Yes you read that right…..collection. You see, one of the best examples of 100% Coffey Column Rum is soon to gain a younger and an older sibling. Part of the new strategy from the new owners of St Lucia Distillers, Groupe Bernard Hayot (also owners of Rhum Clement and Rhum JM) is to introduce a shake up of the current ranges from the distillery and to breathe new life into the distillates from their amazing collection of stills. The Bounty range seems to be getting a push outside of St Lucia, the 1931 releases are becoming part of the Chairman’s Reserve brand and the Admiral Rodney range gains two new expressions and a rebrand of the original. I’ve written extensively about St Lucian rums here, about the Chairman’s Reserve range here, and more importantly about Admiral Rodney here.
But allow me to elaborate with a bit of marketing bumf and the story of Admiral Rodney.
Admiral George B. Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney KB (1718-1792) was a famed and brilliant naval strategist. A gambler and a collector of the spoils of war. He will historically be remembered as the Admiral who broke the French line at the Battle of the Saints thus ensuring the British domination of the Caribbean.
It’s nice to see the range expanding and to also see how the range is has been renamed. The original Admiral Rodney will renamed as HMS Royal Oak whilst the two new additions will be HMS Princessa and HMS Formidable. Due to a stroke of good fortune, I have a small sample of each to review today. So without further ado, let’s dig in.
Admiral Rodney HMS Princessa – 40% abv- Traditional Rum
HMS Princessa was originally a Spanish vessel but was captured by the British in 1780 at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. Captained by Charles Knatchbull with Rear Admiral Francis Samuel Drake aboard, this 70 gun ship of the line was one of the first ships to engage the French in the Battle of the Saints.
The rum itself is as alluded to earlier, the product of the Coffey Column at St Lucia Distillers. The still which was commissioned in 1984 has 45 plates. The Rums set down to mature for the Admiral Rodney Range are taken from the lower plates of the still. The distillates are matured in ex bourbon oak and are aged between 5 and 9 years prior to blending.
Nose: Light oak. Vanilla. A fair dose of astringency and pepper. Light creme patissiere on a buttery vanilla slice. Vague hints of banana chips and honey. Quite soft. Maybe the lightest drop of almond. Really well-balanced.
Mouth: Initial sweetness. A touch of tannic oak. Quite a pleasant bite of alcohol. White pepper teases the tongue as the oak encourages you to chew the rum. A beautiful dryness with a hint of tobacco. Banana yoghurt. Light custard with caramelised brown sugar. A well-balanced finish that shows great integration of all components but it is all butterscotch, green apple and pepper underpinned with a drying oak
Admiral Rodney HMS Royal Oak – 40% abv- Traditional Rum
HMS Royal Oak was in the vanguard of ships to engage the French in the Battle of the Saints. Captained by Thomas Burnett, the Royal Oak manoeuvred skilfully and brought to bear all of her 74 guns on the enemy for the duration of the battle. With 8 men lost and 20 wounded, Royal Oak played an integral role in the first skirmishes of the battle.
Again taken from the lower plates of the Coffey Column, the distillates are matured in ex bourbon oak and are aged between 7 and 12 years prior to blending.
Nose: That delightful Admiral Rodney toasted coconut and oak leads things. Savoury vanilla leads into Cherry. Christmas mince pies. A hint of Nutmeg. Powdery cocoa. Roasted peanuts and Bourbon oak. A touch leathery. Chocolate coated peanuts
Mouth: Again there is an initial sweetness before the drying oak forces itself in. Better mouthfeel than I remember. Feels a lot fuller. Some Stewed stone fruit sweetness but this is definitely spice and spicy oak driven. Nutmeg. Pepper. Chocolate coated peanuts. Saliva inducing dryness rolling across the tongue. Mild vanilla and banana. The finish is of a medium length with a touch of sweetness courtesy of caramel and raisins before the spicy, peppery oak barges through and takes over
Admiral Rodney HMS Formidable – 40% abv- Traditional Rum
Launched in August 1777, HMS Formidable was Admiral Rodney’s flagship in the Battle of the Saints. Formidable was in the centre of the British fleet and took advantage of a sudden change of wind to break the line and sail into the French fleet unleashing her 98 guns on Admiral de Grasse’s ships.
This time the distillates are aged for between 9 and 12 years prior to blending.
Nose: Really really intense. More of everything. Properly cutting and nose tingling acetone takes you by surprise. Based on the first sniff I’d question whether this had a touch of pot still but I know it’s 100% Coffey Column. Crazy good. A beautifully intense oak and spice driven nose. Honey. Raisins and dried tropical fruit. Such a big oaky nose. Toasted coconut. Tobacco. Chocolate. Heavy bourbon cherry. Mixed roasted peanuts and hazelnuts. Pear drops….really. Furniture polish. Creosote. This is properly impressive
Mouth: Quite a gentle well-balanced entry. Pear drops. Astringent oak. An underlying sweetness being kept at bay by the crushing power of the oak influence. This has plenty going on. Puff pastry mince tarts. Mixed candied fruit peel. A little citrus oil. Milky, sweet coffee. Hot chocolate with marshmallows. Candied warm peanuts. A light smoke. There’s so much depth and complexity to this Rum…..you have to remind yourself that it’s a Coffey Column spirit. Beautifully long and chewy finish full of cutting, drying oak. That furniture polish and nail varnish lingers in the vapours. Warm peanuts, raisins and more of that coffee carries through but the oaken influence is the star. Very very good rum
The new additions really do step things up a notch. The youthfulness of the HMS Princessa makes it a really intriguing addition to the range and one that I really do rather like. HMS Royal Oak is the solid performer and it feels as though the blend has been tweaked slightly for the better. But the real star of the show is HMS Formidable. It just in possession of so much complexity it really shows how good a tool the Coffey Column still is. So fully of complexity and enjoyment.
Yes I’d love to experience all of the range at between 43 and 46% and I really do believe that this is something that should be investigated for the range in the future….even as special releases. The market that is interested in Admiral Rodney as a product really does demand it.
St Lucia Distillers have really stepped up their game and given the array of Rums that they have in their warehouses, maturation in differing casks and the complex array of available Rums from their wonderful stills at their fingertips, St Lucia is definitely my third favourite Rum producing Island!
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