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The Balvenie Caribbean Cask

I was recently approached with regards to giving an opinion of a Rum cask ‘finished’ whisky, and though I’m more than partial to a little drop, I’m most certainly not a whisky drinker by any stretch of the imagination. But I thought that it would be a fun little aside to give it a try. I was duly sent a 100ml sample of The Balvenie 14-year-old Caribbean Cask Whisky for the purposes of this post. So here is a little about The Balvenie Caribbean Cask taken from choice excerpts of the press release information that accompanied the bottle.

This whisky was created by The Balvenie Malt Master, David Stewart who in 2012 celebrated his 50th anniversary at the distillery! The single malt whisky at the base of this release has undergone a 14 year maturation period in traditional oak whisky casks prior to being transferred to casks that have previously held Caribbean Rum. This is purely to ‘finish’ the aging process.

When asked about The Balvenie Caribbean Cask, David Stewart said “We’ve found that many years maturation in traditional oak whisky casks followed by a few months of Rum cask maturation complements The Balvenie single malt very well. This expression is a beautifully rounded whisky that combines traditional Balvenie vanilla notes with rich toffee, a hint of fruit and a warm, lingering finish”

The Balvenie Caribbean Cask – 43% abv

Balvenie in GlassPrior to receiving any information or indeed the sample bottle, I posed a few questions that were referred to the Balvenie Brand Ambassador who was very helpful in assisting with responses.

Firstly I asked how long the whisky spends finishing in the Rum barrels? Is it a fixed period based on experience or is each barrel sampled and a judgement call made? It appears that the whisky is finished for between 3 and 6 months in the casks. There is no fixed period as such as it depends on how active the cask is so it is the role of David Stewart to determine when the time is right. The barrels are then blended together to achieve the consistent flavour profile.

I foolishly assumed that they had obtained ex-Rum barrels for the finishing process but I was reliably informed that this is not the case. They utilise whisky barrels that are seasoned with Rum by Balvenie themselves. These barrels are ex-bourbon, American oak barrels that would usually be used to mature whisky. David Stewart has a ‘bespoke’ Rum blended just for him which he uses to season the barrels for a period of up to 3 years. I obviously asked about the source of this Rum blend and its components but was advised that the specifics are considered a ‘trade secret’. The time period for the seasoning is barrel dependent but the aim is to season the barrel for long enough to allow the spirit to permeate deep into the wood and for there to be a good amount of interaction between the Rum and wood. After this process, the now aged Rum is sold back to the producers and the barrels are then filled with 14-year-old Balvenie whisky for finishing.

I also asked about the abv of the whisky when it is finished. It sits at between 56 and 58% abv prior to being reduced to its bottling strength of 43% abv. I wonder how much flavour the Rum finishing imparts…..

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Whisky is an apple juice gold with darker bronze flashes displaying in the light of this particularly sunny day. Sweet vanilla instantly jumps out of the glass along with quite a dominant honeyed porridge. Sweet nutty aromas follow which are reminiscent of nougat and warm sugary peanuts. There is absolutely no bite from the nose aside from a little peppery tingle. A raisin fudge aroma begins to develop given time and there is some light tropical fruit akin to dried papaya chunks. The Rum used must be light of body and aroma as it influence is not massively apparent. To round things out there is a little floral note accompanied by green apples and honeyed vanilla.

In the mouth: There is a nice level of viscosity to the Whisky. A peppery bite leads at the front end but that is quickly quashed by a malty, honey and fudge concoction. A little oaty and flapjack like. There is also buttery croissant following. It is in the taste that I am picking up something familiar but it is not as expected. It may just be me but there is a distinctly agricole flavour imparted onto the Whisky. It’s quite green and vegetal. This sticks with me throughout subsequent visits to the glass. The finish is of a medium to long length and is all sweet short crust pastry topped with raisins. A little peach flavour exists at the back of my throat before the tiniest bit of oak influence washes it away.

