A GI for Barbados Rum

I awoke this morning to more informative text from Richard Seale regarding the Barbados GI. I had previously posted regarding the Barbados GI here. Below in full is the information that I awoke to this morning addressing key points and presenting the agreed position of Mount Gay, St Nicholas Abbey and Foursquare.

A GI for Barbados Rum

A GI is intended to:

– protect the name of Barbados Rum in export markets by having the standards applied at home recognised in those markets.
– codify those standards so that they will be maintained to protect the reputation of Barbados Rum
– link the essential characteristics of Barbados Rum to its geographical origin.

The latter sometimes causes confusion. There are two types of GI – A PDO like AOC Martinique Agricole which absolutely requires the sugar cane grown in Martinique or a PGI like Scotch Whisky which allows imported grain but demands other ties to the geography e.g. water and climate of aging.

The geographical link also provides the economic motive behind establishing a GI – to ensure the economic return from a product is earned within the region.

Attached is the unified position of Mount Gay, St Nicholas Abbey and Foursquare. We have worked carefully together and given our inputs to the local authority. Not everything here is in latest draft but we are confident in our work being recognised. It has been a joy to work with the team from Mount Gay and Larry from St Nicholas Abbey.

Also attached are the relevant clauses from the EU regulations. This shows that it is an indispensable requirement of registration that essential characteristics of the product be derived from its geographical origin.

I think it is unfortunate (and disrespectful of the local authorities) that the draft GI has been subjected to criticism in front of foreign audiences. Once you understand the position of MG/SNA/FS in the context of the meaning of a GI and its registration requirements, you will see the criticism is disingenuous, misleading and self-serving.

YEAST
Yeast is not restricted to Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. The exogenous ADDITION is restricted to Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. Not that this is much of a restriction – 99%+ of all wines and spirits out there are made from the thousands of available strains of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. All native yeasts are in fact allowed. This includes several species besides Saccharomyces Cerevisiae.

It is important to understand the history behind this. Until the modern era, all rum fermentations proceeded exclusively from native yeasts. The addition of exogenous yeast brought efficiency and flavour control at the expense of aromatic diversity. That horse has bolted, added yeast is here to stay. But restricting non Saccharomyces yeast to native yeasts we are preserving a link to our geography and to our history.

WATER
It is imperative in order to maintain the link between Barbados Rum and its Geography that water is restricted to Barbados Water. It is also easy to understand if you know our history. Barbados was able to dominate early sugar and rum making because of our access to water compared to our volcanic neighbours. I have attached a perspective from Mount Gay on the issue.

STILLS
There is no restriction on stills in the Barbados GI. All batch and continuous stills are allowed. Distillation proof is restricted to 95% abv and copper must be used. *(Note the chamber still referred to in the counter arguments. Batch and Continuous is the language used, not Pot and Column)*RDB

SUGAR
Sugar is not added by any Barbados blender. No indigenous brand uses addition of sugar. In fact in a world of sweetened rum, indigenous Barbados Rums stand out for not using sugar syrup. A GI must reflect that. Adding sugar to Barbados rum weakens the diversity of rum.

CARAMEL
Caramel (e150a) has been used in Barbados rum for as long as anyone knows. It was not used to deceive people. Most Barbados Rum was sold unaged – “white rum” or “coloured rum” at the same price. So the GI allows caramel but with some constraints to avoid abuse.

AGING
Aging provides arguably the most essential characteristic of Barbados Rum in export markets. It would be ludicrous to CERTIFY a rum as Barbados Rum where one of the most influential stages of production takes place outside of Barbados. It is also the stage where the most of the value is added. It would be equally ludicrous to CERTIFY a product as from Barbados where most of the value is earned outside of Barbados.

OAK
This is more about protecting the reputation than geography. Until now the reputation of aged Barbados Rum has been derived from aging solely in oak. A GI is about protecting reputation not leaving it to the mercy of experiments. Our position has been cleverly crafted. We can venture outside of oak when it is proven. To simply allow “wooden casks” is unacceptable. The myriad of possibilities from oak is almost limitless. In practical terms this is no restriction at all.

A GI which allows a purported ‘Barbados Rum’ be made from imported molasses, non native yeasts, non native water and aged in another country is a farce and would never meet the requirements of registration.

It should be well noted that a GI does not prevent non compliant Rum being made in Barbados. Article 14 (attached) contemplates that in the modern era stages of production may take place in different regions. A rum distilled in Barbados that meets the basic EU standard is still legal to sell as rum. And if it is aged in France and has special sugar syrup (made with French know-how) added, it is no longer a certified Barbados Rum but it is entirely legal and appropriate if it is called French Rum.

Every distiller wants to make the best they can but when the inputs are no longer Barbados inputs (or Barbados traditions) – it moves from away from being a Barbados Rum to being a Rum.

This is a “restriction” that holds no fear for a Barbados born distiller or blender.

