The Duchess Barbados 2005 13 Year Old Rum

What we have today is another independent bottling, this time of a Foursquare Rum. The Duchess is a specialist independent bottler of whisky and rum that they say are to cater for a “discerning audience”. All Rums released by The Duchess are additive and colourant free. They claim to sell an honest Rum for an honest price. I have their Guadeloupe 19 release and can say with all honesty that it is a very good bottling…..so I’m looking forward to digging into this offering. You can do a search on these pages for Foursquare Distillery if you need some background, there are plenty of articles to choose from.

The Duchess Barbados 13 Year Old Rum – 59% abv – Single Blended Rum

We are aware that the label incorrectly displays 1995 and not 2005

This Duchess Barbados 13 Single Blended Rum release was distilled at Foursquare Rum Distillery in 2005. It saw 3 years maturation at Foursquare before being matured for a further 10 years in Europe prior bottling at 59% abv. It is a run of 294 bottles from cask number 44. The labels on all Duchess bottlings are by Hans Dillesse who is renowned for his work on various Whisky labels. It depicts the National Flower of Barbados whose Latin name is Caesalpinia pulcherrima. It is also known as The Pride of Barbados. The Rum was a joint selection between Richard Blesgraaf and Nils van Rijn for the Whisky & Rum aan Zee Festival 2018 which will take place in the Netherlands this October. I received a small sample of this release ahead of schedule and as a result have already placed my order.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Straight off the rum is bouncing from the glass. A classic Foursquare nose. Oak. Vanilla. Candied fruit peel. A little coconut. There’s plenty of acetone like aromas in there but they’re not dominant. The fruit is joined by some pretty obvious flamed oily orange peel and a bag full of nuts. Dried tropical fruit, maybe some guava juice. Fruit and nut milk chocolate. Freshly shelled peanuts. It is very reminiscent of the nose on the Rum Sixty Six Cask Strength. Wood glue. Sappy cedar wood.

Mouth: A very warming and astringent oak led entry. An all-encompassing mouthfeel. Mild sweetness straight off but the oak rapidly comes into play in the early stages. Subsequent visits to the glass reveal a little more sweetness. A bag of dried tropical fruit. Peanuts. Cocoa. Peach loop sweets. Vanilla. Coconut. The mid palate is where the oak excerpts it’s dominance. It brings a host of light spices and plenty of black pepper heat. Seeded bread sticks. Cedar wood. Cumin seeds. The finish, which is decidedly long is initially heavily spiced and full of peppery oak, drying, warming and with real depth. As it progresses it lightens with burnt orange oils, nuts and those oh so familiar peach vapours that I adore. Mild tobacco notes and a hint of mint.

4 / 5

It’s always well-balanced, always poised. It lacks the intensity that the rum Sixty Six Cask Strength possesses, possibly a maturation location thing, but my word it’s an impressive Rum. I’ve tried a fair few independent offerings of Foursquare Rum, some have been better than others, but this one gets it all right. It will set you back around €75 and it’s worth every penny. It can be purchased here, and I’d suggest that you do as it’s a limited run.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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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The Barbados GI & Why It Will NOT Threaten Diversity & Innovation

There has been talk within Rum circles and Facebook Forums about the proposed Barbados and recently completed Jamaican GI, and how there are concerns that this may stifle innovation and quell diversity. The following is the ‘as written’ response to this fallacy by Richard Seale which he has kindly agreed to allow me to publish in its entirety….and it is the best thing that you’ll read on the subject. Enjoy.

THE PROTECTION OF BARBADOS RUM

As Jamaica has completed their Geographical Indication for “Jamaican Rum” and Barbados moves to completion of their GI, it becomes increasingly important to dispel the canards around this important process.

With rum we have many canards – rum has no rules – rum is diverse and varied because of this wonderful lack of rules. Unlike other spirits, we are told Rum has no “global rules”. And that there are efforts to have a global rule which will crush our diversity.

See my takedown of this here – https://cocktailwonk.com/2017/08/richard-seales-epic-takedown-rum-no-rules.html

A recent canard is that a GI (a registered intellectual property) is a further threat to this diversity and a threat to “innovation”.

The irony of this situation is that a GI seeks to preserve and protect this diversity. It is the essential tool by which this is accomplished. And the dreaded fear of selling rum under one “unified” rule is EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS NOW AND IS PRECISELY WHAT A GI WILL SOLVE.

