Excellence Rhum Collection

I’m a regular purchaser from Alexandre Beudet and his Excellence Rhum website in France and it was interesting to see four new bottlings listed on the website tagged as Excellence Rhum Collection….especially as one was a Foursquare and the other was a Hampden. Anyway, a little background. Alexandre created his Excellence Rhum website in 2013 and it has grown in strength, now listing over 1800 different bottlings. It has been my go to mail order for Agricole and they deliver to the UK…Hurrah! For its ‘Collection’ releases, Alexandre has taken the sensible step of releasing the Rums without the addition of sugar or caramel colour. The Rums will also not undergo chill filtration. So for all intents and purposes, presented as the distilleries would want them to be and labelled and bottled in Paris. The plan is to release four new Collection bottlings per yer….good news for us! Anyhow, below is a brief list of the bottlings that will be available as part of the 2017 Collection. In a nod to the excellent, clear and informative labels of the Habitation Velier Collection the labels will also amongst other things have information indicating the distillation and bottling dates, type of still, barrel marks, percentage of Tropical vs Continental age and the Angels Share percentage….For instance, the Guadeloupe has 10% Tropical Age and 90% Continental Age and lost 30% of the barrel contents to evaporation…it was distilled in a Column Still and the barrel marks were SFGB (not a clue).

Guadeloupe Bellevue – SFGB – 1998 – 18yr – 59.9% abv

Guyana Diamond – MPM – 2005 – 11yr – 60.1% abv

Jamaica Hampden – LROK – 2000 – 16yr – 54.6% abv

Barbados Foursquare – MBFS – 2006 – 11yr – 62.8% abv

Now fortunately for me, I have been given the opportunity to try all four releases in the Excellence Rhum Collection due to Alexandre’s very kind offer of a press kit. This wont be definitive thoughts and my final opinion as the 60ml samples only go so far……but as a heads up I have already pre-ordered two expressions……I may want to revisit at a later date…..but my brief notes are……

Tasting Notes

Guadeloupe Bellevue – SFGB – 1998 – 18yr – 59.9% abv

Glass: Dark burnished gold. Immediate and powerful, redolent with banana chips and a light medicinal quality. Hints of Caroni! Tar and creosote. Lightly spiced nutmeg, but more apparently herbal with hints of rosemary, Norfolk lavender and an earthy quality. Oak is not dominant but is present.

Mouth: Intense and medicinal entry. Charred wood, lemon oils, pickle vinegar like acidity. Quite sour. Liquorice. Caroni like petrol. Dried banana and coconut pieces. Sticking plasters. Very very long finish which is oak led initially with a growing liquorice. More vinegar acidity and a sweet / bitter vermouth quality. Great stuff.

Guyana Diamond – MPM – 2005 – 11yr – 60.1% abv

Glass: Pale straw. Initial alcohol astringency. Raisin notes with liquorice and anise as I’d expect from a PM. Powering through this reveals lightly floral notes and the sweetness of grilled bananas along with freshly cut mango.

Mouth: Sweetness on entry and initially very floral led. This then clears and drops into the baseline notes of aniseed and liquorice that I’d expect….albeit with a touch of wildflower honey. It has a sweet / savoury interplay which is pinning in all together. A long finish that is all salty liquorice (there is a Dutch liquorice that escapes me that I know only as a ‘drop’) led with the remains of honeyed fruitcake. Solid but not outstanding.

Jamaica Hampden – LROK – 2000 – 16yr – 54.6% abv

Glass: Light straw gold. It could only be Hampden. Funkier than a mosquito’s tweeter. All pot still attack. Not quite in the HLCF territory. It’s not as down and dirty as that. Overripe bananas, mango, papaya. Intense fruit, florals, stinging astringency. Both sweet and spicy in equal measure. Hazelnuts, warm bbq’d banana smeared in fudge.

Mouth: Sweet, pot still bathed in baked banana. Drying oak and burnt wood. Dime (Daim) bar like caramel nuttiness and very well-balanced. A hint of savoury. The finish is long and full of liquorice, banana, black jack sweets, pineapple and biscoff spread. If you’ve ever seen the YouTube video about the ‘Crazy/Hot Matrix’….this Rum has strayed close to the unicorn zone.