You can certainly tell that the Rum has been used as a finish not as a maturation as it is very subtle. I’d love to compare to the same whisky minus the Rum finish to see just what additional flavour I’m getting. Would I purchase a bottle? Well as a Rum drinker not a whisky drinker I’d give it a go yes. It sits at around £41 a bottle so it’s not the cheapest but it is a 14-year-old single malt and therefore it commands that price (I wonder if a day will come that we are able to talk of a Rum in this way? Technique and age commanding a price point). I don’t know if there would be enough here to keep a serious whisky drinker entertained for a while but it would offer a pleasant and easy drinking distraction with just enough going on to make it interesting.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in Rum, Whisky

 

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Pusser’s Rum Strikes Gold

*Press Release*

Pusser’s Rum strikes gold at Rum Masters 2015 and The Fifty Best Spirits Awards

PussersTwo rums from the Pusser’s Rum portfolio have been awarded gold medals at The Spirits Business World Rum Masters — an annual blind tasting competition judged by an independent panel of rum experts. The winning rums were Pusser’s Rum Blue Label (40% ABV) and Pusser’s Spiced, which also won gold at The Fifty Best Spiced Rum Tasting, where contenders were evaluated for the distinguished “Best Spiced Rum” awards for 2015.

Pusser’s Spiced has gone against the grain of traditional Spiced rums, utilising a steeping process with fresh culinary ginger and other Caribbean herbs and spices, not a typical infusion. The process takes up to 14 days to complete, which means that the rum cannot be tested, let alone bottled in this time. The ingredients are all natural, following in the tradition of Pusser’s Rum blends, and adheres to stringent quality tests once the steeping process has finished.

Peter Thornton, Brand Manager for Pusser’s Rum said, “We are delighted to win these prestigious awards because they are given by true rum connoisseurs. The Spiced category is one of the fastest growing in the spirits market, and we are thrilled that Pusser’s is able to capitalise on this trend with our new Spiced Blend.”

The Spirits Business is a London-based publication, website, and media partner of the International Bartender’s Association. Read by over 50,000 spirits professionals, it conducts yearly blind tasting competitions that draw entries in a variety of categories from throughout the world. This year’s Global Rum Master competition took place at The Jugged Hare in London’s Chiswell Street, and received a record-breaking number of entries across 15 categories.

TheFiftyBest.com is an award-winning online guide to fine living, featuring rated listings from unbiased surveys and proprietary tastings judged by wine/spirits journalists, spirits professionals, retailers, mixologists, spirits consultants and connoisseurs. Adhering to strict tasting rules and rigorous methodology, The Fifty Best achieves the highest standards of spirits evaluations.

The Pusser’s Rum gold medals were in the following categories:

  • Pusser’s Rum Spiced: Spiced Rum – Rum Masters 2015 Awards
  • Pusser’s Rum Spiced: Spiced Rum – The Fifty Best Awards
  • Pusser’s Rum Blue Label: Dark up to 7 Year Old – Rum Masters 2015 Awards

Pusser’s Rum bottles, blends and distributes the original Pusser’s artisanal rum blends are crafted using time-honoured traditions and techniques. Each marque is hand-selected, according to specification, for its individual smoothness, flavour, and mellow depth. The rich flavour of Pusser’s Rum is all natural — no artificial flavouring or colouring is added.

*End*

Having tried, picked up and consumed a bottle of Pusser’s Spiced at RumFest, it is indeed tasty stuff and the Blue Label (I’m assuming that it is the reduced abv expression) was also a tasty piece of kit from what I recall of RumFest!

Up Spirits!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2015 in Press Release, Rum

 

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Rum Nation Jamaica White Pot Still

Rum Nation Logo
I have been more than aware of the Rums released by Rum Nation for a while. I have even had the opportunity to try a couple of them. I then started seeing images of a striking bottle of Rum appearing on the web but could not locate it over here in the UK and it was whilst making my first order from France that I noticed it for sale at what was the rather competitive price of £28. That price for a white Jamaican 100% Pot Distilled Rum at 57% abv……I’d be a fool not to snap it up….