If Caribbean producers sell rum into the US, it is not the standards of identity (“the rules”) of Jamaica, Martinique or Barbados that apply. It is the rules of the United States TTB that apply. That is right, despite being from three very different and diverse rum producing countries, they will be sold in the US under the same ONE rule. This means that although AGAINST THE LAW OF JAMAICA to add anything to rum besides caramel a Jamaica Rum can be sold in the US with added flavours including sugar (and labeled as Jamaican Rum) because the generic rule for Rum sold in the US allows blenders to be added to any rum.

But the situation is very different for the spirits produced by developed countries. The United States TTB will enforce the rules of Scotland for a Scotch Whisky sold in the US. The United States TTB will enforce the rules of Cognac for a Cognac sold in the US. The US will not protect a Jamaican Rum or a Barbadian Rum from adulteration in the US. The US does not control the use of the word ‘Agricole’ in the US market leading to all sorts of hideous products, not remotely consistent with the standards of ‘Agricole’ being legally labeled as Agricole

Now the US does not directly recognise GIs so creating a GI alone will not be enough to solve this issue in the US but the US illustrates the challenge of protecting our diversity very well and the GI will be the necessary first step.

The same situation applies in the EU save for the fact that the EU does recognise some GIs at this point (for example the word Agricole is protected) and it is hoped that they will recognise the GIs of Jamaican and Barbados in due course. At the moment, a Jamaica Rum and a Barbados Rum are sold in the EU under one and the same EU rule. If the EU recognises our individual GIs, it means that a Barbados Rum sold in the EU will need to meet “Barbados Rules” and a Jamaica Rum will need to meet “Jamaica Rules”. That diversity everyone wants will be protected – that dreaded ‘global rule’ for rum, avoided.

Because the EU recognises the GI for Scotch Whisky, the additional requirements to meet the standards of identity for Scotch Whisky over the EU generic standard for whisky are recognised and the label “Scotch Whisky” is protected throughout the EU. The GI for Jamaica Rum and the draft GI for Barbados pose additional requirements, over and above the generic EU definition of Rum (the “one” rule) to protect and preserve the characteristic identity of these rums. The GI is the tool by which we will protect our diversity. The GI is the tool by which we avoid having to produce under one “global rule”.

What of the claim that a GI stifles innovation?

Lets be clear as to what exactly is innovation. Marketing gimmicks that do not add value are not innovations. Changing the elements of repute in a Jamaica Rum or a Barbados Rum is not innovation. A GI is not a legal restraint on a producer. All producers continue to operate under the existing laws. A GI is a piece of intellectual property protecting how a type of “trademark” can be used – it places no law whatsoever on production. It constrains no one from producing as they please. It constrains them from labeling as they please. A Jamaican musician can play any tune just do not expect it to be called reggae unless it sounds like reggae.

So what are these innovation stifling constraints in the Barbados and Jamaica GIs:

– Barbadian trained operators

– fermented and distilled in Barbados/Jamaica

– Saccharomyces types only for yeast

– local water source only

– free of additives except caramel which must only be used for colour (Barbados draft GI has a quantitative albeit generous limit on caramel) – the same restriction in Scotch

– minimum ester levels for Jamaica rum (by marque)

– aged in oak (“small” is the Jamaica requirement, 700 litres maximum for Barbados)

– aged entirely in Jamaica (a min of two years in Barbados).

– Jamaica rum must pass an organoleptic test

I will address the wisdom of “restricting to oak” in another post, save to say that is hardly onerous and Scotch Whisky has the same “restriction”. There is a plethora of excellent oak casks available for “innovation”. One obvious point is that it keeps a point of difference between rum and cachaca and preserves an important distinction in our social and economic history.

Aging is Europe is a product of the colonial way of doing business where only limited value was earned in the colonies and product whether it be sugar, rum or bauxite was to be shipped at the lowest commodity value. Bulk brown sugar would leave the Caribbean in the ship’s hold but arrive on the supermarket shelf as branded granulated sugar. Bulk molasses sold as branded ‘treacle” once on the shelf.

The advent of continental aging therefore had nothing whatsoever to do with product quality and it is absurd as ageing Scotch Whisky in southern Spain. It simply steals value from the local producers leaving rich European brands and decrepit local operations. The Barbados GI arguably does not go far enough. Bravo to Jamaica – this “restraint” is worth millions in forex earnings. A greater share of what you pay for that bottle of rum ends up in the Caribbean with “restraints” like this.

Conforming Rums must (may?) use the words “certified Geographical Indication” on all documents including labels. Non conforming rums can be made but they will not be able to simply state “Jamaican Rum” or “Barbados Rum” and most importantly – “the use of any indication or sign which may cause a buyer to believe that a rum has the right to use the protected Geographical Indication “Jamaica Rum”, although it does not satisfy all the conditions defined in the present decree will be prosecuted”.

