Foursquare Triptych Single Blended Rum

I’d hate to think what street value my bottle of Triptych has at the time of compiling this article. I am recently back from an astonishing visit to Barbados and my first visit to a Caribbean Rum Distillery just had to be a trip to Foursquare……in fact it was so much fun, we did it twice within 10 days. Just the ability to get such a first hand, up close and personal experience was amazing….and best of all…..given the open and honest policy that Foursquare Rum Distillery has (albeit adhering to the ‘no go’ signs which are there for your own safety), you can also experience this. I wholeheartedly suggest that you do. Just to share the room with the stills that produce these Rums is worth the trip alone. But lets just take a moment to look at the glorious black bottle, the striking label and that glass of majestic dark amber liquid…..

My first opportunity to try Triptych came at last years UK RumFest and even with a certain amount of palate fatigue, it was impressive……Now getting to try it again in its actual release blend format, whilst in the Foursquare Rum Distillery tasting room was the thing of dreams. I was sat next to Barnali, right opposite my good friend Nikos and I had Richard to my right. Glasses were duly prepared and Triptych was poured. The next five minutes were spent in silence, nosing the glass and grinning from ear to ear. As far as experiences go, this was by far one of the finest……but Triptych wasn’t the only thing that we got to try that day….and we tried even more when we returned for our second visit with Ivar and Mariangela….On that visit we were also fortunate enough to be joined by Gayle….but had the setting, the excitement of being in the room that I’d only previously seen pictures of, the sun of Barbados and the amazing company influenced my opinion of this Rum? Fortunately I have spent the last 5 weeks or so dipping into my available supply to compile my notes….

Foursquare Triptych – Single Blended Rum – 56% abv

You’ll know all about Foursquare Rum Distillery if you’ve been here before and a few of their more recent releases can be found here and here.

A little more about this release then. The name gives up a lot….Triptych…..We automatically assume that it has three components. The bottle label details that there are three single blended vintages each with a different oak maturation. A 2004 ex-Bourbon, a 2005 ex-Madeira and a 2007 Virgin Oak. Virgin Oak for me (based on my reading, not on experience) has always been synonymous with Bourbon given its distillation method. Where a distiller can make their cuts with a Pot still or choose a specific plate on a Coffey still, a Single Column still allows the good, the bad and the ugly to pass over into the distillate. Virgin Oak I have read is used as it has an initial aggressive effect on the distillate, calming the rough edges in a short space of time. That has always led me to view its use as something that wouldn’t necessarily be used for the maturation of Rum from a Pot Still or Coffey Still…..But this is Foursquare….and they thrive on this type of innovation. I posed a couple of questions to Richard regarding the make up of the blend and the differing barrels. Firstly, this Single Blended Rum is made up of three other Single Blended Rums. I was asked via Instagram whether the blend is a collaboration between Foursquare and Velier. I can report that the blend is entirely developed by Foursquare Rum Distillery, with samples being shared with the Velier Group for their comment and observations.  The ex-Bourbon barrels were utilised for the 2004 Single Blended Rum up until bottling in November 2016. The same goes from 2005 for the ex-Madeira barrels. I did however ask a few more questions about the Virgin Oak. Firstly I wondered if the aggressive character of the barrels led to them being monitored more closely than usual during the process and whether Virgin Oak was chosen to accelerate the maturation process over a shorter period…..I received some real insight into the use of these barrels. Virgin Oak requires sufficient air seasoning to allow it to become easier to work with….and the cask choice was perhaps one of necessity. With the reported stock shortages of ex-Bourbon barrels at the time (2007), Foursquare took the opportunity to experiment and familiarise themselves with the more expensive Virgin Oak barrels (Virgin Oak is twice the cost of ex-Bourbon). Monitoring of these barrels occurs more closely due to the aggressive effects of the oak and light blends will typically spend no more than 6 months in new oak. Based on the fact that the blend spent 6 years in Virgin Oak prior to transfer into older barrels for the remainder of its maturation period (approx. 3 years), I asked the obvious follow on question of whether this Single Blended Rum was particularly Pot still heavy to cope with the effects of the Virgin Oak. This was confirmed. An excellent and open insight into the constituents of this super complex Single Blended Rum. I also managed to grab a few (hundred) photographs on our visits and below are the two stills that created this Rum.