Barbados Foursquare – MBFS – 2006 – 11yr – 62.8% abv

Glass: A shade darker than straw gold. Light oak, vanilla, florals and grapes. Banana, cocoa powder, dried fruit peels and royal icing. A light nuttiness. Intense…..but not Velier Foursquare 2006 levels.

Mouth: Sweet entry full of milk chocolate and dried fruit peels. This is slowly enveloped by a biting dryness bringing a strong bite of black pepper and fennel seeds. Further sips bring dessicated coconut, apricot and a sprinkling of fresh nutmeg. A long mildy oaken vanilla led finish develops into apricot, celery and a growing dryness. Again….right at the back-end there is a light apricot. High proof mixed climate aged Foursquare at close to its best.

As collections go, this is a really strong showing. The only one that I’m not really ‘feeling’ is the Guyana…..but thats not to say that it isn’t good….I just prefer entirely tropically aged Demeraras. I have pre-ordered two of these bottles…..the Hampden and the Foursquare. I hovered over the Guadeloupe but I have the Cadenheads Bellevue. If I could afford it, the Guadeloupe would  absolutely be on my list though as it is such a well-rounded, well-developed prospect. So much flavour from a column still, it really is a triumph. Thanks to Alexandre firstly for sourcing really good Rums, and secondly for allowing me to try them. I hope that you manage to pick one or two up for yourselves.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2017. 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 UF30E 1985

This write-up will be relatively small….to match the amount of liquid I have available to talk about. Thanks need to go to Helena over at A Mountain of Crushed Ice (link on the side of this page) for sending me the sample from her own sample….There really is that little of this stuff around.

Image Copyright of Lance Surujbally

Image Copyright of Lance Surujbally

So this is a weird one. On the bottle (that I’ve only seen photographs of), the name of this Rum is UF30E 1985……So we gather that distillation was in 1985. It’s a Demerara Rum from Guyana so we can deduce by the U that it could perhaps be from the Uitvlugt Distillery that was on the West Coast of the Demerara River in Guyana. Now there is a whole host of information over at Barrel Aged Mind that I would be plagiarising if I were to regurgitate here so I suggest that you give this long and detailed article a go. The research that went into it is astounding. The basics however are that the Uitvlugt Plantation (Uitvlugt as a translation from Dutch means ‘Flowing Out’ or ‘Out Flow’) was founded sometime between 1759 and 1776 and the Distillery was said to have been established in 1798 at the earliest as there was a shift in quantities of Coffee and Sugarcane production leading to reduced Coffee production and increased Sugarcane production with the sole crop being Sugarcane from around 1838. The Uitvlught Distillery was active until December 1999. Stills wise, only the Four Column French Savalle Stills were original to Uitvlugt and taken from the distillery upon its closure although in its time the distillery saw the Double Wooden Pot Still from Port Mourant (moved to Diamond in 2000) and also the Single Wooden Pot Still from Versailles (via Enmore). There is mention in the article linked to that the 4 Column French Savalle Still was initially two 2 Column Stills that were joined together in their current guise at DDL…..and on the DDL website there is a note that this 4 Column Still can produce 9 marques ranging from light to heavy body so its pretty versatile kit.

Image Copyright of Lance Surujbally

Image Copyright of Lance Surujbally

The F30E part is however a bit of a unique one. This actually relates to the field in which the sugarcane that went into this Rum was grown! Essentially the full title is Uitvlugt Field #30 East. This Rum distilled in 1985 as stated and it was bottled in 2012. It saw a full 27 years of tropical age and lost over 90% of the barrel contents (barrel numbers #10548, #10552 and #10553) to the Angels Share. Not a great return for your patience as only 814 bottles were produced at an eye watering 60.7%.

Velier UF30E 1985 – 60.7% abv

uf30e-glass

Tasting Notes

Glass: The Rum is a dark mahogany and gold in the glass….reminiscent of golden syrup. Initial aromas are punchy alcohol that has a stinging astringency to it….it is also brimming with Muscovado sugar aromas. There is that familiar nose of burnt syrupy sugar and warming liquorice. Prunes, raisins and medjool dates coated in milk chocolate. There is also a salty character to the nose. Oak is clearly present but nowhere near as dominating as I had anticipated. Its well-tempered and sat a few layers down. It plays off the sweeter dark fruit and syrup notes by combining with the liquorice to give a light bitterness that perfectly offsets the former. I have such a small sample of this Rum, I’ve been sitting with it for half an hour or so and have carefully added one drop of water, given it a swirl and awoken sticky ginger cake, star anise, cinnamon and the lightest whiff of window putty.

