Foursquare Hunte’s 10 Year Old Reserve Rum

This is not a rum that you’ll find readily available….I’ll get that out of the way immediately. It is only available for sale at Hunte’s Gardens in Barbados. So, if you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in Barbados…..and you really would be fortunate as the island is beautiful….you should definitely take a visit…not only for the Rum but for the gardens themselves. As for Foursquare, you absolutely should visit the distillery too. I have, about 4 times over two visits to the island and if you’d like to read more then a quick entry into the search box would turn up plenty of results.

Located in Saint Joseph Parish which is on the east side of the island and about halfway up, Hunte’s Gardens is like heaven on earth. Based on the working side of the old Castle Grant Plantation which used to process sugarcane, as you walk through the gate you’ll cross over the old sugarcane weighbridge before hearing the classical music which permeates the gardens and sets the tone perfectly. Formed in the remains of a sinkhole created by a cave collapse in the limestone the gardens stretch into the distance below you and the trees stretch far up above your head.

You’ll walk down steps into numerous small private gardens each with a ridiculous amount of plants, flowers, water features and stone statues of varying sizes. Tropical fern and flower lined brick pathways welcoming you with small stone pineapples meander up and down, sometimes to dead end secluded areas and sometimes linking to more open spaces where the palm trees stretch up towards the sun.

At the end of your walk around the gardens you’ll walk up towards Anthony Hunte’s house, passing a few surreal rooms that appear to be frozen in time.

An engaging character, Anthony will tell you about the gardens and you’ll be amazed at just how few people were responsible for its creation. It is here that you’ll find the Rum to purchase by the bottle or the glass……and purchase it you should.

Foursquare Hunte’s 10 Year Old Reserve Rum – 43% abv – Single Blended Rum

So here we have it, a blend of both batch and continuous distillation on Foursquare Distillery’s Pot and Coffey Column stills  matured for a minimum of 10 years in ex-bourbon barrels prior to bottling at 43%. We’d assume that it’s been chill filtered and it has caramel for colour uniformity. This on the surface of things looks to be a very similar proposition to R.L Seale’s 10….but how similar will be revealed as I’ll be sitting with a glass of the 46% export proof for comparison.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Immediately that familiar Foursquare Barbadian nose hits you. Vanilla. Caramel. Warm buttery shortcrust pastry. Plenty of nuttiness and light peppery barrel spice. Coconut is definitely present as is quite an obvious cocoa powder. The oak brings a warming woody backbone to the nose and this encourages the coconut and chocolate to become more influential casting aside the nutty quality in favour of a slightly sweeter approach with Marshmallow and a little orange-y citrus note. Mild coffee notes round things out.

Mouth: The initial entry is quite dry and spice led. This is backed up with short lived heat. Coconut water and coconut milk are the first impressions with just a hint of freshly cut peach. Big on the cocoa with just a hint of almond. Buttery pastry and vanilla custard. The coconut milk and chocolate lead into the warming spicy mid palate with its drying quality and heightened oak bringing vanilla, pepper and ginger. Very warming, very comforting. A hint of raisin and molasses leads into the medium length warm silky woody finish that brings back coconut chips coated in chocolate. Sugared almonds. Classic freshly cut peach is joined by peach vapours at the back end. The coconut water rises up and washes over your tongue right at the death. Well balanced and clear in its delivery.

In conclusion: Priced very well at $70BDS ($35 USD) which at the time was about £25, this Foursquare Hunte’s 10 Year Reserve Rum offers a classic experience of Barbadian rum, and in particular Foursquare Rum with its real poise and balance. Rum’s to compare would be the 43% and 46% R.L Seale’s 10. Both of these are 10 years old with full tropical maturation. Both are single blended rums. Both are priced around £35-£40 and I have no doubt that is where this rum would be positioned were it to make it here. In fact I had a glass of the 46% with me for comparison. Where the R.L Seale’s sits on a little more heat and is more nutty in its profile with dialed down cocoa, this Hunte’s 10 Year Reserve is all about the chocolate and coconut. My preference probably sits with the export strength R.L Seale’s 10 at this point due to the nutty quality and its slightly higher abv but lets be honest…. what’s not to like? Quality Rum at a steal of a price that you can only obtain by visiting the beautiful island of Barbados and walking around a tropical garden. Sounds like heaven. I think that we’ve more than established at this point that Foursquare Rum Distillery just don’t make bad rum….and if you obtain distillery matured and bottled products you absolutely cannot go wrong.

4 / 5

As a side note, I’ve also seen a photograph of an amended label design….but the Rum hasn’t changed….You know that the completest in me will be visiting in November to grab the updated label.

© 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.

