On the menu today: recent rum bottlings. This time we’re focusing on a few names that are less seen on whisky lovers’ radars. Let’s dive right in with an old Diamond rum bottled by The Taste of Whisky to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the company.
Diamond 26 yo 1996 (47,3%, The Taste of Whisky 2022, bourbon barrel #110, 190 btl.)
Nose: prunes and cherries with caramelized nuts and hints of molasses. Then some wet tobacco, dates and blackberry syrup, as well as leathery notes. Subtle varnish and mint. A really nice profile, close to a dark sherry cask at times. A slightly higher ABV may have been welcome though – I expected it to jump out of the glass more.
Mouth: very aromatic again and slightly more forthcoming. A thick sweetness brings maraschino cherries, dark chocolate, plain caramel and molasses. Liquorice and light herbal notes. Cedar wood and cigar leaves underneath. Later aniseed appears. A big umami side unfolds, with roasted nuts, coffee and a charred edge. Reminds me of a very old, concentrated Brandy de Jerez as well.
Finish: rather long, on dry herbs, dark chocolate with a hint of espresso.
Dark and concentrated, with a lot of nice elements and a lovely richness. While the relatively modest ABV doesn’t grab you by the throat as much as other rums, it also makes this highly drinkable. It has just been released, check TTOW.pl
Port Mourant 9 yo (58,6%, Sample X Rum 2022, single bourbon cask, 294 btl.)
Nose: this one starts on green fruits (pears and apples, maybe underripe plums) with a buttery note. Whiffs of celery and laurel, as well as some lemongrass. Something between plasticine and rubber as well. Nice oily notes and faint funk. Rather uncommon, but not unpleasant.
Mouth: more phenolic now, with hints of plastics and fermenting fruits, as well as hints of nail polish remover. Aniseed. Something perfumed but also olive brine and chalky notes. Lemons and resinous hints, but also a hint of almond flavouring. Intruiging.
Finish: long, slightly synthetic, showing paraffin and plastics, with more of that olive brine.
This has a clear youthful side, with a playful mix of uncommon aromas. Not entirely perfect but a very good selection! Available from Whiskysite.nl for instance (also samples). Score: 86/100
In a way the next rum is related to Diamond distillery as well. After all the Versailles still was operated at Enmore distillery in 1985, when this spirit was produced, but it was moved to Diamond distillery in 1993.
Enmore (Versailles) 36 yo 1985 ‘MEV’ (50,4%, Distilia ‘Greenheart’, 101 btl.)
Nose: hints of diesel and eucalyptus, mixed with a sauce of garden herbs (chives, parsley). Fresh oak shavings, as well as fennel seeds, verbena, subtle hints of black olives and a whiff of wholegrain bread. Carbon paper. Pine resin. Complexity is really high here.
Mouth: even more flavours fighting for attention. It’s quite dry and definitely tarry, with hints of liquorice and petrol. Something citrusy in the background, then back to olives in brine, white pepper and pencil shavings. Pine needles, walnuts, kippers, but also marmamalde and drops of cough medicine. Quite endless.
Finish: very long, still rather medicinal, on resinous notes, olives and coastal elements. There’s a funky fruity note in the background as well.
I like this better than the Versailles MEV 1990 I had from the same Greenheart Collection. Very complex rum, a great example of the saline austere style. Score: 91/100
Privateer Rum claims to follow the example of American privateers of the 18th century. They defy the practices of large rum manufacturers, such as sweetening, flavouring and filtering. It is based on Guatemalan molasses, distilled twice in a pot still (not sure where exactly) and matured in Massachusetts in first-fill American oak casks.
Privateer Letter of Marque – Yankee 4 yo (57%, OB for Kirsch Import 2022, single cask #P574, 228 btl.)
Nose: very wood-forward, in the style of bourbon whiskey. A lot of coconut flakes, sweet vanilla pods, caramelized almonds and hints of leather. There’s a light hint of pineapple underneath, but it struggles to shine under the layer of oak.
Mouth: similar thoughts. There’s a dry layer of charred wood, pepper and cinnamon. Then the sweetness of the spirit comes forward, reminding me of a Scotch grain whisky, showing lots of vanilla and coconut flavours. Plenty of caramel and brown sugar notes again. Very little fruity notes are noticeable.
Finish: long, with equal amounts of spice and dark sweetness. More coconut, wood shavings and a darker hint of cocoa.
This is a very American way of looking at rum. If you’re a fan of the woody richness of bourbon whiskey, then this will probably be familiar. Not exactly what we are looking for in rum, but I’m sure there’s a market for it. Score: 80/100
Next up is AFD distillery (Alcoholes Finos Dominicanos) in the Dominican Republic. They’re known for their Bacoo rum for instance, made from sugar cane juice. This bottling from Mark Watt was aged five years in the tropics and six years in a contintental climate.
A.F.D. 11 yo 2010 (57,1%, Watt Rum 2022, refill rum barrel, 264 btl.)
Nose: a nice fruity note grabs my attention. Something in between strawberry and pitahaya. Maybe a hint of elderflower as well. Then some vanilla and melons. Light sugarcane and whiffs of honey as well. It’s slightly thin but not overly sweet.
Mouth: more spicy notes appear now. Cardamom and liquorice, with a hint of white pepper. Then some ripe pineapple and peach appears, alongside orange peels. Wood shavings and caramel notes too.
Finish: medium length, pretty clean and dry, on wood spice and dark maple syrup.
A nice diversion from the obvious rums that most whisky bottlers are selecting. Well balanced and showing a few nice fruity notes. Still available from The Whisky Exchange for instance. Score: 84/100
Pär Caldenby is the man behind the Smögen whisky distillery. Although his focus is on whisky, he began collecting casks of rum as well. The idea for the Kinghaven rum series is to add some continental ageing in premium casks.
Hampden C<>H 15 yo 2007 (62%, Kinghaven 2022, bourbon hogshead + sherry finish, 264 btl.)
Nose: totally funky with extreme ester levels. Plenty of varnish and oil paint, truckloads of black and green olives in brine, a good deal of acetone as well. On a second level I’m getting concrete, tar and liquorice roots. Also: the smell of realizing that super glue doesn’t work on styrofoam. The sherry didn’t add much, but it was unnecessary anyway.
Mouth: very intense and hot. What you get is huge liquorice, crushed olives, gentian and acetone. Then hints of tar and sour brine. A certain mouth-coating, resinous dryness as well. Once that first wave is over, it moves entirely towards mashed bananas and banana ice cream.
Finish: long, holding the roundness of those bananas, mixed with resins and lemons.
Conceptual rum, really. It requires a certain mindset to appreciate this, but if you’re into this type of spirit then it’s quite exceptional. The one thing holding me back from giving it a higher score is the low complexity and the fact that it doesn’t seem to take water well. Score: 89/100