RNFrontA little background on Rum Nation should start things off in earnest. The company founder, Fabio Rossi was born in 1961. His father, Mario Jr started to deal in wines and spirits in 1956 and was the first importer of Laphroig Whisky in Italy. He then proceeded to import brands such as Rhum Barbancourt. Fabio grew up around fine wines and spirits and took a degree in Oenology (the study of wine and wine making). During a series of business related distillery visits to Scotland in 1990, Fabio noticed old barrels of Rum from Jamaica and British Guyana stacked near the whisky barrels. These barrels had been sent there for maturation as the climate would reduce the loss to evaporation and also slow down the maturation process. With Rum only retained in memory, Fabio formed Wilson & Morgan in 1992, a company that releases an independent line of single malt whiskies. Several years later having never forgotten those memories of the Rum tastings that he had been a party to, Fabio asked Silvano Samaroli, himself a respected independent bottler, for advice on Rum and Rum styles. Fabio purchased his first barrels of Rum and their contents were bottled. Not wanting to release the Rums under the Wilson & Morgan name, in 1999 the Rum Nation brand was born. For the curious, those first Rums were a vatting of two barrels of 25 year old Jamaican Rum (1974-1999 Cask Nos 857 and 858) and a barrel of 24 year old Demerara Rum (1975-1999 Cask No 4111). These barrels were left to rest in an underground warehouse in Bristol (I’d hazard a guess that it is the warehouse of Mr John Barrett of Bristol Spirits Ltd). Apparently there is still remaining stock, some 16 years later.

A decision was made early on in the life of Rum Nation to not label the Rums after the distillery, but to make them single domaine Rums named after their country of origin, and as Fabio has been an avid stamp collector from an early age, one thing that runs through the range (and is particularly striking on the label of this bottle) is that each label contains an image of a postage stamp from the country of origin.

You can read more about Fabio Rossi and Rum Nation as there is a far more lengthy and colourful representation of this story available on the Rum Nation website, and you can find that by clicking here.

Rum Nation Jamaica White Pot Still – 57% abv

Rum Nation Jamaica

The rear label on the bottle hints at the distillery location in St Catherine, Jamaica. This therefore could be either the Worthy Park Estate (most likely) or the Monymusk Estate. For me there is something almost mythical about these high powered, high ester, Jamaican flavour bombs. They are often misunderstood as exercises in potent liquids much beloved of teenagers daring eachother to down shots. When taken in that context….yes, they can be pretty hellish. All brashness and aggression….but much like King Kong, they can be tamed. When treated with care and respect, they offer an honest glimpse into just how much flavour can be crammed into a distillate that is to receive no barrel maturation. You will have read my article on Glorious Revolution so will be aware of the principles of trying to cram as much flavour into the fermentation process as possible given that distillation strips flavour. In the context of this Rum, similar to Wray & Nephew Overproof at 63% abv, the fermentation and distillation method shapes the profile, but I wonder if the mythical ‘dunder’ plays a part in adding the meat to this Rums bones? Slow fermentation time and a pot distillation method are the building blocks of this quite remarkable Rum, and I can tell you that this Rum will not be for everyone. It is almost using itself as an example of how powerful can also be subtle…..a little like the aforementioned King Kong. The bottle is nice and squat (not easily toppled which is useful if you’re going to be imbibing a quantity of this Rum) and has really simple, clear labeling with a striking silver Jamaican postage stamp taking pride of place. As soon as you remove the wooden topped cork, the aromas jump out at you….

Tasting Notes

RN BackIn the glass: The Rum displays itself as a crystal clear liquid brimming with grassy, funky aromas.A swirl of the glass leaves little slow beads that are reluctant to move. Savoury is the first word that I’d use to describe this Rum. Initial aromas are of salty olives on cheese biscuits. A vegetal aroma then pushes through and the Rum starts to smell very fresh and green. It is quite astringent and spicy. Next up are the pungent, lacquer and varnish aromas bringing a real sting to the nose. There is also a nice waxy creaminess that brings oily citrus peel and ripe fruits such as mango and banana into play. It sounds strange but I then get what seems to be a wallpaper paste and superglue concoction. Finishing the experience are those funky grassy pot still aromas that could seemingly punch their way through a brick wall if asked nicely.

In the mouth: The Rum has an all encompassing mouthfeel that leads with a heavy dose of olive brine and white pepper. It initially bites quite hard with a kind of solvent flavour carrying liqourice which is the next flavour that makes an appearance, and with it comes a slight sweetness that feels like a custardy wave. It is very grassy and vegetal but along with this is the feeling of ripe bananas. The finish is very long and it stays around for a while with liqourice, molasses and that superglue. It is hard hitting and unapologetic but it also has those soft ripe fruit, oily citrus and banana flavours that hint at a softer and more approachable side to the Rum.

