Don Q Rum

don-qDon Q as a brand was one that I’d heard about and read about but one that never actually seemed to be available to buy here in the UK despite their regular (and very enjoyable) presence at the UK RumFest….well last year saw them get distribution with Spirit Cartel which of course meant that I could grab them. I maybe started at the wrong end with my first purchase as I opted to go straight for the Gran Anejo but that was soon rectified and I now have the Cristal, Gold, Anejo and Single Barrel (we’ll come to that later) 2005 to enjoy.

destileria_serrallesWhat struck me looking into Don Q as a brand was the amount of history associated with the family. The place of Don Q as a Rum brand was cemented in the history books in 1954 with the creation of one of the most iconic and well-known Rum based drinks available, the Pina Colada. But their story began in around 1820 when Juan Sebastian Serrallés arrived in Ponce, Puerto Rico from Spain. He founded the Hacienda Teresa sugar plantation soon after. In 1865, Don Juan Serrallés, the son of Juan Sebastian Serrallés uses an imported French copper pot still to produce his first barrels of rum. Fast forward to 1934 and Don Q as a brand is launched taking its cues from the literary character Don Quixote. In 1954, Ramon “Monchito” Marrero creates the Pina Colada whilst at the Beachcomber Bar in San Juan. 1981 sees Felix J. Serrallés take leadership of the Destileria Serrallés which kickstarts the family’s desire for growth and innovation and in 1985 Serrallés Inc. acquires Puerto Rican Distillers Inc. which allows it to massively expand its range of products. On to modern-day and in 2004, Roberto Serrallés joins the family business and applies his skills in environmental sciences to implement a waste reclamation process that cements Don Q as one of the more environmentally friendly producers. Felix J. Serrallés remains the President and CEO of Destilería Serrallés.

There is a huge section on the measures taken by Don Q to become more environmentally aware and also a little more fleshed out version of the brand history that can be found on their website here for you to peruse at your leisure.

Anyhow, on with the more interesting stuff…..the Rum. The Rums that Don Q produce are from a multi-column set up……mostly. They also have a Single Column at Destilería Serrallés. I’d say that Don Q Rums definitely find their place with the lighter styles of Rum….don’t let that put you off though. Don Q produce some very flavourful Rums that under the new classification proposed by Luca Gargano and backed up by Richard Seale would fall under the “Rum” heading due to their multi-column production method.

One thing to note is that the Don Q Rums being written about here buck the trend of a lot of light Spanish style Rums in the fact that they do not appear to have been doctored with unnecessary additions such as sugar etc which sees them come up clean in the hydrometer tests carried out by others. In fact they have been quite vocal about their ‘clean’ rums which is a great thing as I personally have fallen out of love with ‘Rons’ given that they are usually highly marketing led and contain for the most part a fist full of sugar or other additions. They also seem to lack a lot of complexity. Even some independent bottlers have been duped by the practices of certain producers having thought that they’d obtained ‘clean’ barrels of Rum.  But onto the range…I could (and probably should) split over multiple articles but I thought that I’d pool the ‘resource’ (if you can even call it that) in the one location.

Don Q Cristal – 40% abv

Don Q Cristal is a multi-column distilled blend producing a very light style of Rum. I have it on good authority that the Rum is taken off the still at 90.5% for this blend. The distillates are aged for between 1 and 5 years in re-charred American White Oak Barrels prior to being blended and filtered to remove colour. The Rum is then bottled at 40%.

Don Q Cristal

Tasting Notes

Nose: This is very light stuff. It’s close to neutral but it does possess all the characteristics of a Rum….you’d pick it out of a line up of mixed unaged spirits. It’s all very clean with a light sweetness, something slightly prickly and a watery fresh ginger quality. Maybe a hint of nutmeg.

Mouth: Light sweetness on entry initially which develops an oily citrus quality and a light floral note that dries a little. It has an extremely light body. Creamy, mild white pepper on the mid-palate with a very short lightly sweet and nutty finish.