Mouth: This Rum has a bitter entry on the palate. It’s all liquorice and Pontefract cakes with light oak. There is a growing warmth that brings a black pepper spike to the mid palate and a moisture sapping astringent oak to the cheeks. Further careful sips reveal crystalized orange wheels, raisins, glace cherries, star anise and ginger. Sticky date and walnut cake also comes to mind along withe the fruit loaf that my Auntie Hazel used to make when I was a child…..She would ALWAYS burn the top….first time was probably a mistake, but I’m pretty sure that my reaction to my first taste of that bittersweet loaf meant that she deliberately burnt it on subsequent bakes. The finish, whilst not as long as I had anticipated runs the gamut of the flavours that preceded it with added lighter floral notes and drying charred oak. It is so unbelievably well integrated and balanced that even at its hefty 60+% its an absolute delight  to enjoy.

I only wish that I owned a bottle of this stuff. My sample will have been decanted, split, decanted and then kindly forwarded to me and I can only imagine the delights that would await you as you pop the cork on an unopened bottle of this. I’d expect a bigger more aggressive alcohol and oak astringency from a new bottle, but maybe I haven’t had to work as hard to find the good stuff as it has had plenty of time to stretch its legs and it performed with such class from the word go.

This UF30E represents a true piece of Rum making history in a glass and a testament to the art of Rum making and the value of extreme patience. I doubt that we’ll see the likes of this Rum again.

I turn 40 soon so if anyone is feeling generous…..this is what I’d like.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2017. 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.

cropped-business-card-2016-front.jpg

Woods Navy Rum Gets a New Bottle

*Press Release*

WGS

 

Wood’s toasts to tradition with new, premium bottle for trusted Rum

Woods

William Grant & Sons UK has just unveiled the new, premium packaging of Wood’s Old Navy Rum.

Inspired by the liquid’s Navy-enriched past, the redesigned bottle is now simpler, sturdier, with thicker glass and a traditional cork now holds the liquid in, just as it originally would. But that’s all, our recipe’s the same. You don’t mess with a sailor’s rum.

The blend is made in Guyana from black strap molasses and includes a rum distilled in the only working single wooden pot still in the world. Made of greenheart, a local hardwood, it imparts unique and complex flavours. To this day, Wood’s is the only Demerara navy rum still bottled at 57%.

Brand manager, Gwilym Cooke says, “After evaluating the rich brand history, consumer trends and the dark rum category, we wanted more premium packaging to match the quality of the liquid inside the bottle, which hasn’t changed since 1887.”

“We hope the new, premium packaging can attract more consumers to this celebrated spirit in the off-trade, and build further brand equity in the process,” says Cooke.

 The new Wood’s bottle will start shipping from early April 2016 and will have an RRP £25.59 and available from Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s, other selected retailers and all major wholesalers.

*End*

I’m fortunate enough to have one of the new bottles and I’m happy to report that although the bottle and label have changed to a sleeker more modern style of presentation (complete with cork stopper not screw cap), the liquid inside is still just as good as it always was and it is still sitting at 57% abv. In a world of lower abv releases, this is one reason why Woods Navy Rum will always be popular. I love using Woods in a Mai Tai as either a float or an integral part of the rums within the drink and I can’t see that changing in the future. Keenly pried and carrying a lot of flavour, Woods Navy Rum is still an easily available staple on the shelves at home.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2016. 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 Skeldon 1973 Full Proof

I think that it would only be right and proper to advise you up front that this is probably the best Rum that you’ll almost certainly never be able to buy….That is unless you have the contacts and the disposable income as the bottles that I have seen have sold for upwards of 1200 Euros……A strange way to start an article I know, ‘Here’s something I know that you’ll not get to experience’. But I have been very fortunate in the contacts and friends that I have made purely through sharing a mutual love of a bottled spirit, and I have been very lucky enough to have been granted the opportunity to try this mythical creature courtesy of a very generous friend and writer….take a bow Lance….You are a gentleman and a scholar.