It feels like an experimental style of Rum, maybe even a reference Rum. A fine example of this style of Rum production to which others can be compared. I am massively glad that I seized the opportunity to pick a bottle of this Rum up and I urge you to do the same. It has a great deal of complexity both in it’s aromas and it’s flavours and I can imagine it working wonderfully in the right drink such as a daiquiri or maybe as a portion of the Jamaican component in a powerful Mai Tai replacing J Wray as the punchy element. There is also an aged expression of a Jamaican Pot Still Rum available soon from Rum Nation….I am trawling the online drink shops on a daily basis awaiting its arrival!

ValrhonaAn interesting opportunity has presented itself to me after I was sent a box of Rum Nation branded chocolates (more on those in a later post), each one different in style and hand picked to match the Rum Nation range of Rums. The recommended chocolate to accompany this Rum is the Valrhona Caraibe 66% which is from the same region as the Rum. So I took a little sip of the Rum to accustom myself to it again. Nibbled off a chunk of the chocolate and let it sit in my mouth, slowly melting. The chocolate itself has a beautiful flavour of intense cocoa and coffee. Sipping the Rum again, its bite is tempered by the cocoa and the bitterness cuts through the mouthfeel making the whole experience very pleasant. I look forward to delving deeper into the box of chocolates in the future and matching the Rums where possible.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2015 in Rum

 

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Our Rum and Spirits Guyana 24

Our Rum & SpiritsOur Rum & Spirits is an independent brand hailing from Germany. It is the brainchild of restaurateur Christian Nagel. Christian has been an independent restaurateur for almost 9 years initially had 2 Rums on his menu. In time this increased to over 30. In August 2011 he opened a new restaurant in the world cultural heritage town of Hildesheim called Gasthaus im Brühl. The menu there started with 35 Rums and now has over 80 due to the popularity of Rum with his guests. He began getting asked whether he had plans to sell his own Rum bottlings and this led him to source an importer of Rums within Germany. The Our Rum & Spirits brand was born. Their first bottling was a Guyana Diamond 11-year-old Rum. Only 60 bottles were available, it was 62.5% abv and was sold for 48 Euros per bottle. All have been sold except for 3 bottles kept back to be served to restaurant guests. In December 2014, Christian obtained enough bulk Rum for 100 bottles of Barbados Rum and he also purchased a barrel of Guyanese Rum to further expand the range.

Our Rum & Spirits Guyana 24 Year Old – 61.2% abv

DSC00160

This Rum is from the Enmore Distillery which closed in 1993 and was distilled in their Single Wooden Pot Still which was originally located at the Versailles Distillery prior to it’s arrival at Enmore. It was distilled in December 1990 and was bottled in January 2015. The Rum is from Cask 20 which was stored in England prior to the end of 2013 when it was relocated to Germany. The barrel mark is MEV which means Main Rum Enmore Versailles…..this was not a distillery applied barrel mark. The barrel yield was 178 bottles at its cask strength of 61.2% abv and the Rum is neither coloured nor chill filtered. The Rum is a limited edition for Our Rum & Spirits and each one costs 110 Euros.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a pale gold / straw colour in the glass. A little swirl reveals……nothing. Well, apart from a thin halo around the glass. Slowly, little beads begin to develop. They just sit there, getting slightly larger before over a period of 2 to 3 minutes, slowly and reluctantly returning home. There are immediate astringent notes along with freshly sharpened pencil aromas…..and lots of them. This Rum doesn’t give much up at all. There is a bourbon like oak, some white pepper and a fortified wine tingle. Like the colour, very light.

In the mouth: Holy Hell…..I gulped too much initially. Massive schoolboy error. Coughing ensued and I needed a sip of water. It felt like a roundhouse kick from Chuck Norris! Where did THAT come from…..its a mild-mannered, gentle beast surely?!? Apparently not! Right, now with the respect it clearly deserves. Heavy is a word that I would use. The Rum is very smoky, almost peaty. Those freshly sharpened pencils are there along with raisins, sticky dates and an all-encompassing mouthfeel. It is very spicy up front but this subsides as you sip more of the liquid. It is also very dry due to its 24 years in the barrel. It feels almost gloopy in your mouth….its not, but it feels that way. I’ve not tried many 15 year plus Demerara Rums but this has spiked my interest! I want more if this is a common theme! It slowly reveals more raisins, dates and chewy toffee. It’s a grow-er not a show-er for sure. The finish is very very long on this beautiful Rum…..in fact, I think that I can still taste it! True to the initial observations the finish is entirely consistent…..pencil shavings, oak, a wine influence, astringency and dry smoke. There is also a Bakewell Tart taste right at the end.

