Duncan Taylor Single Cask Rum – St Lucia 2002 – Cask 5

Duncan Taylor are an independent bottler of (mainly) whisky, and in their own words:

“Duncan Taylor & Company has ownership of one of the largest privately-held collections of rare scotch whisky casks. The company has been “laying down” casks from premium Scottish distilleries for decades and has, in recent years, made its branded products available to whisky connoisseurs throughout the World.

Duncan Taylor has its origins in Glasgow where the company was initially a merchant and broker of Scotch Whisky casks within the Industry. Devotion to the principle of providing only the finest casks to be filled at Scotland’s leading distilleries has been a key feature of the company’s history and this tradition of building an outstanding portfolio of only the finest scotch whiskies is being maintained to this day by the current owners.

When the company moved its headquarters to the North East of Scotland, close to Speyside – Scotland’s largest whisky producing region – it also took the decision to focus on the production and marketing of its own brands and to cease the “brokering” of whisky in cask form to Distillery companies and Independent bottlers.”

They are also celebrating 80 years of business, being founded in 1938.

Duncan Taylor bottle many Rums, mainly at cask strength or close to cask strength. Having whisky as their origin they do not chill filter and they bottle with natural colour. Now I have numerous bottlings from Duncan Taylor spanning Jamaica, St Lucia, Guyana and Fiji. I also have one of their own Caribbean Blends. Up for review today though is one of their St Lucia offerings.

Duncan Taylor Single Cask Rum – St Lucia 2002 – Cask 5 – 52.6% abv

You can have a read of my previous writings on products from St Lucia Distillers here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Phew. Now you’ll be fully versed with St Lucia Distillers, we can continue. As the label states, this Rum was distilled in September 2002 and bottled in September 2013 giving it 11 years of (assumed) Continental age. Bottled entirely from Cask No 5 which yielded 242 bottles, this has been bottled at 52.6% which I can only assume is cask strength. Though others have questioned bottle yield with assumed angel share and assumed barrel size to potentially arrive at a different number insinuating that it may not be cask strength. I personally can’t say I’m too bothered to dig into that. Of note is the fact that this Rum is Pot distilled. Now St Lucia Distillers have 3 Pot Stills, the John Dore I, John Dore II and Vendome. Given the date of distillation of 2002, that would point towards the John Dore I still as it is the only one that was commissioned at that point. It is also the smallest of their batch stills with a capacity of 1500 litres.

John Dore I on the left

Vendome Pot Still centre, John Dore II behind, John Dore I left

Tasting Notes

Glass: The Rum displays as a dark straw gold  in the glass. Heavy. Medicinal pot still. A little diesel and a dose of creosote. All the good stuff. Sticking plasters and antiseptic cream. A hint of menthol and mint. Quite grassy too. Rubber and acetone back up the medicinal quality of the nose and time in the glass allows the merest hint of savoury vanilla and sticky grilled pineapple. Citrus oil. Whiffs of sweet smoke. It has quite a fresh and nuanced nose that gives more and more over time like the merest hint of barrel influence. A brine and salty quality is ever-present and is rounded out with a hint of powdery icing sugar. A few drops of water and half an hour in the glass adds enamel paint and sugarcane.

Mouth: Very heated entry with the smallest and short-lived hint of sweetness in the form of floral wildflower honey before the dryness shoulder barges its way in. Mint. Creosote. Petrol. Oily but not viscous. A thinner mouthfeel than expected but it does cling on, mainly in the vapours. Almond brittle. No really influential barrel notes can be picked up through the peppery heat. Liquorice. Olives and salty feta cheese. If its possible for Rum to morph into a molasses based offering from Guadeloupe mid-palate, this one does. Bringing with it pickle vinegar and ginger puree. A few drops of water push the sweeter elements to the fore with chocolate, dialed down brine. Less mint. More menthol.

Quite a long finish starts out relatively sweetly with the sugary minty residue from the bottom of a poorly made mojito and wildflower honey but again this dries to leave a grassy sugarcane and mild vanilla. Maybe some almonds. The medicinal pot still note announces itself again bringing to mind any number of Rockley ‘style’ Rums…..but for me never hitting the flavourful heights of them.

It is St Lucian Pot Still Rum at its most identifiable from first nosing. It is everything that I like about St Lucian Pot Still Rum. I would love to see more barrel influence that would come with tropical age and although it’s probably completely off the table given the new owners, a release of cask strength tropically aged individual still offerings from St Lucia Distillers would be welcomed with open arms and wallets by the geeky Rum crowd. Its good, almost very good, but it just lacks that light and shade that I think tropical age would offer.