Skeldon 1

Photograph Copyright of Lance Surujbally

There are precious few resources about this particular Rum online and even fewer resources on the background of the distillery. I will of course link to those resources throughout this article. One of the ways that I conduct the tastings that throw out these meandering brain dumps that I’m unsure if anyone cares for, is to always complete my own notes before looking for other articles. It is so easy to almost fool yourself into thinking that you can taste and smell certain things that others with perhaps more trained noses and palates can detect, but there is a certain satisfaction when you then look around and see that you experience similar things but perhaps with differing memory based triggers. The wonderful world of Rum.

The distributors of this Rum are Velier. Velier are an Italian company headed up by the skilled and very charismatic Ruruki Gargano. I’ll save further elaboration for some upcoming articles. Anyhow, back to the important business at hand. From the limited information online, Skeldon it seems is not based ‘on the banks of the Demerara River’….though it is based on a different river. It is a small town in the East Berbice-Corentyne region on the banks of the Corentyne River which forms the border that Guyana shares with Suriname. The Rum itself was not it seems distilled at the Skeldon facility as this Distillery produced Rum only up until 1960. It is likely then that this Rum was produced at the now closed Uitvlugt Distillery on a Coffey Still. As none of the stills were apparently relocated, the still used must have been pre-existing in its Uitvlugt location. This information has been gathered from the quite frankly magnificent research and writing carried out by Marco Freyr and it can be found here. 

Velier Skeldon 1973 – 60.5% abv

Skeldon 73 Close

The Rum in question was distilled in 1973 and bottled in 2005 giving it a massive 32 years of tropical age. In this day and age that it unbelievable. Barrel marks are <SWR> which according to Marco’s research could be either ‘Sir William Russell’ or more likely ‘Skeldon William Ross’, with William Ross being the founder of the Skeldon estate. The outturn of this release was a paltry 544 bottles….I don’t have information on the exact losses to the angels share but it surely must’ve been 80% plus. Here we go…

Tasting Notes

Skeldon 2

Photograph Copyright of Lance Surujbally

In the glass – You immediately get the impression that you are about to be a part of something really special. The Rum itself is so so dark and brooding. It is a mahogany that when held to the light displays a vibrant dark red reminiscent of ripe Victoria plums. There is a very apparent greenish hue to the ring of liquid where it meets the glass further indicating a good deal of time spent in oak. A swirl leaves a ring of liquid that slowly develops small beads. It takes a good 2 or 3 minutes for a few of those beads, not all of them, to slowly make their way back home to the rest of their rummy buddies in the glass. Getting your nose within a foot of the glass overpowers your senses with raisins and prunes. Very inviting. Moving closer to the glass, there is a slight nutty quality that draws you into something that is reminiscent of a really good pint of Porter or a nice Chocolate Stout and all of the chocolate and coffee notes that they carry within them. There is a slight hint of bitterness too that reminds me of a freshly opened tin of treacle….this then develops into a soft liquorice. Time is certainly key with this Rum. You don’t spend 32 years in a barrel, numerous years sitting in a bottle and then reveal all straight away. Coming back to the glass 10 minutes later, there is a sour black cherry note that is lifted upon the brooding heavy stone fruit. One thing that I’m not suffering from is a feeling that there has been too much time spent in the barrel. Wood influence I certainly there but it is not dominant. Maybe it is responsible for the sour black cherry and slight bitterness? The last thing that hits me, some 30 minutes after pouring is the slightest menthol note. To be honest, If I could smell only one Rum until the end of my days it would be a close call between the Velier Diamond 1999 or this Velier Skeldon 1973.

Skeldon 73 GlassIn the mouth – The initial entry is all-encompassing. There is a slight, but only slight, bite from the alcohol. But its good to be reminded that you’re drinking a high-proof spirit. This swiftly gives way to a really pleasant warming heat that envelops your whole mouth in a silky dark chocolate resplendent with intense notes of coffee. The best way to reference this, for me, is to go back to the pint of Porter or Chocolate Stout. Huge bitter notes are in abundance and it is liquorice leading the way now. This dies down and leads into prunes and a homemade blackcurrant jam that are themselves starting to morph into a really oaky, well aged PX Sherry minus the cloying nature. It is a big Rum, but not a chewy Rum. It is such a well-balanced prospect that it manages to release all of the waves of flavour almost in some sort of other worldly cosmic order to take you on a journey through all 32 years of its life. Each facet gets ample time in the spotlight, all being held upright and slowly ushered along by the strong spine of coffee and liquorice. The oak brings with it a cutting Steven Wright or Jack Dee like dryness. Now we are almost at the really saddening part….assessing the finish using the remains of the sample. It should come as no surprise that it is long….very long. Coffee and chocolate lead the way before the prunes elbow their way in. Bitter liquorice follows before, several minutes later, a real sense of black olives surprises you with an almost salty brine. Sensational stuff.