You cannot sell your product under another’s brand because of trademark law and you cannot sell your product under another’s protected origin because of intellectual property law. You add something to Jamaica Rum – it is no longer Jamaican Rum – that is the law of the land of Jamaica. A recognised Jamaican GI means you cannot avoid Jamaican law by selling in Europe. No more selling pure rum as “dry style rum” and sweetened rum as “rum”. In Jamaica and Barbados, rum without added sweetener is just known as rum. I have never in my life heard any Jamaican or Barbadian call it “dry style” rum. Would I dare go to Scotland and call all whiskies “dry style”? Who am I to dictate that.

So you can continue to flavour Jamaica Rum you just cannot label it in a way that may cause confusion to the buyer that they have purchased certified Jamaica Rum. The diversity and identity, created by Jamaicans, will now be protected.

Europeans created the concept of protected origins and it is used extensively by developed countries to develop and protect the intrinsic value of their products in export markets. Our time is now.

We and fellow Barbadian owned producer St Nicholas Abbey are on the record as supporting the Barbados GI as drafted.

The EU generic rule for Rum for which all Rums need to comply

The generic US TTB rule for Rum for which all Rums irrespective of origin need to comply

The US recognises and applies different rules for different types of Whisky. No such recognition for Rum – so a Rum labeled Agricole in the US need not even be from fresh juice

The US TTB will enforce the rules of different origins for different spirits but not for Rum. Even Canadian Whisky is protected.

A GI is a form of Intellectual Property – it is not a law constraining how Rum can be made

The EU will recognise GIs – they must then comply with the rules they submit through their technical file

The EU will protect a registered GI. Scotch is a GI and so Scotch sold in the EU must match the rules in the Scotch technical file, it is not enough to conform to the generic EU rule for whisky

The EU does protect some GIs for Rum. We hope to add Barbados and Jamaica to this list

An example of Cognac applying to New Zealand to say protect our origin. We need to do the same for Rum and the GI is the first step. Diversity can then be protected.

The Scotch Whisky technical file details the difference between the rules of Scotch and the generic whisky rule of the EU. They add further detail to this page.

To gain a recognised GI in the EU, a technical file must be submitted.

Jamaica has an organoleptic test requirement for its GI

I personally find it hard to understand why anyone that has an interest in the future and protection of the Rums and the people of Barbados would ever not think that the Barbados GI is an essential thing.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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.

Velier Caroni 2000 TWE Exclusive

As the name would suggest, this release is a bottling from the legendary Caroni Distillery that closed in the early 2000’s. I have previously written about Rums from the Caroni Distillery and that information can be found here, here and here.

Velier Caroni 2000 The Whisky Exchange Exclusive Bottling – 70.4% abv

This Whisky Exchange Exclusive Velier bottling is a Full Proof Heavy Caroni distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2017 giving it 17 years of maturation in Trinidad. It is a ‘single cask’ bottling (#R4008) which yielded 238 bottles at a mammoth 70.4% abv. Loss to evaporation is stated as >75%. It must have been a consolidation of casks at some point into #R4008 given the release of 238 700ml bottles, unless a larger vessel was used. Anyhow, its Velier, so there will be no tricks at play. Honesty is their thing.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Proper heavy Caroni. The type that isn’t immediately petrol / oil / tar led. It’s initially a very medicinal, smoke and hedgerow fruit rum. Varnish. Linseed oil. Tar creeps in. The aroma of summer as a child….freshly creosoted fence panels. The petrol and oil are definitely present but very much under control. The longer you leave it, the fruitier and more baked goods it becomes. Bread and butter pudding with crispy burnt raisins and a sprinkling of muscovado sugar. Mixed candied fruit peels. It plays very well for such a brute with a solid backbone of oak and cedar wood wrap from a cigar tube. This is the kind of Caroni that I enjoy.

With water the addition of powdery cocoa and lighter floral notes.

Mouth: Wow. A huge explosion of smoke, antiseptic, heavy oak. Old Demerara Rum bitterness. Bitter burnt raisins. So intense.

With water and 20 minutes in the glass: Hedgerow fruit. Homemade blackcurrant and raspberry jam. Beautifully approachable and subtly sweet. Terry’s chocolate orange. Candyfloss. Caramel. Liquorice. A beautifully enveloping mouthfeel. Pencil shavings take over the spicy and peppery mid palate. Intense drying, spicy oak. The finish is heavily oak led, with smoke, bitter liquorice and molasses. Maybe a touch of eucalyptus as the long finish eventually fades.

