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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.

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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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Admiral Rodney

As a continuation of the mini-series of posts centering around the Rums produced at St Lucia Distillers, this article is all about Admiral Rodney Extra Old St Lucia Rum. I would suggest a quick read of the earlier article on Chairman’s Reserve Rums to give you an insight into the range of Rums produced by St Lucia Distillers

Now you’re back, we need to find our exactly who this Admiral Rodney chap is. Born on 13th February 1718 in Walton-on-Thames, George Brydges Rodney was a British Naval Officer. He is known for his commands in the American War of Independence and in particular, his victory over the French at the Battle of the Saints in 1782. He is also thought to have pioneered the tactic of ‘breaking the line’ which sees the British Navy with its superior firepower concentrate on specific parts of the enemy fleet, preferably the rear, to break down the enemy line as the centre will lose time by turning to support the rear. Moving on, in 1761, Admiral Rodney was elected MP for Penryn. Lord Anson then selected him to command the naval element on a planned amphibious attack on the lucrative and strategically important French colony of Martinique following a similar failed attack in 1759. The land forces were to be a combination of troops from numerous locations including Europe and additional reinforcements were sent from New York who were available following the Conquest of Canada in 1760. During 1761, Martinique was blockaded by Sir James Douglas to prevent supplies and reinforcements from reaching it. Within the first three months of 1762 Rodney had made serious movements towards capturing Martinique whilst both St Lucia and Grenada had surrendered to him and his squadron. Following the Treaty of Paris in 1763, part of the peace terms saw Martinique returned to the French. By the spring of 1782, the French fleet had its eyes fixed on the Caribbean sugar islands. Admiral Rodney was aware of their intentions as from his vantage point on St Lucia he saw the French fleet depart for Jamaica. He pursued and confronted the fleet on 12th April, beginning the Battle of the Saints. The two fleets were in line on opposing courses when a change in wind direction confused the French and gaps began to appear within their line. Spotting his opportunity, Admiral Rodney ordered his ships to turn 90 degrees and break the French line allowing the English guns on both sides to bombard the French with little chance of reprisal. As the French line could not be reformed, Admiral Rodney was victorious. Anyhow, that’s it for the history lesson…..

Admiral Rodney Extra Old St Lucia Rum – 40% abv

Admiral RodneyAdmiral Rodney is a blend of 100% column still Rums that have been aged in used bourbon barrels for an average of 12 years. The blend itself utilises Rums taken from a number of plate levels on the two column Coffey Still at St Lucia Distillers and will include RS 203 (Roseau Spirit 203) and RS 204 (Roseau Spirit 204) with their medium and high levels of congeners as mentioned in the previous article, but all Rums within the blend will have been chosen specifically to add to the complexity of Admiral Rodney. Apparently it is also the intention of St Lucia Distillers, as they gain more aged stock, to increase the average age of the blend to 15 years.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a dark coppery bronze in the glass and the initial aromas are of deep vanilla, oak, cherry and toffee. There is also a dryness to the aromas coming from the oak. Dried fruits like raisins, banana chips and apple pieces are also apparent and there is a spice tingle to the Rum. I can also smell pear spirit and bourbon. Longer time in the glass reveals leather and peanuts. I’m expecting a meaty, deep Rum….

In the mouth: There is an initial sweetness but that dries quite rapidly. The mouthfeel is not as thick as expected when comparing it to the nose as it has a medium body. There is a light caramel and plenty of oak followed with nutmeg on the tip of my tongue there is a peppery bite to the Rum. That dried banana, apple and those raisins and peanuts come back into play alongside light vanilla. The oak is really dominant on this Rum but it does allow a good balance between the sweet and dry. It just needs a little more punch. I think that I expected a little more from the flavours given the intensity of the aromas so my initial thoughts were slightly subdued due to what I found. (Note: I revisited my initial three nights with further visits to the bottle over week later). Given time, the pear spirit is more apparent along with a touch of smoke. The Rum feels sweeter, calmer, woodier and I am enjoying it a lot more on this occasion. The spices and wood are well-tempered by the spirit and it feels more complete and well-rounded. The finish is of a medium length and starts spicy but ends with oak and lots of banana. This is my second bottle (I inhaled the first a few year back prior to deciding to write about Rum) and I still believe that the aromas promise something really deep and heavy but the flavours lack some meat on their bones, but that may just be me. It is however a great example of a very flavourful column spirit that offers a lot, gets better with repeated visits and continues the award-winning performance of Rums from St Lucia Distillers.