I would struggle to pick this out of a line up of other Rums of its style given its light nature but it does what it sets out to do. It’s a no-nonsense affordable light Rum that gets used predominantly in cocktails. Not much else I can say about it to be honest.

2-0-star

Don Q Gold – 40% abv

Don Q Gold is again a multi-column distilled blend. Again, for this blend the Rum is taken off the still at 90.5% as it has the same make up as the Cristal. The distillates are aged for between 1 and 5 years in re-charred American White Oak Barrels prior to being blended. Again the Rum is bottled at 40%. The rear bottle label states that spirit caramel has been added for colour.

Don Q Gold

Tasting Notes

Nose: Mild vanilla and a grassy, oily quality. Cinnamon, sweet, young alcohol notes and the mildest oaken note. Maybe a little Kola Cube.

Mouth: Initial sweetness and a hefty bite from the young aggressive alcohol. It also dries like the Cristal but brings with it a hint of bitterness. Light floral notes are present along with vanilla custard. The finish s short to medium length and starts with creamy vanilla which soon changes into a spiky white pepper accompanied by the heat of young alcohol.

It has a few characteristics that lift it above the Cristal for use in drinks where you want the Rum component to work in your favour but again its a good example, perhaps one of the clearer examples of a very light Spanish style Rum. I use it in Zombies and Pina Coladas at home.

Don Q Anejo – 40% abv

This is where things start to take a turn for the interesting. This Rum is again a multi-column blend but this time it is a blend of aged Rums between 3 and 10 years old….and it shows. Bottled again at 40% with label declared spirit caramel addition.

Don Q Anejo

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose is immediately more fun and definitely more rummy. It is less crisp than the younger offerings but it does possess the same alcohol spike but this time it is accompanied by light oaken notes. Vanilla, light powdery cocoa and faint apricot fruitiness. There is a more apparent floral element and it possesses way more balance. It is a little more self-assured then the younger offerings and also has hints of nutmeg and cinnamon.

Mouth: A light, almost fruity sweetness on entry which is soon overcome by a drying oak. The mid-palate has pepper and nutmeg along with light oily citrus. Apricot lingers in the vapours. The finish is of a medium length with more flavour than expected. A drying sweetness accompanied by warming vanilla and a pepper driven oaken fade.

I’d perhaps suggest a bottle style change for this expression as flavour and aroma wise it really does stand head and shoulders above the Gold. I made a Pina Colada with this……it was hellishly tasty.

3-0-star

Don Q Gran Anejo – 40%

This is the first Don Q expression that I picked up and it represents the top of the line in the permanent line up of expressions (there are the 2005 “Single Barrel” and the Reserva de la Familia Serrallés as limited editions). Again from the same multi-column set up the Gran Anejo does have another component in its make-up. As is alluded to above, Destilería Serrallés has a Single Column Still made by the Vendome Copper and Brass Company. They take a Rum off that single column at 75% and it is a key component in this blend. The Gran Anejo is a blend of Rums aged between 6 and 12 years plus (here’s that dreaded word again) ‘Solera’ Rums aged up to 50 years. Again the disclosure of spirit caramel is there as is the staple 40% abv bottling strength.

Don Q Gran Anejo

Tasting Notes

Nose: Up front astringent alcohol which swiftly dissipates to reveal orange oils and a bitterness. Warming oaken notes drag vanilla and milk chocolate along for the ride. With the alcohol notes gone, this really is a pleasant Rum to nose. It could almost be from Barbados such is the interplay between sweet, floral and oaken notes. It really is that well-balanced. As the Rum warms the oak brings a light bitter, metallic note.

Mouth: Initially entry is up front black pepper and a sweetness that is present for a fleeting moment before the drying oak begins to dominate. The mouthfeel is quite light but further sips improve this as the flavours linger. The mid-palate is heavily dominated by milk chocolate, pepper and a creamy vanilla custard. The finish is surprisingly long given the mouthfeel and it lingers laden with nutmeg topped egg custard, prominent black pepper and celery which then morphs into a drying oaken wave bringing with it a metallic bitterness.