Caroni is not my favourite Rum, I don’t possess the same fanatic obsessions as some…but when it’s good, it’s REALLY good….and this is REALLY REALLY good. It’s actually quite nuanced for a Caroni, dare I say it, at times delicate and approachable….but don’t let your guard down as it’s a bit like a wild animal…it should be respected or you could lose an arm! It’s amazing what plenty of years in a barrel in a tropical climate can do for something that must surely have been handled with caution straight off the still. It could have replaced the Velier Caroni 21 as my favourite Caroni as it has the fruit that the 21 has, but its just carried through in a fuller experience.

4.5 / 5

This Rum will be £299 on release. It is available via ballot only from The Whisky Exchange on this link: The Whisky Exchange Ballot

If you are fortunate, you will be charged on the 4th October. I want it, but I have tried it…and therefore I won’t use up a spot in the ballot to deny someone that hasn’t

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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.

LONDON RUM WEEK LAUNCHES THIS OCTOBER

*Press Release*

LONDON RUM WEEK LAUNCHES THIS OCTOBER

From the makers of RumFest, London Rum Week is a week-long celebration of rum across bars all over the capital, ahead of RumFest 2018

London Rum Week
15th – 21st October

RumFest
Saturday 20th & 21st October 2018
London’s Earl’s Court
ILEC Conference Centre
rumfest.co.uk

RumFest tickets start from £44.55 and can be purchased here

Bigger and better than ever before, RumFest is launching London Rum Week to prolong the celebrations of one of the nations favourite tipples. With an abundance of events taking place from rum launches and Tiki Thursday to rum masterclasses, rum-lovers from across the capital will have endless opportunities to get involved.

RumFest, the world’s premier festival of rum, will also return to London this autumn to host an abundance of tastings, masterclasses and delicious food all under one roof. Taking place 20th-21st October, over 400 world-class rum brands, mixologists, master blenders and specialists will jet in from around the world, to celebrate their passion for all things rum, taking visitors on a rum pilgrimage to explore the exquisite and unique. For more information on Rum Week and RumFest, visit the website.

RumFest is the lead event in the newly launched London Rum Week this October. Kicking off on Monday 15th, rum-focused activities will take place across the capital for the first five days, including the launch of Hampden Rum from one of Jamaica’s oldest distilleries at Usain Bolt’s new London bar Tracks & Records, a Q&A with Bailey Pryor, the five-time Emmy Award-Winning Director and Producer, a showcase of rare rums & cigars at La Casa del Habano with award-winning rum maker Richard Seale and much more.

Also part of London Rum week is The 6th Golden Rum Barrel Awards & Dinner, to be held at The Holiday Inn Kensington Forum, on Sunday 21st October. This star-studded night will see awards given to best in the rum industry including the Best Rums of 2018, Best Rum Master, Best Rum Bar, Best Rum Brand Ambassador and Rum Influencer of the Year .

Running as the highlight event, RumFest – the worlds finest festival of rum, opens its doors on the Saturday 20th – Sunday 21st October. With over 400 rum brands united together under one roof, guests will be able to enjoy exclusive tastings and pairings, take part in a variety of masterclasses and learn the art of perfecting a rum cocktail from leading mixologists.

New for this year, Ian Burrell, renowned Global Rum Ambassador and RumFest Founder, will be leading a one-off tasting on the Saturday and Sunday, showcasing five rare and expensive rums with a combined retail value of £1500. Tickets for all masterclasses (except those stated) are included within the entry ticket, however, places are limited and must to be booked in advance.

Sponsoring the main stage this year is London’s newest tropical escape bar Laki Kane. Co-founded by award-winning mixologist Georgi Radev, the bar produces innovative cocktails and is the first bar in the world to make all syrups in-house without using refined sugars. Using the finest rums, sugar cane syrups and a hand-picked selection of rare and exotic ingredients, Laki Kane will be showcasing their mixology expertise.

Speaking about this year’s events, founder and Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell;
“RumFest is a fantastic chance to get the inside track on the next big thing in rum as well as try some hidden gems on the market. Last year proved once again that this is THE event for anyone in the business of rum, with the worlds best brands, master blenders, distilleries and aficionados from across the globe. 2018 promises to raise the bar again with a few more surprises!”

A variety of additional masterclass sessions will take place across the course of the weekend. All sessions will involve tutored rum and cocktail tasting by spirit experts.
Saturday Masterclasses:
– Angostura
– La Hechicera
– Velier Masterclasses with Luca Gargano
– Canadian Rums
– Appleton Rum
– Flor de Caña

Sunday Masterclasses:
– Real McCoy
– Foursquare class with Richard Seale
– Appleton Rum
– Velier Masterclasses

For rum connoisseurs, the RumFest Golden Tot Tokens will give you the opportunity to taste limited edition and premium rums, retailing from £80-250.