I’ve never tried this Rum in any way other than neat, no ice, no mixers. That’s just how I enjoy it, but the extent to which I enjoy it does seem to be mood dependent. It sits at around £43 a bottle (I paid slightly more for both of mine as I picked them up from a local independent shop) and it is in a crowded price bracket with some amazing Rums…..what should give you a level of comfort though is the fact that I’ve not tasted a bad Rum from St Lucia Distillers yet on my Rum journey…..and long may that continue. Again, I’d love to hear your experience with this Rum.

© 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 8, 2015 in Rum

 

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Gold of Mauritius

Gold Of MauritiusReaders and Subscribers will be more than aware that I have covered a few Rums from Mauritius previously, but this one is a little ‘different’ to say the least.

A chance meeting with Darius Burrows of Trilogy Beverage Brands gave me my first opportunity to taste Gold of Mauritius. Then whilst visiting the Boutique RumFest, we again got the opportunity to try the Rum and also to meet and talk to its creator, Frederic Bestel. It really is unlike anything that I have tasted previously, but first a little information on its creation.

Frederic buys in specific unaged Rums from local distillers on Mauritius and sets about his unique maturation process. He buys in used Port barrels from South Africa. These barrels arrive in Mauritius with Port residues still inside them and it is within these barrels that he ages the as yet unaged Rums. As a general rule the process takes approximately 12 months although this is barrel dependent. Some barrels have far less Port residue and therefore require the Rum to be in there for around 15 to 16 months, others far less.

Prior to bottling, around 10 to 14 barrels are selected, dependent upon how Frederic rates them in terms of maturation and flavour gained. Bear in mind that the wood used in South Africa for these barrels is not that great and if left in there too long, the Rum can develop an unwanted bitter taste. So Frederic takes these 10 to 14 barrels of Rum and blends them by hand to create the consistent flavour profile that he is looking for.

Given the high temperatures in Mauritius, cold filtration was initially employed by Frederic but now he has amended his methods to use normal paper filtration at 5 Microns. The colour and flavour come from the time spent in the barrels and the Port influence, although caramel colour is sometimes used to ensure consistency between batches as the specific barrels used can often give the Rum an Orange, Red or Brown appearance. The profile is one that Frederic believes gives him his own identity, and I’d have to agree. The wood influence is dialled down due to its bitterness and Frederic estimates that around 80% of the flavour profile is as a result of the Port influence with the other 20% as a result of the original unaged locally produced Rum.

Quite an insight into the methods used and all obtained directly from Frederic who has been very helpful since we first met. In this Rum, Frederic feels that he has a product that epitomises the essence of Mauritius. But how does it actually taste……

Gold of Mauritius – 40% abv

Gold of MauritiusIn the glass: The Rum is a dark mahogany brown / red and the initial aromas fight to jump out of the glass. Salted peanuts hit you in a big way along with chocolate and something that smells like sawdust! I would say that initially there is a bourbon like aroma to this Rum. Fresh figs, malt, cocoa beans and more of the salted peanuts round out the aromas. It has a really unique aroma, very inviting stuff, although it is not instantly Rum like.

In the mouth: There is an initial sweetness to the Rum alongside a peppery spice. Instant nutty flavours are present, like a good quality chocolate bar with salted peanuts. There is also a heavy hit of coffee. Subsequent visits to the glass reveal chocolate pudding minus the chewiness, malted chocolate milkshake and freshly cracked black pepper. The chocolate and salted nuts play a big part in this Rum for me and alongside the salted peanuts there is something like freshly shelled hazelnuts. Strangely there is also a little bit of an Anejo Tequila taste to the Rum, maybe from the base Rums used. The finish is medium length and full of coffee, dark chocolate, those coffee beans coated in chocolate, and salted peanut butter. A very flavourful Rum.

