We are back on the subject of St Lucia Distillers again for the third post in my mini series on the distillery. Again, to refresh yourselves on the background of St Lucia Distillers, Chairman’s Reserve and Admiral Rodney Extra Old St Lucia Rum please click on the links.
Now you’re all refreshed and in possession of the history of the distillery, we can talk about not one, not two, but three expressions of this celebratory Rum. 1931 by St Lucia Distillers. As you will have noted the first post on St Lucia Distillers, the Dennery Distillery in the Mabouya Valley was commissioned in 1931 by Denis Barnard on the site of his family plantation and Rum was produced there until the merger of the Dennery and Roseau Distilleries and subsequent formation of St Lucia Distillers in 1972. The St Lucia Distillers 1931 Limited Editions are produced using some of the finest aged stock at the distillery in commemoration of this date. Currently there are three editions. 1931 Edition 1 was released in 2011 to celebrate the 80 year anniversary and was the first Rum to qualify for the Deluxe Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque. 1931 Edition 2 was released in 2012 to celebrate the 81 year anniversary and also possesses the Deluxe ACR Marque. 1931 Edition 3 was released in 2013 to celebrate the 82 year anniversary and again, possesses the Deluxe ACR Marque. Quite unique in their own right being blends of varying ages, cask finishes and if rumour is to be believed with the imminent Edition 4, varying styles!
It makes sense then that a little information should follow about each edition, so here goes.
St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 1 – 43% abv. My bottle is number 5330, is from Batch 01 and was bottled on 17th May 2011.
This release celebrates the 80th Anniversary and is a blend of 9 casks containing distillates from their three Pot Stills (John Dore 1, John Dore 2 and Vendome) and their two column Coffey Still. These casks were judged to contain some of St Lucia Distillers finest Rums and their ages varied from casks laid down in 2004 to older distillates laid down in 1999. Of the 9 casks used, 7 were American White Oak (ex-bourbon) and two were Port Casks. The distillates were blended and then placed back into American White Oak for 3 months to allow them a period to marry prior to being bottled. To echo the methods in use in 1931, only light filtering was used prior to being bottled to preserve the blends integrity. No chill filtering took place. This Rum also has the honour of being the first Rum to qualify for the ACR Deluxe Marque.
In the glass: The Rum is a beautiful burnished gold with hints of deep mahogany. Straight away the pot still element is massively evident, even before pouring. There is also a touch of smoke billowing out of the glass as the Rum settles. Raisins and dates are apparent as is a real nose tingling astringency. Molasses, toffee and vanilla also fight for your attention. That pear drop element from previous St Lucia Distillers releases is there too and it is rounded out by more smoke and the time that components of this Rum have spent in oak is very prominent as this accompanies the smoke. That astringent tingle is still there too.
In the mouth: Straight away you are struck by the medium / heavy body of the Rum. Again the pot still component hits you like a truck. There is nothing gentle about that element. Oak, those raisins and vanilla are very prominent. Further sips, especially when held in the mouth for slightly lengthy periods reveal grapes, orange oils and chocolate. The Rum is sweet initially, not overly so, and dries out nicely but not excessively. It is a warming Rum with peach, banana and smoke staying with you in the form of the vapours left in your mouth. The pot still really carries this Rum and introduces honey roast nuts too. The finish is medium / long and starts with pot still but it then runs the gamut of peach, vanilla, banana and finally finishes with a smoky leather. The oak is not as dominant as it is in the Admiral Rodney, but it is there.
St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 2 – 43% abv. My bottle is number 9652, is from Batch 02 and was bottled on 23rd July 2012.
This release celebrates the 81st Anniversary and is a blend of distillates laid down in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and includes casks containing 100% Coffey Still distillates matured in a combination of American White Oak and Port Casks, 100% Pot Still distillates from their three Pot Stills and 50/50 blends of Pot and Coffey Still distillates matured in American White Oak. The distillates were blended and then placed back into American White Oak for 3 months to allow them a period to marry prior to being bottled. Again, only light filtration was used.
In the glass: Again the Rum is a gold with mahogany. Maybe a shade lighter than the first edition. Straight away it is the pot still that hits you with a toffee and butterscotch sweetness. There is none of the astringency of the first edition. Oak is also a factor though again, not as prominent. Dried banana chips, apple pieces and the smallest wisps of smoke are holding it all together. Hazelnuts, the slightest hint of raisins and a light bourbon cherry are present. This is a better experience on the nose than the first edition as that astringency doesn’t limit your time with your nose in the glass. Molasses and a light chocolate round the experience out along with that pot still component.
