol 2005 5YO (46%): I never know which vintage to take with these Rums since it has been distilled in 2005, but barreled in 2007. In between, the rum has been resting in steel tanks I assume, a practice that is very common with Savanna. I guess we should go with the time of distillation. Anyway, nose: Very floral and perfumed. I get a mix of apricot, mirabelle and peach, which all smell somewhat artificial. I am not saying that they are, just that I get this impression when nosing. Then apples, yoghurt, some grains and probably also citrus. Palate: Milder than the slightly boozy nose suggested but still sharper than 46% should be, I’d say. Quite to my surprise, the “artifical” notes are essentially gone, and I now get a continental fruit basket, yoghurt, vanilla, some wood and a few notes from the cask (pepper, nutmeg, lovage). Very simple and solid, but frankly, not great. Finish: Short and still a bit too alcoholic for my liking with apples and grain. I don’t know… Savanna can definitely do better than this, so let’s just make it a 1:0 for quality improvements as opposed to marketing. (79/100)