*edit 09.03.2015 – I finished off the last remains of the sample and continuing the woody theme, it reminded me of making wooden arrows in the garden shed as a child, that freshly sawn timber and sap aroma. There was also a faint bit of liqourice on the finish that I didn’t pick up on my initial visits*

I added a little water. The astringency is removed and the oak is calmed. This allows a muscovado sugar aroma to peep through the oak. To taste it is still warming but not as spicy. There is a slightly bitter, woody quality now. It is still very dry but with light vanilla. To be honest, keep it at full strength…..it provide a far better experience there.

This Rum is one of the oldest demerara’s that I’ve tasted and has opened my eyes a little. Such a depth of flavour and such a heavy body to the Rum……I’m afraid that my closing words have to be…..I want one!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2015 in Rum

 

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La Confrérie du Rhum Cuvée No2

This is the second release linked to the La Confrérie du Rhum Facebook Group and makes a switch to the French West Indies in the form of Guadeloupe. Hailing from the Bellevue au Moule Estate and Distillery which was established at the end of the 19th Century by a Mr Rimbaud from Martinique. The distillery is now owned and run by Mr Hervé Damoiseau after it was acquired by Mr Roger Damoiseau in April 1942.

Cuvee No2This particular expression was distilled in March 1998 in a column still. Cask #86 was aged in Guadeloupe until September 2013 when it was transferred to Germany. The Rum was extracted from the barrel in November 2014 and bottled in January of this year (2015). This makes the Rum a rather accurate 16 years and 9 months old! This is NOT an Agricole…..it is a molasses based Rum.

A little more subdued, this releases label has a more muted colour palette, being shades of cream but the same fonts have been used along with the same red text. There is also a greater availability of this release as 156 bottles have been produced. The bottle shape and familiar red wax seal from the first release remain.

Again, the Rum was inhaled so quickly that this only represents my initial thoughts based on one the one glass that I have enjoyed. As before, if I am successful in obtaining a bottle, I reserve the right to revisit my notes…

La Confrérie du Rhum Cuvée No2 – 42% abv

Cuvee No2 Shot 1

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a crisp coppery gold in the glass. A little swirl leaves a wall of Rum, then long droplets lazily meander back down. The first aroma is perhaps one of my childhood, but it is of Fruit Salad chewy sweets. It’s beautiful. There is a little astringency, a tiny medicinal edge and a lot of fruit there. This smells like it will be quite syrupy. Next there is some freshly cut apple and a heavy dose of rhubarb! Spicy oak and vanilla round this one out. It is a pleasure to sit and smell.

In the mouth: Initially there is a whiff of smoke along with the medicinal note. This is not at all like the aromas. It is not syrupy and is most certainly not as fruity as the nose says. The oak is dominant and there is a slight vanilla sweetness that gets dried out very quickly by the moisture sapping oak. A touch of liquorice and some pepper hit my tongue next. This is so so drinkable. The finish is of a decent length and has a cheek tingling oak spice. Hints of smoke and that drying oak influence and medicinal note carry this over the finish line. Where did the fruit go? Would less age allow more of the fruit to push through the oak? There is a bitter note right at the end like treacle coated raisins. There is also a faint prune note right at the back of the finish.

Sadly this sample is now gone……but I’m hopeful of a bottle of this Rum when it goes on general sale. 156 bottles means that there is a better chance for more people to try this, and try it you should. It is a certain purchase for me.

Big thanks again go to Benoît Bail for allowing me the opportunity to try this Rum.

*Bottle Image Courtesy of MsOdD*

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2015 in Rum

 

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Havana Club Unión Launch

HAVANA CLUB UNIÓN LAUNCH SEES CUBAN RUM AND CIGARS PAIRED IN WORLD ‘FIRST’

Havana Club Union*Press Release*

Havana Club, the leading rum in the super-premium category, has announced the launch of Havana Club Unión, the first-ever rum made to perfectly match a Cuban cigar, the Cohiba Siglo VI. The new expression is the latest prestige product in the Havana Club Icónica Collection and will appeal to rum and cigar connoisseurs seeking to experience true Cuban culture.