The Unified Position of Mount Gay, St Nicholas Abbey and Foursquare Rum Distillery

Clauses from the EU regulations demonstrating that it is an indispensable requirement of registration that essential characteristics of the product be derived from its geographical origin

Counter Argument Criticism of the GI Proposals

Information Presented by Mount Gay

Article 14 contemplates that in the modern era, stages of production may take place in different regions

All eyes are on the progression of this fundamental and vital weapon in the arsenal of the Barbadian producers to protect their heritage.

© 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

That Boutique-y Rum Company Secret Distillery #1 – Jamaica – Batch 2

We’re back with another ‘secret’ but not so ‘secret’ Jamaican bottling from That Boutique-y Rum Company. I reviewed the initial Batch 1 release here and found it to be a pretty pleasant release, a little different to many of the usual independent ‘secret Jamaican distillery’ releases. So essentially, That Boutique-y Rum Company aim to bring interesting expressions, not categorised by colour or ‘style’ to Rum Geeks, Adventurous Rookies and the Rum Curious. As the consultant at the helm is Peter Holland of The Floating Rumshack fame, expect some belters.

As a quick aside, there may or may not be some information on said ‘Secret Jamaican Distillery’ if you were to click here or here.

But without further ado or fanfare, lets get into this one.

That Boutique-y Rum Company Secret Distillery #1 – Jamaica – Batch 2 – 51.5% abv – Pure Single Rum – 1821 Bottles

If you recall from the previous review of Batch 1, that release was 9 years old and it was matured in both Tropical and Continental climates. You will also recall that it was from the ‘secret’ Worthy Park Distillery. This release is 6 years old and dependent upon bottling was distilled in either 2013 or 2012. The information available tells us that this Rum has entirely Continental maturation…..but for a change, all of those 6 years were spent inside an ex-Sauternes cask. Sauternes being a sweet French desert wine from Bordeaux made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes. The grapes used are chosen as they have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, also known as “noble rot“. This has the effect of making the grapes slightly ‘raisined’ which results in a concentrated and quite distinct flavour to the wine. A release of 1821 bottles, mine is number 1468, the Rum will be naturally coloured and will not have been chill filtered. Now Worthy Park is quite unique and recognisable, but what exactly has that 6 years in an ex-Sauternes barrel done to it….

Tasting Notes

Nose: Nice and astringent to start out. Wearing it’s youth on its sleeve. Definitely Jamaican, definitely Worthy Park. Overripe banana, but dialled down. Black tea. A little savoury too…maybe a touch of cured meat. A spicy nose with ginger and a hint of sweet fragrant spice. Ripe Victoria plums. Fresh apple juice. A date like toffee asserts itself alongside sweet maple and pecan pastries. Brazil nuts and raisins. Light molasses providing that sweet / bitter interplay. A hint of oak appears at the back end and brings with it warm spicy fruit loaf. Very appealing.

Mouth: Nice and lightly sweet entry. Nothing too hot. Nothing too distracting. A very prominent sweet white wine note (well obviously…..Sauternes) but carrying something darker and sweeter… maybe prunes in a sticky toffee pudding. Vanilla ice cream topped with a thick, sticky PX. Raisins raisins raisins. Plump and juicy. Growing oak on the mid palate brings a pleasing dryness that doesn’t dominate in any way, the spike of peppery barrel spice and a hint of molasses bitterness. The dark fruit theme develops with slice of my Auntie Hazel’s fruit loaf straight from the oven with butter on it. Light warmed banana and a spoonful of molasses. Garibaldi biscuits. The medium length finish is the sum of its parts, completing the experience with the return of youthful alcohol vapours at the back end and sweet candied pecans.

4 / 5

Plenty to like, and at times I think that I prefer this to Batch #1……at times I don’t though. Either way, at just shy of £37 its definitely worth picking up.

© 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.

Speciality Drinks and The Whisky Exchange Unveils a New Classification System for Rum

*Press Release*

ALL EYES ON RUM AS SPECIALITY DRINKS AND THE WHISKY EXCHANGE UNVEILS A NEW CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM

Move follows years of industry debate over how to offer clarity and better education in the rum category

Fine spirits retailer The Whisky Exchange along with its market-leading wholesale business Speciality Drinks, is pleased to introduce a new classification system for the rum category. Spearheaded by the company’s head of buying Dawn Davies MW, the new system aims to give consumers and the trade a more informed understanding of the rum category based on flavor profiles, and production methods, instead of purely colour.

More than 500 rums featured on TheWhiskyExchange.com and listed within the Speciality Drinks wholesale price list are illustrated within new categories along with further snippets of information including additions of sugar and other flavourings, and whether the product is fully aged at origin. Although the category will also remain searchable by the classic ‘dark, golden and white’ labels for now, customers will be armed with easily navigable information to encourage more-informed choices.

Taking inspiration from systems of classification previously mooted by two driving forces of the rum industry Luca Gargano and Richard Seale, Davies has primarily focused on production method for a technical classification. However, The Whisky Exchange website will also list each rum into one of six ‘flavour camps’ with the aim of letting consumers know what flavour profile they’re buying.