For want of a better phrase, this stuff is a little bit bonkers. It tastes like no Rum that I have ever tried before. It is almost not instantly recognisable as a Rum given its aromas. The chocolate I can only assume is as a result of the port residues in the barrels. Definitely a desert Rum as this will dominate your palate for a while in it’s silken salty chocolate goodness. I often first try Rums in a daiquiri, but this one? Not a chance. I used this Rum in a Rum Old Fashioned with a dash of Black Walnut Bitters and it did the trick. It is massively easy to drink and so far out of my usual range of flavours that I have become rather fond of it. You can buy it in the UK from Cellar Door Drinks for just shy of £40. I would say that it has the ability to (when used by someone who knows what they’re doing) be the basis of some pretty unique cocktails, maybe a boozy milkshake alongside a coffee liqueur, though I enjoy it neat. If you have any experience of the Rum, I’d love to get your thoughts.

© 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 1, 2015 in Rum

 

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Chairman’s Reserve Rum

Chairmans LogoThis article will be the first of a mini series covering the Rums produced by St Lucia Distillers. Seemingly you can’t talk about St Lucia Distillers without talking about Chairman’s Reserve Rum, perhaps their most well know brand, which is why that is where I will start. But to truly understand the origins of Chairman’s Reserve Rum, you need to understand the capabilities that exist within the set up at St Lucia Distillers to produce a wide range of Rums utilising their four individual stills. A little background first then……

Saint Lucia is one of the Windward Islands. The Windward Islands are the South Eastern, generally larger Islands of the Lesser Antilles within the West Indies. The Windward Islands are Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada. I have never visited but I am more than aware of the Pitons. The Pitons are two mountainous volcanic spires, Gross Piton and Petit Piton that grace the Chairman’s Reserve labels.

St Lucia Distillers emerged from a long tradition of on site, rustic rum production that was a common feature of the West Indies sugar plantations. The molasses (a by-product of the sugar industry) was fermented and distilled into Rum which was always in high demand, despite the fluctuations in the economy of the West Indian plantations. By the late 1950’s, only two distilleries remained on Saint Lucia. One in Dennery on the East coast, established in 1931 which was the site of the Barnard family plantation and the other in the Roseau valley which was owned and operated by Geest, a Dutch banana company. The St Lucia Distillers Group was formed in 1972 when due to the rise in European sugar beet, sugar production on Saint Lucia ended forcing the Barnard family to enter into a joint venture with the Geest owned Distillery moving their operations from the Dennery Distillery to the Roseau Bay Distillery in the Roseau Valley. This is the current location of St Lucia Distillers. In 1992, the Barnard family, who had been planters and Rum distillers for over a century, purchased the Geest shares. In 1997, the Barnard family sold some of their shares to Angostura Ltd before in 2005 selling their remaining shares to Clico Barbados Holdings with third generation rum maker Laurie Barnard staying on as Managing Director. In 2012 Laurie Barnard passed away and in 2013, Mrs Margaret Monplaisir was appointed his replacement.

Since its inception in 1972, St Lucia Distillers have grown from producers of single label mass market Rum to producers of well-regarded Rums and Rum based products. Not surprising given their capabilities.

Production

Given the lack of large-scale sugar industry on Saint Lucia, to make their molasses based Rums, St Lucia Distillers import their molasses from Guyana. It has a unique method of getting the molasses inland too. The Molasses tanker ships its contents into a jetty in Roseau Bay where it pumps its contents into an underground molasses pipeline which follows the Roseau River for a distance of just shy of 2 kilometres until it arrives at St Lucia Distillers where it is stored in their molasses storage tanks. The distillery accepts for or five shipments of molasses per year. Recently, the distillery planted five acres of sugarcane to experiment in the distillation of sugar cane juice and I believe that we need to watch a later release of St Lucia Distillers 1931 to experience it. The sugarcane comprises four varieties sourced from the West Indies Breeding Station in Barbados.