This Rum is everything a Rum should be. It smells amazing. Tastes amazing. Is unbelievably well-balanced. Is relaxed whilst remaining focussed, and it delivers an experience that must be savoured. Sure the 60.5% is there, and it is a bit punchy, but still also massively drinkable up there. It has none of the tongue numbing factors usually associated with high-proof spirits. Never once did my senses feel compromised. Things like this are quickly becoming impossible to find. With Veliers almost exclusive choice of the 100% tropically aged Demerara stocks at DDL now all but ended with the release of El Dorados Rare Collection, this truly is a moment in time.

If I were a man who used expletives within articles, and those that know me know that I rarely swear *cough*, I would find quite a few strong words to extol the virtues of this mythical creature.

So the big question is, if you see it, should you pay upwards of 1200 Euros for it? That decision can only be yours. It is certainly an experience….and a bloody good one at that. There is history attached to this Rum. Stories of closed distilleries and upheaval. A dwindling industry and a concentrating of resources. If that is your bag, you already know your answer to the question. For me, I don’t have the resources to part with such cash. If I did, I would already own a bottle. It’s simply that good. The fact that I have been able to experience it is something that I’m hugely thankful for. I’d offer something of equal value to Lance, but sadly that’d mean handing over a kidney….or an arm…and I kinda like having a full complement.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2016. 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.

Ron de Jeremy XO

RDJ XO AngleWe’ve been quite vocal in the past about our love of Ron de Jeremy. It is a product that was dismissed by some as it was thought to be pushing the boundaries of good taste. But we always felt that the Rum was quite enjoyable and it became a real regular purchase at home. The perfect foil to the cries of ‘gimmick’….something that stood up to scrutiny, which we think that it did. You can refresh your memory and see our article on Ron de Jeremy and also Ron de Jeremy Spiced here.

Ron de Jeremy XO – 40% abv

Right, now your back with us. We can tell you all about Ron de Jeremy XO. This Rum is positioned as the next step, or a step up the Rum ladder. The presentation is quite frankly is stunning. The bottle comes in a black cylinder and when the metal cylinder top is removed you are faced with a jet black smooth coated glass bottle. The text is bright white and furnishes you with a little information, the most important being the location of the source Rum(s). The Reserva was from Panama (though the blend has changed now but the profile of the Rum remains) but in this iteration the Rums have been sourced from Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana and Jamaica and are a blend of pot and column. Some aged for up to 15yrs. Solera is mentioned in the bottle but in this instance (and in the majority of instances), it is merely referring to the fact that there is a blend of Rums of differing ages/locations and no desire to be tied down to an actual minimum age. It is profile based not age based. It is a common practice…see Zacapa, Botran, Matusalem, Dictador, Cubaney and so on. A little further digging (Thanks Olli) has turned up that the distilleries in question providing the Rums are hugely credible locations. The Barbados component is a blend of column and pot distilled Rums sourced from Foursquare Distillery. The Trinidad component is from Trinidad Distillers (the production company of Angostura), obviously column only. The Guyana element is obviously DDL and they provide pot distilled Rum which should give the Rum some real backbone. Jamaica is the really interesting one….Hampden, Worthy Park, Monymusk and New Yarmouth Estate all provide high ester pot still Rums to the blend. All signs point to the fact that this should be some good juice…..

Now this Rum has been doing very well in Europe and is firmly placed to grab a slice of the big selling marketplace that is currently dominated by Zacapa and Diplomatico. It gives a three-tier element to the range with Spiced, Reserva and XO which positions them well in the grand scheme of things.

But what does it taste like…..