Foursquare Empery – Single Blended Rum

The Foursquare Rum Distillery Bottling Facility

Firstly, I know that readers of this page have previously indulged me by reading my previous articles about Foursquare Rum Distillery……but for anyone new to the site, I have covered releases from Foursquare Rum Distillery quite extensively on these pages and you can either put your own search in the “search box” or click here to read a little more about them. A little earlier this year we were fortunate enough (but our wallets were not) to be blessed with a flurry of releases from Foursquare Rum Distillery. The new Exceptional Cask Selection marques IX and X, Empery and 2007 were joined by the surprise Private Cask Selection Whisky Exchange exclusive which was Hereditas. Our wallets were also even further depleted by the Velier distributed Foursquare Patrimonio. A further surprise was that three out of those four releases were ex-Oloroso Sherry & ex-bourbon barrel matured. The BIGGEST surprise however was that each of the three releases was 14 years old and each had seen a mix of 14 years in ex bourbon and 10 years maturation in ex-bourbon barrels before a further 4 years maturation in ex-Oloroso sherry barrels. Surely Foursquare had just released the same Rum under three separate names with differing labels? Why even bother to do this? Well, this series of releases in a lesson in blend ratios, cask management and the effects of barrels with differing histories. Refresh yourselves with a look at my reviews of Hereditas and Patrimonio linked above and then come back to read further about Empery. Empery has also been written about by my friends over at thefatrumpirate and Rum Revelations and both are worth a look….obviously after you’ve read the review below.

Bonded Warehouse No. 2 at Foursquare Rum Distillery

Foursquare Empery – 56% abv – Single Blended Rum

Bottled in December 2018, Foursquare Empery Single Blended rum is composed of two elements. A Single Blended Rum matured exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels for a period of 14 years and a Single Blended Rum matured for 10 years in ex-Bourbon barrels before transferring to first fill ex-Oloroso Sherry barrels for a further period of 4 years. These components are then blended and rested prior to being bottled at 56% abv. No colour. No chill filtration. No nonsense.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Straight away the Rum announces itself with plenty of wood on the nose. Big, bold, damp old wood. It’s a nose that immediately hints towards plenty of complexity to come. It doesn’t shun the familiar either as this is clearly Barbados in character, just bringing a little more to the table. Fruit is definitely present and accounted for….raisins and sharp dark berry compote hint to the time in oloroso barrels but less so than Hereditas which is a “Sherry-bomb”. The oak binds itself to a little chocolate and walnut…perhaps reminiscent of old school walnut whips (before they became smaller and when they contained more marshmallow)….Vanilla is certainly present as is some barrel spice, crystallised ginger and warm orange peel but they sit behind a growing black cherry note bringing with it the chocolate sponge of a Black Forest gateau. A little beeswax sits on the back end with the continued warmth of the fruity perfumed oak. It is such an approachable glass of Rum that opens up very well in a very short space of time.

Mouth: Warming, slightly spicy and with minimal heat and fuss…this again is a big mouthful of action with plenty of grip. Less fruit than the nose led me to believe initially but it comes. Time brings a little sweetness and a tart black currant jam. Raisins and molasses. Sherried notes are there but the wood is more dominant bringing dark chocolate. The mid palate is all about the depth of oak. Woody, very drying and bringing a fair bit of spice such as black pepper and fiery ginger…..maybe even some leather and tobacco notes. Toasted coconut. Along with this comes a little bitterness from the oak but it’s not out of place. The long warming finish brings quite a lot of wet wood, spice and ginger heat before the berries, bitter molasses and raisins come through. A little sweetness begins to return at the back end. It’s very rich and velvety…Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate with fruit and nuts…..a hint of coconut. The barrel and the fruit are quite well balanced here and it’s complexity and enjoyment relies upon this balance….it can tip towards a little arid at times but it never falls off that cliff.

In conclusion: On the nose I genuinely believe that Empery is my favourite of the Oloroso trio that includes Hereditas and Patrimonio. If Patrimonio is defined by wood and Hereditas is defined by the Sherry notes, Empery is a perfect blend of both. On the palate it also seems to be the more balanced of the three and it feels a little lighter in blend make up, perhaps less pot still, I don’t know. It definitely drinks the easiest of the three as the bottle count will show. I’m two in on Empery and one in on Hereditas and Patrimonio.

What this series of three releases have shown us is that whilst on the surface things may be the same….maturation time, cask type, batch and continuous blend….in reality the ratios of batch and continuous, the prior history of the barrels and 2% difference in abv can produce such varying end results. It’s perhaps a lesson in looking deeper and further than the label alone. I genuinely thought that I wasn’t a sherry guy and didn’t need a cupboard full of the “same” rum…..how wrong I was. If Hereditas is the sherry bomb, and Patrimonio is the oily, barrel driven Rum that plays the long rewarding game then that makes Empery the quick out of the blocks crowd pleasing structure that spans the two camps. Approachable yet complex and rewarding. It’s also the least expensive of the three. Patrimonio just shades it….but only just.