In addition, Saturday guests will be able to place their bids at the Rum Auction, with premium rums priced from £500 – £2000. There will also be a host of chef demos throughout the weekend from Shivi Ramoutar, The Modern Caribbean Chef & Hassan de Four.

RumFest tickets are now on sale from £44.55 per day, which includes tastings of over 400 rums, complimentary invites to all masterclasses and seminars (except those stated) and rum experience tasting glass. For full information on RumFest and to buy tickets, head to rumfest.co.uk.

A full itinerary for London Rum Week can be found on http://www.londonrumweek.com. Activities across the week include Hampden Rum launch at Usain Bolt’s new London bar, a showcase of rare rums and cigars at La Casa del Habano plus much more to be announced. For more information regarding London Rum Week or to get involved contact info@rumfest.co.uk.

*End*

Rum Week is back with a vengeance! Some amazing events going on. It’s a shame that we’re up in Manchester at times like this but that theres still plenty to look forward to! We hope that we see a few of you over the course of the weekend.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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.

Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’

Plantation as a brand will be familiar to pretty much everyone reading this. No real explanation is required. Xaymaca however will need a little explanation. It is the name given to the island of Jamaica by its first inhabitants, the Arawaks. With their purchase of the West Indies Rum Distillery (W.I.R.D) in Barbados, Maison Ferrand also gained a third share in National Rums of Jamaica (NRJ). This gives them a share of Long Pond and Clarendon Distilleries. There are pot stills available at those distilleries. Long Pond has a John Dore Pot Still and Clarendon has a Vendome Pot Still. With access to the distilleries came improved access to stock. Hence, the Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ was born.

The release of the new Plantation Xaymaca has been accompanied by much fanfare in Rum circles. It speaks of a revival! Their own website marketing information states that the Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ will:

“revive the quintessential Jamaican-style, 100% pot still rums of the 19th century with an expression of intense flavors that reveal the traditional, legendary « Rum Funk » : aromas and flavours of black banana and flambéed pineapple, locally called “Hogo,” an Anglicization of the French term “Haut Goût” (high taste).”

Quite the claim.

Information provided by Plantation is as follows:

  • Alc./Vol. : 43%
  • Origin : Jamaica
  • Distilleries : Clarendon and Long Pond
  • Raw material : Molasses
  • Fermentation : 1 and 3 weeks
  • Distillation : Pot Still (Vendome) from Clarendon Distillery / Pot Still (John Dore) from Long Pond Distillery
  • Tropical ageing : 1 to 3 y.o. in ex-Bourbon casks
  • Continental ageing, elevage : 1 year in ex-Cognac casks
  • Volatile Substances : 312 g/hL AA
  • Esters : 156g/hL AA
  • Marques : Clarendon EMB & MLC marks / Long Pond VRW & STC^E marks
  • Classification : Plummer
  • Dosage : 0 g/L

Digging deeper, as Matt over at Cocktail Wonk has, more information can be gained from those marques. I urge you to view his article but I will also break it down further below utilising the detailed information that Matt obtained on his trip to Maison Ferrand.

Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ – 43% abv – Pot Still Rum

As mentioned above, the marques used in the Xaymaca are as follows:

  • Long Pond – VRW (Vale Royal Wedderburn) from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester range between 150-250 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Long Pond – STC^E (Simon Thompson Cambridge Estate) from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester range between 550-650 g/hL AA. 8 years Tropical maturation & 1 year Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Clarendon – EMB from the Vendome Pot Still with an ester range between 125-175 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Clarendon – MLC (Monymusk Light Continental) from the Vendome Pot Still with an ester range between 500-600 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks

Now there is way more information including specific distillate fermentation periods and abv prior to blending in the linked article.

The article linked to will also tell you that this initial release has another marque in the blend that could be permanent, may not be permanent, may be replaced or may be replaced repeatedly. It’s currently an unknown, but given the age of the marque,its doubtful that it will be available in enough quantities to be permanent.

Missing Marque:

  • Long Pond – ITP from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester level of 280 g/hL AA. 17 years predominantly Tropical maturation

The final Xaymaca noted ester level of 156 g/hL AA, putting it at the bottom end of the Plummer range of 150-200 g/hL AA lets you know that the VRW and the EMB marques are the predominant components of the blend. But, as with Hampdens DOK marque, a little higher ester goes a long way. So let’s have a look at how it tastes.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Candied fruit sweetness. Bright acidic fruit as I would expect with a Long Pond component. Orange peel. Warm Pineapple chunks. Overripe banana. The nip of young alcohol. Light oak. Quite subdued.