3.5 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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 2013 – Pure Single Rum

Whats that you say? Another Foursquare Rum review…..another piece of the jigsaw. This time its a follow-up to its rarer and younger relative the Habitation Velier Foursquare 2015 Pure Single Rum.

You can read about that Rum here…..and just do a search for Foursquare in the search box to find out plenty more about the distillery and its Rums.

Forsyths Twin Retort Pot Still

This Rum was distilled at Foursquare on their twin retort Forsyths (with added Green Engineering whistles and bells) pot still and then matured for 2 years in ex-cognac barrels. As is usual with the Habitation Velier bottles, the information on there is amazingly comprehensive as we’ve been informed that the loss to evaporation in that 2 year period has been >15%, that the rum has not been chill filtered, is natural colour and is released at barrel proof with no dilution. Obviously, it is sugar-free.

Habitation Velier Foursquare 2013 – Pure Single Rum – 64% abv

Habitation Velier Foursquare 2013

Tasting Notes

Glass: The Rum is a pale gold apple juice in colour. Initially there is quite a bit of white pepper. It’s very punchy and up front….its definitely not shy. Immediately I get Rhubarb and Ginger crumble. Oaty and nutty aromas. Mild olives and salty brine. Preserved lemons and a hint of acetone. There is surprisingly not a huge alcohol attack, just a heavy delivery of aromas. Lotus biscuits, vanilla. The Rum is full and very oily….maybe even waxy. A hint of raisins and dried guava pieces. Doing my usual blowing into the glass reveals a beautiful marzipan quality to the vapour. This has only been matured for two years remember…..crazy stuff.

Mouth: A powerful, oily entry wrapped in warmth and sweetness. It is initially quite biting and that brings black pepper and salted liquorice…..maybe even a hint of liquorice root. A little bitterness but some real grip on the tongue, quite a fruity and grassy mid-palate. That oily citrus returns to tease your saliva glands before the anticipated brine and olives bathe your entire mouth. It takes on a savoury quality that sits at the back of your throat with a vegetal note before the vapours give way to peach and dried tropical fruit. The shortish finish is salty sweet caramel, liquorice and even has a mild amount of smoke. Very enjoyable.

After the initial punch you have to keep reminding yourself that this Rum is so young (though with tropical age probably hitting 5 years if it were a whisky) and at such a high abv as once acclimatised it’s even more approachable. It brings the sweetness of a young well crafted Rum, the weight that you expect from batch distillation and the level of flavour that a Rum of this maturity just shouldn’t have…..a nod perhaps to the choice of ex-cognac barrels. Quality french oak used not to gain anything from that famous cognac heritage, but to gain all from the quality of wood. Punchy? Yes. Powerful? Of Course. Approachable? Surprisingly so. Flavourful? Like you wouldn’t believe. Just the remaining taste in my mouth is taking me back to the aromas around the still and that tap that was turned to allow us to experience freshly distilled Rum at Foursquare. I would love to experience this Rum with a few more years on it as it has world domination stamped all over it. Another hit……like we expected anything else.

4.5 / 5

An example of Pure Single Rum that can trade punches with some tasty Jamaicans. Buy this while you can as there is still availability…even in the UK. £85 for a two-year old Rum? It’s so much more than the sum of its years….it offers development, aroma and flavour that some can spend a lifetime failing to achieve. Judge it on its merits and pick it up. It warrants your attention.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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.

West Indies Rum & Cane Merchants – Asia Pacific XO

A relatively new one to me, I happened upon a series of releases from West Indies Rum & Cane Merchants on one of my usual online Rum haunts. Intrigued first by the unusual bottle shape, I spotted their French Overseas XO which blends distillates from both Martinique and Réunion….unfortunately this was sold out. I then happened upon the Asia-Pacific XO which blends Rums from Indonesia and Fiji. When I heard Indonesia I immediately thought Arrack! Intrigued. Then with Fiji I’m immediately drawn to the pot still out put of South Pacific Distillery which can be pungent as hell….and all the more enjoyable for it. I immediately added it to my collection. Only upon tasting the Rum did I request information, and the website seems to be the best location although that is severely lacking.

