Havana Club Tributo 2019

I was fortunate enough to have recently been asked if I’d like to try a small sample of the new Havana Club Tributo 2019. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity I said yes. There is a little accompanying background information on the release that I’d like to give prior to my thoughts.

Havana Club Tributo 2019 marks the fourth iteration of this series of releases. The 2019 Havana Club Tributo release has been blended by three generations of Maestros del Ron Cubano. Don Jose Navarro, Maestro del Ron Cubano; Asbel Morales, Maestro del Ron Cubano; and Salome Aleman, the first and only female Maestra del Ron Cubano were tasked with selecting a rare and extra-aged Rum base representing their own style and laid down in the decade of their appointment to their position. 1970’s. 1990’s and 2010’s respectively. These base Rums, including and additional one that had been matured in rare Cognac casks were combined and then blended again with a Rum that has spent in excess of 25 years in French Oak. Presentation wise the Rum comes in a wooden box and each of the available 2500 bottles are individually numbered and will set you back €400.

So there you go. Some particularly old Rum sitting within this bottle, and quite a commanding price tag to go with it. But what does it taste like?

Havana Club Tributo 2019 – 40% abv – Modern Rum

Tasting Notes

Nose: The Rum is a very intense proposition. Quite heavy and dominant oak leads as expected for something with components of this age. There is a welcome astringent bite of French oak that really increases the pungency of the Rum in the glass. Dried fruit comes to the fore with particular emphasis on candied fruit peels accompanied by a burnt sugar. Dried apricots, flamed orange peel and a little fruit cake spice such as clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. It remains quite tannin led and its all the better for it. The trademark leather and the merest hint of cigar box are present but the French oak really lifts the nose on this above other Cuban Rums that I’ve tried and brings a lot more complexity to a style of Rum that I have grown a little disillusioned with.

Mouth: A sweeter entry than desired and this is accompanied by a far lighter mouthfeel than expected. Quite simplistic to begin with….Vanilla. Fruit cake with a brown sugar crust. A freshly opened bag of dried prunes. Lightly toasted almonds. Custard and buttery shortcrust pastry. In actual fact, the palate remains quite simplistic and is lacking the complexity hoped for. I expected more of that wonderful oak that was found on the extremely impressive nose, but sadly I’m left wanting. Sure there is oak, but nothing like the intense drying behemoth that I expected. I get the feeling that sweetening has been added to combat the effects of the extensive maturation, maybe even to assist in cigar pairing. Unfortunately this is dulling the experience rather a lot for me. The finish is a relatively lengthy one with fruit cake mix, mild oak and the trademark cigar box.

2 / 5

*Hydrometer Test Result – Label stated abv 40% – Measured abv 39% – 3.9 g/l additives*

The level of additives surprised me as it certainly felt like more (so much so that I ran the test three times), and I know that I’m not alone in this thinking. Higher abv would really help this bottling and if this could be presented at the 45% of their very enjoyable Selección de Maestros, that would’ve really assisted on the palate. The complexity of the nose is a delight to experience with its heavy, brooding oak, dried fruits, and the impact on the overall aroma that the French oak has had cannot be under emphasised….but sadly it does not carry through to the palate which a little dulled and lacklustre…hence the score. Could’ve been great, but my experience was found to be lacking.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. 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.

Advertisements

R. L. Seale’s Finest Barbados Rum – Export Proof

A relatively short one today as this is a re-review of sorts…..R.L Seale’s Finest Barbados Rum, or R.L Seale’s 10 as I’ve previously called it and how others know it has been around for a while and for me has been one of the most classic examples of Barbados Rum available. Numerous members of the Rum Community have sung its praises on multiple occasions….in fact I’d rate it on any list of ‘must have’ bottles for Rum lovers both new and old. You can read my rather basic summation of the bottle in its previous 43% abv guise here. You only have to scroll through the pages here to understand the high regard in which I hold Foursquare Distillery……But let’s dig into it.

R.L Seale’s Finest Barbados Rum – Export Proof – 46% abv – Single Blended Rum

What you have in the quite unique and very recognisable blue-bottle is a Single Blended rum. A blend of Coffey Column and Pot Still rum from Foursquare Distillery. It is a minimum of ten years old and has been matured in ex-bourbon barrels. It is a Classic Foursquare proposition and one that I enjoyed multiple bottles of in its 43% iteration. I was quite excited to see it released as a 46% products, I had no real issue with it at 43% as it always delivered just what I was looking for….classic Barbados. But it’s always nice to get that little uplift to see how it affects the overall experience and Richard is not one to do these things on a whim, there will have been thought and reasoning behind it. I had forgotten about this bottling for a while, as if often the way. But over the course of the past few months I have found myself reaching for it more and more frequently….so I thought that a re-visit was on the cards.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Classic Foursquare and classic Barbados. Vanilla. Caramel. Buttery pastries. A warming, well-integrated yet spicy wood influence. Growing powdery cocoa and a hint of coconut. The oak brings a touch of black pepper and nutmeg. A hint of raisins and citrus peel. More time in the glass reveals freshly cut apple, sugared almonds and the mildest floral top notes. Beautiful stuff.