Havana Club Unión joins two of the world’s most revered luxuries (Cuban rum and cigars) and their shared heritage and provenance. The launch marks a collaboration between two of the industries’ most passionate characters, Havana Club’s Maestro Ronero, Asbel Morales, and Cuba’s most renowned Cigar sommelier, Fernando Fernández. Together they have crafted the perfect blend of Cuban heritage, tradition and know-how. Asbel Morales has been inspired by the process of how tobacco leaves are aged, blended and matured, to create Havana Club Unión. By selecting small batches of rare rums that have been repeatedly aged and blended, Morales has created a prestige rum that beautifully marries the smooth and powerful flavour of the classic Cohiba Siglo VI cigar.

Havana Club Union BottleA premium cedar wooden box houses the expression, and features the logos of Havana Club and Cohiba together in an elegant combination of black and gold colours, bringing the luxury character of the expression to life. The bottle’s clean and round design is in line with the distinct shape of Havana Club’s award-winning Icónica Collection, which includes the brand’s most prestigious rums; Havana Club Selección de Maestros, Havana Club Añejo 15 Años and Havana Club Máximo Extra Añejo.

Jérôme Cottin-Bizzone, Managing Director of Havana Club International, comments: “This is a very exciting time for the ultra-premium rum category, and the launch of Havana Club Unión helps strengthen our position in the category.  Our Icónica Collection is now even more appealing, and we’re confident that consumers looking for quality extra-aged drinks with great authenticity will be drawn to Havana Club Unión”.

Asbel Morales, Maestro Ronero for Havana Club, comments: “Havana Club Unión and Cohiba cigars represent distinguished expressions from the same soil and authentic tradition; their shared origins and rich heritage make them natural partners. It was an honour to collaborate with Cigar Sommelier Fernando Fernández to create this prestige rum, which presents notes of sweet vanilla, chocolate and dried fruit flavours”.

Havana Club Unión has a 40% ABV and is a permanent addition to the brand’s Icónica Collection. The expression will be available in more than 15 countries, including Cuba, China, Peru, Germany and Mexico.

As the likelihood of us getting to try this Rum is pretty non-existent, we have included the producers official tasting notes below:

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Havana Club Unión distinguishes itself by an impressively deep amber glow as testimony to its long natural aging.

Nose: The rich aroma of the liquid balances oak and smoke with subtle tones of citrus, coconut, dried fruits and coffee.

Palate: Softly woody on the palate, Havana Club Unión is accented with sweet vanilla, chocolate and dried fruit flavours.

Finish: Rich and aromatic.

Perfect serve: Havana Club Union is best enjoyed by rum connoisseurs as a slow-sipping rum, neat or on the rocks. For the ultimate tasting experience, it is best paired with a Cohiba Siglo VI cigar.  

*End*    

The presentation looks wonderful and the pairing combination sounds like it will provide a great experience. We are big fans of Havana Club at Rum Diaries Blog and if miracles do indeed happen and we get to try this wonderful sounding Rum, and even the Rum and Cigar pairing experience, we’ll be sure to post our findings here!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in Press Release, Rum

 

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St Lucia Distillers 1931

We are back on the subject of St Lucia Distillers again for the third post in my mini series on the distillery. Again, to refresh yourselves on the background of St Lucia Distillers, Chairman’s Reserve and Admiral Rodney Extra Old St Lucia Rum please click on the links.

IMAG1558_1Now you’re all refreshed and in possession of the history of the distillery, we can talk about not one, not two, but three expressions of this celebratory Rum. 1931 by St Lucia Distillers. As you will have noted the first post on St Lucia Distillers, the Dennery Distillery in the Mabouya Valley was commissioned in 1931 by Denis Barnard on the site of his family plantation and Rum was produced there until the merger of the Dennery and Roseau Distilleries and subsequent formation of St Lucia Distillers in 1972. The St Lucia Distillers 1931 Limited Editions are produced using some of the finest aged stock at the distillery in commemoration of this date. Currently there are three editions. 1931 Edition 1 was released in 2011 to celebrate the 80 year anniversary and was the first Rum to qualify for the Deluxe Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque. 1931 Edition 2 was released in 2012 to celebrate the 81 year anniversary and also possesses the Deluxe ACR Marque. 1931 Edition 3 was released in 2013 to celebrate the 82 year anniversary and again, possesses the Deluxe ACR Marque. Quite unique in their own right being blends of varying ages, cask finishes and if rumour is to be believed with the imminent Edition 4, varying styles!

