Bristol Classic Fine Barbados Rum – Foursquare 2004

This is as you’d expect, a follow-up to my recent review of the Bristol Classic Fine Barbados Rum – Foursquare 2003.

If you are unaware, Bristol Classic Rum is a company headed up by Managing Director John Barrett and they are based in, you guessed it…..Bristol. John Barrett says that Bristol Classic Rum:

“Seek out small quantities, sometimes only single barrels from a single distillery, or a single estate or even a single still to show rum in its true un-blended form. Aging at the Distillery, or here in the United Kingdom is so important to the rums development, this combined with careful bottling and a minimum of filtration allows the characteristics of each individual rum to show. Enjoy with your favourite mixer, in exciting cocktails, or at its best just over ice!”

Foursquare Distillery you will already know about but some information on other releases can be found here, or you can do a site wide search.

Bristol Classic Fine Barbados Rum – Foursquare 2004 – 43% abv – Single Blended Rum

This Rum was distilled at Foursquare Distillery in 2004 and bottled in 2013 at 43% abv. It would most likely be the result of a minimum maturation period in Barbados, of around 3 years which is the Foursquare way, with the remainder of its 9 year maturation period spent at the Bristol Spirits facility in the more temperate UK climate. It is a single blended rum, a blend of both batch and continuous distillates from the Foursquare Distillery. It saw maturation in the standard american oak ex-bourbon barrels. No bottle quantity information is available.

Again, this is bottle number two of this Rum for me, so taken was I with this and the 2003 upon release. I paid around £40.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A classic Foursquare nose. Heavily influenced by the oak it has classic bourbon spice. Maybe a nip of young (ish) alcohol. Light vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. A bag of mixed dried fruit sits alongside warm rice pudding. Toasted coconut alongside Snowballs….marshmallow coated in milk chocolate coated in desiccated coconut. A touch of citrus oil. Warming oak sits in the background carrying everything. Perhaps a little nutty too.

Mouth: A beautifully balanced entry with nuts and oak up front. The peppery oak announces itself straight away with warmth and a real bite. This develops into peanuts and chocolate….Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Mild dried fruit sweetness punches through and brings candied citrus peels. Vanilla. Coconut coated in milk chocolate. The mid palate starts with the nuttiness and leads into a drying bourbon oak. This becomes a theme into the finish which is all nuts, milk chocolate and coconut. Warming medium length finish.

It’s a good, solid Rum and is very typical of what you’d expect to find in a ‘standard’ Foursquare release…..well integrated oak and a classic Barbados, or more to the point, classic Foursquare profile…albeit with a little less intensity given its continental heavy maturation. It is a great all round performer that, similar to the 2003, is of its time. Surpassed by the exceptional cask releases of late, and currently for sale in its 12 year form for £75, it is easily outgunned for similar money, or even less by these distillery bottlings with true tropical maturation. However, it’s still a really solid and enjoyable rum. As an aside, if I could have this Rum, with more of the nose of the 2003, I’d be even happier.

4 / 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.

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Kill Devil Hampden 10 Year Old 2007 Cask Strength – The Whisky Barrel Exclusive

This review marks another Cask Strength Hampden Release from the Hunter Laing Kill Devil range exclusive to The Whisky Barrel…..my second review of a Whisky Barrel Exclusive Hampden this week! There was a previous Hampden 10 year TWB exclusive released earlier this year….in March…and another 16 year released to coincide with this 10 year. Hampden of course specialise in heavy 100% pot still rums harking back to Rum production of days gone by with the Plantation tracing its roots back to 1753. I have previously written about Hampden Estates own releases here, a 17 year Kill Devil Hampden release here and the recent 16 year Hampden Whisky Barrel Exclusive release here.

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Kill Devil Hampden 2007 Cask Strength – TWB Exclusive – 62.5% abv – Pure single Rum

This 10-year-old Rum is from a 2007 distillation and it has only Continental maturation. Presented at a cask strength of 62.5% it has no caramel colour and has not been chill filtered. With so many marques available with varying ester levels, it’d be interesting to find out what marque this is….without that information to hand, we’ll just have to try it.