Mouth: Beautifully dry entry but along with the obvious oak and vanilla it brings a sweetness of coconut and milk chocolate. Raisins and mixed fruit peel. Maybe a touch of citrus oil. The mid palate is all about the commanding oak. It is very drying and brings with it some welcome spice notes like cinnamon and white pepper. Flamed orange oils. It also brings a buttery pastry like quality and a hint of almond tart. Warm crème brûlée. The finish brings a little crisp apple and some raisins, maybe juicy plums before the oak and particularly the warming spiced barrel notes lead you off into the sunset. Classic Foursquare peach vapours at the death. It is both robust and gentle whilst remaining approachable.

4.5 / 5

*Hydrometer Test Result – Label stated abv 46% – Measured abv 46% – 0 g/l additives*

I had decanted and saved a small bottle of my 43% release at there was crossover with this release. Assessing it side by side I note that there does not appear to be as much caramel colour added to the new release…it is more of a straw gold…don’t let the image fool you. I also noted that this 46% release is not as wood heavy on the nose or the palate and its better for it. It just delivers more of everything…..and here’s the real killer….it is still available for between £35 and £40 in the UK.

Things are changing for Foursquare though, they are very much in the ascendancy with the Exceptional Cask Series and their collaborations with Velier….but this exposure and acclaim has been earned by producing such consistently good releases such as R.L Seale’s, the Doorly’s range and my particular favourite, Old Brigand. This bottling remains as classic an example of Barbados Rum, and Foursquare Distillery as you’ll find.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. 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.

Diablesse Caribbean Rum

New Rum brands are popping up everywhere…..and here is another…..but I have a little more knowledge about this one. Around two years ago I met brand owner Cleo Farman for lunch in South Manchester. She had contacted me as a result of a mutual friend suggesting that we discuss her ideas for bringing a new Rum blend to market. I had prepared a few of my own blends from my home stock for us to discuss at that initial meeting. There were a few real stand outs (for me) and a few were pretty ropey. Anyhow, we discussed distilleries and principles and the state of the industry from a consumer standpoint. As is often pointed out, we Rum Enthusiasts sometimes exist in an echo chamber whereby we are surrounded by similar views on what constitutes good Rum. My focus during discussions was on the formulation of an honest product, free from additives and nonsense. Cleo, who has previously owned multiple successful bars in Manchester happily agreed and listened as I rabbited on about the importance of not messing around with Rum. If you are doing it, do it justice. I sang the virtues of distilleries like Foursquare, Mount Gay, Worthy Park, Hampden and St Lucia Distillers and all of this information was absorbed. Things were going well and I was hopefully going to be more involved in the project but then due to personal issues (if you know, you know) in early May last year I had to back away and sort a few things out. Fortunately Cleo pursued the project and with the help of a few quality bar tending friends progressed with sourcing and trialing blends. Fast forward to early November 2018 and I met for lunch with Cleo again. In her hand she had the final blend. She also had a brand name and label images. In mid February I was able to purchase this creation from Master of Malt. I’d imagine this to be a pretty proud moment and reward for Cleo’s hard work….and financial outlay! Below is a little image that I took at the launch at Cottonopolis in Manchester…..one of the signature drinks is a quite awesome Roasted Banana Daiquiri. So we know that it plays very nicely in cocktails…..but what does it taste like?

Diablesse Caribbean Rum – 40% abv – Blended Rum

So here we have it. Diablesse Caribbean Rum. There is a marketing tale to accompany the Diablesse name but I’ll let you view the brand website for that. Presentation is in a nice heavy bottomed squat bottle….similar to the one that the excellent Woods has started using and from the wooden topped cork stopper to the label design and material its a pretty classy package. But its whats in the bottle that counts. This Rum is blend of three Rums. An 8-year-old Single Blended Rum from Foursquare Distillery in Barbados, a 4-year-old Pure Single Rum from Worthy Park in Jamaica and a 2 year old Traditional Rum from the Enmore Coffey Still at DDL in Guyana. Proportions wise, though not deadly accurate, we have roughly 45% Barbados, 35% Jamaica and 20% Guyana. Along with the sourcing of credible Rums for the blend is the little note on the label……Pure, Golden Rum free from added sugar and other adulteration…..It is this principle that I put so much emphasis on during our early discussions….and the fact that it made such an impact on Cleo that it has made it to the label is very satisfying on a personal level.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A beautiful candied aroma. The Worthy Park definitely rules the early exchanges. Tropical fruit punch. Trademark overripe banana. Molasses. This leads into a char-grilled pineapple. The maturity of the Foursquare component brings coconut shavings and a warming, well-integrated oak with just a hint of spice notes from the barrel. Cocoa powder and vanilla fudge. Beautifully light marshmallow.