The Classification

Single Distillery Rum:

Single Traditional Column

Rum distilled at one distillery in traditional column stills.

The detail: these are stills that consist of just an analyser and rectifier, including the scenario where either column is split to produce a total of more than two physical columns

Single Traditional Pot Still

Rum distilled at one distillery in traditional pot stills.

Single Traditional Blended

A blend of traditional pot still and traditional column still rums from the same distillery.

Single Modernist

Rum made at a single distillery using modern multi-column stills.

The detail: These stills consist of more than an analyser and rectifier, and include a hydro-selector/purifier column

Multi-distillery Rum:

Blended Traditionalist

A blend of rums from multiple distilleries that only includes traditional column and/or pot still rums.

Blended Modernist

A blend of rums from multiple distilleries that includes single modernist rums.

‘Flavour Camps’

  • Light and Uncomplicated
  • Herbaceous and Grassy
  • Tropical and Fruity
  • Fruity and Spicy
  • Dry and Spicy
  • Rich and Treacly

Having worked on this new system for more than a year, Davies knows it won’t instantly be perfect but feels it’s a very positive place to start. “We know the consumer, and the trade to some extent, is crying out for more education on the different styles of rum – confusion abounds when Wray & Nephew white rum tastes nothing like Veritas white rum. The flavours you find in rums are very different according to their production method and so when that information is combined with flavour profiles we can help people start to build a picture of the category. We know it may not be an immediately perfect solution but this is the jumping off point and we look forward to the industry working with us to create the ideal scenario for everyone.’

Co-founder and owner of The Whisky Exchange and Speciality Drinks, Sukhinder Singh, believes this is the beginning of a new world of rum. “As consumer demand grows, and sales of rum reflect this, so too does the number of products entering the market. In recent years we’ve seen an influx of what we’d call ‘sipping rums’, meaning gone are the days when rum was reserved for a mojito. Artisan distilleries, independent bottlers and big brands playing with production methods and ageing, has increased the desire to sip rum instead of only mixing it. This really is the new world of rum and the new system of classification is our education tool.’

*End*

Pretty interesting stuff. I’ve been keen to see what The Whisky Exchange and Speciality Drinks would come up with as a classification system with them having taken a front seat role in pushing Pure Rum, especially through the Speciality Drinks portfolio. Still allowing you to search via outdated but familiar colour classification the new system should hopefully push people towards thinking differently and changing their perceptions of what the outmoded classifications actually mean as far as the experience that the Rum will give you. Hopefully its similarity to the Gargano Classification should mean that education on production method permeates the mainstream and the flavour camps should maybe give an idea of the bottle contents to supplement the classification.

© 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.

Flor de Caña 12 Centenario Slow Aged

Flor de Caña which translates as Sugarcane Flower from Spanish is a product from a distillery that traces its roots back in excess of 125 years.

In 1875, Alfredo Francisco Pellas Canessa, a young adventurer from Genoa, Italy traveled Nicaragua. He initially decided to operate a short and safe steam boat route through Nicaragua to transport passengers and goods from the East Coast of the US to the West Coast at the height of the California Gold Rush. This route was a success, but as news broke about the construction of the Panama Canal and the U.S. coast-to-coast railroad, Alfredo Francisco decided that it was time to change direction. In 1890, he located the setting for the Flor de Caña distillery at the base of the tallest and most active volcano in Nicaragua. The fertile soil of its surrounding lands, the water and the hot volcanic climate proved to be instrumental in forging the rum’s ethos. Since 1890 the sugarcane mill and distillery have been located in Chichigalpa, North West Nicaragua at the base of the San Cristóbal volcano.

The process continues under the supervision of the same family, 5 generations later. Through its history, the brand, the company and the family have survived a plane crash, dictatorships, civil war, nationalizations, hyperinflation, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. It remains a family concern.

That’s the background marketing and tall tale out of the way…..now let’s get into the Rum.

It has to be noted that Flor de Caña have had huge issues with CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) amongst its cane field employees and the press has not been good. The whole issue sounds appalling. Apparently steps have been taken and I’ve read about investment in hospitals and a further promotion and reach for Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade Certification. There are plenty of articles online covering the CKD issue and the remedial steps taken (hopefully as a result of the issue and not as a result of the impending release of the information at the time) therefore there is no need for me to shift focus away from the product review. It cannot however just be swept under the carpet.