Prior to fermentation the molasses is diluted with 75% water to create the ‘raw wash’. Fermentation takes place using one of two proprietary yeast strains dependent upon the intentions for the final product. The first yeast strain is specific to the Rums that will not be aged. It is utilised to give the purest spirit possible and is used in conjunction with their two column Coffey Still. The second yeast strain is a Caribbean yeast cultured from the natural yeasts found near the base of the sugarcane. This is said to create a higher level of congeners making flavourful Rums for aging. Congeners are substances produced during fermentation. These include a small amount of chemicals such as other alcohols (known as fusel alcohols), acetone, acetaldehyde, esters and aldehydes such as propanol, glycols and ethyl acetate. Congeners are responsible for a lot of the tastes and aromas of Rum. For the first 24 hours, fermentation takes place in the ‘Propagation Area’ which comprises a Propagator Tank where the Raw Wash and Yeast are first introduced to each other and two other vessels. Mother Vessel 1 and Mother Vessel 2 which are next in line to receive the fermenting brew. The final 24 hours of fermentation takes place in open tanks. The wash once fermented is about 7% abv, is maintained at a temperature of 32 degrees C and is ready for distillation.

Distillation – Coffey Still

The two column (continuous) Coffey Still at St Lucia Distillers was commissioned in 1985. Three coded spirit types are produced in this particular still, all over 93% abv. Within the still there are 40 plates with distillate taken off at plates 40, 35 and 30. The first spirit type is coded RS 201 (Roseau Spirit 201) and is the cleanest spirit produced. Yeast strain 1 is used and the spirit is taken of at plate 40. This spirit is never aged. The second spirit type is coded RS 203 and has increased levels of congeners. Yeast strain 2 is used and the spirit is taken off at plate 35. This spirit is used for aging. The third spirit type is coded RS 204 and has the most congeners. Yeast strain 2 is used and the spirit is taken off at plate 30. This spirit is also used for aging.

Distillation – Pot Still

There are three different pot stills operating at St Lucia Distillers but common to all is the fact that the first distillation takes the spirit to around 70% abv with the second distillation taking it up to 80% abv.

  • John Dore 1

This pot still distills both molasses and sugarcane juice Rums, has a 1500 litre capacity and was commissioned in 1998. Spirits from this still are always aged.

  • John Dore 2

This pot still distills only molasses Rum, has a 6000 litre capacity and was commissioned in 2004. Spirits from this still are always aged.

  • Vendome

This pot still distills both molasses and sugarcane juice Rums, has a 2000 litre capacity and was commissioned in 2003. Spirits from this still are always aged.

Maturation

For all distillates apart from RS 201 (unaged), the abv of the distillate is reduced to 63% abv. St Lucia Distillers used mainly first fill Bourbon Barrels for initial aging and believe that the perfect Rum is dependent upon the skill of the Master Blender to discover the perfect marriage of age and distillate. They see age statements as meaningless and misleading. The St Lucia Distillers Master Blender, Evanus Harris believes that there is no improvement in the quality of a Rum beyond 10 years, in fact their belief is that the Rum begins to lose quality. In addition to the Bourbon Barrels, St Lucia Distillers are also experimenting with Hermitage and Chilean Wine Barrels; Sherry, Madeira and Sauternes Barrels alongside using Port Pipes for products such as the 1931.

Chairman’s Reserve Range

Now that you are aware of the numerous styles of Rum available for use by the Master Blender, we can look at the Chairman’s Reserve range and their components.

Chairman’s Reserve White Label – 40% abv

CR WhiteChairman’s Reserve White is an aged Rum mostly comprising 5 different column still Rums that have been aged for up to 3 years in previously used Bourbon Barrels. The colour gained during the aging process is gently filtered (at just 15 psi of pressure) to retain as much character as possible.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is crystal clear and displays some reluctant droplets on the side of the glass. The initial aromas are of a light, sweet vanilla custard and raisins. It smells crisp with citrus oils and a little pot still element.

In the mouth: What first strikes you is the medium-heavy body of this Rum. It immediately coats your mouth in a creamy vanilla sweetness. There is a little pepperiness to the Rum on the tip of your tongue. The finish is short to medium length and is full of custard, pepper, vanilla and a little citrus.

This Rum can stand up for itself in a mixed drink and does make a really meaty Daiquiri with the citrus assisting in lifting the lime and the body of the Rum ensuring that if you dilute the drink too much, you won’t have completely ruined it.

Chairman’s Reserve Finest – 40% abv

CR FinestChairman’s Reserve Finest is a blend of molasses based column and pot still Rum. The Rums are initially rested in new oak for 9 to 12 months before being aged in a combination of used Jack Daniels and Buffalo Trace barrels. There is no age statement provided on the label but it comprises both younger and more mature Rums and has an average age of 5 years. Post blending the Rum is returned to the barrel for a further 6 months to allow the blend to marry prior to bottling.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a brilliant gold in the glass and the pot still elements come billowing out of the glass. Honey, vanilla, toffee, mango and banana notes are all evident and carried on a creamy caramel.