4.5 / 5

© 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.

Rum Exchange Jamaica Trelawny Rum

Rum Exchange is Facebook Group that was created by Andreas Isopp to, you guessed it, provide a platform for bottle and samples trading…..but much more than that, it is also a company that was set up to facilitate the introduction and selling of Rums that not considered ‘mass market’. They take complete control of the import, trade and distribution of these brands and products. They provide a link between producers, retailers and consumers.

Two bottlings have formed their inaugural release under their own Rum Exchange brand name. Release #001 is the one being reviewed here today, the Rum Exchange Jamaica Trelawny Rum and release #002 is the Rum Exchange Jamaica St Catherine Rum. Now you don’t need to be a genius to read between the lines on the distilleries for these two releases but we’ll play the game.

Both Rums have been sourced from and bottled by 1423 in Denmark who are behind the SBS series amongst other things. They both have a percentage of distillery based tropical climate maturation and non-distillery maturation in the climate of continental Europe. Tropical maturation has been in ex-bourbon barrels whereas the continental maturation has been in ex fortified wine barrels. But lets get down to business.

Rum Exchange Jamaica Trelawny Rum – 61.5% abv – Pure Single Rum

This Rum, a release of 355 bottles (mine is number 85) is a Pure Single Rum from Hampden Distillery in Jamaica. Distilled in 2013 it saw 3 years of distillery maturation in ex-bourbon prior to being shipped to Denmark and spending a further 2 years in an ex-oloroso barrel. It was bottled in May 2019 at a bruising 61.5% abv. Presentation wise I like the squat square bottle. Sits well on the shelf and pours well. The artwork is definitely of note with the image depicted being Banana Plantation by John Dunkley who was a Jamaican sculptor and artist (the labels were the work of Jordan Harper who is an all round nice chap who I first met on the British Bourbon Society Facebook page). The label is also keen to state that the rum is free from sugar and colouring which hints that those oloroso barrels were VERY influential!

Tasting Notes

Nose: Heavily sherried. It’s all raisins and fruitcake in the early exchanges with added Quality Street toffee pennies and a dollop of Cartmel toffee sauce. The brightness and depth of the Jamaican Rum does fight through after a while though. Its funky….but not balls our high ester funky. A little astringency follows, not unexpected given its relative youth. Candied Pineapple. Caramelised Pineapple sugars. Banana bread. Quite sweet with a hint of bitter burnt sugar. As the Rum warms in the glass there is a little spicy oak influence bringing barrel notes of pepper, an earthy turmeric and maybe a hint of fenugreek seeds. It also becomes slightly nutty. It draws you in as this is complexity that some may think was unexpected….but lets not mix up maturity with age. It continues to gain momentum and its complexity starts to win you over.

Mouth: Youth and abv definitely show themselves initially. Its hot and a little prickly. This gives way to an initial savoury assault of roasted root vegetables. Smoked cheese. A little wood influence brings spicy ginger root before the sherried notes kick in. Pineapple juice fights through. The mid-palate has stone fruit. Quite a bit of bitterness. Molasses. Treacle toffee. Pickled balsamic onions. The spice begins to grow. The finish is mildly sweet with pineapple upside down cake but the savoury muscles in. Smoked cheese. Pickled onion Monster Munch. Reds Kansas BBQ sauce with a little sweet smoke.

I tried this a few weeks ago in an online tasting with Johnny Michaelsen of Spirits People. We tried a little water in the glass. Maybe enough to take it down to around 55% abv. We both found that this dulled the experience and it lacked a little robustness maybe due to a relatively short time in the barrel or the mixed maturation locations but it all kind of unraveled and became too dull an experience so we both added more Rum to the glass to bring the abv up again.

All in all an interesting take on a Hampden and it is definitely different enough, in a good way, to make this a worthwhile purchase. All too easy is it to allow the fortified wine barrels to suffocate the distillate and although the sherry is robust, it doesn’t ruin the experience. Not a classic representation of Hampden, but its tasty stuff.

4 / 5

© 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.