Forsyths Twin Retort Pot Still

Coffey Still

Tasting Notes

Glass: Dark amber with copper flashes. Quite a lot of astringency initially. Heavy stone fruit and the acidity of fresh quince juice. A developing grape influence and acetone. Soft but growing oak. The entire opposite of what I had expected given the presence of long maturation in fresh oak. I braced for dominant oak and vanilla….it did not dominate. Such is the complexity, even the oaken influence seems to introduce itself under a series of sub-headings. Light vanilla, pencil shavings, dusty library books, cherry influence from the ex-bourbon through to damp wood. Toasted coconut, walnuts, milk chocolate and powdery cocoa have an interplay with earthy, dirty aromas and chestnut mushrooms. Light floral notes are also present right at the back end. The nose is so well balanced. Everything just works in its own way. No shoulder barging….very British….just standing in a line waiting its turn. This can’t be a fluke though. It has to be down to exemplary cask management plus a large chunk of just knowing what you’re doing. To achieve such a soft, yet powerful nose delivering an experience that is just a joy using three such different and influential cask types is no mean feat. The nose on the 2006 was beautiful. Direct, robust and holding real depth. The Triptych almost makes it seem ordinary (by Foursquare standards). Its like comparing a three-piece band to an orchestra.

Mouth: This is a real experience. Soft enveloping amber liquid that is all encompassing. It has a beautifully velvety mouth-feel. Salty, sweet liquorice and pepper both initially and on the mid-palate. Talking of the mid-palate, the edges of your tongue almost curl as the oak announces its arrival….it takes the wheel for a good few minutes but its not overly dominant. Balance is the overarching feel to Triptych. Dry, tannic fortified wine accompanied by dates. Candied fruit peels. Apricot. Pickled Ginger. Toasted coconut. A definite sappy cedar wood. Floral wildflower honey. Its wave after wave of intense flavour. There is tropical fruit….maybe pineapple and banana. At the back end there is milk chocolate. It is a beautifully savoury / sweet Rum (thats sweet, not sweetened…never confuse the two). The finish is of a medium to long length….a dry oaken start progresses to salty-sweet liquorice and a return of the tannins and stone fruit. Again, characteristic of Bajan Rum for me is the trademark apricot vapour and its here.

Each barrel has its moment in the spotlight, tells its own part of the story. Certain elements grab onto certain areas of your tongue, pinging your senses and leading you on a journey. You absolutely could not create this experience using ‘short-cuts’….and thats what it is….its an experience. It takes the near perfect 2006 and just adds layer upon layer of complexity. Its more nuanced. More light, more shade. Sweet but never as sweet as the amazing Zinfandel and Port Cask. Even now, 5 weeks in I’m discovering more. I’ve not even added water….Did I mention just how unlike a 56% spirit this feels? It carries the intensity of a higher abv Rum but its maturity and balance make it a joy to behold.

Triptych is the mark of a Master Distiller and a Distillery rooted in tradition, devoted to doing things the right way. Building upon a desire to experiment, re-invigorated by the belief that others have placed in it and reveling in the impact that it is having on the industry and consumers alike. It is entirely on top of its game. Its ‘pulling wheelies’….not to impress….but just because it can. It is also sticking a middle finger up to the ‘Bajan rum is boring’ crowd.

I’ve struggled with this over the course of the 5 week period….dwindling my stocks of both Triptych and 2006 in side by side comparisons…..But I can hand on heart say, step aside 2006….there is a new benchmark in town……for now…..The amazing thing is, this wasn’t even the best Rum that I tasted on our visits to Foursquare….

© 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.

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Habitation Velier Foursquare 2015 Pure Single Rum

*Edit- 4 months in Ex-Cognac Barrel information added*

Yes you read that correctly….2015. This is unlike the 2013 that saw 2 years age in ex-cognac barrels. This Rum was produced using 100% Barbadian molasses and distilled at Foursquare on their twin retort pot still. This is your only chance to get to try such a lightly aged (4 months in ex-cognac barrels) 100% pot distillate from Foursquare. In fact it is the only one that has been bottled and released commercially…..I’m also quite hesitant to say that it is commercially available as I’ve not seen this bottle for sale…..anywhere. It was obtained as an open bottle from Luca Gargano (who also signed the bottle label for me) in the final Velier seminar at the 2016 UK RumFest….and I feel immensely lucky to have it. Now I have written previously about Foursquare releases and you can read more into their other releases here, here, here and here. The bottle was open with a small amount gone when I was gifted it and my subsequent tastings have taken it past the shoulders and I’ve put some time in with this Rum…..so I suppose it’s on with the tasting notes…
Habitation Velier Foursquare 2015 Pure Single Rum – 59% abv

foursquare-2015-bottle

 