Flor de Caña Centenario 12 Slow Aged – 40% abv – Modern Rum

Flor de Caña as a product was first distributed by Campañia Licorera de Nicaragua SA based in Managua in 1937. As a company they pride themselves on their sustainability via their renewable energy use, their volcanic soil, climate, water supply and the fact that they claim to not utilise post distillation additions. Speaking of distillation, it is entirely multi-column distillation. Not an immediate route to a product lacking aroma and flavour. Just see Don Q for proof that the flavourless argument doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, but it is however an indicator of a lighter style of Rum. Maturation takes place in ex-bourbon barrels that are apparently ‘sealed with Nicaraguan plantain leaves’. With reference to the large meaningless number ’12’ on the bottle, and then the also vague ‘ Slow Aged’, I have varying and slightly conflicting information. They do not utilise a solera system, which cancels that theory out. I have seen it written that a brand representative had advised someone that ‘banana leaves are put in the barrel to promote slow ageing’. I assume this would possibly hark back to the statement above regarding plantain leaves and maybe that would promote less exchange through the barrel if it is lined with these leaves therefore slowing maturation. I have also recently seen information stating that the number is an ‘average’. The 7 Slow Aged would be a blend of 5 to 9 year Rum, the 12 Slow Aged here would be a blend of 10 to 14 year old Rum as apparently they don’t exceed 2 years either side of the stated number. Whichever theory is correct, if either are, it is a large prominent number designed to mislead next to a random phrase that is totally meaningless. It works for them though as websites list it as 12 Years Old and people talk about it as a 12 Year Old Rum….and the consumer loses out yet again. I’m not a fan of designed in, purposeful ambiguity and misleading numbers. We have neither a guaranteed minimum age nor an explanation for the number on this bottle. There is also a lack of explanation on the website. For a company that has been striving for accreditation for its processes and one that is keen to highlight that it doesn’t use additions, its a shame that it doesn’t apply as much effort to its label clarity. They are however clear to point out however that this is in their ‘Ultra Premium Collection’…..whatever that is.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Very light. A touch of up front alcohol…perhaps more youth than alcohol. It’s also carrying a little sharpness. Light floral notes and freshly cut apples and grapes. Sweetness creeps in with a hint of caramel pennies. Not much action from the barrel as far as wood influence is concerned. No depth to speak of.

Mouth: Very light and unassuming entry. Not a lot of body to it. Maybe an initial flavour reminiscent of rubber balloons……a hint of caramel follows with the merest whiff of milk chocolate. A suggestion of sugared almonds….it also carries their disappointment too. Mid palate shows a bit of barrel spice and the oak does start to cut in and provide a drying quality but the lack of body and mouthfeel means that it’s short lived in both the mouth and the memory. It’s very flat. What you are left with is a thin and watered down, mildly woody experience and a really apparent and unpleasant bitterness that just grows….like biting into an unseasoned, roasted, mini unripe gourd. The very short finish is a simplistic with light oak and a touch of brown sugar. The bitterness doesn’t want to leave either and it is the only facet of the oak that dominates, or even influences to a greater extent.

1.5 / 5

It was going to be 1 / 5, but it gained an extra half mark as it would’ve been so easy to try and manipulate this product with additions, but this measured clean and doesn’t taste doctored in any way. I usually like bitter flavours. I enjoy the extreme bitterness of Korola, I always choose good quality dark chocolate and I’m also a fan of the bitterness in old demeraras, but here its just unpleasant when coupled with the rest of the lacklustre experience. It’s instantly forgettable, insipid, thin, watery boredom bottled. Price wise it is £35 in the UK, and I can think of numerous bottles not as costly, some even utilising the same distillation method, that are so much better than this rum. The nonsense number also leaves a bad taste in my mouth. That said, the ‘7 Slow Aged’ is much better than this.

*Hydrometer Test Result – Label stated abv 40% – Measured abv 39.5% – 0-5 g/l additives*

© 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.

St. Lucia Distillers 1979 Ruby Reserve

Released to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of St Lucia’s Independence in 1979, the Ruby Reserve is only available on island and only 1979 bottles have been produced. Changing hands between the British and the French 14 times during the 17th & 18 Centuries, St. Lucia gained independence on the 22nd February 1979. More detailed information can be found with a visit here. I have been fortunate enough to get a small sample from a friend to use in this review, and use it I will. I have written quite extensively about St Lucia Distillers in these pages and a quick trip to the search box will uncover some detailed information on the distillery, their processes and their stills.

Image Copyright of Dave Marsland

I don’t want to waffle on more than I need to as we have some Rum to taste…..

St. Lucia Distillers 1979 Ruby Reserve – 46% abv – Single Blended Rum (though it contains both molasses and cane juice components)

The wonders of social media means that we have information from Michael Speakman of St Lucia Distillers about the exact components of the blend….and it as follows:

It is a blend of 49.5% column still and 50.5% pot still

Column Still components are:

21.5% is: Coffey Still – RR101 marque (molasses) – Ex bourbon barrels – 6-12 years

28% is: Coffey Still – RR104 marque (molasses) – Ex bourbon – 6-12 years

Pot Still components are:

16% is: John Dore I Still (molasses) – Ex bourbon barrels – 8-12 years

6.5% is: John Dore I Still (molasses) – Ex brandy barrels – 8-12 years

5.5% is: Vendome Still (molasses) – Ex bourbon barrels – 8-12 years

21% is: John Dore I Still (sugarcane juice) – Ex bourbon barrels – 8 years

1.5% is: Vendome Still (sugarcane juice) – Ex bourbon barrels – 7 years

Tasting Notes

 