Foursquare Patrimonio – Single Blended Rum

Its been a hell of a few months financially…..and not in a positive way. Everything seemingly dropped at once….the new Exceptional Cask Selections, Doorly’s 14, the surprise of Hereditas, Worthy Park 12 and the new Habitation Velier releases. Sometimes thats just how it happens…..but we can’t forget the release of Patrimonio….even though it felt like it was on the boat for a hell of a long time. One of three partially ex-Sherry matured Foursquare releases that appeared in quick succession. I hadn’t considered myself a person needed that many ex-Sherry Rums in my collection but I duly picked them all up. Hereditas (linked in the opening sentence) was the second bottle that I opened after Empery. I really enjoyed Hereditas as you will see from my review, but at the time of writing this I am probably enjoying Empery more given the bottle fill levels. They are both different beasts, which is where this trio of releases becomes interesting. From the same origins, and the same upbringing, in the same climate, we see such differing results……maybe I did need ‘that many’ ex-Sherry Rums after all. Foursquare have made good use of ex-Oloroso barrels in some of their previous and ongoing releases. Doorly’s XO sees a secondary maturation of at least a year in them, Premise sees its three years in ex-bourbon complimented by an additional 7 years in ex-Oloroso and now we have the three new additions. Often seen as a relatively ‘new’ thing to do,  Foursquare Rum Distillery are at the forefront of the successful use of fortified wine barrels. These things are viewed by some as breaking away from the ‘norm’ of ex-bourbon barrel maturation, but in actual fact its the other way around. Deliveries of Port, Madeira and Sherry would’ve been made to Barbados, and to avoid shipping empty barrels, unaged Rum would’ve been sent back in them. It makes sense to use what is available. I was fortunate enough to attend the ‘Rum Tasting of the Century’ last year and I was able to try the 1780 dated Harewood House Rum. Now that Rum was definitely young, and it definitely displayed the effects of fortified wine barrel maturation. I allude to this in my write up of the event. Ex-bourbon makes sense now given the ease of transportation plus the rules of engagement for Bourbon stating that the barrels can be used once. Anyhow, enough waffling. Lets get down to the serious business of trying Patrimonio.

Foursquare Patrimonio – 58% abv – Single Blended Rum 

Patrimonio, as you will see above, means ‘Heritage’. Perhaps referring to the heritage of Barbados Rum in both the use of Batch and Continuous distillations to create the Rum and also the use of Sherry Barrels.

Distilled in 2004 and bottled in 2019, Foursquare Patrimonio Single Blended rum is composed of two elements. A Single Blended Rum matured exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels for a period of 14 years and a Single Blended Rum matured for 10 years in ex-Bourbon barrels before transferring to first fill ex-Oloroso Sherry barrels for a further period of 4 years. These components are then blended and rested prior to being bottled at 58% abv. No colour. No chill filtration. No nonsense. 6000 bottles were produced so hopefully more people get to experience the Rum. I first got the smallest taster of Patrimonio right at the end of the 2018 UK Rumfest on the Sunday. I was walking out of the room and happened to pass Richard who duly poured me a small drop. I had been tasting Rums all day at that point and all that I recall muttering was “Wow thats soft. Sherry? What abv? Late 40’s?”. Was my extremely ‘fatigued’ palate anywhere close?

Tasting Notes

Nose: A little astringent in the nose when first poured. I’ve found that Patrimonio needs more time to acclimatise and reveal itself that Empery or Hereditas….even though there is only 2% abv between them. It also presents itself as an oilier proposition. Plenty of wood up front and a hint of smoke. Deep dark and brooding damp oak. It’s not overly dominant though, merely announcing itself at the start of the journey. Familiarity muscles in with the classic Foursquare notes of vanilla and a hint of butterscotch. Time brings a touch of fruit and nut milk chocolate. Warm Crema Catalana with a crispy caramelised brown sugar topping. The nose on this rum is continually developing over time, it’s more an experience than an easy and immediate pour. There is also a hell of a lot developing from the barrels on the nose here with plenty of coconut and black pepper spice. Stewed stone fruit. Mixed raisins and peel. Glazed fruit cake with toasted almonds. It remains an attention holding rum with developing tobacco notes, more wet wood and an almost candied boiled fruit sweet note as it sits in the glass.

Mouth: Very big and very oily mouthfeel. A little heat from its 58% but nowhere near the level one would expect from a 58% spirit. In actual fact is pretty soft in its approach. It’s also a chewy rum and one that drinks far more instantly than the nose suggested….but the time spent nosing definitely affords the rum space to stretch its legs and develop. A beautiful sweetness washes over your palate bringing with it baked apples with a mincemeat filling. Solid and moist Christmas fruit cake. Candied citrus peel. There is a developing Demerara sugar note too. The mid palate is dominated by a growing and increasingly more forceful wet oak that excerpts an almost arid dryness on your palate. Less spice notes from the barrel, though they are there. The deep sherried notes appear and cast a little pleasing bitterness that is fully aligned with the robust oak. Tart fruits….cranberries and fresh raspberries, maybe a hint of gooseberry. Ripe Victoria Plums. The continual drive from the wood brings forth the vanilla, coconut and cocoa notes found on the nose. Pan de Higo from the crazy Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona. Continual glass visits bring a little growing bitterness from the fruit and barrel influence but that is expertly balanced by the ubiquitous sweetness of vanilla, coconut and cocoa. The finish is long and entirely consistent with the palate which is quite wonderful. The addition of a more prominent assertion of the tobacco notes during the final exchanges is joined by powdered liquorice root and a whiff of burnt splints.

