My tasting club Fulldram had been discussing about a advanced rum tasting for many years until we recently approached cachaça / rum / spirits embassador Stijn Hiers. He selected nine assorted rums, leaving out the entry-level sweetened stuff and starting at a high level.
I usually don’t score rum but here I felt it was necessary to express my thoughts. I may continue to do so.
Enmore 14 yo 2002 (56,8%, Rum Nation 2016, second-fill bourbon casks #77-82, 442 btl.)
Guyana, long ago the center of good rum, now downsized to just Diamond distillery. Made in a wooden column still from 1880 ‘marque EHP’.
Clean, slightly vertical rum. Very estery spirit, hot and peppery. Grassy notes, fermenting fruits (cider apple) on the nose with a hint of wet cardboard. A vague sugar cane sweetness on the palate, but more grasses and anise. A tad austere for my taste, maybe it should have been a bit further down the line-up.
Bellevue 14 yo 1998 (52,3%, Duncan Taylor, single cask)
Guadeloupe. Although not explicitly disclosed, this should be rum agricole from Damoiseau.
Plums and baked bananas, oranges with clove and dried flowers. Hints of Christmas spice. On the palate dark notes (brown sugar, liquorice, black olives on brine) but also more freshness, with mint and eucalyptus. Much rounder and sweeter, perhaps a bit too much but nicely balanced nonetheless.
Foursquare Principia 2008 (62%, Velier 2018, 5400 btl.)
A single blend from pot + column still spirit, 100% matured in the tropics: 3 years in the ex-bourbon and six years in ex-Oloroso sherry butts.
Fairly oaky nose, with fresh oak shavings, vanilla and pepper. Some sherry fruits in the background but quite subtle. Growing pineapple notes after a while. Also quite woody on the palate. Menthol, ginger, nutmeg. A plummy sweetness. Good, but somehow I expected more influence of the sherry.
Caroni 12 yo 2000 (50%, 100 proof)
The famous lost distillery in Trinidad. Heavy rum, distilled in 2000 on a short column still, from the last molasses on the island, two years before the closure.
Robust and well-aged but you don’t get the typical motor oil and tar for instance. Aromatic wood, some vanilla, tobacco, also thick caramel. More syrupy sweetness on the palate, mixed with pepper and vanilla. Now also a hint of diesel. A lot of toasted oak in the end. Even though it’s probably the most docile Caroni I’ve tried, it’s still really good, simply a rich profile that held up until the end of the tasting. TWE has an older version at 90 proof.
Monymusk MMW ‘Wedderburn’ 11 yo 2007+2008 ‘Continental Aging’ (63.9%, E.A. Scheer & Velier 2010)
Jamaican pot still rum. A blend of 2 casks from 2008 and 10 casks from 2007, aged in a continental climate (Liverpool). Ester content of 243 grams.
Quite a sharp profile again, eau-de-vie almost, with plain alcohol and grassy notes. Later some green banana comes out, with minty freshness. Similar thoughts on the palate: really spirity, chiselled. Green banana and plenty of heat. Liquorice in the aftertaste. Overall a bit too austere in my opinion.
Monymusk MMW ‘Wedderburn’ 11 yo 2007+2008 ‘Tropical Aging’ (69,1%, E.A. Scheer & Velier 2010 btl.)
Same blend but entirely aged in Jamaica. Ester content is now 316 grams.
More varnished and oily, more citrusy notes and more fruity in general, think pineapple as well as apricots. Hints of walnuts too. This one is also too hot, but opens up nicely with drops of water. White pepper. More vanilla than the continental version. Extremely long finish. The better version of the two, in my opinion, and simply very good rum in general. A box with both Monymusks can be found at LMdW.
Hampden LROK HCLF 6 yo 2010 (60%, Habitation Velier for LMdW 2016)
Molasses in the double retort pot still, aged in the tropics, a blend of the ‘Light Rum Owen Kelly’ (+/- 300 grams) and ‘Hampden Light Continental Flavoured’ (much higer, originally intended for cutting), no mention of the final ester content.
Ah yes, the typical fermenting pineapples, olives in brine, light hints of petroleum. Green herbal notes with a cardboardy touch too. The funkiness is there, but not extrem, with more classic fruits on the palate (bananas), aromatic spice, grease, menthol and ginger. Very, very rich, slightly industrial. Great. Still available from TWE for instance.
Hampden HCLF 6 yo 2010 (68,5%, Habitation Velier 2016)
Double retort pot still, aged in the tropics, ‘Hampden Light Continental Flavoured’ style, with 550 grams of esters.
Much more solventy, think glue, nail polish remover and paint. Cumin seeds. Fermenting bananas, almost rotting fruits. Really extreme – acquired taste but I love it. Really spicy on the palate, really oily as well. Plenty of esters, with this typical synthetic, industrial note and hints of diesel fuel. A must for rum lovers and drinks geeks in general.
Long Pond 11 yo 2007 TECC (62,5%, National Rums of Jamaica)
Pot still rum with an ester content of around 1500-1600 grams, which is legally the highest you can go. Fulldram doesn’t stop at Hampden, you see.
Acetone, ammonia. Truckloads of black olives. Oils, asphalt, new plastics and a very pure grapefruit fruitiness. Sour apple. Hints of ponzu sauce as well. Very dry in the mouth, almost tannic in a way. Sour plastics, rubbery notes, a kind of perfumy note, lemon juice and a surprising acidity overall. Lots of black olives until the very end. Somehow this didn’t feel more extreme than the last Hampden for instance, just funkier. Overall a bit difficult to enjoy, although it’s definitely unique and worth trying. Available from The Whisky Exchange for instance.
This was a really high-quality line-up, bypassing everything that is too commercial or too sweet. Especially the head-to-heads between continental / tropical ageing and different styles of Hampden provided some nice insight. Hampden and Caroni are two of my favourites, and names any whisky lover or rum lover should discover.