Nose: Definitely instantly recognisable as a St Lucia Distillers Rum. That classic medicinal note from the John Dore I pot still is very prominent during the early exchanges. A hint of acetone and sticking plasters soon gives way to tobacco and a hint of barrel spice. There’s some real depth to the blend and an element of minerality to the nose. Time is shows a very rewarding experience. Light vanilla runs throughout with powdery cocoa and chocolate coated coconut pieces. Ever present astringency brings a beautiful Jamaican element to the Rum with caramelised pineapple, salty preserved lemons and citrus oil….there’s something about that classic sticky fruit, saline and citrus interplay that really elevates the Rum. Fresh star fruit, mango and guava juice. A hint of grassiness and a wine like note rides the growing oaken influence with a developing spiced and floral pink peppercorn before the well-integrated wood shows as freshly cut pipe tobacco culminating in walnuts and marshmallow sweetness.

Mouth: A dry and quite spicy entry to the Rum brings milk chocolate coated nuts and raisins. Mixed dried tropical fruit and citrus peels. A tannic wine note is certainly present along with stewed plums, prunes and baking apple with a touch of mincemeat (think Christmas mince pies). Syrupy oat flapjacks and caramelised bbq pineapple lead into a little bitterness. Maybe a touch of scrumpy. The mid palate carries a beautiful dryness from the oaken influence and brings cinnamon and nutmeg. More savoury spice notes of cumin and fennel seed rest in the background. There is also liquorice root, damp musty oak and wet cardboard. The finish which carries some length starts off with warm, spiced scrumpy. A light stone fruit bitterness leads into oak and jammy fruit with tobacco and a hint of spice rounding things out. The oak really hangs around and allows the medicinal notes from the nose to make a last-ditch come back with a touch of molasses.

This is a really solid Rum and as we’ve become used to with their 1931 Series and new Chairman’s Reserve 1931, the make up of the blend is really sound with every element playing its part. I prefer the nose to the palate on this one but it rewards time and provides plenty of interest.

4.5 / 5

I’m massively grateful to a friend for the sample. Sadly that has just made me crave a full bottle. Unfortunately as it’s only available on the island, the chances of me obtaining one are low. But if anyone can help me out, I’d be massively grateful.

 

© 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.

R. L. Seale’s Finest Barbados Rum – Export Proof

A relatively short one today as this is a re-review of sorts…..R.L Seale’s Finest Barbados Rum, or R.L Seale’s 10 as I’ve previously called it and how others know it has been around for a while and for me has been one of the most classic examples of Barbados Rum available. Numerous members of the Rum Community have sung its praises on multiple occasions….in fact I’d rate it on any list of ‘must have’ bottles for Rum lovers both new and old. You can read my rather basic summation of the bottle in its previous 43% abv guise here. You only have to scroll through the pages here to understand the high regard in which I hold Foursquare Distillery……But let’s dig into it.

R.L Seale’s Finest Barbados Rum – Export Proof – 46% abv – Single Blended Rum

What you have in the quite unique and very recognisable blue-bottle is a Single Blended rum. A blend of Coffey Column and Pot Still rum from Foursquare Distillery. It is a minimum of ten years old and has been matured in ex-bourbon barrels. It is a Classic Foursquare proposition and one that I enjoyed multiple bottles of in its 43% iteration. I was quite excited to see it released as a 46% products, I had no real issue with it at 43% as it always delivered just what I was looking for….classic Barbados. But it’s always nice to get that little uplift to see how it affects the overall experience and Richard is not one to do these things on a whim, there will have been thought and reasoning behind it. I had forgotten about this bottling for a while, as if often the way. But over the course of the past few months I have found myself reaching for it more and more frequently….so I thought that a re-visit was on the cards.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Classic Foursquare and classic Barbados. Vanilla. Caramel. Buttery pastries. A warming, well-integrated yet spicy wood influence. Growing powdery cocoa and a hint of coconut. The oak brings a touch of black pepper and nutmeg. A hint of raisins and citrus peel. More time in the glass reveals freshly cut apple, sugared almonds and the mildest floral top notes. Beautiful stuff.

Mouth: Beautifully dry entry but along with the obvious oak and vanilla it brings a sweetness of coconut and milk chocolate. Raisins and mixed fruit peel. Maybe a touch of citrus oil. The mid palate is all about the commanding oak. It is very drying and brings with it some welcome spice notes like cinnamon and white pepper. Flamed orange oils. It also brings a buttery pastry like quality and a hint of almond tart. Warm crème brûlée. The finish brings a little crisp apple and some raisins, maybe juicy plums before the oak and particularly the warming spiced barrel notes lead you off into the sunset. Classic Foursquare peach vapours at the death. It is both robust and gentle whilst remaining approachable.

4.5 / 5

*Hydrometer Test Result – Label stated abv 46% – Measured abv 46% – 0 g/l additives*

I had decanted and saved a small bottle of my 43% release at there was crossover with this release. Assessing it side by side I note that there does not appear to be as much caramel colour added to the new release…it is more of a straw gold…don’t let the image fool you. I also noted that this 46% release is not as wood heavy on the nose or the palate and its better for it. It just delivers more of everything…..and here’s the real killer….it is still available for between £35 and £40 in the UK.