Mouth: Sweet warming entry. Thinner mouthfeel than I was expecting but it’s not overly watery. Quite a bit of spice and a more apparent wood influence that wasn’t present on the nose. Fresh ginger. Mild raisin. Faint milk chocolate. The mildest note of pear drop sweets is present if you really concentrate. Mid palate is warming and has hints of toffee. It’s very much Jamaica-lite….but too lite for me. More multi island blend. The finish is surprisingly short with watery wood and weak butterscotch. Pretty dull on the palate, especially when considering how promising the nose was. I would also note that it feels as if it may have an element of column Rum in the blend, even though not noted as such.

For a product that makes a big deal about “hogo”, “Rum Funk”, and “reviving the quintessential Jamaican style 100% pot still rums of the 19th Century”……even getting so geeky as to give a list of the marques used in the blend and giving Ester and Volatile Compound levels, I find that the message being pushed runs at odds with the liquid in the bottle. I’m also not sure who it is aimed at. It can’t be current Plantation fans as they have no issue with the additions anyway. It’s not aimed at geeks as although it has the info, it’s just not interesting enough. It seems to be tagged as a good “beginners” Jamaican Rum in a lot of reviews that I have seen post note writing. If I was new to Jamaican Rum and this was my first bottle, it wouldn’t excite me enough to make me want to know more. Beginners want approachable, not uninteresting. Much has also been made of the lack of ’dosage’. In fact, the lack of ‘dosage’ is stated on the label. Great move, but it only has meaning if you also state on the bottle label when you HAVE added something. Please correct me if this happens with the bottles that have high levels of “dosage” as I’ve not seen it. Website data, Bacardi and Diplomatico do it too, but it means nothing if you’re choosing when to disclose on the label and when not to. Small step, and one to be noted….but we’re not in the promised land yet.

I wanted to enjoy this Rum. It should be a winner on paper. 100% pot. Proper marques being used. Loads of label clarity. But it’s like a jigsaw, with all of the right pieces arranged to make the wrong picture. With those marques, it should be impossible to make a boring blend….but thats what I believe the Xaymaca is. Maybe the secondary age dulled it’s vibrancy. It would’ve maybe been better presented as the distillates blended without the “elevage”, as it has definitely not added value. Could’ve and should’ve been so much more.

2 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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.

Rum Tasting of the Century & Hampden Estate Rum Launch

Sometimes in life, things happen that totally blow your mind. I have often looked on with extreme jealousy when I have seen amazing events playing out whilst I’ve been at home on the sofa…..but not this time! You see, I was one of the fortunate few to be invited by Luca Gargano to what was being called “The Rum Tasting of the Century”. This event had been arranged to celebrate the launch of the La Maison and Velier distributed Hampden Estate Rums. Luca also pointed out that these Hampden Estate releases celebrate the end of the colonial era in the Rum world after 265 years as Hampden Estate are bottling their own tropically aged Trelawny Rums. Now being invited to the Four Seasons Hotel to celebrate the launch of the Hampden Rums would’ve been a great experience, but the Rum Tasting of the Century was close on panic attack inducing. Imagine if you will, every toy that you ever wanted as a child, then the joy that spreads over you like a wave of euphoria when you see that ‘Santa has been’…..and he has delivered them all!

When I received the invitation, I also received the list of Rums that we would be tasting during the evening. You often see Rums and think to yourself, “I would love to try even the smallest drop of that”. For me those Rums include Skeldon 1973 & 1978, UF30E 1985, Albion 1983 & 1994, Blairmont 1991, La Bonne Intention 1998, Rhum Clement 1952, Saint James 250th Anniversary, Rhum JM 1987, Harewood House 1780, Barbados 1985, Bally 1929, Enmore 1995, Wray & Nephew 17….and the list goes on! You resign yourself to living in the land of make-believe with some of those Rums, imagine my joy when I saw the invitation and it announced that the Rums we’d be trying were:

Harewood 1780 – Barbados The oldest dated Rum in existence

Saint James 1885 – Martinique One of the oldest Rums ever sold

Bally 1924 – Martinique The first vintage in the Rhum Agricole world

Skeldon 1978 – Guyana A legendary bottling from Velier

Hampden Estate – Jamaica The new aged releases from one of the best distilleries in the world