Balance seems to be critical with Sherry Cask Rums and is very well displayed with the trio of recent releases. They are an example of how from very similar origins of ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso, three connected but differing experiences can be created. The sherry casks, whilst all are first fill, have differing backgrounds. But how do these differing experiences come about? Temperatures can vary in the beautiful partially open sided Ageing warehouses at Foursquare. Maybe this causes more exchanges through the barrel in certain locations, maybe differing pot/ column ratios were used, this release definitely feels a little oilier and heavier. I don’t know. What I do know is that through 2006, Triptych, Principia, both Destino releases, I have been suitably impressed by the quality and experience found within these bottles. Triptych with its faultless blend of three differing oaks, Principia with its 6 years in ex-Oloroso, Destino with its 2 years in ex-Madeira all offered so much. Then we have the one that set the benchmark for all subsequent bottlings so high…..Foursquare 2006 with its 3 years in ex-Bourbon and 7 years in ex-Cognac. Patrimonio for me, is the one that can rival the experience of the legend that is 2006. A faultless display of rum making utilising traditional techniques and perfectly employing the heritage associated with historical maturation of Rum in Barbados. All of this is being done in a fully compliant manner with the proposed Barbados Rum GI which some are calling stifling and a barrier to innovation…..Amazing eh…..

5 / 5 +

© 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.

Whisky Auctioneer Random Rum Tasting

A little bit of a strange one but just run with it……Back in May, the website Whisky Auctioneer held their first dedicated Rum Auction. They decided to do this as they believe that they had seen a significant rise in the number of Rums being entered in their regular monthly Whisky Auctions. As a result of this and to promote their auction at the time, a few writers were asked to write a series of notes about bottles that were to be entered into the auction. Different writers received different bottles. I received a suitably eclectic selection and I had sat on these notes for a few months to ensure that I wouldn’t be posting information on bottlings that would never see the light of day anywhere. But truth be told, I have seen close to all of these bottles pop up on Auction sites in the past few months and some are readily available still so I thought that this would be worthwhile sharing. No real background information, just quick fire tasting notes……so here goes.

Ron Zacapa Centenario Etiqueta Negra – 43% abv – Modern Rum

Nose: Quite confected. A caramel bitterness. Noticeably viscous due to the post distillation additions. Creme Caramel. Wood influence is minimal. Milk chocolate. Prominent coffee notes.

Mouth: Very sweet entry. Almost no alcohol from the spirit which is a slight worry. Palate remains consistent with the nose. Caramel. Fudge. Milky coffee. Chocolate milkshake. Bitterness and a touch of wood influence on the relatively short finish that adds darker chocolate notes to the palate.

Just disappointing. Similar to others in the range to be honest. The extra 3% abv helps lift it above something that you’d expect a child to drink but it’s just dulled due to the additions. Even a nip of harshness from young alcohol would be welcome but it drinks like boozy chocolate milk.

0.5/5

 

Havana Club 15 – 40% abv – Modern Rum

Nose: Classic longer matured a Havana a Club nose. Prominent honey and vanilla pod. Milk chocolate. Sweetness. A lot of sweetness. There is also a sour note. Tobacco is definitely hanging around but it’s nudged out of the way by the over zealous sweetening and honeyed notes.

Mouth: Honeyed entry carrying a light floral but syrupy sweetness. There is a touch of spice backing this up. Fresh green apples. Vanilla. Cocoa. Sweet wine like notes. The finish is of medium length and is what I now expect from Havana Club. A little peppery barrel spice, mild tobacco and milk chocolate.

I don’t really touch Cuban Rums nowadays, and this is a classic example of why. They’re a touch “samey”. They have hints of promise but fail to deliver consistently for me. Nose outperforms palate close on 100% of the time.

1.5/5

 

Velier 70th Anniversary Chamarel 2010-2014 – 56.5% abv – Vatted Single Rum

Nose: Heavily spice driven. Fennel seeds. Fenugreek. A hint of jeera. The vibrancy of fresh cane and the sweetness that it brings. Cinnamon. Black pepper. There is also a growing anise note reminiscent freshly cut fennel. Dusty wood, vanilla and red bean paste.

Mouth: Very spicy entry with the full heat of the alcohol hitting hard. Quite apparent fruit carried on the sugarcane notes. Hazelnuts. Lots of dusty oak and wet cardboard. Celery. Definite notes of chicory and the associated bitterness. The finish is led by growing wood spice, drying oak and the ever present cane notes. Not hugely complex but it drinks well.