In the mouth: Pot still again leads from the front like a battle hardened bruiser of a man! The port effects are way more prominent on this Rum along with that drying oak taking the edge off the sweetness. This has a heavier body than the first edition (for me) and there is a big hit of molasses accompanied by a touch of chocolate. Vanilla and a touch of smoky oak are in there and the dried bananas are also in the mix, but I can’t find the apples that I had in the glass. The finish on this one is very long. It is all caramel, oak, pot still, a little chocolate, grape and vanilla and it dries to an oaky, tobacco and leather finish.
St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 3 – 43% abv. My bottle is number 11416, is from Batch 03A and was bottled on 28th July 2014.
This release celebrates the 82nd Anniversary and is a blend of distillates from the three Pot Stills and the two column Coffey Still. The casks that were chosen were judged to contain some of the finer Rums produced by St Lucia Distillers. The Coffey Still distillates were matured for 6 and 11 years and the John Dore Pot Still distillates were matured for 14 and 15 years. A blend of Vendome and John Dore Pot Still distillates aged for 10 years is also utilised. Additionally, a 7-year-old Port Cask matured Coffey Still distillate and a 7-year-old Port Cask matured John Dore Pot Still Distillate are used. Quite a collection which just displays the sheer amount of distillates available at the distillery. The distillates were blended and then placed back into American White Oak for 3 months to allow them a period to marry prior to being bottled. Once again as with the previous two editions, only light filtration was used.
In the glass: The Rum is a dark gold with amber flashes. As is the common theme, that pot still punches you straight away but this time there is also something medicinal! It is very much like the flavour found in the Rockley Still Rums from Barbados. It sets it apart from the first two editions for me. Oak, vanilla, honey and more of that apparent port astringency from the first edition is back. The Rum feels creamy and has a tobacco and warming chocolate edge to it with that pot still underlining all of the other flavours.
In the mouth: The sweetness is the first thing that hits me on this one along with that medicinal Rockley Still element. Pear drops are back alongside some milk chocolate. There is something savoury on the back of my tongue when the Rum has gone. Almost buttery and salty. Red apples accompany the astringency along with grapes, red wine, oak and a little tart note. Again the finish is long and wrapped in port, vanilla and oak and it doesn’t dry as much as the others. The aftertaste is smoky oak and that medicinal note.
St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 1 and 2 blend – 43% abv. 25ml of each in a bottle and left to marry for a period of one week.
This is my own silliness and has been done to satisfy my own curiosity as a conversation with a nameless person at a nameless expo may (or may not) have revealed that a blend of the first two editions may (or may not) be the components of an exclusive release.
In the glass: The astringency of the first edition has been calmed. This is very mellow and has vanilla, molasses, bourbon cherry, chocolate and hazelnuts. It is also very creamy though somewhat dulled.
In the mouth: This is ridiculously smooth. None of the slight roughness of the individual components. Pot still is there but strangely it is not the dominant factor. Raisins, honey and oak are in there and the finish is a medium / long one full of oak, vanilla and pot still. Some of the individual stand out components of each of the two editions as individuals have been lost by blending. It is however smooth, warming and quite decadent. It will go down very easily and be a bit of a crowd pleaser but it’s just not as interesting as the individual Rums and therefore doesn’t hold your attention for as long.
As this is a comparison tasting of all three editions, unfortunately you clearly need all three of these Rums in your collection. They each represent how good St Lucia Distillers are at making the most of their individual components. They are all flavourful, interesting Rums in their own right and they offer a solid experience, especially when tasted together as you really do then appreciate how different they are but also how they have a shared heritage.
If I were to buy only one of the three editions though (or recommend a bottle to you), it just has to be the 1931 Edition 2. It has all of the good, but none of the astringency. To choose a runner-up is more difficult. I really like both of the other editions but I’m a sucker for that little bit of a medicinal note in a Rum so I’d put 1931 Edition 3 in second place but that is purely personal preference as I also love 1931 Edition 1. But of course, 1931 Edition 4 is due for a release, and that is rumoured to contain agricole from St Lucia Distillers own grown sugarcane so that will add a further element into the mix! Just know that whichever edition you pick up, you will have made an excellent choice and have a lot of enjoyment from the bottle. If you have experience of any of these releases, please share your opinions.
For the purposes of full disclosure, throughout the whole of this series, which is not sponsored in ANY way, I have personally purchased the entire Chairman’s Reserve Range (multiple times), Admiral Rodney (multiple times), 1931 Edition 1 and 1931 Edition 3. I was supplied with a third of an opened bottle by Emporia Brands (shared with Simon Difford I believe) of 1931 Edition 2. Each of the three Editions of 1931 will set you back between £55 and £65 each dependent upon where you pick them up from. 1931 Edition 1 is all but gone n the UK with no further supplies expected. What is on sale is all that there is. Supplies are still there of Edition 2 and 3. I seemingly purchased all but my favourite, so I guess I’ll have to go online shopping again!
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