We assembled in the beautifully decorated bar at The Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square. Anticipation built and I was able to meet up again with old Rum friends in Wes Burgin, Peter Holland, Tatu Kaarlas, John Gibbons and Matt Pietrek and I also had a first face to face meeting with old Rum friends in Lance Surujbaly and Gregers Nielsen. We briefly spoke to Luca before being ushered into a private lift up to Apartment 17 on the 7th floor. We milled around next to the bar surrounded by members of the press from such publications and The New York Times, Le Monde and Imbibe. I had the opportunity to chat with Andrew Hussey of Everglade Farms Ltd, owners of Hampden Estate and the Long Pond Sugar Factory. We were then ushered into a large room at the end of the corridor, sliding glass partitions  to two elevations affording beautiful early evening views of Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, The Gherkin and the Shard. Sadly I only took a photograph after dark….but still…what a view

We also had our first view (and touch) of the amazing line up of bottles that we would be tasting…….Rum making spanning four centuries

We sat in our predefined places and awaiting the evenings events.

There was a beautiful introduction to the evening and a really passionate speech from Luca about the gathering and his delight at the new Hampden releases. We also received a detailed description of the Rums that we would be tasting and why they are special his opinion. The anticipation that had been built was clear for all to see as the tasting began.

The Rum Tasting of the Century

I managed to take tasting notes for each of the Rums and given the brief time with them I will present my notes as written with no elaboration. Purely first impressions.

Harewood House 1780 – Barbados – circa 69% abv (Light)

Sukhinder Singh of The Whisky Exchange was given the honour of opening the bottle. This was quite possibly one of the most amazing things that I have experienced in my Rum life. As you will hear in the video, there were approaching three dozen bottles found at Harewood House (you can read more here), some were full, some part full. The Rum was decanted, checked and re-bottled in the existing bottles, re-corked and wax sealed. There were 28 bottles released to auction in two batches. You can view the bottle opening video below:

Tasting Notes

Nose: Pears. Quite Acidic. Clean. Very little wood influence. Putty. Grape. Very astringent.

Mouth: Very dry. Way more barrel influence. Fortified wine. Crisp apple / pear. Tobacco notes. Fino sherry at back-end. Earthy. Dirt / Soil. Chewy.

This was quite the thing to try. To be nosing and tasting a Rum distilled over 238 years ago. To nose the Rum, you would have said that it was a cane juice distillate. I didn’t feel like it had much age on it. Maybe just the age that it gained on the journey from Barbados to the UK. The fortified wine notes could also be down to the barrels that it was transported in. Richard Seale often talks about Rums traditionally being transported in the barrels that had just delivered Port and Madeira with ex-bourbon being a modern practice. I also spoke to Richard regarding the cane juice feel of the Rum and he advised that in those days the Rums had cane juice from skimmings from ‘rum canes’ that had low sucrose content. The molasses would’ve also been very dilute which would have led to a less distinct caramelised molasses flavour. This was well and truly the experience of a lifetime. Amazingly, re-visiting the empty glass, any hint of the Rum has been replaced by  a very weak window putty aroma. This puts to bed the notion that the rum of the past was a horrific concoction.

Saint James 1885 – Martinique 

Tasting Notes

Nose: 100% Demerara nose. Dates. Walnuts. PX sweetness. Bitter raisins. Cream. Heavy. Thick. Coconut. Cough Medicine. Herbal Tablets. Lion Ointment.

Mouth: Medicinal. Emulsion paint. Ralgex vapours. Agricole oak notes. French oak. Molasses. Fruit cake. Treacle toffee.

This had by far my favourite nose of the night. In fact, blind tasted you would swear the Saint James was Demerara Rum and the Harewood House was a light cane juice Rum.

Rhum J. Bally 1924 – Martinique – 45% abv

Tasting Notes

Nose: Crisp ripe pears. Tinned pears. Astringent. Acetone. Pear drops. Clearly agricole. Real depth. Foam bananas.

Mouth: Very obvious French oak. Very dry. Really fruity. Celery.

The Bally 1924 was an absolute delight. One of my favourites from the evening.

Skeldon 1978 – Guyana – 60.4% abv

Tasting Notes

Nose: Raisins. Liquorice. Dates. Rose water. Fruit cake. PX sherry. Honey. Walnuts. Prunes. Stone fruit. Victoria plums. Uncut tobacco.

Mouth: Warm fruit compote. Christmas pudding. Cough sweets. Treacle. Walnuts. Walnut and Date cake.

Beautiful stuff.

Next up we tried the new Hampden Estate pairing but I will be covering these in a separate review at a later date.

We were also very fortunate in the fact that we were able to try both Unaged and Tropically aged Hampden DOK marque. The unaged was so unbelievably pungent and fruity, the aged was more approachable yet still an absolute bruiser.