In the mouth: The Rum has a medium body and leads with caramel and a dried mango. There is a peppery tingle on the tongue and once again, the pot still is evident, but is calmed by the slight oakiness. It adds a real depth to the Rum and for me, makes it very drinkable, despite not being the easiest Rum to enjoy neat. There is quite a bit of heat on the medium length finish with that pot still carrying a buttery vanilla caramel and a peppery kick.

Chairman’s Reserve Finest is a Rum that gets heavy use here at Rum Diaries HQ. It is mainly used in Cuba Libres here in rotation with the usual pot still influenced Jamaican classics. I also have my own play on a White Russian that uses this Rum and a nice dry Rum based coffee liqueur topped off with a dash of black walnut bitters.

Chairman’s Reserve Spiced – 40% abv

CR SpicedChairman’s Reserve Spiced utilises the Chairman’s Reserve Finest blend as it’s base. Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, lemon, orange, almond are used to spice the Rum along with a local tree bark known as Bois Bande. This is traditionally used in Rum Shacks to infuse into high strength unaged Rum to create what is said locally to be a powerful aphrodisiac! Certain of these spices are left in a tank to macerate in aged Rum for in excess of 12 months to further increase the intensity of flavour.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a mahogany colour with deep red where it thins at the edges of the glass. There is an instant hit of cloves which I happen to love in a spiced Rum. Nutmeg, cinnamon, orange, ginger and cola are present by the bucket load. The orange is a bitter orange, a little like an orange liqueur, and doesn’t smell overly sweet. I can also pick up allspice berries.

In the mouth: This Rum is a lot sweeter than it smells. It again leads with a mouthful of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, cola, allspice berries and a little coconut. There is also a good dose of black peppercorns. For me it needs to dial back the sweetness a little but it is hugely drinkable. The finish is of a medium length and is all cloves and ginger with citrus elements and a slight marzipan.

Again this is a Spiced Rum that has seen multiple bottles used in quick succession here. It makes for a really good Spiced Daiquiri and when mixed with lime, cinnamon syrup, apple juice and ginger beer it’ like a liquid strudel.

Chairman’s Reserve: The Forgotten Casks – 40% abv

CR Forgotten CasksOn 2nd May 2007, St Lucia Distillers suffered a major fire. Fortunately the majority of the distillery was undamaged but the areas greatly hit were storage areas. There was a need to find alternative arrangements for a quantity of the barrels and these were placed wherever possible, including some random locations. A ‘memory lapse’ on the part of the cellar team meant that some of the barrels which held Chairman’s Reserve Finest in its marrying stage which had been laid down in 2006 remained unlocated until 2011. By this time the average age of the Rum was 10 years old. Once the barrels were opened and tasted, the resulting extra aging was found to have added a complexity to the Rum. St Lucia Distillers decided to offer the Rum as a limited release calling it Chairman’s Reserve: The Forgotten Casks. Quite how many barrels were ‘lost’ is unknown to me but if this is more than just a marketing tale, there must’ve been a fair few as it is still readily available……

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a dark reddy gold in the glass. Caramel, pot still elements, and a little alcohol burn are immediately apparent. As the Rum calms itself down, chocolate, coffee, brown sugar, oak, vanilla, raisins and a nutty element reveal themselves. There is also a mango and pineapple element playing around between the nut brittle and cinder toffee elements.

In the mouth: There is an initial sweetness to the Rum along with some bite and heat before it dries a little. The pot still again is evident along with a heavy dose of milky chocolate. Coffee and creamy vanilla are also carried on the Rums medium body. Further sips reveal oak, more chocolate and peaches on the back of my tongue. The Rum has a medium to long finish that starts sweet with vanilla, raisins, coffee and milk chocolate. This then dries out to reveal a peanut element.

This is a great Rum to drink neat. It has plenty to keep your interest. It also makes a killer Old Fashioned with the chocolate flavours working really well.