The website says:

“Asia-Pacific XO Rum is a blend of rum produced in Indonesia & Fiji, crafted from molasses and distilled using column stills then aged in ex-bourbon casks. A very limited release of 2,000 bottles worldwide”

There is mention of Indonesian Rum which I have assumed to be Arrack which is a sugarcane (molasses) distillate that is fermented with red rice cake but of course I could be wrong. I’ve found information online about the Indonesian component being only from molasses and distilled on a direct fired tin still prior to maturation / resting in large vats made of Jati (Teak) wood. There is also mention of column stills…..South Pacific Distillery (owned by Coca-Cola) operates two pot stills and a 3 column continuous still for Rum production along with a 4 column continuous still for the production of neutral spirits. I’d assume that this has been blended to order from E&A Scheer so hopefully there may be other information available out there.

Not much else exists information wise so we’ll go straight into it….the information that I do have tells me that it is all natural colour and does not have additions….I’ve tasted nothing here that would tell me otherwise.

West Indies Rum & Cane Merchants – Asia-Pacific XO – 43% abv

Tasting Notes

Glass: Reluctant is the key word here. You need a lot of patience to uncover anything. The Rum is quite sharp and noses like a young whisky. Powdered sugar sweetness. It becomes quite earthy. Wet cardboard. A light rosemary herbal note. Light olive and salty brine. White pepper. A very fresh alcohol nose. I’d be surprised if there is anything older than 3 to 5 years in here and with continental age. Not a bad thing, just lacking that something. Freshly cut green peppers and firelighters round things out.

Mouth: This is much better than the nose. Quite a ‘full’ mouth-feel. Sweetness leads with a very mild fruity guava and banana, though this is very much a savoury rum. It dries (or should that be dies) relatively quickly and is very sulphury. Soft liquorice. Brine. Black olives. A freshly opened bag of charcoal. If this were a whisky it’d be deemed not ready. The finish is short and confused. All of the palate disappears and leaves alcohol, freshly struck matches and pepper. No obvious oak influence of note. The empty glass aroma is tutti-frutti sweets.

I really wanted to enjoy this Rum….and for brief moments I do. On paper this should be an exciting proposition but it’s so unfocused, haphazard and pulling in entirely opposite directions that it just falls apart. I feel as though the components are of good quality but they have been used before they’re ready. Given more maturation this could be a real winner. It’s just very reluctant to shine. Not bad, just a little boring at the moment.

2 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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

Don Q Signature Release Single Barrel 2007

I’ve written about the core Don Q range including the Single Barrel 2005 but minus the recent Spiced addition (which I still need to grab) previously and you can refresh yourselves  by clicking here if you wish.

Now the Don Q stand at the 2017 UK RumFest gave us a little insight into two great things…Firstly the Rum that I’ll be looking at today…Don Q Single Barrel 2007….and the quite frankly mind-blowing Don Q Double Aged Vermouth Cask Finish which is a 5 to 8-year-old Rum finished for 4 to 6 weeks in 600 litre Mancino Vecchio Vermouth casks and its pretty crazy stuff with the fact that it is a multi-column distillate playing in its favour. This will be released in the UK hopefully before summer.

Alexx kindly displaying the Vermouth Cask – UK RumFest 2017

Don Q Signature Release Single Barrel 2007 – 40% abv

This is very similar in principle to the Single Barrel 2005. The explanation behind use of the ‘single barrel’ term is that all of the Rum in this limited release was from the same 2007 distillation which would then be split between the pre-requisite number of ‘similar’ barrels to carry the volume. Each barrel would then bottled individually so rather than each bottle containing the vatted blend of all barrels from the 2007 distillation, technically each barrel has its own series of bottles. There is again no way to know which barrel the bottle that you have is from. Mine is bottle 47, 823….so not too limited. Bottled in 2016 makes this a 9-year-old Rum. The same distillation process is employed as the majority of the range but this time there is a component from the Vendome Single Copper Column (taken off the still at 75%) and given the discussions recently regarding congener levels, potentially quite high in congeners. It is again bottled at 40%.

Multi-column set up and Vendome Single Column at Destilería Serrallés

Tasting Notes

For reference I carried out the tasting process with a glass of 2005….it quickly became apparent that this was a different animal and the 2005 as not my reference…

Glass: Immediately different to the nose on the 2005. The 2007 feels a lot heavier. It’s actually, as far as column rum goes, quite the bruiser. A lot of heavy astringent oak up front. The light whiff of freshly burnt wood. A hint of tropical fruit is carried on the vanilla notes, though the vanilla notes are subdued by a little sulphury note. There is even a slight unleaded petrol aroma to the nose. This all gives way to powdery cocoa and coconut chips along with a very obvious hazelnut. I’m not aware of the ratio of single column to multi column in the Rum but its clear that the single column has a real influence….and its a good move.