Tasting Notes

RDJ XO Bottle and Glass

In the glass: The Rum displays itself as a nice dark gold with mahogany flashes and upon swirling is as reluctant to release any droplets as I am reluctant to get a round in….eventually (as with getting a round in) it succumbs to peer pressure and a few very slow chunky droplets meander back down the glass. When swirling the Rum looks VERY viscous and is almost giving the appearance of moving in slow motion. The initial aroma, which is not as shy as the droplets is one of a very rich fruit cake. Prunes and vanilla are there by the bucket load and there is an almost nutty quality surrounded in burnt caramel. A little one-dimensional and not at all what I was expecting. In fact, it is nothing like I’d expect from the knowledge of the Rums in the blend.

In the mouth: On entry the Rum is incredibly viscous. It immediately gives me a kind of bitter caramel flavour but that is soon kicked into touch by a thick, gooey sweetness…almost cloying. Straight off the bat there is a heap of vanilla, a tiny hint of spice and the hint of an oaky component. It is very smooth…..almost confusingly so. The finish is very short-lived and very disappointing. I expected it to linger but it just slips out of the door without telling you whilst you’re seeing to the other guests. I feel a little of that ‘peach’ like quality that I keep harping on about in the back of my throat that can only be the merest hint of the Barbados component. There is none of the pot still Jamaican magic that I expected and none of the backbone that pot still Demerara usually provides…Trinidad will maybe be the provider of the oaky element but this is the polar opposite of what the blend tells me. It’s all a bit ‘meh’….

I hate to put out bad vibes but after tasting a few glasses of this Rum I felt that something was amiss. It just didn’t sit right with me, so I sent a blind sample off for hydrometer testing by Wes, who runs another Rum based site (it’s not as good as this one, and I’m way more handsome…and taller). He duly carried out the test on this along with two other samples that I had marked up for him to taste…they were almost the controls for the hydrometer test. The resulting data was cause for concern and a bit of a red flag. 92 g/L of additions whether that be sugar, glycerol, vanillin’s or something else. I buy sweetened Rums and I enjoy sweetened Rums, but to say that I was shocked by the figure displayed in the results would be an understatement. More than this though, I felt really let down. I like Olli from One Eyed Spirits, even though I’ve only met him once. This was on the same night that I also met the big man himself, Ron Jeremy and Gaby from Spirit Cartel. Olli has answered my emailed concerns over this Rum and that level of honesty and openness should be applauded. I asked the questions, I got my answers.

The following though, is why I feel so disappointed. The Rum is sourced from credible origins (including some of the most credible) and it has all the potential to be a very interesting blend….world class even. I perhaps expected it to surpass our love of the Reserva! But it has massively under achieved as it has been masked by the additions and the whole experience has been dulled. Imagine that friend, everyone has one. They are a really vibrant and interesting person and for some reason they wind up in the kind of relationship where their partner doesn’t let them be themselves….they control every interaction that you have with your friend and they mask the very essence of what made your friend so great to be around in the first place. Ron de Jeremy XO is that friend and as a result is a huge missed opportunity for me, and it does it’s credible components a large disservice.

That said, it is massively unfair to put this Rum in the same category as all other Rums that have test data out there, for one, this product actually does have Rum as its base….and very credible Rum at that….it just went off the rails and made a few bad decisions whilst it was growing up.

As per usual, feel free to pop in for a drop. It’ll be popular, just not with me. I’ll stick to the Reserva.

0-5-star

In the interests of full disclosure, I was sent the bottle in question by some really lovely people to give my thoughts and feedback.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. 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.

Compagnie Des Indes Caraibes Blend

CDI LogoThis brand is a new discovery to me and it is in fact not yet on general sale in the UK. It is coming though. At the recent Boutique Bar Show in Manchester I managed to speak to a chap called Will from Imported Brands and they are apparently bringing the Guadeloupe 16 and Caraibes Blend to the UK. My knowledge of the brand came from social media having seen snippets of information but resigning myself to never being able to try the Rums due to location. However, on a recent trip to Paris we visited the quite spectacular Christian de Montaguère store and were blown away by the volume of amazing Rums on display. Browsing the shelves I happened upon an amazing sight…..the current range of Compagnie Des Indes Rums!

