Readers 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
In the glass: The liquid 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 it. 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 Rum like at all.
In the mouth: There is an initial sweetness 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 liquid 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 it, 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 liquid, but not Rum like at all.
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 not instantly recognisable as a Rum given its aromas and flavours. The chocolate I can only assume is as a result of the port residues in the barrels. Definitely a desert drink as this will dominate your palate for a while in it’s silken salty chocolate goodness and the sweetness will stick around. I often first try Rums in a daiquiri, but this one? Not a chance. I used this 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, but let’s not call it Rum. 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. Unrecognisable as a Rum which is a shame as that’s how it’s marketed, but I don’t mind the taste.
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got mine a couple of days ago in a package from flaviar. i was disappointed at first because i thought the cork or the rum was tainted with what i can only describe as moldy cork. I had to cuba libre it straight away which i really really liked very caramel like. but after reading your review i went back and i think you are right there is so much going on here with smells and tastes almost like they have over done it a bit. but hey ho thats just me
Thanks for the feedback. I believe that Flaviar have rated it quite highly in heir end of year polls too. I completely understand your initial impressions, you expect Rum, yet you don’t get Rum. It is going to be an opinion divider but I think when used in the right way (cuba libre, old fashioned) then it’s individual strengths can be enhanced. If you have any left, save it for a while then put an old fashioned together (you don’t need to dilute too much) and hopefully it may work for you. I have a sweet/savoury obsession and that is why I believe that I enjoy it so much.
I’ll have to try this soon. I always like to see the boundaries being pushed and anything different always appeals.
Having never tried this rum and @ £50 a bottle for an 18 month old rum I don’t think I shall try it any time soon. For rum that has only been aged 18 months, Port barrels or no Port barrels it is still a very young rum that has not fully matured. To pay £50 for a young rum no, not for me thanks.
Thanks for reading and for leaving a comment Dai and it was good to meet you at RumFest. I can understand your reluctance at spending £40 on a young rum that you have not tried but sometimes when you do it pays off and you find an absolutely beautiful rum. I did exactly the same, spent £40 on a bottle of St Nicholas Abbey Unaged (see-through) and I consider it one of the better purchases that I’ve made. I’m not for one moment suggesting that you go out and spend your hard earned money on something that you are reluctant to plump for but I would suggest that purely judging Age vs Cost means that some really amazing Rums may slip through the net. More than happy to drop a little sample bottle in the post to you if you fancy giving it a go?
I tried this on a whim with a work friend whose lineage traces back to the island of Mauritius last night. Coming from a bourbon and scotch background, never rum, the sweetness backed by signature port flavor immediately reminded me of some bourbon/port aged scotch Frankenstein blend but instead of being misunderstood and run out of town I embraced it! I came home to seek out this amber gold beast only to find disappointment at it’s limited availability here (USA). After stumbling upon your blog I’m further disappointed to hear there is no other rum like it that might be a suitable substitute. I guess it’s back to the bar for $20 glasses in my near future.
This review is spot-on, I think. I tried it last year in the Ivy House in Peckham (which is a really excellent pub with some cracking drinks on offer, including Gamma Ray on draft, London beer people). Anyway, I’d been on a bit of a bender and wasn’t really in a state to appreciate it, but I remember it going down really well. I didn’t see it again until the other night in Kongs in Bristol. It’s not like any other rum I’ve tasted – almost liqueur-like, but with some contrasting savoury stuff going on too, which gives it real complexity. Mixed nuts, coffee, spices, something a bit wood sap like? And heaps of brown sugar, coffee and chocolate. Anyway, it isn’t one for the purists or those who like their rums dry. But I think it’s absolutely delicious. I ordered a bottle yesterday from the Whisky Exchange for £40 because I needed a few other bottles from there, but I think they have it a Flaviar for £37 at the moment. I assumed it’d be drinking in on it’s own with a single large ice cube but I think an Old Fashioned is an amazing idea, with demerera syrup and mole bitters, maybe.
I love Gamma Ray…..never found it on draft up this way….Yeah it’s pretty unrecognisable as a Rum given the flavour profile but it’s a pleasant change in smaller quantities given how rich and dominant it is. It doesn’t need much sweetening in an Old Fashioned so I’d say to start light….sounds like a tasty proposition though.
By the way Steve, thanks for the insight into the production, interesting stuff. I’ve read somewhere that Mauritius is one of the few places that makes both molasses and agricole rum, and indeed blend the two in the finished product. You mention that there’s a note of anejo tequila in there, and I see completely what you mean. Do you think that might in fact be some agricole notes coming through? (I find the two share a slightly similar funk, under certain conditions, although that could be my idiosyncrasy.) Did Frederic mention what blend of rums he used? Thanks again, excellent work, etc…
There is a certain vegetal tequila note so yeah maybe there is some Mauritian Agricole….I know that Bristol Spirits have a Maurituan unaged Agricole so it may be a good reference to try. Sadly I could get no more I formation out of Fred on the specifics of the rums used which is a shame….perhaps as he buys rather than distills it would be easier to reproduce for potential competitors? Thanks for taking to time to comment and thanks for your positivity too.