Tasting Notes

Glass: The Rum as stated has been aged for 4 months in ex-cognac barrels. It presents itself as a light straw gold in the glass. Initial aromas are fresh, clean and acetone in nature. It is salty and ever so lightly floral. Brine and salty black olives are present and accounted for. It is everything I expect from a pot distillate. It is very pungent but extremely approachable. As the glass warms it brings a warming, creamy biscuity aroma. There is also a light smoke….almost burnt splints that we used to use to light Bunsen burners back in school. With water the acetone attack is dialed down a notch and the florals come to the fore, along with more of the creamy biscuity aromas.

Mouth: The entry is hot and peppery. Black olives and salty brine are very apparent. As the heat subsides a sweetness grows that is almost salty / sweet liquorice. It is a very oily proposition and is all-encompassing in the mouth with, for me, clearly defined effects on my palate. Oily citrus zips your cheeks whilst the peppery bite nips at your lips. All the while your tongue is bathed in salty liquorice with the slightest bitterness of treacle. With water the citrus is dulled but the black olives and liquorice remain on the growingly creamy and textured mouthfeel. The finish is of a short to medium length and is resplendent with liquorice, brine and the lightest bitter note.

This was another Rum that I had expected to be a ‘reference rum’ much like the Habitation Velier Port Mourant. However, I found the Rum to be such a flavourful proposition that I decided to put it to work in a few drinks. It excels in a Daiquiri and I also built an Old Fashioned. Tasting the drink as it diluted I felt that it needed a little help so added a drop of Doorlys 12 which added balance to the drink. A drop of Peychauds and Angostura Bitters also worked well.

foursquare-2015-old-fashioned

I think that Josh over at Inu A Kena summed it up earlier this week when he observed that ‘Being a Rum Nerd means that you reach a point where white Rums really excite you’. This was further commented on by Peter Holland from TFRS who said that ‘If a new make Rum has no taste interest, its highly unlikely that time in a barrel is going to significantly improve things’.

Both good observations. This Pure Single Rum is a massively exciting proposition. It contains insane levels of both flavour and aroma, the likes of which some longer aged products could only dream of containing. Can you just imagine how much complexity could be added to this Rum with time in the barrel? Well I have the 2 year old Foursquare 2013 still to come to these pages so I guess we’ll find out!

4-0-star

© 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.

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Rumfests 10th Anniversary is a Sell Out Success

*Press Release*

RumFest 2016

SELL OUT SUCCESS FOR RUMFEST 10

THOUSANDS OF RUM LOVERS JOIN THE UK’S LEADING RUM FESTIVAL FOR TASTINGS, MASTERCLASSES & 10TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS

Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd October 2016 
London’s ILEC, Earl’s Court

rumfest.co.uk

rumfest-2016-photo

Levi Roots with RumFest founder Ian Burrell at RumFest 2016

Thousands descended on London’s ILEC over the weekend for a very special edition of RumFest. Celebrating a decade of championing rum culture in the UK, organisers pulled out all the stops to mark the milestone with hundreds of rums from around the world and special guests including Levi Roots and Beach Bum Berry. Tastings, masterclasses and seminars gave an incredible insight into the world of rum for both newcomers and aficionados across the weekend, with the spirit of the culture brought to life with live music and RumFest’s renowned Carnival Hour. 2016 also saw the return of The Rum Auction raising over £4,000 for charity. Full details of the event can be found via The RumFest website.

Over 400 rums were on offer at this year’s RumFest, presented by distillers and blenders from all corners of the globe and all available to sip, savour, buy and take home. Well-known brands like Bacardi, St Nicholas Abbey, Diplomatico and Mount Gay showcased some of their lesser known gems while ticket-holders were given the chance to discover and sample newcomers like Cornwall’s own Dead Man’s Fingers and India’s Wild Tiger. Golden Tot tokens made a welcome return to give the more discerning drinker access to ultra-premium and rare rums, some of which retail for over £200 a bottle.

Those looking to heighten their knowledge of one of the most exciting spirits in the world, took part in intimate seminars and masterclasses over the weekend. Diplamatico presented some its newest releases and Mount Gay‘s master blender Allen Smith gave an exclusive UK first tasting of its limited edition pure pot still and column distillate rums. Sam Smallman of Rococo chocolates delved into Rum and Chocolate pairings in his third year at the festival, while newcomers were taught about rum tasting notes and vocabulary by Kim Lahiri to discover the key aromas in their favourite tipple.