Compagnie Des Indes CDM

I knew that I needed to leave with at least one expression….the Caraibes Blend seemed like a good choice…..but then I spotted a Barbados 16 from Foursquare Distillery bottled at 45%. I left with both. In hindsight, I should’ve picked up one of each as there were so many expressions that interested me…but both money and luggage space conspired against me…

Compagnie Des Indes

Compagnie Des Indes is a French company, and one that is the brainchild of Florent Beuchet. Florent has both a Rum and a Spirits background. His father owns a winery and also the Emile Pernot Absinthe Distillery, and Florent was the Banks Rum Brand Ambassador in New York for a 2 year period. The idea behind Compagnie Des Indes as a company is an attempt to pay homage to eighteenth century companies such as the English, Dutch and French East India Companies that would travel to distant lands to import rare commodities into their respective home countries. Rums are selected by Compagnie Des Indes and imported into France for bottling and release. More often than not these are single cask releases that are chosen as they are believed to best display the character of their country of origin. These releases are for the most part bottled without the addition of caramel colour or sugars and they are for the most part bottled above the standard 40% abv (there are exceptions). Compagnie Des Indes want to take you on a journey through these far-flung places by presenting authentic representations that are the embodiment of  their origin. As a breakaway from the single casks (and the principles of the single casks), they have two blends. The Latino Blend which has a 5yr age statement and the Caraibes Blend which has no age statement. The focus of this article will be the Caraibes Blend….if you’ve tuned into any of the social media channels that we here at Rum Diaries Blog frequent, you’ll be more than aware of our love for the easy-going nature of this Rum….but lets look at the ins and outs….

Compagnie Des Indes Caraibes Blend – 40% abv

Caraibes BottleThere are three countries contributing to the Rums within this blend. Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana. The blend is 50% Trinidad, 25% Barbados and 25% Guyana. Age wise, the components range between 3 and 5 years old, and they are all column distilled Rums. Florent has been very open with me which is great, and I can tell you that there has been 15g/L of organic sugarcane syrup added along with E150A Caramel Colouring. Given the ‘single cask’ nature of the planned releases, the Caraibes, alongside the Latino, Jamaica 5 and Jamaica 5 Navy Strength will be constants in the range. It bodes well as I would be keen to replace the bottle…

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum displays itself as a dull gold in the glass and a little swirl releases plentiful but slow droplets. The aromas appear to be very light and intertwined and include chocolate, raisins, vanilla and a nutty quality. There is also something like light banana but apart from the chocolate, none of the aromas are robust. It appears to be a crowd pleaser rather than an intense aroma bomb with nothing too challenging. Maybe the broad brush approach has been adopted…nothing dazzling but absolutely nothing not to like…all nice and easy-going stuff.

In the mouth: Straight  away the Rum is very warming and carrying with it a kick of peppery spice which is quickly tamed by a growing, but not intense sweetness. The mouthfeel is an all-encompassing one which is surprising given the weightless qualities of the aromas. Its relative youthfulness is obvious and there is little to no oak showing in the mouth. Chocolate, raisins and vanilla are all present and accounted for alongside that light banana and something reminiscent of hazelnut yoghurt!?! That’s about it really. The finish is quite a short one and is perhaps the Rums weakness. Peaches are present as are chocolate and raisins but it is too short-lived to really savour. I suppose that means that you need to sip again….but it would’ve been nice to get more length on the finish.

You’re going to maybe think my summation of this Rum is a little strange….There is nothing about this Rum that would stop me recommending it to you…in fact, I 100% urge you to go out and buy a bottle if you can find an outlet. I have enjoyed numerous visits to my bottle as it is very easy to drink and is a really tasty prospect. There is a heck of a lot to like, just not a great deal to experience. Its characteristics remind me of something like Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva….thats a crowd pleaser with mass appeal too, but the Caraibes is nowhere near as sweet and cloying as the Diplomatico, which plays out in its favour. The Caraibes blend doesn’t truly dazzle on either the entry or the finish but it is competent enough and interesting enough to be just a huge pleasure to drink…no matter what mood you are in. It is priced to sell ( I paid 29 Euros ) and there is a certain honesty to the Rum and the brand. Providing it does actually make it to the UK, I will absolutely be picking up another bottle. This may be my new ‘Introduce a non-Rum drinker to Rum’ bottle such is its nature. Considering this is classed as one of the entry-level bottlings in the range, I am so excited to see what other delights Florent has chosen within the Compagnie Des Indes range.