Tasting Notes

Nose: With glass sitting on a table next to me this rum is so powerful that it feels like it’s beneath my nose. Very creamy. Lots of ethyl acetate. Sweet overripe banana, chargrilled pineapple and sharp cranberries. Again, very ripe juicy strawberries. Something acidic lurks like cider vinegar. Brine. Preserved lemons. Pickled cornichons with mustard seeds. Pink grapefruit rind. Molasses. Warm tires. Melting plastic. Light barrel notes. Sappy wood and eucalyptus. Beautifully vibrant.

Mouth: Neat it is very intense. Initially very sweet with bright fruit. This becomes quite acidic and then very dry very very quickly. Almost disappearing. I’ve only felt that to this length before with unaged DOK. Well stewed breakfast tea develops. The overriding taste is burnt toast with lots of butter…..making this rum an instant favourite as I use the smoke alarm to tell me when my toast is ready! With water it’s slightly more approachable, but still hellishly intense. The opening is slightly sweet and creamy and is all about beautiful Bajan Banana Jam….the best jam that I’ve ever tasted. Candied pineapple. Quite a bit of spice in the form of ginger, cinnamon bark and an earthy turmeric. The oak maturation displays itself more here…and it drags the fruit and spice onto the dry, oak led mid palate. Quite oily and tarry with a real dry spice note. Molasses. The finish, which is frankly sublime is initially fruity with that banana jam and pineapple before the cider vinegar and cornichon appears. Burnt, buttery toast is a real theme here and it marks an earthy return of the turmeric. Bonfire embers, molasses and burnt rubber round things out. The finish is a little short in the end. Perhaps due to the marque. It’s akin to trying pot still rum straight off the still…..initially intense and it then disperses far too quickly. Though the molasses is still with me.

4.5 / 5

It’s again a very very good rum, and all told, I prefer it’s youthful abandon to the slightly more refined 16 year. Both warrant your money though. To buy one however, I’d buy this.

© 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.

Kill Devil Hampden 16 Year Old 2001 Cask Strength – The Whisky Barrel Exclusive

Specialist online retailer The Whisky Barrel always seem to be commissioning something interesting, whether whisky or rum….fortunately for us, but not our wallets, they seem to be upping the ante when it comes to their rum releases with a few solid Berry Bros. and Hunter Laing offerings.

There have been a few Cask Strength Hampden Kill Devil releases by Hunter Laing of late, this 2001 marks another to be released as an exclusive for The Whisky Barrel. This 16 year hails from a sister cask to the previous 2001 TWB exclusive released in July of this year. There is also 10 year 2007 to accompany this release which is again the second 10 year TWB exclusive to be released this year. Hampden of course specialise in heavy 100% pot still rums harking back to days gone by with the Plantation tracing its roots back to 1753. I have previously written about Hampden Estates own releases here, a 17 year Kill Devil Hampden release here and a previous Whisky Barrel Exclusive release here.

Kill Devil Hampden 16 Year Old 2001 Cask Strength – TWB Exclusive – 61.2% abv – Pure single Rum

This 156 bottle run of a 16-year-old Rum is from a 2001 distillation and it has only Continental maturation. Presented at a cask strength of 61.2% it has no caramel colour and has not been chill filtered. The 2001 distillation date hints that it may be the <>H marque as mentioned in the Hampden section of the Single Cask Rum website. The official Velier 70th Anniversary release of the Hampden <>H, a 2010 distillation of that marque with a full 7 years tropical maturation is a bottle that evaded me upon launch and still evades me to this day. I have however tried it as a result of the generosity of a sample from a friend…..it left me wanting more though.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Astringent varnish. Furniture polish. A freshly opened tin of gloss paint. Intense pear drop acetone but with a really fruity and sharp nose. Overripe banana. Caramelised pineapple. Haribo strawberry sweets. There’s real depth to the fruit and a stewed plum and prune quality…Still quite sharp though. A little time in the glass brings freshly sliced ginger, an almost fragrant floral coriander seed. Toasted coconut. Pencil shavings. Freshly sawn wood. Peppery. Growing oak presence. It starts to become quite smoke driven, well, more burnt splints from Chemistry lessons, and for a while that dominates. Coming back to it, quite salty. Olives. Brine. Light menthol character. Pine air freshener. Intense stuff