On the main stage Saturday, RumFest founder Ian Burrell was on hand to take guests and bidders through rums on offer a the Rum Auction and a grand total of £4,000 was raised and all to donate to Max’s Foundation, a charity dedicated to helping detection of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and other heart conditions in pre-adolescent children. Celebrity chef Hasan De Four made a RumFest return and cooked up a storm to demonstrate how to get rum in the kitchen, while Jeff ‘Beachbum’ Berry told the story of the founding father of Tiki, Don the beachcomber. Sunday’s main stage hosted a takeover of the famous Levi Roots as he showcased a tasting of his new restaurant Levi’s Caribbean Smokehouse. The revered master blender Joy Spence was interviewed by Ian Burrell with a tasting of Appleton Estate rums and bartenders competed for a trip to Barbados in the fierce Doorly’s Rum Competition.

Kicking off the rum-fuelled weekend on the Friday, the trade-only Boutique RumFest returned for a seventh year providing a platform for the industry’s newcomers and independent brands. Rum wholesalers, distributors, buyers, bar professionals and importers congregated from as far afield as Panama and Japan, presenting the perfect opportunity to sample the next big thing.

Ian Burrell, Global Rum Ambassador and RumFest founder says, “We could never have predicted how successful RumFest would become when we started out all those years ago and what a ride its been. It’s great to see so many old faces back to join us in celebrating rum culture but also the new comers who are getting to know the spirit properly for the very first time. A huge thanks to the brands, blenders, ambassadors, speakers and rum lovers who came over the weekend, here’s to the next 10 years!”

*End*

We were fortunate enough to attend and personally think that it was one of the best years in terms of seminars and sheer variety of rums available. Something to suit everyone and with the addition this year of a Velier stand……it was pretty much heaven spread over a weekend. Our own write-up of the events from Friday morning until Sunday evening will follow once we’ve come down from the high of the weekend.

© 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.

Foursquare 2006

Here we go then……Velier’s Foursquare 2006….a first for Velier and also a first for Foursquare Distillery as it is their first release over 60% abv….62% abv to be precise.

foursquare-2006

I won’t go over old ground and grumble (well maybe a little) about the Rums release seeing the kind of speculation that is rife in the Whisky community spread to the Rum community. I’ll just add that I hope the guilty bunch will do the decent thing and use some of their shady gains to pick up and enjoy some of the less exclusive releases available from Foursquare Distillery. Whilst I’m still a little sore at not even having a fighting chance at getting a bottle, I am unbelievably glad that it proved to be ridiculously popular for Foursquare Distillery…and lets face it, it couldn’t have been predicted.

Anyway, moving on. Through the generosity of a certain Mr Henrik Kristofferson of Rum Corner, I now have the opportunity to try the Rum. Foursquare 2006 is a collaboration with Velier and is noted as being a ‘Single Blended Rum’. This translates to a blend of Pot Distilled Rum and Twin Column (Coffey Still) Distilled Rum from one distillery. Single (distillery) Blended (pot still and coffey still) Rum. The Foursquare 2006 has a full 10 years of tropical age with 3 years being in ex-bourbon as standard and 7 years being in ex-cognac barrels. As an aside, the Angels Share was >72%. Presentation is the standard Velier black bottle with the relevant information and nothing else contained on the bottle label and box (according to the images available). I was fortunate enough to bid on and win a bottle of the now unavailable Foursquare produced Mahiki Cognac Cask at last years UK RumFest auction and I picked up the Habitation Velier Foursquare 2013 which is a 2 year old Pure Single Rum which has also been aged in ex-cognac. This Rum with both its age and strength presents an entirely different proposition to those though.

foursquare-2006

Tasting Notes

Glass: The Rum is a really deep, almost boardroom table like mahogany and a swirl of the glass shows an obvious ring of tiny little droplets that are in no real hurry to return to the rest of the liquid. Initial trips to the glass give a robust and insanely deep, but never overbearing experience. It takes a few visits to acclimatise to the aromas but chocolate is the first obviously discernible aroma, quickly followed by dried fruit peels and vanilla. Time allows it to open a little more to give raisins, oak and an oily citrus reminiscent of flamed orange peel. Time also pushes the oak further forward and reveals a nuttiness. A drop of water makes the approach gentler and turn the aromas into spiced fruit cake and finishes with light floral notes.