It makes sense then that a little information should follow about each edition, so here goes.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 1 – 43% abv. My bottle is number 5330, is from Batch 01 and was bottled on 17th May 2011.

This release celebrates the 80th Anniversary and is a blend of 9 casks containing distillates from their three Pot Stills (John Dore 1, John Dore 2 and Vendome) and their two column Coffey Still. These casks were judged to contain some of St Lucia Distillers finest Rums and their ages varied from casks laid down in 2004 to older distillates laid down in 1999. Of the 9 casks used, 7 were American White Oak (ex-bourbon) and two were Port Casks. The distillates were blended and then placed back into American White Oak for 3 months to allow them a period to marry prior to being bottled. To echo the methods in use in 1931, only light filtering was used prior to being bottled to preserve the blends integrity. No chill filtering took place. This Rum also has the honour of being the first Rum to qualify for the ACR Deluxe Marque.

IMAG1567_1

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a beautiful burnished gold with hints of deep mahogany. Straight away the pot still element is massively evident, even before pouring. There is also a touch of smoke billowing out of the glass as the Rum settles. Raisins and dates are apparent as is a real nose tingling astringency. Molasses, toffee and vanilla also fight for your attention. That pear drop element from previous St Lucia Distillers releases is there too and it is rounded out by more smoke and the time that components of this Rum have spent in oak is very prominent as this accompanies the smoke. That astringent tingle is still there too.

In the mouth: Straight away you are struck by the medium / heavy body of the Rum. Again the pot still component hits you like a truck. There is nothing gentle about that element. Oak, those raisins and vanilla are very prominent. Further sips, especially when held in the mouth for slightly lengthy periods reveal grapes, orange oils and chocolate. The Rum is sweet initially, not overly so, and dries out nicely but not excessively. It is a warming Rum with peach, banana and smoke staying with you in the form of the vapours left in your mouth. The pot still really carries this Rum and introduces honey roast nuts too. The finish is medium / long and starts with pot still but it then runs the gamut of peach, vanilla, banana and finally finishes with a smoky leather. The oak is not as dominant as it is in the Admiral Rodney, but it is there.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 2 – 43% abv. My bottle is number 9652, is from Batch 02 and was bottled on 23rd July 2012.

This release celebrates the 81st Anniversary and is a blend of distillates laid down in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and includes casks containing 100% Coffey Still distillates matured in a combination of American White Oak and Port Casks, 100% Pot Still distillates from their three Pot Stills and 50/50 blends of Pot and Coffey Still distillates matured in American White Oak. The distillates were blended and then placed back into American White Oak for 3 months to allow them a period to marry prior to being bottled. Again, only light filtration was used.

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Tasting Notes

In the glass: Again the Rum is a gold with mahogany. Maybe a shade lighter than the first edition. Straight away it is the pot still that hits you with a toffee and butterscotch sweetness. There is none of the astringency of the first edition. Oak is also a factor though again, not as prominent. Dried banana chips, apple pieces and the smallest wisps of smoke are holding it all together. Hazelnuts, the slightest hint of raisins and a light bourbon cherry are present. This is a better experience on the nose than the first edition as that astringency doesn’t limit your time with your nose in the glass. Molasses and a light chocolate round the experience out along with that pot still component.

In the mouth: Pot still again leads from the front like a battle hardened bruiser of a man! The port effects are way more prominent on this Rum along with that drying oak taking the edge off the sweetness. This has a heavier body than the first edition (for me) and there is a big hit of molasses accompanied by a touch of chocolate. Vanilla and a touch of smoky oak are in there and the dried bananas are also in the mix, but I can’t find the apples that I had in the glass. The finish on this one is very long. It is all caramel, oak, pot still, a little chocolate, grape and vanilla and it dries to an oaky, tobacco and leather finish.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 3 – 43% abv. My bottle is number 11416, is from Batch 03A and was bottled on 28th July 2014.

