Rum Exchange Belize 2009

This wont be the first time that you’ve encountered a Rum Exchange release on these pages. Rum Exchange is Facebook Group that was created by Andreas Isopp to provide a platform for bottle and samples trading, but much more than that, it is also a company that was set up to facilitate the introduction and selling of Rums that not considered ‘mass market’. They take complete control of the import, trade and distribution of these brands and products. They provide a link between producers, retailers and consumers. I first covered their Rum Exchange Jamaica Trelawny back in August, which was release #001 for them. This Rum Exchange Belize 2009 from Travellers Distillery is release #003 for them. But a little about the distillery first.

In 1950’s Belize, sugar was a popular and plentiful commodity and seemingly on the surface everyone that owned a Plantation was bathed in wealth and producing their own Rum. Enter Jaime Omario Perdomo Sr. (Don Omario), a man with very humble roots who in 1953 opened a bar in Belize City. Given that his bar gained most of its custom from people travelling in or out of the city, Travellers seemed to be the most appropriate name. Travellers sold imported spirits and beers alongside locally produced Rums. At the time in Belize, the custom was for bars to create their own Rum blends and offer them for sale exclusively through their establishments and Don Omario was no different. He created his unique blends combining varying flavours and essences. As the exclusive Rum blend for Travellers proved popular, Don Omario sought a more consistent base for the blends. This proved to be more and more difficult as growing competition in the Rum manufacturing business meant that it was becoming harder to obtain spirits of a consistent enough quality. To overcome this, Don Omario entered into partnership with Luis Alberto Espat who agreed to build a distillery for him in Belmopan. Joined by his sons, Romel and Mayito in the 1970’s, the company began to grow in size. In 1983, Travellers was registered as a limited company and in 1989, when Luis Alberto Espat decided that he wanted out of the business, Travellers purchased his share of the company gaining full control over all aspects of the business for the first time. In 1992, Travellers upgraded its facility moving away from utilising acids to expedite its fermentation process and now, for their Rum (other spirits / alcohols are produced on site) they employ natural fermentation using locally sourced molasses and a double distillation in their triple column continuous still. Maturation is carried out in ex bourbon barrels at their facility.

Now most of us will have at some point had a run in with their most famous export, One Barrel…..a truly horrific concoction. Five Barrel doesn’t fare much better…..but apparently their Don Omario range breaks the cycle for their distillery bottlings. We have also seen other releases from Tiburon, Fair, That Boutique-y Rum Company, Cadenhead’s, Duncan Taylor, Whisky Broker, SBS, Kintra and The Duchess…..and now we have the Rum in question today, Rum Exchange Belize 2009.

Rum Exchange Belize 2009 – 60.8% abv – Modern Rum – 0 g/l additives

Distilled using local molasses, natural fermentation and a double distillation on their triple column continuous still in 2009, this Rum was matured in a tropical climate at the distillery in an ex-bourbon barrel until 2019 when it was bottled. A release of 288 bottles at an abv of 60.8%, this has no colouring, no additions and has not been chill filtered. With that said, lets have a look at how this fares.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A touch of solvent…and weirdly liquid paper, soon dissipates to usher in quite an apparent barrel led nose with plenty of splintery wet wood. Toasted coconut, a hint of vanilla. Charred wooden splints. A possible very light sulphur, but it doesn’t stick around. The alcohol definitely doesn’t interfere with the experience and it all remains quite calm and balanced providing you don’t shove your nose into the glass. Milk chocolate over sweetened coconut chunks. Something bitter but nutty, maybe a touch of walnut and maple syrup with the corresponding levels of bitterness. There’s also a caramel aroma, not burnt sugar caramel initially….more Caramac bar. A little perfumed and floral. Portuguese Custard Tarts too with their sweet custard and buttery crispy pastry.

Mouth: The entry is a little heated and initially carries none of the sweetness from the nose. As you acclimatise the heat builds with spicy, peppery barrel notes. This is quite cutting and dry straight away. What strikes you is just how big a mouthfeel this Rum has…not viscose, but more of a palate weight feeling. It’s a little in the ball park of a well aged Barbados Rum initially. Mid palate the spice and moisture sapping oak gives way a little to reveal mixed nut brittle, white and milk chocolate florentines. Cold Custard and warm Madeira cake. The Caramac from the nose makes an appearance. The oak remains a prominent characteristic of the experience through to the finish which carries a decent length and hangs vanilla, peppery barrel spice and a touch of walnut bitterness on the woody spine.

In conclusion: Beautiful development from nose to palate. Very well balanced and approachable even at its 60.8%. The nose is warming and carries enough interest to hold your attention with equal measures of wood influence and sweeter notes. The palate doesn’t succumb to the sweetness of the nose and it retains a pleasant woody character throughout with the light bitterness, mildly sweet / spicy interplay and pleasing weight lifting this Rum way above my expectations. Forget One Barrel……this is good stuff.