I fortunately own a bottle already. Not massively complex but it’s spice led approach work and the experience is pleasant. It’s a good drinker.

3/5

 

Velier Enmore 1987 Full Proof – 56.6% abv – Traditional Rum

Nose: Quite a bit thinner than expected. It’s a little spirity and there’s certainly a touch of fuel about it. Conference pear slices with fresh cream. Mid palate brings chocolate. Powdery cocoa. Royal icing. Cookie dough. A hint of spice and wet wood.

Mouth: It hits with a lot of heat and a lot of spice. Citrus oil. A saline like quality. Caramelised Sugar. Vanilla. Creme brûlée. Light wood. Plenty of pepper. Candied citrus peels. Raisins. The finish fades and is the sum of its parts with light oak, vanilla, cocoa and mixed raisins and peels.

I found this too ‘spirity’ and not forthcoming…I also found it lacking in depth.

2/5

 

Damoiseau 1980 (Damoiseau Release) – 60% abv – Traditional Rum

Nose: Full on medicinal heaven. Sticking plasters. A lot of depth. Cough sweets. Liquorice. Bronchial cough mixture. It carries heft but is remarkably approachable. It plays very nicely. Time brings a developing fruity character. Black cherry yoghurt. Sour cherries. Victoria plums. A hint of florals and a cologne like nature that brings a sharper aspect and allows spiced oak to show itself.

Mouth: Medium body and carrying a pleasant mouth coating oily quality. The bitterness of a classic tropically matured Demerara. Liquorice sweets and liquorice root. Warm prunes. Sweet and bitter in equal measures. Bourbon cherries and an almost dairy quality. Quite medicinal still as on the nose and the mid palate brings cloth sticking plasters, salted Dutch liquorice and stone fruit. The finish just goes on and on. It remains consistent with the beautiful depth of liquorice, stone fruit, bitter / sweet interplay. Kop kop sweets. Cough mixture. A hint of salinity grows. This is a very, very good rum.

If I could afford it….I’d buy it. It hits so many sweet spots for me. Medicinal. Liquorice. Stone fruit. Saline. Floral. It’s why I love the Bellevue independent bottlings. A deep, flavourful and aroma packed delight.

4.5/5

Preparing these notes was good fun spread over a week of tasting. Some were instantly forgetful, some were good drinkers, some were disappointing and one was an absolute belter. I consider myself fortunate to have got to try them and I hope that you enjoyed this eclectic set of notes.

© 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.

William George Rum

A few weeks ago at Manchester Rum Festival I got to meet a chap named Andrew Nicholls promoting a Rum. That Rum was called William George. I had been enjoying my bottle for a few months now so it was good to put a face to the brand. Andrew himself is one of the founders and oversaw the blending of the Rum. He started life as a bartender in January 2000 and only recently gave that up at the end of 2018. Andrew is the Netherlands Rum Educator for WSET and was the Benelux Representative for the ACR (Authentic Caribbean Rum) programme. On top of this he has gained awards for his bartending and bars, is part of the seminar selection committee for Tales of the Cocktail and is also on the judging panel for ‘Worlds 50 Best Bars’……His list of accolades is far more impressive than anything I can muster….though I do have a 25m swimming badge and a certificate marking my third place in the school ‘egg and spoon’ race in 1985.

There is also a story behind the Rum, so if you’ll indulge me I’ll recount it below.

William Simpson

Andrew created this blend to honour his two grandfathers…..can you guess their names? Yep….you got it…..William and George. William Simpson (above) and George Nicholls (below) were Grandfathers to the two founders of William George Rum….Andrew and Richard Nicholls.

George Nicholls

William moved from England to Zambia in 1938 and returned to England to serve in World war II….he then returned to Zambia after the war. George moved from England to Zimbabwe in 1956 after also serving in World War II. Both men developed a love of Africa and they would have been in Africa at the same time in 1956, though they were living in separate countries. This connection ties through to the imaging used on the labels. Housed in a tall and elegant bottle, the label is quite unique and detailled. William lived in Zambia and George lived in Zimbabwe. On the border between these two countries is Victoria Falls. The quill on the compass is pointing to 11 degrees west of magnetic North which in 1956 would have been true North when calculated from Victoria Falls. Further label details connect to the Rums namesakes with the font being taken from a 1964 Certificate of Baptism that George had signed as Godfather to his friends child. The handwritten element reflects the writing found in a letter that William sent to his wife (Andrew and Richards Grandmother) in the 1950’s and the wording you see reads ‘blissful happiness for decades of time’. This is what was written by William in the letter to Wendy. So there you go. Lets have a look at the bottle contents.