Considering that this is partially the product of a multi-column set up, the aroma and flavour contained within this expression is great. I can’t see that much flavour is carried over from distillation in the multi column element so the single column must carry a lot of influence along with a barrel management that must be exemplary. To find this depth in a light style of Rum is a wonderful thing. I usually use the Gran Anejo in an Old Fashioned with a dash of chocolate bitters and it works a treat for me.

4-0-star

Don Q Signature Release Single Barrel 2005 – 40%

Single Barrel as an expression in its actual reflective form for this release would lead to (at a 6000 bottle run such as this) an ocean sized barrel. The explanation though is that all of the Rum in this limited release was from the same 2005 distillation which was then split between the pre-requisite number of ‘similar’ barrels to carry the volume. Each barrel is then bottled individually so rather than each bottle containing the vatted blend of all barrels from the 2005 distillation, technically each barrel has its own series of bottles. There is however no way to know which barrel the bottle that you have is from. What would’ve been nice is an indication of barrel number on the bottle to accompany the other information. Anyhow, bottled in 2015 makes this (if the dates align) a 10-year-old Rum….9 years at the very least. The same distillation process is employed as the majority of the range (no single column) and it is again bottled at 40%. No mention is made of spirit caramel…but as we know, colour is not our guide…..neither is marketing.

Don Q Single Barrel 2005

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose has a sharpness to it and a fair bit of sour. Quite prominent oak gives way to something way more pungent than anticipated. Light chocolate, hazelnuts, vanilla, raisins and an astringency of pear drops. This is followed by egg custard wrapped in buttery pastry with a sprinkling of powdery nutmeg.

Mouth: Lighter entry than the nose hints at and definitely lighter than the Gran Anejo but the oak punch is right at the fore and dominates the opening few seconds along with pencil shavings. Once accustomed to the oak the pear drops appear along with light florals. There is a raisin like quality to the mid-palate that soon becomes awash with oak and a growing spice. The finish is of a medium length and is all oak, black pepper and light caramel.

It doesn’t, for me have the consistency and balance of the Gran Anejo but it is still impressive given that it is 100% multi-column. Its inconsistencies may actually be what makes it interesting and gives it more appeal over repeated visits than the consistent Gran Anejo. This is where I think that descriptions trump scoring systems.

4-0-star

I have been very surprised by the Don Q range. From what are pretty average (to me) entry Rums the jump in quality is massive. Maybe I have been spoilt by the fact that I started with the Gran Anejo in my journey but I’d say that if you are a fan of lighter Rums, you owe it to yourself to pick a few of the Don Q offerings up. Competent in cocktails and more than capable in spirit led mixed drinks, if like me, Rum in this light style isn’t your thing….try it as you may be surprised. Alexx at Don Q has been a huge help in providing me with information and reading what is upcoming in the range over the near future with a Spiced Rum, Single Barrel 2007 and something that I can’t mention….keep your eyes on them.

Also, if anyone has the Reserva de la Familia Serrallés and feels generous…..you know where to find me!

© 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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Manchester Rum Festival

*Press Release*

RUM AT THE READY FOR MANCHESTER’S FIRST

mrfl

Manchester’s first ever rum festival is coming to town this year, thanks to freelance drinks curator Dave Marsland, aka the Drinks Enthusiast.

Located at Revolución De Cuba, the festival will be held on Saturday 3rd June, and will boast over 40 types of rum including Bacardi, Chairman’s Reserve, Diplomático, Sailor Jerry and Mezan. Brunches, afterparties and shenanigans galore will mean it’ll be a Caribbean affair from dusk ’til dawn.

Tickets cost £15 for the festival (brunches and afterparties not included) which runs from 12pm-5pm, and include a welcome drink by sponsor Coco Re’al, along with a taster from each of the 15 stalls as you work your way round exploring the top brands.

And if that’s not enough booze for you, a team of mixologists and brand ambassadors will be on hand at the cocktail bar serving up a selection of rum cocktail favourites.*

Dave Marsland said “Rum is a staple within the Manchester bar scene, especially with the popularity of venues such as Revolución De Cuba, so I wanted to celebrate it! There’s so many incredible rum brands I felt the best way to celebrate them would be with a festival.