Mouth: Lip-smacking entry. Peppery and dry. The oak has real teeth and it shows them straight away. This gives way to a light, floral sweetness followed up by burnt brown sugar. The mid-palate is all drying oak and spice. Nutmeg, cloves and an ‘earthy’ turmeric root. It has the pepper and spice of a rye whiskey. There is also a slight soapy note. The medium length finish brings a spicy, throat tingling heavy oak, dark stone fruit and freshly cut vanilla pods. Right at the end there are poached pears studded with cloves.

4.5 / 5

This is clearly a step up in experimentation from the 2005 and is all the better for it…though the 2005 was no slouch. This even surpasses the Gran Anejo for me which was my previous benchmark…..its a real treat. Maybe a touch higher abv would be welcome….a bump up to 43 or 46% for a special release would be ideal. That said, this is £35 a bottle and very well priced for the enjoyment within.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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 Principia Single Blended Rum – Early Thoughts

Now I’ve not been fortunate enough to obtain a bottle of Principia yet…..I do however have a generous friend that visited an even more generous distillery owner in late December and I now have about 25-30ml of Principia to bring you my initial thoughts. We were fortunate enough to first try Principia when we visited Foursquare Distillery in March 2017 and were instantly blown away. We then had another chance to try it over two days at the UK RumFest in October 2017 and were further impressed. Now it has been bottled and I assume shipped over to Velier in Italy, we can hopefully look to obtain a few of the available 5400 bottles.

Principia Sample – Foursquare Distillery, March 2017

Foursquare Principia Single Blended Rum – 62% abv

Luca and Richard…You can clearly see the amazement in Luca’s eyes – UK RumFest 2017

Principia is another result of Foursquares ‘double maturation’. It is a Single Blended Rum that has seen 3 years in ex-bourbon barrels and then 6 years in very old Oloroso barrels. No ‘finishes’ here. It’s quite standard for Foursquare to use Oloroso barrels but its their double maturation technique and the length of time that they are left to mature in those differing barrels that Foursquare do so well. It’s all just so well judged and must have taken a hell of a lot of foresight given the list of upcoming releases from the distillery. So without further ado…..

Tasting Notes

Glass: The colour is dark burnt amber. Oily citrus bursts out of the glass. A very apparent oak. Pencil shavings. Spice and black pepper. The oak is the backbone dragging with it deep dark stone fruit. As noted on my very first tasting back in March 2017, this is very full but so soft and approachable. A bag of mixed fruit and hazelnuts. Burnt toffee and the mildest hint of milk chocolate.

Mouth: It sings on initial entry. Its all that you want it to be. A classically crafted Foursquare sweetness gently wraps itself around your tongue bringing with it its robust but surprisingly soft sherried wood. Don’t think sherry as in the massive taste of sherry….its no hybrid abomination…far from it. Very old Oloroso barrels have been used and its the seasoned quality of the wood that is being sought, not necessarily heavy sherry influence. A jar of homemade blackberry and raspberry jam and the tartness of Ikea Lingonberry preserve. It has real grip as the oak begins to dominate the mid-palate….but its never aggressive…in fact quite the opposite. Its moisture sapping yet fruity and the alcohol is so well-integrated in the grand scheme of things that you would never guess this was 62%…2006 shows its heft way more than this. Tannic and peppery with plums, dried prunes and hazelnuts. It has a persistent oak led finish that grows in heat and dryness. Dried fruit and nuts abound. Even the empty glass is a delight to smell.

To be revisited, initial impression score………..

Yep….Its maybe the best, most complete Single Blended Rum that I’ve tried to date…though I think that Destino may offer up some resistance.

To be honest, Richard has taken Single Blended Rum production and innovation to a point now where he’s only competing with himself. It’s a competition between Foursquare Distillery releases to see which can be the best one…..and that changes with every subsequent raising of the bar. For now, that mantle falls to Principia…its the real deal.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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

Manchester Rum Festival Returns For Its Second Year

*Press Release*

MANCHESTER RUM FESTIVAL RETURNS FOR ITS SECOND YEAR

Manchester Rum Festival to host round two at Manchester Cathedral

Manchester Rum Festival, the cities only official festival of its kind for the rum category, is returning Friday 1st June 2018, heading to the iconic Manchester Cathedral.

With the 2017 launch of Manchester’s first dedicated rum festival turning out to be a sell-out success, organizer and owner Dave Marsland of Drinks Enthusiast has turned to the historic venue to house over 75 brands of rum from all over the world, a dedicated cocktail bar for classic signature serves, and the chance to purchase via local independent retailer Riddles Emporium’s on-site shop.