William George Rum – 43% abv – Blended Rum

It looks to be that the blend has been put together without any emphasis on age or origin, instead attempting to focus on the flavour profile and the core value of no additives. The information on the bottle tells us that the Rum has been blended in Amsterdam, so that will be at E&A Scheer. It is a blend of six Rums in total. Four Pot Still Jamaican Rums and two multi-column Trinidadian Rums. The Jamaican Pot Still components which make up 61% of the blend are all unaged. They are from Hampden, Worthy Park, New Yarmouth and Clarendon. The multi column Trinidadian components which account for 39% of the blend are obviously from Angostura. One of them is unaged and the other is a blend of 2 to 5 year old Rums matured in 200 litre ex-bourbon barrels which are then carbon filtered to remove colour. The ester range of the marques used within the blend ranges from 100 gr/hlaa to 900gr/hlaa with the total volatile count of the final blend being 317.1 gr/hlaa.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Nice and oily in the glass with legs taking an age to form. There’s no doubting or avoiding the fact that this blend has a majority Jamaican pot still component within. Bright grassy cane notes. The merest hint of the familiar aroma of Uncle Wray. Molasses. Creamy. Tinned fruit cocktail and single cream. Candied sweetness of pineapple rings in juice. A good balance is struck as just when you get your nose lost in the unaged pot still, the lighter aged column notes lift to the surface and bring with them vanilla. Citrus oil and a little bright fruit sweetness linger almost permanently as you approach the glass and as the liquid heats up it morphs into warm banana fritters. A little ethyl acetate creeps in right at the back end. Plenty to enjoy here.

Mouth: Not as sweet an entry as the nose eluded to but it’s definitely as oily as the appearance led me to believe. Plenty of grip on the palate with a little heat. A hint of tinned strawberry soaked trifle sponge. It’s all pot still up front and very approachable….also massively enjoyable neat. Grassy vibrant cane plays alongside the merest hint of white pepper and the zip of citrus. Sugared almonds. A mixed bag of creamy Macadamia and Cashew nuts. Sweetened whipped cream and peaches round things out. Growing heat.

Not as entertaining on the palate as it is on the nose (maybe a lift to 46% would assist?) but that is not meant to do the palate a disservice….it wouldn’t usually see regular rotation neat for me but it has done since I opened it. Dare I say it that I’m also mentioning it in the same sentence as Veritas……which is quite frankly a superb Rum and is high praise indeed….though this does sit around £10 higher in price than Veritas. Its designed to mix well but also to display and retain its character….and it does. It makes a superb Daiquiri (I do enjoy prominent pot still in a daiquiri) and a very refreshing Rum and Tonic. Also…..I love a Banana Daiquiri, and with a more than 50% pot still component, this does a hell of a job. My bottle was picked up from the chaps at Skylark Spirits on their Amazon Store.

© 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.

MHOBA Rum – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum – Part 2

Time for Part 2 in the series of MHOBA Rum reviews but the third part in the full MHOBA series of articles. You can pick up on Part 1 of the reviews here and also read a lot more into MHOBA and the inner workings of what they do here.

You can clearly see in those two articles how much effort goes into the production of the output MHOBA and how much care is taken to prepare the casks for the maturation of MHOBA Rum. This article will feature three of the four matured Rums in the line up. These are:

MHOBA Strand 101

MHOBA American Oak Aged

MHOBA French Oak Cask

*There is another release, the Glass Cask which will be included here once I have completed my notes*

Let’s get right into them.

MHOBA Strand’s 101 – 58% abv – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum

Now called Strand 101 for its LMDW release, it remains however inspired by its namesake…the “Crazy Dane” Knud Strand. Knud has a history of working with large brands from Bacardi to Cachaça Novo Fogo and this bottling, like quite a lot of MHOBA ideas was a happy accident. Following an extensive sample tasting process Knud found himself with samples of the first run of the High Ester and the super woody 2 year Glass Cask Aged. He mixed the two together to hopefully balance the in your face funk of the High Ester and super woody profile of the glass cask. During a few tasting and presentation sessions Knud found that the blend proved to be popular. The desire was to have the product as an homage to some of Knud’s favourite products. The 101 to reflect his enjoyment of Wild a Turkey 101….Knud expected a direct proof to abv halving as per the US system but true to Roberts heritage, Imperial Proof was what we got. The Blue and Gold of the label reflects Knud’s love of Smith & Cross. But what is the liquid like.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Bright vibrant cane. Very pungent. Acetone. Varnish. Earthy root vegetables. Menthol. Herbal and perfumed. A hint of oak influence excerpts itself with a whiff of smoke. A lot of fermented fruit and wild strawberries carry through on the nose. It remains astringent and pungent with crisp green apples. It’s almost the best of both worlds. Vibrant youth and more balanced age.