Things are changing for Foursquare though, they are very much in the ascendancy with the Exceptional Cask Series and their collaborations with Velier….but this exposure and acclaim has been earned by producing such consistently good releases such as R.L Seale’s, the Doorly’s range and my particular favourite, Old Brigand. This bottling remains as classic an example of Barbados Rum, and Foursquare Distillery as you’ll find.

© 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.

That Boutique-y Rum Company Blended Rum #1 – Jamaica

Back into another Boutique-y Rum Company release. This time it’s a blended Rum comprising entirely Jamaican components. You can read a little about another Boutique-y Rum release and a little about the company itself here. Now that has been said, let’s get into its ribs.

That Boutique-y Rum Company Blended Rum #1 – Jamaica – 55% abv

The bottle hints at the use of Dunder with its skull and crossbones and bubbling, festering pit hogging the label. We also get little in terms of information. Just that the blend is composed of Pot AND Column Rum from a mix of Jamaican distilleries. Digging a little deeper we can ascertain that the blend components were distilled at some point in 2008 and bottled in 2018 making the blend 9 years old. Requesting info from Peter Holland has revealed more information. The Pot Distilled components are from Long Pond, New Yarmouth, Clarendon (Monymusk) and the Secret Distillery from Lluidas Vale…..*cough* Worthy Park *cough*. The Column component is from Clarendon (Monymusk) too.

Long Pond has seen a fair few releases recently and sitting around 18 miles away from Hampden it is also located in the Trelawny Parish. It releases very vibrant and fruity Rums from my experience with some of the continental aged products that I’ve tried and a fair few batshit mental offerings if the NRJ Velier releases are anything to go by. The VRW and STC❤️E are beautifully drinkable expressions whereas the TECA and TECC releases are monsters. New Yarmouth is the home of J Wray & Nephew and we have been fortunate to see some amazing releases from the distillery via Compagnie des Indes….Ethyl Acetate is king in these bottlings. Clarendon, the home of Monymusk and Captain Morgan produces both Pot and Column distillates and is more of a large scale modern facility. Worthy Park you will know all about.

So as you’ll see, quite a varied blend and hopefully the results will be positive….but there’s only one way to find out.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Yup. Definitely Jamaican. Definitely Long Pond. That bright, almost candied tropical fruit is first on the nose. Guava, mango and papaya. There follows a huge hefty weight of ethyl acetate bringing forth Grilled Pineapple, varnish, pear drops and glue that can only be the New Yarmouth kicking the door in. Crisp notes of white wine. There is a beautifully solid vanilla, warming oak and banana loaf backbone to the blend. This carries those bright acidic and fruity top notes and allows them to play so well together. Time brings Kola Kubes, banana jam and a hint of eucalyptus. Glorious stuff

Mouth: Initial entry is beautifully sweet with a very heated follow-up. It’s quite spirity initially and does display some of its 55% abv. You soon acclimatise to this though. Very fruity. It’s reminiscent of a mixed tropical fruit jam. A beautiful interplay of Pineapple, Guava and fresh Papaya with just a squeeze of lime juice. The mid palate brings the weight of the oak into play and this begins to dry your mouth from the tongue back. Spiced oak and pepper in turn announce vanilla, salted caramel and a beautifully sticky molasses note. The finish is not particularly long, choosing to make a sharp exit. Grilled pineapple, fresh papaya and a hint of that beautifully enticing caramel right at the back-end with lingering peppery oak dead centre of your tongue.

4.5 / 5

For me, this one is all about the nose. It’s so nuanced and interesting. You get the feeling that you’re experiencing some great individual distillates. The palate whilst it never reaches the extreme highs of the nose is superb. I have enjoyed it neat, it makes a great Milk Punch, Rum Cow and the other week I made a most enjoyable Jungle Bird with it. 485 bottles of this blend have been released and I’m on my bottle number two. I may even pick up a third before it disappears from shelves. I suggest that you follow suit.

*Hydrometer Test Result – Label stated abv 55% – Measured abv 55% – 0 g/l additives*

© 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.

Berry Bros. and Rudd Hampden 17 Year Old 2000 Cask # 27 and Hampden 17 Year Old 2000 Cask # 54 The Whisky Barrel Exclusives

Hampden Estate will be familiar to any readers here as I have written about a few of their Rums. Information can be found here if you fancy a bit of background reading. It’s a place that I would love to visit, to see Rum making steeped in hundreds of years of history.

I want to get right into these bottles as there are two up for review today. Both are bottled by Berry Bros. and Rudd and both are Exclusive to The Whisky Barrel. They are both from a distillation in 2000 which would make them potentially LROK giving them an ester level of 200-400 g/hl AA. Not excessively high….but as we know….elevated ethyl acetate is not the key driver to a good rum. Both of these Rums are available from The Whisky Barrel for just shy of £85 each…..for 17 year old Hampden’s…not too bad.