The Chairman’s Reserve range of Rums, for me, represent real value. All four are worthy of a place in your collection as they are produced by a credible distillery with a good range of stills enabling them to draw upon a wealth of flavours. The prices are also not extortionate with the White Label available for around £20, the Finest for around £20 (also available in supermarkets), the Spiced for around £22 and the Forgotten Casks for around £32. We are into multiple bottles of each expression now and I cannot see that changing. The availability of the Finest in supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s means that there really is no excuse.

There are other Rums produced by St Lucia Distillers and their Admiral Rodney will be covered in another post. As will their special edition 1931, releases 01, 02 and 03.

As usual, we’d love to get some feedback on your experience with the Rums and we’re more than happy to share.

© 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 January 25, 2015 in Rum

 

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The Duppy Share

Duppy Side 2By now you will have all heard about the new kid on the block, The Duppy Share. I first heard about the Rum back in May 2014 at the Boutique Bar Show which was being held in Manchester Town Hall. I spoke to George who hinted at something new to watch out for….I then found myself in the ACR mini-seminar sitting next to Jessica who also mentioned a new Rum that would soon be coming to market. Fast forward to July and The Duppy Share finally saw it’s launch! The Duppy share is the brainchild of The Westbourne Drinks Co which was founded by George Frost and Jessica Swinfen. The inspiration behind The Duppy Share was George’s love of the Caribbean where he used to holiday as a child with regular trips to Barbados and Anguilla. He wanted a Rum that best reflected the spirit of the Caribbean. Initially thoughts turned towards starting a Rum distillery in London but that idea was quickly eschewed in favour of sourcing Rums from the skilled producers, blenders and custodians of generations worth of family owned businesses. After numerous distillery visits and numerous Rum tastings, a blend of Rums from Barbados and Jamaica were chosen. These components are then shipped to the Netherlands for blending before being bottled in the UK to produce the Rum that you see before you.

Duppy Side 1The inspiration behind the name and also the presentation also require a little explanation. Duppies are the dark spirits of Caribbean folklore that are said to journey between islands in the dead of night to steal a share of the Rum from the barrels. Naughty little Duppies! The bottle too is a work of art, as are the labels. Reminiscent of 1930’s travel posters the labels pull together an element of nostalgia and sophistication which when coupled with the stunning bottle shape really allows The Duppy Share to deliver an experience a million miles away from what could have been given the obvious pirate links. Premiumisation is obviously a key word within the marketing of this brand but I’ll deal with that later.

The Jamaican component is a three-year old 100% pot still Rum sourced from Worthy Park. This will add the punch and funk to the Rum along with a boat load of tropical fruit. The Barbadian component is a five-year old Rum sourced from (yes, you guessed it) Foursquare Distillery which will impart the oak elements, colour and flavour and will help round out the Rum, balancing the heat of the pot still element……………..having already tasted it, my mouth is watering just writing this!

The Duppy Share – 40% abv

Duppy Front

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a bright gold in the glass with darker flashes. Oak is apparent from the off, as is a dose of vanilla and brown sugar. A little whiff of banana and some astringent pot still notes are also in there. There is a light honeyed sweetness along with the aroma of a bag of dried tropical fruit pieces. There is also a buttery and creamy edge to the Rum with a little light spice. On the whole, whilst there is a lot going on, it’s all quite light with nothing too forceful.

In the mouth: Wow. The thing that immediately strikes you is the weight of this Rum…….it has a really heavy body when judging against the nose. The Rum has a really big mouthfeel and enters with a little sweetness and apparent pot still Rum. It is creamy and has a little warming tropical fruit wrapped in a nutty, buttery and vanilla character. Brown sugar follows on before the Rum starts to dry out a little. Further sips once your mouth has acclimatised to the initial punch of the Rum reveal a little peppery bite and a little mango and banana. There is a little peach flavour too as an aftertaste / aroma and the back of my mouth. The finish is long with the spice edge of nutmeg and pepper. There is vanilla, dark brown sugar and peanut brittle before dry oak rounds things out.