Mouth: Beautifully sweet and oily entry accompanied by a lot of heat. The bite of a youthful spirit rules the early exchanges with fresh sugarcane, fermenting tropical fruit and cider. A lot of funk. On the mid palate the aged component begins to envelop your tongue and becomes quite tannic, drying out your palate. This leaves a medium length finish that develops from tinned fruit with fresh cream through coffee, an oaken influence and then into a warming peppery finale. Good balance of youth and maturity.

Very very enjoyable Rum……and if you’ve met Knud, you’ll see how it reflects his character…..approachable, warm and a little bit crazy.

4 / 5

I attempted to pair it up with Smith & Cross in a Mai Tai but it destroyed the Jamaican in standard recipe proportions so it needed re-balancing. Once I’d done that, it made an unbelievable drink.

MHOBA American Oak Aged – 43% abv – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum

Initially left to mature in large glass demijohns with wood fire charred and cut American oak staves, this Rum is then transferred to Ex South African Whisky casks for a second maturation period. It is then reduced and bottled.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Charred wood. Smoke. Caramel. Vanilla. Burnt wooden splints. Light sweet grain notes. Bonfire embers and powdered sugar. Warm fudge. Black pepper and pencil shavings.

Mouth: Heavy, drying oak. Damp cardboard. Grilled smoked meat. Warm charred timber…memories of woodwork classes at school. Butterscotch. The mid palate brings a slowly growing coffee influence. Dark chocolate. The charred embers of a fire on the beach. The dry and medium length finish is all dominant oak, light vanilla and powdered cocoa with lingering charred, smoked wood that grows increasingly bitter.

Not at the top of my list as far as the aged Rums go, but I do have a small cask sample of just the ex South African Whisky barrel matured and its a bit special.

3 / 5

MHOBA French Oak Cask Rum – 65% abv – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum

The French Oak Cask release sees a real step up in bottle presentation. It is housed within a hand constructed laser engraved bamboo box and the front and rear bottle labels are laser engraved bamboo. As you’ll note, this bottle was personalised and given to me at the UK Rumfest in October. Receiving it was a very humbling experience. The Select Reserve Rums are some of the Rums adjudged to be the most exceptional. In this instance the selected distillates have been matured for a minimum 12 month French Oak casks that previously held Cape Red Wine. These casks are brought in by MHOBA and are refurbished.

Barrel Charring with Hardwood Coals

The first eight French Oak casks obtained by Robert we’re stripped, ground and reassembled before toasting and sealing. Toasting would be via either the use of coals of an LPG torch. Each cask was filled over a two day period. First half filling with a single distillate Rum, Robert then sampled the cask blend the day after and make a decision on where to go next. Second distillate Rums are then added along with water for dilution reducing the abv to somewhere between 65 and 70%. Only when happy with the contents are the barrels sealed. The French Oak Cask reviewed here is taken from an equal blend of the best six casks from the initial eight. I do have an LMDW order bottle that has seen an additional six months in the barrel so I will update when that is opened.

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose displays a lot of control for a 65% spirit. The oak is well integrated into the spirit but a perfumed and fragrant effect from the French oak is definitely present. A perfect balance of spiced notes from the barrel and classic, grassy sugarcane notes. Reminiscent of some truly wonderful aged agricoles. Bright acidic fruit, crisp apples. Growing tropical fruit….ripe mango. Guava jam. The oak is ever present but never overly dominant. Warming and spicy. Pencil shavings. Hints of red grapes and tart cranberries.

Mouth: Well balanced entry. Initially sweet, intensely so with a touch of powdered sugar and tropical fruit leathers. The freshness of the cane shines through. Intense moisture sapping dryness and huge amounts of grip on the mid palate from the French oak. There’s also a mineral quality. It remains soft though and never aggressive. Well balanced spice notes from the oak bounce off the vibrancy of the spirit to provide a fulfilling experience. The exceedingly long and intense finish sees sugarcane and tropical fruit mix with a huge oaken influence laden with spice, barrel charr and wet cardboard. Cranberry juice and succulent, crisp apples. A well balanced, fulfilling experience that will surprise a lot of people. Well crafted well executed rum.

Some producers have been working for years and have still not produced something as accomplished as this Rum.

4.5 / 5

I am fully aware that the Rums reviewed in this series will and may have moved on from these expressions. Different batches, harvests and more cask time are all components, welcome ones of being such a small producer and that fascinates me. It is also why I feel that MHOBA are so exciting as a producer, changing, developing and growing in both output and confidence all of the time. Robert has full autonomy over the distillates and therefore has the ability to experiment with fermentation methods, time, dunder, cane varieties and also with cask maturation enabling so many possibilities. Updates will be provided moving forwards.

© 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.