Tickets for the festival go on sale Tuesday 28th November at 9am, priced at £20 for the full session, and will be available via the official Manchester Rum Festival website.

The festival will be a weekend long affair, with the main festival positioned on the Friday 1st, whilst the Saturday and Sunday will offer up a host of rum focused events, tastings and cocktail specials. The return of the rum brunches will see city centre venues collaborate with the likes of Chairman’s Reserve from St Lucia, whilst the cities tiki bars and cocktail haunts will work their Caribbean magic by putting on festival special menus for the weekend.

New Polynesian venue Mahiki will be hosting the official Manchester Rum Festival after-party on the Friday evening, kick-starting what Dave hopes to be a weekend of rum interaction between novices and enthusiasts across the city.

For more information on the current exhibitors and extra events, please visit www.manchesterumfestival.com

Manchester Rum Festival can be followed on Twitter @McrRumFestival

Facebook and Instagram at ManchesterRumFestival / ManchesterRumFestival

*End*

Having attended and enjoyed this years event immensely, we can’t wait to see what Dave and helpers have lined up for 2018……The Rum brunches are also well worth checking out! Keep an eye out and with last years event selling out in a matter of hours, grab your tickets quickly!

© 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

 

The Whisky Barrel 10th Anniversary Berry Bros. & Rudd Ltd 19 Year Old Caroni

My dealings with The Whisky Barrel thus far have been limited although I did pick up one of the bottles in their 10th Anniversary collection….it was a particularly hefty 6-year-old Laphroaig. This Caroni represents the fourth release in the collection….and the first Rum. The intriguing thing is that they have chosen a Caroni….maybe they feel that it will resonate with whisky fans given that it is a closed distillery and the notes contained within may find favour with the whisky crowd…..or maybe they just enjoyed it. They have also paired up with Berry Bros. & Rudd who will be familiar to most. My experience with BBR Rum releases have seen all of them presented at 46% abv. What we are fortunate enough to find here is a substantially aged (continental age) Caroni at a far heftier abv. I have written about a few other  continental aged Caroni’s and have given a little background here and here…..What I have personally found is that demeraras and Caroni both suffer when continentally aged and presented at a sub-45% abv for the most part with a few Bristol bottlings of each being the only examples that I find do not fare as poorly……so I’m glad that we are in the 50’s with this release. I will state now that Caroni releases are far from my favoured Rums of choice. Even with the five Velier releases that I own, some I like and others I’m really not fond of at all. They run the gamete of typically oily, fuel like Caroni and my favoured style which has more apparent fruity notes bursting through. But what will this Rum offer.

The Whisky Barrel 10th Anniversary Berry Bros. & Rudd Ltd 19 Year Old Caroni – Cask # 165 – 55% abv

So what we have here is no-nonsense presentation of Cask #165….a 55% continental aged Caroni. But it’s what in the bottle that counts.

Glass: Mahogany / maple syrup in colour. Quite oily. Initial notes are immediately typically Caroni. Tar. Oil. Petrol. Not as heavy as expected though. Fortunately this is also displaying fruity, citrus oil notes. Burnt orange peel. It’s also a little ‘hedgerow’ too. Freshly picked blackberries and raspberries that have squished in your fingers. Light vanilla, powdery cocoa and pencil shavings. It’s also quite spicy with medicinal clove oil and fennel seeds. It’s unmistakably Caroni but the other more favourable aromas fight through. I’m left with the aroma of spent BBQ embers the next morning.

Mouth: There is an up front sweetness that is very short-lived as this is a very hot sip. Creosote bursts though and leaves a treacle bitterness. A little bonfire toffee and caramel. This gives way to a cooling eucalyptus vibe. It’s also quite earthy. Once acclimatised there are sappy, cedar notes bringing that hedgerow fruit and fresh apples. Medicinal clove oil. I’m enjoying the fruity character….a lot. It has waves of complexity. Salty, medicinal, fruity, bitter, Caroni. The finish is quite long and starts salty and briny. Preserved lemons, a whiff of smoke, drying oak. That familiar oily tar and creosote show up to round things out.

I always struggle with Caroni. Whilst I can appreciate a Rum, some are not what I would consider Rums that I would buy again and enjoy. This however has impressed me. I am genuinely considering buying one of the 310 available bottles…..that is if there are any left. It has enough fruity character to make me enjoy repeated sips and it has enough Caroni to make me recoil in horror. Its balanced and that is a rarity in continental age Caroni. I can see myself enjoying this Rum immensely, and that alone for me and a bottling of Caroni is worthy of praise.


© 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