Mouth: With no water…..Warming, hot, spicy entry. Salty, zestly lemon and olives. Black Forest ham. Heavy molasses. Dry dry dry oak. With water….Still spicy, still hot…but fruitier too. Caramelised pineapple that’s just caught…it gives rise to a bittersweet treacle. Burnt banana loaf. A nice backbone of oak carries things along. Strawberries, very similar to the Rum Fire Velvet….Citrus peel. The mid palate is dominated by spicy, grippy oak. Cinnamon (bark not powdered), ginger. Strong building site cabin tea. Soft liquorice and sugar-coated liquorice torpedoes develop. The finish, which is measured in tens of minutes starts off with salty liquorice and a touch of black olive before the cooked burnt fruit kicks it’s way in…Pineapple, banana and then a bitter lemon zest. Quite tangy. Very well-integrated musty oak coated in molasses rounds things out.

Well balanced, poised and multi-faceted. Depth of flavour and aroma that others would kill for. Hampden fares better than most when it comes to continental maturation, which is a bonus as it’s all that we’ve had from them for a while as far as aged stock goes…..at least up until the Habitation Velier releases were unleashed….and now their own Estate bottlings which will be on these pages soon. This is a very good example of a very good distilleries output at a bit of a bargain price…..though the previous release was a few quid cheaper!

4.5 / 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.

Bristol Classic Fine Barbados Rum – Foursquare 2003

This could be the first Bristol bottling that I have featured on the site which is quite amazing given my love of the their 1986 Rockley Still release. Anyhow, Bristol Classic Rum is a company headed up by Managing Director John Barrett and they are based in, you guessed it…..Bristol. John Barrett says that Bristol Classic Rum:

“Seek out small quantities, sometimes only single barrels from a single distillery, or a single estate or even a single still to show rum in its true un-blended form. Aging at the Distillery, or here in the United Kingdom is so important to the rums development, this combined with careful bottling and a minimum of filtration allows the characteristics of each individual rum to show. Enjoy with your favourite mixer, in exciting cocktails, or at its best just over ice!”

They have been responsible for some very good and quite landmark releases over the years, their 1990 Port Mourant and the aforementioned 1986 Rockley Still to name but two. This one however hails from one of my favourite places, Foursquare Rum Distillery in Barbados….not Four Square as the label states….an unfortunate issue that plagues quite a few independent bottlers.

Bristol Classic Fine Barbados Rum – Foursquare 2003 – 43% abv – Single Blended Rum

Distilled at Foursquare Distillery in 2003 and bottled in 2012, this Rum would likely be the result of a minimum maturation period in Barbados, probably 3 years, with the remainder at the Bristol Spirits facility in the more temperate UK climate. It is a single blended rum, a blend of both batch and continuous distillates from the Foursquare Distillery. It saw 9 years maturation in the standard american oak ex-bourbon barrels. Bottled at what seems to be the ‘island abv’ of 43%. No bottle quantity information is available but I would assume that it is a blend of multiple casks from the same year.

Tasting Notes

 

Nose: Very astringent from the get go. Really bright fruitiness. Pear drops. Superglue. Varnish. This opening then delivers a mass of tropical fruit by the basket. Bananas. Ripe mango. Star fruit. Guava. I’m going to say that the initial opening in this one would have you convinced that it was a light fruity Jamaican, it has a touch of the continentally aged Long Pond fruitiness. Maybe this 2003 is quite pot still laden in the blend? It certainly feels like the blend is solid and composed of very very good distillates. The oak influence does not show itself, instead there is a biscuity aroma. Hob-Nob biscuits coated in milk chocolate. Time brings buttery puff pastry and creme patissiere. The oak continues to be a no-show on the nose of this one and instead there is a return of the beautiful underlying sweetness that brings overripe bananas and a hint of peach. Crisp apples. Toasted marshmallow and a touch of candyfloss.

Mouth: Beautifully sweet entry. The fruit carries through on the palate from the nose.  Initially light, but then the assertiveness of the fruit shows bringing a freshness and less of a sweetness. A light touch of black pepper precedes intense vanilla and creme brûlée. Buttery pastry and a warming fresh ginger with pepper on the mid palate. There is decidedly less wood influence than I would’ve expected….it is there given the drying nature of the rum, but the mouthfeel, whilst intense is devoid of those heavier oaken notes that usually appear in continentally matured Foursquare. The finish is initially full of intense fruit, vanilla and black pepper but this soon fades to a slightly dry croissant. The finish is quite short, a lot shorter than expected anyway, but the fruit remains in dialled down form with a hint of those peach vapours at the back-end. Salty Liquorice rounds things out.