Mouth: Very soft and gentle entry. Butterscotch Angel Delight. Freshly sliced tropical fruit accompanied by a gooseberry like sharpness. Relatively thin mouthfeel and a little alcohol bite….but a touch of youthful exuberance never did any harm. Mid palate brings spice bun and mashed banana with just a sip of black tea before warming, peppery oak and vanilla hits home. Subsequent visits reveal more of the interplay between the banana of the Worthy Park and the well-integrated oak and classic peach vapours of Foursquare. The moderate length finish is warm and spice led with banana bread, dried cranberries, pineapple cubes and a little black pepper.

3.5/5

*Hydrometer Test Result – Label stated abv 40% – Measured abv 40% – 0 g/l additives*

Price wise this sits at the higher end of standard at £37. Like Neptune which is the last top quality new brand that came before it, it is an economy of scale thing. But like that Rum, as sales increase, pricing may change. I’ve definitely spent a lot more on a less honest and poorer quality product. This is no-nonsense tasty blend of two of my favourite distilleries plus a little Enmore column still to lighten things up. It’s clear that Cleo cares about the Rum given her emphasis on no additives. I’d buy another, and I reckon that you should pick one up too.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. 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.

That Boutique-y Rum Company Blended Rum #1 – Jamaica

Back into another Boutique-y Rum Company release. This time it’s a blended Rum comprising entirely Jamaican components. You can read a little about another Boutique-y Rum release and a little about the company itself here. Now that has been said, let’s get into its ribs.

That Boutique-y Rum Company Blended Rum #1 – Jamaica – 55% abv

The bottle hints at the use of Dunder with its skull and crossbones and bubbling, festering pit hogging the label. We also get little in terms of information. Just that the blend is composed of Pot AND Column Rum from a mix of Jamaican distilleries. Digging a little deeper we can ascertain that the blend components were distilled at some point in 2008 and bottled in 2018 making the blend 9 years old. Requesting info from Peter Holland has revealed more information. The Pot Distilled components are from Long Pond, New Yarmouth, Clarendon (Monymusk) and the Secret Distillery from Lluidas Vale…..*cough* Worthy Park *cough*. The Column component is from Clarendon (Monymusk) too.

Long Pond has seen a fair few releases recently and sitting around 18 miles away from Hampden it is also located in the Trelawny Parish. It releases very vibrant and fruity Rums from my experience with some of the continental aged products that I’ve tried and a fair few batshit mental offerings if the NRJ Velier releases are anything to go by. The VRW and STC❤️E are beautifully drinkable expressions whereas the TECA and TECC releases are monsters. New Yarmouth is the home of J Wray & Nephew and we have been fortunate to see some amazing releases from the distillery via Compagnie des Indes….Ethyl Acetate is king in these bottlings. Clarendon, the home of Monymusk and Captain Morgan produces both Pot and Column distillates and is more of a large scale modern facility. Worthy Park you will know all about.

So as you’ll see, quite a varied blend and hopefully the results will be positive….but there’s only one way to find out.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Yup. Definitely Jamaican. Definitely Long Pond. That bright, almost candied tropical fruit is first on the nose. Guava, mango and papaya. There follows a huge hefty weight of ethyl acetate bringing forth Grilled Pineapple, varnish, pear drops and glue that can only be the New Yarmouth kicking the door in. Crisp notes of white wine. There is a beautifully solid vanilla, warming oak and banana loaf backbone to the blend. This carries those bright acidic and fruity top notes and allows them to play so well together. Time brings Kola Kubes, banana jam and a hint of eucalyptus. Glorious stuff

Mouth: Initial entry is beautifully sweet with a very heated follow-up. It’s quite spirity initially and does display some of its 55% abv. You soon acclimatise to this though. Very fruity. It’s reminiscent of a mixed tropical fruit jam. A beautiful interplay of Pineapple, Guava and fresh Papaya with just a squeeze of lime juice. The mid palate brings the weight of the oak into play and this begins to dry your mouth from the tongue back. Spiced oak and pepper in turn announce vanilla, salted caramel and a beautifully sticky molasses note. The finish is not particularly long, choosing to make a sharp exit. Grilled pineapple, fresh papaya and a hint of that beautifully enticing caramel right at the back-end with lingering peppery oak dead centre of your tongue.