Berry Bros. and Rudd Hampden 17 Year Old 2000 Cask # 27 The Whisky Barrel Exclusive – 57.2% abv – Pure Single Rum

Bottled at 57.2%, which we assume is cask strength, this release from Cask #27 saw 194 bottles.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Bright astringent ethyl acetate right away. Acidic sweet pineapple. Model glue. Varnish. Fruit is definitely a key facet to this rum with warm banana and a salty citrus oil backing up the pineapple. The sap from freshly sawn cedar…a memory that takes me back to making arrows in the shed at home as a child with my Dad. The freshness of pine mixed with menthol and eucalyptus. Something reminiscent of a new pair of suede trainers. Crazy stuff.

Mouth: Vibrant and sweet entry. It ticks all the relevant boxes. Pineapple. Banana. Tropical fruit leathers. Mango. Interestingly a bit of custard apple. In comes the savoury side of things on the mid palate led by a very well-integrated oak. Dry and peppery with spiced barrel notes. Olives. Brine. Salty crackers. Preserved lemons. Melting plastic makes an appearance. The long finish is spice led with the oak flexing its 17 years influence. Citrus, pineapple, play-dough, heavy acetone all sit in the mix. Quite a bit of peppery heat there too. It keeps your attention till the death. A hint of hazelnut and milk chocolate play off the oak. A lot to enjoy in here.

4.5 / 5

Berry Bros. and Rudd Hampden 17 Year Old 2000 Cask # 54 The Whisky Barrel Exclusive – 58.1% abv – Pure Single Rum

Bottled at 58.1%, which again we assume is cask strength, this release from Cask #54 saw 189 bottles.

Tasting Notes

Nose: I know that technically these are sister barrels…..same marque….same year of distillation….same maturation period….but the initial aromas are very different to barrel #27. Dialled down ethyl acetate and acidity gives way to a more vegetal and wood dominated nose. There’s something dirty like potatoes freshly removed from the ground. The fruit is there, definitely there but it is a background note initially. Warm pineapple upside down cake. Turmeric. Window putty. Fennel seeds. Sticking plasters. Menthol. Vanilla. Pencil shavings. Time allows the varnish and model glue to appear.

Mouth: Warming, sweet and quite refined…it is LROK I suppose. Fruit is here with pineapple, bananas, flamed orange peel. Dried tropical fruit….think mango, papaya and guava. Higher abv than cask #27 but it’s more approachable. Light brine and olives. The oak is a lot heavier in this sip on the mid palate. Far more spice from the wood. Fiery fresh ginger juice, a hint of Scotch bonnet and black pepper. Maybe even some allspice. Celery salt and fresh crunchy fennel. The finish is again….long. It’s far more savoury that the other cask though. Solid oak influence resplendent with all of the barrel spice notes mentioned. If the other cask was vibrant wood, this is a musty, older cask. Wet cardboard. Roasted stock vegetables with dominant celery. Good….but different.

4 / 5

Approachable cask strength Hampdens you say? Both great expressions of non tropically matured Hampdens….specifically the LROK marque. Not as intense as the tropically matured LROK that I have experienced but they’re both very good examples and both warrant a purchase if you have the funds. Cask # 27 is my favourite of the two given the profile consistency from nose to palate, but there is plenty to enjoy from the heavier wood influence on Cask #54.

© 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.

The Paulsen Collection Foursquare Vintage 1998

We’re back into it with another Foursquare. Some bottle hunters are seeking the ‘unicorn’ Exceptional Cask Release I, more commonly known as Foursquare 1998. Bottles are rare with Gayle Seale herself having to pick them up from property auctions in Barbados. They do exist in the wild but sightings are rare and can be very expensive. So what we have here in this Paulsen Collection bottling is that very same ‘unicorn’, but perhaps without the rainbow mane and golden horn…..maybe just dressed as a regular old horse. It was available until recently quite readily and I believe it may still be available in Europe. I gained a bottle a while back as a present from my wife, I then subsequently picked up another 2 bottles from Richard Blesgraaf over in Holland. Less than 50 Euros per bottle I think.

Now you will be fully aware reading these pages that I enjoy Foursquare Rums, a quick click here will link to quite a few articles on their products to get your juices flowing about the place. Anyhow, let’s get into it.

The Paulsen Collection Foursquare Vintage 1998 – 40% abv – Traditional Rum

This Rum is, amazingly, the product of only the Coffey Column Still at Foursquare Distillery. Distilled in 1998, this Rum was matured in ex-bourbon barrels for around 8 years. It was then decanted, reduced to around bottling strength and then re-barreled for an additional 2 years of maturation totaling a minimum of 10 years tropical maturation. Presented an a heavy based square edged glass bottle with a cork closure and wax seal on the label it certainly looks the part….if that kind of thing matters to you.

Coffey Column Still at Foursquare Distillery

Tasting Notes

Nose: Classic Foursquare profile on the nose…..Vanilla, butterscotch and a beautiful marshmallow note. Peppery and well-integrated oak lays down a solid foundation for the sweeter notes to play off. A touch of dried fruit and powdery cocoa appear given time. Relatively simple and straightforward nose to this Rum, but quite enjoyable.