The festival will host entertainment, themed food and drinks offers and gifts, so we really are going all out, plus there’ll be events running throughout the day to get everyone in Manchester involved. I’m just looking forward to meeting guests on the day and seeing how popular the already much-loved brands become.”

Details for brunches and after parties and further rum promotions will be announced soon, but here’s how to purchase your ticket to the main festival – http://www.manchesterrumfestival.com/whats-on

I’ve also been able to get a few images of the cocktails on offer at the festival….these include a Bacardi Mojito, Banks Swedish Rum Punch, Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai and Pusser’s & Re’al Painkiller.

Mojito using Bacardi

Mojito using Bacardi

Swedish Rum Punch using Banks 5 Island

Swedish Rum Punch using Banks 5 Island

Mai Tai using Chairmans Reserve

Mai Tai using Chairmans Reserve

Painkiller using Pussers

Painkiller using Pussers

*End*

So there we are…the venue has been announced. The list of exhibitors is growing and there is something in the line up for those new to the category and for those growing tired of the additive laden side of the market seeking something pure and refined. This coupled with cocktails and a host of other events in the city, it looks set to be pretty amazing. Being so close to us, we’d be foolish not to attend. See you there?

© 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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St Lucia Distillers Individual Distillates

Distillers-Final-LogoThis will be kind of a unique post because it’s maybe a little self-indulgent, as you can’t actually purchase the Rums individually….they are a choice few individual aged and unaged distillates that I was lucky enough to try during the St Lucia Distillers On Tour event in April. I was fortunately able to sweet talk Dave Marsland enough for him to allow me to decant a few samples to try at my leisure…..well I have finally found that leisure time.

What I hope that this post of quick fire notes will do is give some sort of insight into my thoughts on some of the individual marques that are produced at St Lucia Distillers which could also link into how these are used in the excellent 1931 series of releases that have seen success of late.

I have covered the various output at St Lucia Distillers in the article on 1931 linked above and in the following articles based upon the Chairman’s Reserve Range and Admiral Rodney.

Up for tasting within this article are a 5 year aged Coffey Column Distillate, a 5 year aged John Dore (assumed I) Pot Distillate, a 5 year aged Vendome Pot  Distillate, a 4 year aged Sugarcane Juice Pot Distillate (could be Vendome or John Dore I), an unaged John Dore (assumed I) Pot Distillate and an unaged Sugarcane Juice Pot Distillate (could be Vendome or John Dore I)….there were a couple more available but sadly not enough sample bottles on my part. Anyhow without further ado, we’ll head straight into it…..

I have obtained a few images of the pot stills at St Lucia Distillers straight from Michael Speakman and they give a wonderful insight into the arrangement at the distillery…the column still shot is stolen from a SLD presentation document that was made available to me….

John Dore I

John Dore Pot Still – 1500 litre capacity

John Dore II Pot Still

John Dore II Pot Still – 6000 litre capacity

Vendom Pot Still

Vendome Pot Still – 2000 litre capacity

column-still-shot-1

Coffey Twin Column Continuous Still

Tasting Notes

Sample of Unaged Sugarcane Juice Pot Distillate – 40% (Pure Single Rhum)

unaged-sugarcane-distillateGlass: It is crystal clear in the glass and not too clingy. Beautifully pungent. Initial notes are of brine and a sprinkling of salt on a stick of celery. Its grassy and vegetal whilst having a deeper sweetness. Lightly fragrant, with an almost floral note. There is also the lightest whiff of public swimming baths over here in the UK…..a deep rooted smell from my childhood.

Mouth: There is an initial very apparent sweetness along with a peppery celery.  It is a little herbal and does for me, display the characteristics of some of the more established agricole brands on the market. In particular the J. Bally Blanc. It is all very light and drinkable with a slight savoury, herbal butter sign off on the finish. Needs more oomph….but that’s not the point if this distillate.