Mouth: I won’t lie. Upon taking a sip and allowing it to envelop every bit of my mouth, my eyes roll back and a smile begins to appear on my face such is the immense delight contained within that first sip. Straight away the oak is very apparent along with a little menthol vapour. Chocolate coated raisins and a sherry like nut and stewed fruit follow. Your entire palate is powerless to avoid falling under its spell. It has the robustness of the Velier Demeraras that I’ve tried previously with the gentler side of the fruitier Foursquare offerings. Further sips bring liquorice, dark stone fruits and a peppery spice. Oily citrus shows just before it starts to dry out….and boy does it dry out…..it also becomes quite tannic but not unpleasantly so. The medium to long finish is all warming chocolate initially which develops into salty liquorice and drying oak. Right at the back-end something vaguely ‘soapy’ fades in but it is not unpleasant. A little water brings out the floral qualities and gives that familiar peachy vapour that I experience frequently in Foursquare offerings.

I’m so glad that I’ve had the briefest of chances to experience this Rum due to the kindness of others…..its just not enough though….the sample is gone and I need to locate and own this Rum…..I just have to. Whether from a completest angle or just because I want to experience that initial sip time and time again.

As you know, I don’t score or mark Rums on this site…..but if I started to do so, other Rums beware….this is the yardstick by which all other Rums from Barbados will be measured. For me its flawless….and lets face it, there is only one producer that can top this offering…..and that is its creator.

sugar-cane-score-5

© 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.

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London Rum Experience Week and RumFest Shenanigans

rum experience no dateGiven the huge amount of Rum based events going on in the lead up to this years UK RumFest, there is a high likelihood that if this performance is repeated next year we may have to take a short-term rental in South West London! We thought that by making the trip on Thursday morning clutching our Rum University and RumFest tickets that we would be experiencing a lot……but in truth we didn’t even scratch the surface. What we shall attempt to do though is talk you through some of the more standout points of our 2015 RumFest experience!

Friday morning saw us grab a cup of tea take a seat on the comfy sofas in the lobby of the Ibis Hotel. We were soon joined by John Coelho-Charles, Helena Tiare Olsen, Keegan Menezes, Robert Burr and Paul Yellin. Much chatting ensued with topics as varied as Santeria Rum, the weather and the strange fruit on offer at the street market outside of our hotel……As we sat waiting, Ian walked into the lobby, made a b-line for the sofas and greeted us all. Good start. A short while later due to London traffic (among other things) we clocked Tito Cordero enter the building which meant that Rum University could start. We were all ushered into one of the seminar rooms off the main hall with a few of us taking a cheeky glimpse of the exhibition space being set up for the weekends fun.

IMAG1033The Diplomatico Rum seminar kicked things off with a really open insight into the sheer range of distillates that can be produced at DUSA. Now irrespective of your opinion on the Rums produced and sold under the Diplomatico brand, they have a pretty special collection of stills at DUSA….and we got to hear about all of them.

Next up was a pretty special olfactory seminar presented by Kim Lahiri of Aroma Academy. It was all about reconstructing the aroma profiles not deconstructing them which is done via Aroma Recognition and Aroma Vocabulary. Very interesting and enlightening stuff. After a quick break for lunch which consisted of the amazing Fish n Chips from the on site pub….(just ask Helena for a review) we were into the afternoon session.

IMAG1051 (2)The afternoons learning opportunity was provided by Richard Seale of Foursquare Distillery who led with his own rather brutal assessment of the current state of the industry and a real insight into alcohol plants vs spirit production. He also brought proposals for the future classification of the Rum category. A proposal in conjunction with Luca Gargano that would see Rum categorised as follows:

  • 100% Pot Still (Pure Single Rum)
  • Pot / Column (Single Blended)
  • Column (Coffey Still)
  • Multi-Column

 

IMAG1049Off the back of this we got to try the upcoming Habitation Velier Foursquare 100% Pot Still release…..dazzling doesn’t quite cover it.

The seminar ended with a little food for thought….’Not all Rums with added sugar are bad…..but all of the bad ones will have added sugar’. A very interesting day spent and a learning opportunity that we will be looking to undertake again next year! We were then released into the quite amazing Boutique RumFest……

 

 

 

 

 

Boutique RumFest

This year saw some absolutely amazing Rums on display and the experience is probably best dealt with via a series of images….