Mouth: Lightly sweet and far more complex on the palate. Initial vanilla and cocoa give way to a drying and quite punchy oak that scatterguns fresh fruity peppercorns and charred, spicy barrel notes. A little banana chip and dried coconut sits alongside cocoa nibs and fresh, zingy ginger juice. A medium length finish carries the oak, vanilla and cocoa into those familiar peach vapours at the back of the throat.

You sometimes have to remind yourself that this is the product of the Coffey Column still only…..nothing from their pot still. Whilst it lacks a bit of heft on the palate, I can think of no better rum to adequately display just how effective the creation of Aeneas Coffey is when in the right hands. I was going to conclude this review by saying that this Rum was very much of its time, and it’s amazing to see how far things have moved on since it’s release in 2008. Not just in the Rum world in general but in the output and confidence of Foursquare Distillery. But the truth is, released today, maybe at the island abv of 43%, it’d fly off the shelves. It’s like a more mature Old Brigand, proper enjoyable, even if it’s not the most complex offering. Column Still Rum never tasted so good.

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.

Mount Gay 7 Year Old – TWE Exclusive Cask Strength

Amazingly Mount Gay have not featured on this site before, but that will change today. With a deed dating back to 1703, Mount Gay Distillery occupies a beautiful site in the North of Barbados in the Parish of St Lucy. I have far more information to share and images to post and these will appear on later articles featuring more of my Mount Gay collection.

Master Blender Allen Smith

Under the direction of Master Blender Allen Smith, Mount Gay are more famed for their entry-level Eclipse Rums along with Black Barrel and their XO. They have extensive aged stock and yet rarely bottle for others or sell to brokers these days. I have a Cadenhead’s bottling that I swear is from Mount Gay and I read only today of a release by a Dutch bottler that will be coming in December. Utilising both a traditional Coffey Column Still and multiple twin retort Pot Stills, Mount Gay produce Single Blended Rum. Their Pot Still House up in St Lucy really is a thing of beauty…..photographs can’t do it justice…but to give you some idea, this is an image that I took on my visit in April.

Mount Gay Distillery Pot Still House

But enough of that for now, you want to know about the Rum.

Mount Gay 7 Year Old Cask Strength – The Whisky Exchange Exclusive – 54% abv – Single Blended Rum

A blend of Traditional Twin Column and Double Retort Pot Still Rum, this Single Blended Rum sees a maturation period of 7 years in ex-bourbon barrels in the warehouses at the distillery in St Lucy. Bottled at 54%, which is Cask Strength, this Rum has not been chill filtered, it does not have caramel colour and it is a release of 2400 bottles from a total of 20 barrels. Losses to evaporation ranged from 37.3% to 47.9%. I have also been advised that it has a higher proportion of pot still in the blend than most other Mount Gay releases. It will be available only through The Whisky Exchange and is now available.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Peppery and spicy oak up front, as with all of the older MG expressions. The deep oak carries the intense vanilla of crème pâtissière and nutmeg topped egg custard. A bag of dried mixed tropical fruit. A hint of caramelised sugar atop a buttery Eccles cake. It’s a well-balanced and classically Barbadian nose with a little more power. Time brings a pleasant but not overdone note of pencil shavings and light molasses. Coconut chips in milk chocolate. Stewed stone fruit.

Mouth: Beautifully sweet entry. It doesn’t show it’s teeth initially. Very creamy….reminiscent of Banoffee pie with a spiced ginger biscuit base. Bourbon vanilla custard and warm fruit cake. The mid palate really allows the oak and spice to flex its muscles. The heat of black pepper and charred bourbon barrel notes. Immensely dry and with plenty of grip. Such a spice driven mid palate courtesy of the oak and the increased but never too aggressive abv. 54% just seems so right for this. Fiery freshly cut ginger, cinnamon and a touch of celery. It almost runs to being too dry and too oak heavy on the mid-palate but it manages to regain balance and a sweetness on the finish. Chorley cake with buttery shortcrust pastry resplendent with juicy raisins. A hint of milk chocolate. Caramelised sugar on creme brûlée. Walkers liquorice toffee. All pinned together with a solid, classic woody Barbadian backbone.

I tried this alongside a glass of the old label XO. Its youth, abv and more aggressive oak approach make it a very enjoyable step up as an experience as opposed to the XO’s calmer more easy-going oak and 43% abv. It’s good to see Mount Gay releasing cask strength Rums, albeit as bottlings for others and limited releases. I still think that their current cask strength releases have their pricing structure a little high to truly appeal to a bigger market, £150 for the XO Cask Strength (which I picked up anyway) and £200 for the Peat Smoke throw them into truly ‘special purchase’ territory. As a group, we spoke at length to Raphael Grisoni about this when we were at the distillery in April. This release is priced at just shy of £88 which brings it into a better price bracket and given the enjoyment contained within this bottle, it’s bang on the money.

4.5 / 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.