4.5 / 5

For me, this one is all about the nose. It’s so nuanced and interesting. You get the feeling that you’re experiencing some great individual distillates. The palate whilst it never reaches the extreme highs of the nose is superb. I have enjoyed it neat, it makes a great Milk Punch, Rum Cow and the other week I made a most enjoyable Jungle Bird with it. 485 bottles of this blend have been released and I’m on my bottle number two. I may even pick up a third before it disappears from shelves. I suggest that you follow suit.

*Hydrometer Test Result – Label stated abv 55% – Measured abv 55% – 0 g/l additives*

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. 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.

That Boutique-y Rum Company Secret Distillery #1 – Jamaica

That Boutique-y Rum Company follows hot on the heels of two other That Boutique-y entities…..their Whisky Company and Gin Company. I own a bottle of the Spit Roasted Pineapple Gin and also a couple of the Whisky bottlings….a lovely 11yr Aultmore and a killer peated 8yr expression from The English Whisky Company. I was clearly going to be very keen to pick up a few expressions from the rum range…..seemingly I ended up buying more than “a few”. But a little about the company first. The premise behind the company is to bring interesting expressions, not categorised by colour or ‘style’ to Rum Geeks, Adventurous Rookies and the Rum Curious. With the consultant at the helm being Peter Holland, they’ve certainly managed to bring a few interesting things to the market. So far I have picked up Blended Rum #1 – Jamaica (2 bottles), Diamond Distillery (Versailles Still) 13yr Old, O Reizinho 3yr Old from Madeira and this Secret Distillery #1 – Jamaica 9yr Old…..so let’s get into it.

That Boutique-y Rum Company Secret Distillery #1 – Jamaica – 58% abv – Pure Single Rum 

Let’s tackle the elephant in the room…..Secret Distillery. There’s only one distillery in a Jamaica that doesn’t permit independent bottlers to use the distillery name on the bottle….so we’re obviously dealing with a Worthy Park product. You can familiarise yourself with the work of the quite excellent Worthy Park here. No year of distillation on the bottle but an age of 9yrs coupled with a release in 2018 would lead me to see it as being from a 2009 distillation. Mine is bottle 378 of 426 and it has been bottled at 58%. Whether that is cask strength or reduced, I’m unsure….the upcoming Worthy Park 12 year Barrel Strength is noted as being 57% so I would say that it’s probably as close to cask strength as rounding down will allow. How many of its years have been spent in a tropical climate is unknown…but I’d hazard a guess at in excess of 5. I have queried the maturation locations and also the barrel marque so will hope to feed back. Although not noted, I’d also assume the ethos of the brand is no caramel colour and no chill filter. For future releases I’d like to see maturation location(s) listed similar to the Transcontinental and Excellence Rhum bottlings. Maybe an evolution of the rear label to include a little more info….or have it website listed. Anyhow….onwards.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Quite boozy initially. It shows its 58%. Time definitely aids this Rum as it definitely opens up. Certainly Worthy Park, but we don’t get the immediate up front banana in this. Instead it’s more spice led. Ginger juice. Spiced Fruit cake mix that has just been put into the loaf tin…think Raisins, Dried mixed peels and Molasses. This develops through a little of the Worthy Park stewed black tea and dialled down overripe banana to reveal a touch of Bakewell tart. Time brings a growing sweetness of cola pips, Perfumed oak and Wham Bars. Spiced barrel notes linger on the nose. Not completely your typical Worthy Park.

Mouth: Warming entry with a few sharp fruity notes. Gooseberries. Some fresh green apple. This is short-lived and soon develops into quite an oak led experience on the palate initially. Dry with plenty of black pepper. Vanilla. Spicy barrel notes and a hint of freshly picked pineapple mint. The mid palate is all tropical fruit. Banana, light Pineapple and Guava. This is accompanied by coconut shavings and molasses. Spice bun. Burnt sugar on Scottish shortbread. The long finish brings more of those spicy barrel notes and black pepper along with development of the frangipane element of a Bakewell tart. There is a development of sharp fruity white wine notes towards to back end…wait long enough and pleasant medicinal notes appear.

4 / 5

It’s a strange one to sum up. I enjoy this Rum, even though it’s not your typical Worthy Park expression….maybe I enjoy it because it’s not a typical Worthy Park expression. I enjoy a few other Worthy Parks a lot more though. But these are the fully tropically matured offerings such as the Habitation Veliers and the Estates own releases. All of the above aside, it’s a good, but different Worthy Park offering. It’s definitely a grower, and time is most certainly its friend. A very good example of multi location matured Worthy Park. Plenty to enjoy.

*Hydrometer Test Result – Label stated abv 58% – Measured abv 58% – 0 g/l additives*

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. 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.