Bushtea Rum

IMAG1052Bush Tea Rum is more of a botanical Rum….distilled in the UK it was quite a unique proposition and something that tasted quite different in a world of very ‘samey’ spiced Rums…

 

 

Ekte Rums

IMAG1053Coming from Denmark and with Daniel Nunez Bascunan at the helm, the range of Rums available was great with our particular favourites being the Light & Dry (Barbados and Trinidad) and Pungent & Geeky (Jamaica and Barbados). We really hope that these get a UK release as we are mad keen to try them again.

 

Bristol Classic Rum

IMAG1056

We were so so pleased to see the guys from Bristol Classic there. We are big fans of their output and the releases on display didn’t disappoint. Of the bottles on display, we already own the Worthy Park 8, Diamond Distillery 2003 and Foursquare 2004. Standouts were the simply sublime Port Morant 25yr, Haiti 2004 and Mauritius 5yr.We hope tobe able to pick up a few more Bristol bottlings over the coming year.

 

 

 

Hamilton Ministry of Rum Collection

IMAG1059This collection was quite simply stunning. The St Lucian 9 yr 100% Pot Still at 66.7% abv (which we fortunately ended up leaving with the remains of) is an absolute triumph, once again singling out St Lucia Distillers as one of the better current producers. Produced by their John Dore still it is an absolute melting pot of flavours and a real demonstration of a beautiful pot distilled Rum. We also have to say that the Jamaican Gold and Jamaican Black were no slouches either. Both from Worthy Park, the only difference is the addition of extra caramel colouring. We also got to meet Ed Hamilton too which was definitely one to tick of the list! European bottlers were being sought on this visit….though sadly not for the St Lucia 9yr as Ed’s allocation has all already been bottled.

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Matugga Rum

IMAG1063These guys were a real standout for us. 100 % Pot Still Rum distilled here in the UK. There is a real signature profile running through both the Gold and Spiced with a real hit of smoke which keeps things interesting. We predict good things in 2016 for these guys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Leaves Rum

IMAG1066The Nine Leaves range of Rums from Japan have been on our list for a while and we finally got to try them. Three interesting cask finished including quite a powerful Cabernet Sauvignon Cask and an American Oak Cask were all very different and all offered something unique. As expected the wine cask was very heavy on tannins and not for everyone but I quite enjoyed it. The real star though was the Clear which displayed once again, a really large amount of character as a result of the fermentation and pot distillation. One to pick up in the future.

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Rum Nation

IMAG1068We are already quite familiar with a lot of the Rum Nation releases but it was great to see their Rums on display there. The new Caroni 1999 was another accessible Caroni from them and now resides on our shelves.

 

 

Hampden Estate

IMAG1071Hampden Estate were also present, or should we say that Christelle was present. We are more than aware of Hampden Gold which has no age at all but a hell of a lot of flavour. What struck us was the amount of flavour carried by Rumfire even given its 63%…..we don’t own it yet but we will be looking to pick it up soon.

 

 

Other exhibitors of real note were the sublime offerings of Worthy Park Rum Bar Rum, the amazing Real McCoy and St Nicholas Abbey with their slightly more mature 5yr and sugar cane syrup. A great evening where we also bumped into our friend Sian…this years Boutique really trumped last years (which was also good) and we came away from the event with a real sense of a proper progression and new direction for the event with an emphasis on a few more independent bottlers really helping shake things up.IMAG1074 (2)

RumFest 2015

Again, a series of images seems way more appropriate than paragraphs attempting to sum up what a photograph can do quite easily.

After the disappointing sweetness of the first Angostura No1 release (red), the second Angostura No1 release (purple) really redeems itself with such a beautiful concentration of flavours and a dryness that is really very appealing

After the disappointing sweetness of the first Angostura No1 release (red), the second Angostura No1 release (purple) really redeems itself with such a beautiful concentration of flavours and a dryness that is really very appealing

Sean Duprey giving us a little lectured tasting of Angostura Rums

Sean Duprey giving us a little lectured tasting of Angostura Rums

The Bacardi shack was again another highlight. So well presented and this year with an emphasis on Ocho (Bacardi 8) and its versatility

The Bacardi shack was again another highlight. So well presented and this year with an emphasis on Ocho (Bacardi 8) and its versatility

A few selected serves to highlight Bacardi 8.....the Old Cuban was particularly good

A few selected serves to highlight Bacardi 8…..the Old Cuban was particularly good

Pussers....just yes. We know the range, we love the range, we got to try the range...you NEED Gunpowder Proof in your life....and the new blue label at 40% is no slouch either