Sample of 4 Year Aged Sugarcane Juice Pot Distillate – 40% (Pure Single Rhum)

four-year-sugarcane-distillateGlass: Light toffee colour and what appears to be a slight cloudiness which could be temperature related. This is very light with no real up front punch. I have to wait a while before I get a little light oaken vanilla. This is backed up with a slightly sour cherry note. Faint pear drop like astringency pokes its nose through. On the surface it appears to have lost the majority of its agricole like character during maturation. Additional notes are of a mild, herbal grassiness.

Mouth: Light sweetness leads with an immediate cut into drying oak. Black pepper and a fennel seed note hit the mid palate. It does show itself as a little more agricole like on the palate as the grassy, vegetal spine is there albeit somewhat subdued. It has a relatively short grassy finish with a hint of oak. It is again, very drinkable stuff and whilst its no slouch, it doesn’t posses the complexity of any of the French West Indies offerings……you can see where the influence of the more mature agricole comes in on the 4th Edition of the 1931 series….for me it is a welcome addition to that blend.

Sample of 5 Year Aged Coffey Column Distillate – 40% (Traditional Rum)

five year aged column distillateGlass: Light gold in appearance and also quite light on the nose. Coconut, milk chocolate and pencil shavings are the first discernible aromas. Vanilla and a touch of nutmeg round the nose out along with light floral notes.

Mouth: The Rum has a light body in the mouth with a very dry, oaken entry. The milk chocolate is there still along with vanilla, and a hit of white pepper. The finish is dry and of a medium length and is dominated by the light vanilla and oak.

Sample of Unaged John Dore Pot Distillate – 40% (Pure Single Rum)

unaged john dore distillateGlass: Clear with what appears to be a light blue hue. Clean, fresh pot still aromas abound. Pear drops, an unmistakable salty freshness of black olives and brine. That medicinal, almost iodine note that I expect from this still is abundant. Its vegetal and there is a creamy liquorice to round things out.

Mouth: It has a lighter mouthfeel than expected given the olive heavy nose. A mild banana like sweetness brings in the savoury / sweet note of biting into a ripe pear. Varnish powers through the mid palate with black pepper and the medicinal iodine note is very clear. The medium length finish is full of liquorice with the mildest hint of peaches.

Sample of 5 year Aged John Dore Pot Distillate – 40% (Pure Single Rum)

five year aged john dore distillateGlass: Light gold. Punchy. Very punchy. Straight up front, uncompromising medicinal iodine notes and light smoke. Oak is very apparent along with a delicate sweet / sour note. Raisins and a peppery tingle accompany acetone and another whiff of smoke. Prune juice rounds things out with something reminiscent of apple and mango juice.

Mouth: An initial sweetness of Pontefract Cakes (liquorice) leads with some antiseptic. Heavy on the medicinal notes. There is a peppery mid palate laden with drying oak, Bramley apple sauce and mango puree. A light toffee and herbal note follows. Quite savoury. The medium to long finish is where the magic happens. A very spice led dry oak and pepper develops into a leathery note with the smoke and iodine sticking around until the bitter end. This has remarkable complexity for its 5 years of maturation. Yes it needs more abv punch (I have an indie bottle that rectifies this) but you can tell that in a blend, a little John Dore goes a long way.  I can see how this could be considered out of balance for some, but with the medicinal notes, obvious barrel influence and a hint of fruit, this is totally my thing.

Sample of 5 year Aged Vendome Pot Distillate – 40% (Pure Single Rum)

five year aged vendome distillateGlass: A darker, reddish gold. This is not as punchy as the John Dore. It feels like there is more astringency on the nose. Rubber is apparent but it is more like balloons. Oaken, creosote notes hit home with pencil shavings and a mild medicinal note. Caramel and light treacle bitterness round it out with a floral honey.

Mouth: Lighter than the nose dictates. Spikey black pepper leads with a slightly sweet herbal character. Mango and a light honey note fight through before a slight bittersweet taste appears. Medicinal iodine notes are there, albeit subdued they do come to the surface as the bittersweet kicks in. A drying bitterness develops on the medium long finish that leaves my mouth full of oak and fennel seeds. This component is massively apparent in the new Elements 8 Vendome (replacement for the Gold). Yes I know that its noted on the label but its more apparent than on the older Gold bottling.