We cleared the tables and chatted over a few glasses of Hampden as the meal was prepared and served. The food was unbelievably beautiful and the meal was concluded with Baba au Rhum utilising the new Hampden Estate 46%. What an amazingly beautifully presented and tasty treat. We also added a little unaged DOK to one of the Baba au Rhum…..Crazy stuff.

We then relaxed on the terrace as Luca enthused us with passionate talk of Hampden Estate, the experience of visiting Haiti and his Distillerie de Port-au-Prince. Locations that one day I really hope to be fortunate enough to visit. Following more chat inside about the fascinating new Velier Long Pond bottlings, we retired to the Four Seasons Hotel bar. Over two bottles of Hampden we continued to talk into the night as the group of 7 became 4. We eventually saw our rooms at around 5am. What happens in the hotel bar, stays in the hotel bar.

I’m still in a daze about the event. It is one of those rare moments in time where everything falls into place and there is nowhere else that you’d rather be. Its all still a little ‘pinch yourself’. By far the greatest experience of the evening was to be present at the opening of a bottle of the Harewood House Rum. I honestly can never see that being bettered as a Rum experience. The outstanding nose of the evening was definitely the Saint James 1885 though sadly the palate did not match the excellent nose. Stand outs for me were the Bally 1924 and the Skeldon 1978. I’d find it hard to separate those two at the top of my list. The location, the people, the Rum and the event played out absolutely perfectly and I am so immensely grateful to Luca Gargano and La Maison & Velier for giving me the opportunity to be present. It was a dream come true. This Rum Tasting of the Century will live long in the memory of all attendees and will go down in the annals of Rum Tasting History.

To quote Luca, I am very very happy

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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.

Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced

Don Q is a brand that has been written about on these pages previously. I will admit that although they have released some very fine Rums, I usually have a tendency to steer clear of lighter multi-column spirits….its purely a personal preference thing….though if I am compelled to go for a lighter Rum, Don Q is usually the bottle that I find in my hand. The range has some real stand outs including the very flavourful Gran Anejo and the Single Barrel 2005 and 2007 releases. The Gran Anejo and Single Barrel 2007 actually have a portion of single column distillate in them, as Destilería Serrallés has a Single Column Still made by the Vendome Copper and Brass Company. You can read a little more about the other releases along with Destilería Serrallés by clicking here and here. Spiced Rums get talked about even less than light multi-column Rums here, but in this instance we will be discussing both…..

Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced – 45% abv – Modern Rum

The first thing that may strike you is the ‘Oak Barrel’, hinting that the Rum is aged. Now that is not totally unusual as brands like Foursquare have been doing that for years with their Spiced Rum, but quite a large percentage of other brands utilise unaged Rums as the base for their Spiced products. The aged rum in question here is a 3-year-old blend of their multi-column Rum. This is then Spiced using Cinnamon, Vanilla, Nutmeg and Clove……natural spices….no flavoured syrups. Caramel will have been added for colour to give uniformity to the shelf appearance. The second thing that will strike you is that is presented at 45% abv…….most other Spiced Rums go in at 37.5% – 40% (probably as they don’t sell for a hugely inflated price, why pay the duty on a higher abv spirit) so this is a welcome change….though it does make me wish that they’d implement this in their Gran Anejo and Single Barrel releases which would really excel at a higher abv.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Initial sweetness. Cream soda. Vanilla. There is a warming spice character too (obviously) that is all Nutmeg and crystallised ginger. Light clove oil. Chocolate coated ginger biscuits and a fresh zesty orange rind. This is all carried on some pleasant oak notes being pushed along by the increased abv.

Mouth: A nice heated entry with the abv immediately noticeable. Not as sweet an entry as other spiced offerings though it feels like there is sweetener added. Vanilla, cloves and cinnamon in abundance. Quite a pleasant milky chai latte. None of the spices are ‘over done’…..and the best thing? Neither is the vanilla. There is a hint of kola nut being brought through on the dry woody accents which themselves run through the mid palate. Following the subtly sweet entry the rum finishes with drying oak, a nip from some fiery crystallised ginger and black pepper. Right at the back-end the vanilla has one last hurrah and the warmth of the spices sees it home.

It pairs well with coke in the right quantities (about 50/50 with plenty of ice) but this has been enjoyed mainly in a glass on its own or in the occasional daiquiri. As Spiced Rums go, its solid stuff.

4 / 5

We don’t consume much spiced rum here anymore, but when we do, this is one of our 3 go to offerings.

Better than 95% of spiced rums on the market and it very much models itself after the Foursquare Spiced with its aged rum base yet this offers a higher abv which is a nice touch. Now to just get them to up the abv of the Gran Anejo and Single Barrels and we’ll all be happy.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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.