Not quite a 4.5 but more than a 4. Lets call it a 4.25.

4 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2020. 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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Duncan Taylor Single Cask Rum – St Lucia 2002 – Cask 5

Duncan Taylor are an independent bottler of (mainly) whisky, and in their own words:

“Duncan Taylor & Company has ownership of one of the largest privately-held collections of rare scotch whisky casks. The company has been “laying down” casks from premium Scottish distilleries for decades and has, in recent years, made its branded products available to whisky connoisseurs throughout the World.

Duncan Taylor has its origins in Glasgow where the company was initially a merchant and broker of Scotch Whisky casks within the Industry. Devotion to the principle of providing only the finest casks to be filled at Scotland’s leading distilleries has been a key feature of the company’s history and this tradition of building an outstanding portfolio of only the finest scotch whiskies is being maintained to this day by the current owners.

When the company moved its headquarters to the North East of Scotland, close to Speyside – Scotland’s largest whisky producing region – it also took the decision to focus on the production and marketing of its own brands and to cease the “brokering” of whisky in cask form to Distillery companies and Independent bottlers.”

They are also celebrating 80 years of business, being founded in 1938.

Duncan Taylor bottle many Rums, mainly at cask strength or close to cask strength. Having whisky as their origin they do not chill filter and they bottle with natural colour. Now I have numerous bottlings from Duncan Taylor spanning Jamaica, St Lucia, Guyana and Fiji. I also have one of their own Caribbean Blends. Up for review today though is one of their St Lucia offerings.

Duncan Taylor Single Cask Rum – St Lucia 2002 – Cask 5 – 52.6% abv

You can have a read of my previous writings on products from St Lucia Distillers here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Phew. Now you’ll be fully versed with St Lucia Distillers, we can continue. As the label states, this Rum was distilled in September 2002 and bottled in September 2013 giving it 11 years of (assumed) Continental age. Bottled entirely from Cask No 5 which yielded 242 bottles, this has been bottled at 52.6% which I can only assume is cask strength. Though others have questioned bottle yield with assumed angel share and assumed barrel size to potentially arrive at a different number insinuating that it may not be cask strength. I personally can’t say I’m too bothered to dig into that. Of note is the fact that this Rum is Pot distilled. Now St Lucia Distillers have 3 Pot Stills, the John Dore I, John Dore II and Vendome. Given the date of distillation of 2002, that would point towards the John Dore I still as it is the only one that was commissioned at that point. It is also the smallest of their batch stills with a capacity of 1500 litres.

John Dore I on the left

Vendome Pot Still centre, John Dore II behind, John Dore I left

Tasting Notes

Glass: The Rum displays as a dark straw gold  in the glass. Heavy. Medicinal pot still. A little diesel and a dose of creosote. All the good stuff. Sticking plasters and antiseptic cream. A hint of menthol and mint. Quite grassy too. Rubber and acetone back up the medicinal quality of the nose and time in the glass allows the merest hint of savoury vanilla and sticky grilled pineapple. Citrus oil. Whiffs of sweet smoke. It has quite a fresh and nuanced nose that gives more and more over time like the merest hint of barrel influence. A brine and salty quality is ever-present and is rounded out with a hint of powdery icing sugar. A few drops of water and half an hour in the glass adds enamel paint and sugarcane.

Mouth: Very heated entry with the smallest and short-lived hint of sweetness in the form of floral wildflower honey before the dryness shoulder barges its way in. Mint. Creosote. Petrol. Oily but not viscous. A thinner mouthfeel than expected but it does cling on, mainly in the vapours. Almond brittle. No really influential barrel notes can be picked up through the peppery heat. Liquorice. Olives and salty feta cheese. If its possible for Rum to morph into a molasses based offering from Guadeloupe mid-palate, this one does. Bringing with it pickle vinegar and ginger puree. A few drops of water push the sweeter elements to the fore with chocolate, dialed down brine. Less mint. More menthol.

Quite a long finish starts out relatively sweetly with the sugary minty residue from the bottom of a poorly made mojito and wildflower honey but again this dries to leave a grassy sugarcane and mild vanilla. Maybe some almonds. The medicinal pot still note announces itself again bringing to mind any number of Rockley ‘style’ Rums…..but for me never hitting the flavourful heights of them.

It is St Lucian Pot Still Rum at its most identifiable from first nosing. It is everything that I like about St Lucian Pot Still Rum. I would love to see more barrel influence that would come with tropical age and although it’s probably completely off the table given the new owners, a release of cask strength tropically aged individual still offerings from St Lucia Distillers would be welcomed with open arms and wallets by the geeky Rum crowd. Its good, almost very good, but it just lacks that light and shade that I think tropical age would offer.

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