This release celebrates the 82nd Anniversary and is a blend of distillates from the three Pot Stills and the two column Coffey Still. The casks that were chosen were judged to contain some of the finer Rums produced by St Lucia Distillers. The Coffey Still distillates were matured for 6 and 11 years and the John Dore Pot Still distillates were matured for 14 and 15 years. A blend of Vendome and John Dore Pot Still distillates aged for 10 years is also utilised. Additionally, a 7-year-old Port Cask matured Coffey Still distillate and a 7-year-old Port Cask matured John Dore Pot Still Distillate are used. Quite a collection which just displays the sheer amount of distillates available at the distillery. The distillates were blended and then placed back into American White Oak for 3 months to allow them a period to marry prior to being bottled. Once again as with the previous two editions, only light filtration was used.

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Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a dark gold with amber flashes. As is the common theme, that pot still punches you straight away but this time there is also something medicinal! It is very much like the flavour found in the Rockley Still Rums from Barbados. It sets it apart from the first two editions for me. Oak, vanilla, honey and more of that apparent port astringency from the first edition is back. The Rum feels creamy and has a tobacco and warming chocolate edge to it with that pot still underlining all of the other flavours.

In the mouth: The sweetness is the first thing that hits me on this one along with that medicinal Rockley Still element. Pear drops are back alongside some milk chocolate. There is something savoury on the back of my tongue when the Rum has gone. Almost buttery and salty. Red apples accompany the astringency along with grapes, red wine, oak and a little tart note. Again the finish is long and wrapped in port, vanilla and oak and it doesn’t dry as much as the others. The aftertaste is smoky oak and that medicinal note.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 1 and 2 blend – 43% abv. 25ml of each in a bottle and left to marry for a period of one week.

This is my own silliness and has been done to satisfy my own curiosity as a conversation with a nameless person at a nameless expo may (or may not) have revealed that a blend of the first two editions may (or may not) be the components of an exclusive release.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The astringency of the first edition has been calmed. This is very mellow and has vanilla, molasses, bourbon cherry, chocolate and hazelnuts. It is also very creamy though somewhat dulled.

In the mouth: This is ridiculously smooth. None of the slight roughness of the individual components. Pot still is there but strangely it is not the dominant factor. Raisins, honey and oak are in there and the finish is a medium / long one full of oak, vanilla and pot still. Some of the individual stand out components of each of the two editions as individuals have been lost by blending. It is however smooth, warming and quite decadent. It will go down very easily and be a bit of a crowd pleaser but it’s just not as interesting as the individual Rums and therefore doesn’t hold your attention for as long.

Conclusion

As this is a comparison tasting of all three editions, unfortunately you clearly need all three of these Rums in your collection. They each represent how good St Lucia Distillers are at making the most of their individual components. They are all flavourful, interesting Rums in their own right and they offer a solid experience, especially when tasted together as you really do then appreciate how different they are but also how they have a shared heritage.

If I were to buy only one of the three editions though (or recommend a bottle to you), it just has to be the 1931 Edition 2. It has all of the good, but none of the astringency. To choose a runner-up is more difficult. I really like both of the other editions but I’m a sucker for that little bit of a medicinal note in a Rum so I’d put 1931 Edition 3 in second place but that is purely personal preference as I also love 1931 Edition 1. But of course, 1931 Edition 4 is due for a release, and that is rumoured to contain agricole from St Lucia Distillers own grown sugarcane so that will add a further element into the mix! Just know that whichever edition you pick up, you will have made an excellent choice and have a lot of enjoyment from the bottle. If you have experience of any of these releases, please share your opinions.

For the purposes of full disclosure, throughout the whole of this series, which is not sponsored in ANY way, I have personally purchased the entire Chairman’s Reserve Range (multiple times), Admiral Rodney (multiple times), 1931 Edition 1 and 1931 Edition 3. I was supplied with a third of an opened bottle by Emporia Brands (shared with Simon Difford I believe) of 1931 Edition 2. Each of the three Editions of 1931 will set you back between £55 and £65 each dependent upon where you pick them up from. 1931 Edition 1 is all but gone n the UK with no further supplies expected. What is on sale is all that there is. Supplies are still there of Edition 2 and 3. I seemingly purchased all but my favourite, so I guess I’ll have to go online shopping again!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2015 in Rum

 

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