It is very rare in this day and age that clever marketing, excellent presentation, a well woven back story and a new, unheard of brand can actually deliver on its promises of ‘premiumisation’ with most attempts being a lot of bark but no bite…..be under no illusion though that this product is perhaps one of the few exceptions that cuts through the groans and grunts of those tired with style over substance. This Rum is a beautiful blend of components that have been carefully sourced from credible producers by George and Jessica, a pairing that clearly enjoy Rum and that clearly have an understanding of what it is about Rum that others like too. It’s all so easy, and perhaps tempting with a new product to blindy colour and sweeten up the Rum to open the appeal up to the mass audience but they have been respectful to the component Rums with each element allowed to shine. I’ve read some mediocre articles about the Rum and have read stories of disappointment with The Duppy Share but I myself share none of that negativity. It has a little bite, is full of flavour, is presented beautifully and is priced keenly at £27 a bottle. I got the opportunity to try the Rum at the Boutique RumFest and also at RumFest itself in varying forms, both neat and in a punch. I’ve since been out and purchased more of the Rum and I wholeheartedly recommend that you do too.

© 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 January 18, 2015 in Rum

 

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La Confrérie du Rhum Cuvée No1

Etiquette---Cuve¦üe-Confre¦ürie_2La Confrérie du Rhum is a Facebook Group that if you are not yet a member of, you should rectify by clicking the link. The group, set up in 2013 by Benoît Bail has over 3600 members drawn from all corners of the globe with varying levels of involvement in the Rum world from brand ambassadors, producers, distilleries, bottlers, bartenders to Rum lovers, bloggers and amateur enthusiasts. The past 18 months have seen the group have huge success becoming bigger and more well known for its forum activity along with its sharing of articles, images, websites and ideas.

Due to popular demand, Vincent Bidault de Villiers , Jerry Gitany and Benoît, the custodians of the group decided to bring to market a special bottling commemorating the group that will be sold to its members in January 2015. This special edition La Confrérie du Rhum Cuvée No1 500ml bottling will be very limited with just 55 bottles being produced.

The Rum itself is sourced from Barbados, specifically by way of commemorating what is seen as being the birthplace of the history of Rum. It was distilled at the W.I.R.D (West Indies Rum Distillery) in 2000 before being aged in American Oak barrels for 13 years, partly in Barbados, then Germany before being bottled for La Confrérie du Rhum in 2014. The bottles have been hand wax dipped by Benoît himself to increase the visual appeal and to compliment the red label. The label itself has a map of Barbados along with the name and logo.

This Rum was inhaled so quickly that this only represents my initial thoughts based on one glass, and whilst I have asked to be considered for a bottle once available for purchase, this is not a sure thing. If successful I reserve the right to revisit my notes…

La Confrérie du Rhum Cuvée No1 – 43% abv

Sans titreTasting Notes

Barbados 2000In the glass: The Rum is a pale gold / straw in the glass and is ridiculously pungent. A swirl leaves reluctant little beads decorating the glass…..there is the apparent aroma of something quite medicinal….almost like a peated whisky. I have encountered this aroma before and this alongside the distillery (W.I.R.D) would lead me to believe that it is a Rockley Still (style) Rum……for some reason, whilst I find these qualities a little suffocating, dominant and hard to get along with in a whisky, they are very appealing to me when found within a Rum! Oak is certainly apparent as is the faint whiff of heavy-duty cardboard boxes. There is also the hint of something resin like. There is also the aroma of tropical fruit but more like stewed fruit…it reminds me of a fruity teabag that has been left to brew for a while. It is certainly heavy on aroma with a good dose of smoke rounding it off.

In the mouth: Initially there is a little sweetness and it is very whisky like from the off. My mouth is instantly filled with the medicinal iodine, smoke and oak that I would associate with an Islay whisky. This subsides as the Rum drys out quite rapidly to leave liquorice torpedo sweets, tar like molasses, and a little more of the medicinal edge reminiscent of sticking plasters. The finish is a long one for sure with the faint medicinal notes remaining and accompanied by black pepper and more of that liquorice and tar like molasses.

I have tasted a similar Rum from the same distillery but that was at a much higher abv. That was more intense on the aroma but much of the flavour was hidden behind the cask strength and needed releasing with a drop of water. Colour wise you would think it a little light for a Rum of this age but the other Rum of this style also shares its colour. If you get the opportunity to try this then you really should. It’s medicinal notes won’t be for everyone but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

© 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 January 13, 2015 in Rum

 

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