Pussers….just yes. We know the range, we love the range, we got to try the range…you NEED Gunpowder Proof in your life….and the new blue label at 40% is no slouch either

Great to meet George again and to see him getting so passionate about Pussers

Great to meet George again and to see him getting so passionate about Pussers

Matugga Rum proved to be a real head turner and a massive hit and Jacines Rum Cake was phenomenal

Matugga Rum proved to be a real head turner and a massive hit and Jacines Rum Cake was phenomenal

Matugga Golden.....a really pleasant hit of smoke running though it

Matugga Golden…..a really pleasant hit of smoke running though it

Don Q Gran Anejo......a really really great example of a well made and very flavourful lighter column spirit

Don Q Gran Anejo……a really really great example of a well made and very flavourful lighter column spirit

Tiburon Rum brought their own Jack sparrow look-a-like to the event (pictures further down)....whilst we're not huge fans of pirate based japery....it was good fun nonetheless

Tiburon Rum brought their own Jack sparrow look-a-like to the event (pictures further down)….whilst we’re not huge fans of pirate based japery….it was good fun nonetheless

Our Rum of the Year thus far.....the Foursquare Port Cask

Our Rum of the Year thus far…..the Foursquare Port Cask

Steven eavesdropping on a deep discussion between two greats....Richard Seale and Dave Broom...

Steven eavesdropping on a deep discussion between two greats….Richard Seale and Dave Broom…

The next cask finish release from Foursquare....Zinfandel Cask....so unbelievably delicate and candyfloss like

The next cask finish release from Foursquare….Zinfandel Cask….so unbelievably delicate and candyfloss like

Richard magically producing a bottle of their first cask strength release.....it was way more delicate than you'd think and carried with it some amazing aromas and flavours

Richard magically producing a bottle of their first cask strength release…..it was way more delicate than you’d think and carried with it some amazing aromas and flavours

A real divider of opinions.....Mauritius Club...full on Bakewell tart in a glass.....I'm quite a fan

A real divider of opinions…..Mauritius Club…full on Bakewell tart in a glass…..I’m quite a fan

The new Gold Of Mauritius 5yr....Solera in this case merely means multiple barrels. It carries the same salty, nutty, chocolate profile as Gold just with a more balanced finish given a few years in oak...

The new Gold Of Mauritius 5yr….Solera in this case merely means multiple barrels. It carries the same salty, nutty, chocolate profile as Gold just with a more balanced finish given a few years in oak…

The range of Mezan releases presented by Eaux de Vie....the Guyana 2005 just had to come home with us

The range of Mezan releases presented by Eaux de Vie….the Guyana 2005 just had to come home with us

Lambs....their Alfred Lamb Cask Selection was absolutely beautiful

Lambs….their Alfred Lamb Cask Selection was absolutely beautiful

Botran....we are fans of the range here and it was great to reacquaint ourselves

Botran….we are fans of the range here and it was great to reacquaint ourselves

The anniversary release....very limited quantities.....the Rum was great and the experience of using the Spice and Citrus essences was a really good experience

The anniversary release….very limited quantities…..the Rum was great and the experience of using the Spice and Citrus essences was a really good experience

The seminars were also great fun this year too. We got to attend two separate versions of the Velier Seminar with the charismatic Luca Gargano and we also got the opportunity to attend the Rhums of Martinique Room with Jerry Gitany and Benoit Bail which was a great experience……

House of Velier Seminar(s)

Luca Gargano stating to warm up...

Luca Gargano stating to warm up…

Luca in full flow...

Luca in full flow…

Probably the most charismatic man that we have ever met....so much passion for Rum and all that it entails. An absolutely wonderful series of seminars giving great insight to the Rum, the man and his motivation...and of course we got to try some amazing Rums

Probably the most charismatic man that we have ever met….so much passion for Rum and all that it entails. An absolutely wonderful series of seminars giving great insight to the Rum, the man and his motivation…and of course we got to try some amazing Rums

Star of the show....the Habitation Velier releases...Foursquare 100% Pot Still

Star of the show….the Habitation Velier releases…Foursquare 100% Pot Still

Star of the show....the Habitation Velier releases...Forsyths 151 proof

Star of the show….the Habitation Velier releases…Forsyths 151 proof

Star of the show....the Habitation Velier releases...Forsyths Pot Still

Star of the show….the Habitation Velier releases…Forsyths Pot Still

Star of the show....the Habitation Velier releases...Forsyths Pot Still

Star of the show….the Habitation Velier releases…Forsyths Pot Still

A quite phenomenal Caroni.....

