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.
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.
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