A little self indulgent perhaps given the lack of opportunities to obtain most of these distillates. There are some of the pot still bottlings available within the Secret Treasures range. On a personal level I have found this run through of the various distillates very entertaining. You start to pick out differing components within the blends more accurately based on their attributes when tried as individual distillates. The John Dore I & II and Vendome Pot Stills are fast becoming my must seek out pot still bottlings. They have their own signature in the way that the mythical Rockley (Style) Still does and it’s that medicinal, slightly smoke driven note (more so in the John Dore I) that adds so much to the blends that they are used in.

With such a huge range of marques available from their excellent array of stills, coupled with new French investment, what I would love to see in the future….and I believe wholeheartedly that the market is there for it…is a range similar to the recent Mount Gay Origins releases and the Habitation Velier range. A rare opportunity to try (at a decent +45% abv, full bottles, maybe 200ml bottles or 90ml tube container) these individual components along with a little background, still history and in-situ images of the stills. Fingers crossed.

© 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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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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Compagnie Des Indes Barbados (Foursquare Distillery) 16 – Cask Strength Denmark Release

Back with independents and back once again in familiar Foursquare territory. This time though we’re looking at a cask strength proposition….60% abv to be precise. If you’d like to refresh yourselves on the 45% abv release, please have a click here and I’ll see you in a second. In my write up of that release, I added at the end that I’d love to try this 60% release. Fortunately for me I have some friendly and generous readers. Step forward a chap called Eigon Vilhelmsen. He emailed me and offered up a sample of the Danish only release along with a few bottle shots, and I’m very grateful that he did.

Compagnie Des Indes Barbados (Foursquare Distillery) 16 – 60% abv

cdi-foursquare-16-danish-release

Bottle image courtesy of Eigon Vilhelmsen 2015

Again, as with the lower abv release this Rum was distilled in December 1998 and bottled in March 2015. We’ll have to run with the same mix of tropical and European age to make up its 16 years with 7 of those years spent in the warm climate of Barbados and the remaining 9 being in Europe…somewhere in Amsterdam. The Rum is a blend of both Pot and Column and was matured in an ex-Jack Daniels barrel. The Barrel Number as displayed on the bottle was MRS236 and this yielded an out-turn of 250 bottles at 60% abv. Again, no sweetener or colour has been added to this release.

Tasting Notes

cdi-60-glassIn the glass: the Rum displays itself as a dark copper and initial forays to the glass give rise to heavy astringent oak and a really intense apricot. It’s the oak that dominates the Rum for a good 5 minutes or so before it starts to back down a touch and open up. Light floral notes and bourbon like cherry follow and aromas of Bakewell Tart are aplenty…..I’m also convinced that there is a little solvent in there. Further trips to the glass remind me of the Neisson Reserve Speciale that I’ve been enjoying recently which can only be a good thing.

In the mouth: Initially the Rum is very warming but feels nothing like its 60% as its unbelievably approachable. A light sweetness on entry brings with it butterscotch and apricots like an apricot tarte tatin. It becomes dry quite quickly with very apparent oak and vanilla. The vapours creeping up my nose remind me of Peach Loops, Lidls finest children’s sweets and something that I seem to notice a lot in Foursquare Rums!  What surprises me about this 60% release is just how well-balanced it is. Nothing is too dominant and there are no off notes. It all just plays nicely. The finish is shorter than anticipated given the abv but is full of apricots, a peppery bite and it sees the return of those Neisson Agricole notes right at the death.

4-0-star

So, with thanks to Eigon, I have had the opportunity to try the highest abv Foursquare Rum that was available….I say was, as the Velier Foursquare 2006 trumps it slightly…..and given the well documented event that I’ll now call ‘Night of the Living Speculators’ it is another Dane that I need to rely upon to allow me to experience that particular Unicorn…..but that is for next time.

© 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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