A quite phenomenal Caroni…..

Rhum Rhum Liberation 2012....version integrale

Rhum Rhum Liberation 2012….version integrale

Barnali and Luca....the shot that we could use....

Barnali and Luca….the shot that we could use….

Steven and Luca.....how big should we make the canvas print of this one?

Steven and Luca…..how big should we make the canvas print of this one?

 

Rhums of Martinique Room

Jerry and Benoit giving the introduction....

Jerry and Benoit giving the introduction….

These guys must be at the forefront of experimenting with cask finishes....some really interesting HSE expressions to try

These guys must be at the forefront of experimenting with cask finishes….some really interesting HSE expressions to try

These guys must be at the forefront of experimenting with cask finishes....some really interesting HSE expressions to try

These guys must be at the forefront of experimenting with cask finishes….some really interesting HSE expressions to try

Jerry extolling the virtues of Rhum Neisson....we are now believers!

Jerry extolling the virtues of Rhum Neisson….we are now believers!

We were fortunate enough to pick a bottle of this Rhum Neisson expression up....so so good

We were fortunate enough to pick a bottle of this Rhum Neisson expression up….so so good

Every one of these expressions carried something interesting and flavourful....

Every one of these expressions carried something interesting and flavourful….

Onto Benoit and Rhum Saint James.....quite beautiful expression this one....another that we were able to pick up and bring back with us...

Onto Benoit and Rhum Saint James…..quite beautiful expression this one….another that we were able to pick up and bring back with us…

...and this expression was an absolute delight....

…and this expression was an absolute delight….

Onto Trois Rivieres.....

Onto Trois Rivieres…..

We really enjoyed this expression....

We really enjoyed this expression….

...and this was beautiful....very well rounded

…and this was beautiful….very well rounded

Having only ever tried La Mauny Blanc, we were very impressed with what the range had to offer....

Having only ever tried La Mauny Blanc, we were very impressed with what the range had to offer….

This being the particular stand out expression.....

This being the particular stand out expression…..

Emilie finishing off with a 'Ti Punch....or several....we are really going to miss her when she moves....

Emilie finishing off with a ‘Ti Punch….or several….we are really going to miss her when she moves….

Group photo.....Jerry, Benoit, Emilie, Audrey and Paul Yellin getting in on things....

Group photo…..Jerry, Benoit, Emilie, Audrey and Paul Yellin getting in on things….

Steven with Benoit and Jerry.....we finally got to meet these guys and can't wait until our paths cross again...

Steven with Benoit and Jerry…..we finally got to meet these guys and can’t wait until our paths cross again…

That pretty much concludes the photo tour of this years RumFest….as far as previous years go…there was a real focus this year on the hot discussion topic of ‘real rum’ and the seminars and exhibitors really did reflect this. Sure there were a few big hitters missing but our time was fully spent getting to talk to the exhibitors and to be honest if there had been a third day we would have had just as much to do and to see.

In terms of standout Rums from the Boutique RumFest and RumFest, we have several. The Rum Bar offerings from Worthy Park, Gold, Overproof and Rum Cream were all outstanding. Matugga Rum made a big impression on a lot of people including us. The Ed Hamilton Ministry of Rum Collection was a joy to try. The Ekte Rums and Nine Leaves also impressed us a lot. The new Foursquare releases have us VERY excited and the upcoming Habitation Velier releases are going to inspire some Rum Pokémon in us (Gotta Catch Em All). All in all, 2016 is lining up to be very exciting and very expensive!

We couldn’t sign off though without a story and a few pictures of the great friends that we met again and also met for the first time. We met a couple from the US, Timothy and Louann Mace who were very complimentary about this site and in fact used our updates on RumFest to plan their trip over here to the event which was great to hear as its good to know that we are pitching the right content…and that it is useful!

Barnali with Captain Jack

Barnali with Captain Jack

Steven with Darius and James from Trilogy Brands and Fred from Gold of Mauritius

Steven with Darius and James from Trilogy Brands and Fred from Gold of Mauritius

Ian and Helena....

Ian and Helena….

Steven judging his first cocktail competition in great company...

Steven judging his first cocktail competition in great company…

We finally got to meet Johnny...

We finally got to meet Johnny…

Steven with John and Kevin....

Steven with John and Kevin….

We couldn't leave this one out....Steven with the awesome Andy Abrahams...

We couldn’t leave this one out….Steven with the awesome Andy Abrahams…

Rum people truly are great people

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