Havana Club / Ninefold / Renaissance (TWE exclusive)

Havana Club / Ninefold / Renaissance (TWE exclusive)

In the past few weeks The Whisky Exchange announced three exclusive rum selections. Exciting names that haven’t featured on this blog before – we acknowledge that the rum world is much wider than the geeky view we sometimes have, focusing on Caroni, Hampden, Long Pond and the likes.

We start with the first ever Havana Club rum bottled exclusively for a single retailer.  It is a blend of single column and lighter multi-column stills, aged entirely in American white oak casks and composed by master blender Asbel Morales. Natural colour, no chill filtration.


Havana Club 11 yo (50%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 2023, American white oak, 2400 btl.)

Nose: starts on oak shavings and fresh leather, with a floral honey note that gives it a perfumed touch. Then light hints of dried banana and white peach appear, as well as some candy sugar and white pepper. Plenty of oranges after that. It’s clear that the spirit is very light and that most of the aromas – while nicely balanced – are wood-driven.

Mouth: still peaches and bright oranges, now combined with caramelly notes that add weight. Plum pie, baked apple and maple syrup. Then white pepper comes forward again, as well as liquorice. Hints of coconut and heather honey.

Finish: medium length, almost entirely on sweet spice and a light peppery edge. Light hints of almonds.

This is a well-balanced and relatively rich Havana Club, with some hints of (grain) whisky at times. It proves that Havana Club can be a rum to sip neat. However, this is playing in a totally different ballpark than the other rums we tend to review. Flavour intensity is fairly low and complexity is limited. Exclusively available from The Whisky Exchange.


Next up: Ninefold, which is based in Annandale, Dumfries & Galloway. It is a fairly new brand, established in 2019. They import their molasses and yeast to distill them in Scotland. The Whisky Exchange selected a 3 year-old, matured in used Woodford Reserve casks.


Ninefold 3 yo (62,2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 2023, bourbon cask, 207 btl.)

Ninefold rum 3yo - The Whisky Exchange Nose: a very minty onset. Peppermint freshness, with oak shavings and unripe banana and apple. Then fresh coconut flakes, some buttered popcorn and hints of white chocolate biscuits. Salty notes and hints of green pepper as well.

Mouth: more of this mint theme, with punchy ginger and liquorice up front. Then green bananas come out, alongside charred pineapple and a hint of waffles. Later these bananas become caramelised. A light alcohol tingle towards the end, with oak spice, orange bitters and vanilla.

Finish: medium length. Clean, mostly on pepper, cinnamon and vanilla.

For a young and light profile, this shows good depth already. Given this is one of their oldest distillates available, good things could happen once it gets a proper amount of time in casks. Only available from The Whisky Exchange. Score: 83/100


Our final stop is a Taiwanese rum from the small Renaissance distillery on the Isle of Formosa. The first rum distillery in Taiwan which opened its doors in 2017. Prior to their rum adventure the French-Taiwanese owners imported armagnac, whisky and French wines into Taiwan.

This TWE selection is a 2019 vintage. It spent 20 months in a first-fill red Bordeaux cask from Château Léoville Poyferré in Saint-Julien.

There’s an incredible amount of information on the back label: fermentation length, distillation details, whether dunder was used, cask details, reracking time, etc. Really impressive – I’m only missing the brand of deodorant used by the master distilller.

Last year TWE already had an exclusive Renaissance Fino Cask.


Renaissance 2019 (64,7%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 2022, first-fill Léoville Poyferré finish#19145, 252 btl.)

Renaissance rum 2019 - The Whisky Exchange exclusive Nose: whiffs of tomato sauce with oregano and other dried herbs at first. Then hints of a wine cellar (around Bordeaux, I guess). After a while some bananas, dried figs, cherries and toffee appear, with a good deal of esters, mint and herbal syrup. Sour red berries and grapes too.

Mouth: very concentrated, with esters and tannins fighting for attention. A real powerhouse rum. Still going back and forth between savoury herbs and funky fruits. Overripe charred pineapple, peppermint, fermenting bananas and hints of burnt caramel. Later some dried mango slices and cedar wood appear. A slightly rustic, almost meaty note sits in the background.

Finish: very long, spicy, with hints of oak char, tobacco, dark fruits and whiffs of medicinal herbs.

A really adventurous rollercoaster rum! Some elements really work for me, while others confuse me. Unlike in most whiskies, the red wine cask doesn’t clash. For such a youngster, quite intruiging. Now available from The Whisky Exchange. Score: 87/100