As a side note, it makes a beautiful Rum Old Fashioned!

3-0-star

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. 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.

Our Rum and Spirits Guyana 24

Our Rum & SpiritsOur Rum & Spirits is an independent brand hailing from Germany. It is the brainchild of restaurateur Christian Nagel. Christian has been an independent restaurateur for almost 9 years initially had 2 Rums on his menu. In time this increased to over 30. In August 2011 he opened a new restaurant in the world cultural heritage town of Hildesheim called Gasthaus im Brühl. The menu there started with 35 Rums and now has over 80 due to the popularity of Rum with his guests. He began getting asked whether he had plans to sell his own Rum bottlings and this led him to source an importer of Rums within Germany. The Our Rum & Spirits brand was born. Their first bottling was a Guyana Diamond 11-year-old Rum. Only 60 bottles were available, it was 62.5% abv and was sold for 48 Euros per bottle. All have been sold except for 3 bottles kept back to be served to restaurant guests. In December 2014, Christian obtained enough bulk Rum for 100 bottles of Barbados Rum and he also purchased a barrel of Guyanese Rum to further expand the range.

Our Rum & Spirits Guyana 24 Year Old – 61.2% abv

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This Rum is from the Enmore Distillery which closed in 1993 and was distilled in their Single Wooden Pot Still which was originally located at the Versailles Distillery prior to it’s arrival at Enmore. It was distilled in December 1990 and was bottled in January 2015. The Rum is from Cask 20 which was stored in England prior to the end of 2013 when it was relocated to Germany. The barrel mark is MEV which means Main Rum Enmore Versailles…..this was not a distillery applied barrel mark. The barrel yield was 178 bottles at its cask strength of 61.2% abv and the Rum is neither coloured nor chill filtered. The Rum is a limited edition for Our Rum & Spirits and each one costs 110 Euros.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a pale gold / straw colour in the glass. A little swirl reveals……nothing. Well, apart from a thin halo around the glass. Slowly, little beads begin to develop. They just sit there, getting slightly larger before over a period of 2 to 3 minutes, slowly and reluctantly returning home. There are immediate astringent notes along with freshly sharpened pencil aromas…..and lots of them. This Rum doesn’t give much up at all. There is a bourbon like oak, some white pepper and a fortified wine tingle. Like the colour, very light.

In the mouth: Holy Hell…..I gulped too much initially. Massive schoolboy error. Coughing ensued and I needed a sip of water. It felt like a roundhouse kick from Chuck Norris! Where did THAT come from…..its a mild-mannered, gentle beast surely?!? Apparently not! Right, now with the respect it clearly deserves. Heavy is a word that I would use. The Rum is very smoky, almost peaty. Those freshly sharpened pencils are there along with raisins, sticky dates and an all-encompassing mouthfeel. It is very spicy up front but this subsides as you sip more of the liquid. It is also very dry due to its 24 years in the barrel. It feels almost gloopy in your mouth….its not, but it feels that way. I’ve not tried many 15 year plus Demerara Rums but this has spiked my interest! I want more if this is a common theme! It slowly reveals more raisins, dates and chewy toffee. It’s a grow-er not a show-er for sure. The finish is very very long on this beautiful Rum…..in fact, I think that I can still taste it! True to the initial observations the finish is entirely consistent…..pencil shavings, oak, a wine influence, astringency and dry smoke. There is also a Bakewell Tart taste right at the end.

*edit 09.03.2015 – I finished off the last remains of the sample and continuing the woody theme, it reminded me of making wooden arrows in the garden shed as a child, that freshly sawn timber and sap aroma. There was also a faint bit of liqourice on the finish that I didn’t pick up on my initial visits*

I added a little water. The astringency is removed and the oak is calmed. This allows a muscovado sugar aroma to peep through the oak. To taste it is still warming but not as spicy. There is a slightly bitter, woody quality now. It is still very dry but with light vanilla. To be honest, keep it at full strength…..it provide a far better experience there.

This Rum is one of the oldest demerara’s that I’ve tasted and has opened my eyes a little. Such a depth of flavour and such a heavy body to the Rum……I’m afraid that my closing words have to be…..I want one!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. 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.