A very very beautiful nose let down a little by a surprisingly below-par finish. I would love to try this blend with tropical age as I have no doubt that it’s the maturation location that has betrayed this Rum. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a very good Rum and it deserves your attention and money, but it is perhaps suffering from being surrounded by such great Rum from the same distillery. I will say however that it has one of the most vibrant and fruity noses that I’ve ever experienced in a Foursquare Rum.

3.5 / 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.

 

Veritas White Blended Pot & Coffey Still Rum

The only way that you won’t have heard about Veritas (Probitas when released in the States) would be if you had absolutely no interest in the Rum world.

A teaming up of two amazing and honest distilleries to produce a pot and column blended ‘White’ Rum. These two powerhouses are of course Foursquare Rum Distillery in Barbados and Hampden Estate in Jamaica.

The front label, resplendent with a “Guardians of Rum” crest, states that it is a blend of Coffey Still and Pot Still Rums…..it also states the Master Blender (Richard Seale) and the inspiration (Luca Gargano). As you would expect, the rear label confirms that the Coffey Still component is from Foursquare and the Pot Still component is from Hampden…..the rear label also confirms that the Rum is aimed at the cocktail market…..but its so much more than that simple. There is also a ‘tongue in cheek’ mention of dosage on the label….I’ll say no more about that….but the jibe would fall flat if the Rum did not stand up to closer inspection. I have written extensively about Foursquare Distillery products and you can read more here, with a bit of information on Hampden Distillery here.

Veritas White Blended Rum – 47%

I mention above that this Rum is more than it appears on the surface….and here is why. The make up of Veritas is more interesting than stated as it is actually a blend of three Rums. The first component is a 2 year Tropically aged Foursquare Pot still Rum (the Rum has colour for a reason). The second component is an unaged Coffey Column still Rum from Foursquare. The third component is an unaged Pot still Rum from Hampden Estate. There is no charcoal filtration of the Rum. The biggest component of the blend is the unaged Coffey Column Rum which when tasted really does show that a little pot still can go a long way. Digging deeper, the Hampden marque used is OWH (Owen W Hussey). Numbers wise, this is the lowest count marque that Hampden produce….but as has been pointed out to me, purely elevating ethyl acetate isn’t improving the Rum. The OWH marque, whilst ‘low ester’ in relation to Rum, is actually high by spirit standards. The marque itself was put forward by Vivian Wisdom, Master Distiller at Hampden (and all round lovely chap) for use in the blend and its inclusion was agreed by Richard Seale.

 

Tasting Notes

Nose: Beautifully creamy. The abv excerpts itself robustly on the nose with a little sting. Portuguese custard tarts. Vanilla pods. Present but light and very well-integrated pot still element. It possesses the creaminess and fresh vegetal cane like quality of the Habitation Velier Foursquare 2013 and 2015 releases. Light acetone bite dragging citrus oils and a basket of fresh tropical fruit on the table at breakfast in summer.

Mouth: There it is. The pot still is way more present in the mouth feel which is a lot more oily than I expected. Real proper weight in this rum on the palate. It is the pot still that leads the early exchanges. Chewy Molasses. A touch of Kola Nut. Give it time and the lighter, fruitier elements come to the fore. Sugarcane. Light and so so typical marshmallow from the Coffey column. Banana. Guava jam on a buttery crumpet. Croissant like buttery pastry sweetness. Molasses in the finish. So much body to it.

Really really impressive. Prepare to have your preconceptions of young, cocktail oriented rum changed for good. It’s not just good for a young Rum, it’s good full stop. Yes…..I’d be perfectly happy drinking this neat….but it mixes so well. Daiquiris…good….provided you keep them on the sour side this Rum sings a wonderful tune. Banana daiquiris…..good. It even mixes well with coke.

4.5 / 5

A previous favourite of mine at home for daiquiris was Plantation 3 Stars…I enjoyed the fact that it had a bit of pot still in there and that it was reasonably cheap …..I have no need for it now. Tried side by side, the 3 Stars lacks palate weight, lacks character. Night and Day difference

Veritas is around £25 a bottle….you’ll have to buy from a France or Italy at the moment which is annoying…but it’s worth the effort.

© 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.

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.

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

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