Velier Caroni 2000 TWE Exclusive

As the name would suggest, this release is a bottling from the legendary Caroni Distillery that closed in the early 2000’s. I have previously written about Rums from the Caroni Distillery and that information can be found here, here and here.

Velier Caroni 2000 The Whisky Exchange Exclusive Bottling – 70.4% abv

This Whisky Exchange Exclusive Velier bottling is a Full Proof Heavy Caroni distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2017 giving it 17 years of maturation in Trinidad. It is a ‘single cask’ bottling (#R4008) which yielded 238 bottles at a mammoth 70.4% abv. Loss to evaporation is stated as >75%. It must have been a consolidation of casks at some point into #R4008 given the release of 238 700ml bottles, unless a larger vessel was used. Anyhow, its Velier, so there will be no tricks at play. Honesty is their thing.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Proper heavy Caroni. The type that isn’t immediately petrol / oil / tar led. It’s initially a very medicinal, smoke and hedgerow fruit rum. Varnish. Linseed oil. Tar creeps in. The aroma of summer as a child….freshly creosoted fence panels. The petrol and oil are definitely present but very much under control. The longer you leave it, the fruitier and more baked goods it becomes. Bread and butter pudding with crispy burnt raisins and a sprinkling of muscovado sugar. Mixed candied fruit peels. It plays very well for such a brute with a solid backbone of oak and cedar wood wrap from a cigar tube. This is the kind of Caroni that I enjoy.

With water the addition of powdery cocoa and lighter floral notes.

Mouth: Wow. A huge explosion of smoke, antiseptic, heavy oak. Old Demerara Rum bitterness. Bitter burnt raisins. So intense.

With water and 20 minutes in the glass: Hedgerow fruit. Homemade blackcurrant and raspberry jam. Beautifully approachable and subtly sweet. Terry’s chocolate orange. Candyfloss. Caramel. Liquorice. A beautifully enveloping mouthfeel. Pencil shavings take over the spicy and peppery mid palate. Intense drying, spicy oak. The finish is heavily oak led, with smoke, bitter liquorice and molasses. Maybe a touch of eucalyptus as the long finish eventually fades.

Caroni is not my favourite Rum, I don’t possess the same fanatic obsessions as some…but when it’s good, it’s REALLY good….and this is REALLY REALLY good. It’s actually quite nuanced for a Caroni, dare I say it, at times delicate and approachable….but don’t let your guard down as it’s a bit like a wild animal…it should be respected or you could lose an arm! It’s amazing what plenty of years in a barrel in a tropical climate can do for something that must surely have been handled with caution straight off the still. It could have replaced the Velier Caroni 21 as my favourite Caroni as it has the fruit that the 21 has, but its just carried through in a fuller experience.

4.5 / 5

This Rum will be £299 on release. It is available via ballot only from The Whisky Exchange on this link: The Whisky Exchange Ballot

If you are fortunate, you will be charged on the 4th October. I want it, but I have tried it…and therefore I won’t use up a spot in the ballot to deny someone that hasn’t

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’

Plantation as a brand will be familiar to pretty much everyone reading this. No real explanation is required. Xaymaca however will need a little explanation. It is the name given to the island of Jamaica by its first inhabitants, the Arawaks. With their purchase of the West Indies Rum Distillery (W.I.R.D) in Barbados, Maison Ferrand also gained a third share in National Rums of Jamaica (NRJ). This gives them a share of Long Pond and Clarendon Distilleries. There are pot stills available at those distilleries. Long Pond has a John Dore Pot Still and Clarendon has a Vendome Pot Still. With access to the distilleries came improved access to stock. Hence, the Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ was born.

The release of the new Plantation Xaymaca has been accompanied by much fanfare in Rum circles. It speaks of a revival! Their own website marketing information states that the Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ will:

“revive the quintessential Jamaican-style, 100% pot still rums of the 19th century with an expression of intense flavors that reveal the traditional, legendary « Rum Funk » : aromas and flavours of black banana and flambéed pineapple, locally called “Hogo,” an Anglicization of the French term “Haut Goût” (high taste).”

Quite the claim.

Information provided by Plantation is as follows:

  • Alc./Vol. : 43%
  • Origin : Jamaica
  • Distilleries : Clarendon and Long Pond
  • Raw material : Molasses
  • Fermentation : 1 and 3 weeks
  • Distillation : Pot Still (Vendome) from Clarendon Distillery / Pot Still (John Dore) from Long Pond Distillery
  • Tropical ageing : 1 to 3 y.o. in ex-Bourbon casks
  • Continental ageing, elevage : 1 year in ex-Cognac casks
  • Volatile Substances : 312 g/hL AA
  • Esters : 156g/hL AA
  • Marques : Clarendon EMB & MLC marks / Long Pond VRW & STC^E marks
  • Classification : Plummer
  • Dosage : 0 g/L

Digging deeper, as Matt over at Cocktail Wonk has, more information can be gained from those marques. I urge you to view his article but I will also break it down further below utilising the detailed information that Matt obtained on his trip to Maison Ferrand.

Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ – 43% abv – Pot Still Rum

As mentioned above, the marques used in the Xaymaca are as follows:

  • Long Pond – VRW (Vale Royal Wedderburn) from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester range between 150-250 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Long Pond – STC^E (Simon Thompson Cambridge Estate) from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester range between 550-650 g/hL AA. 8 years Tropical maturation & 1 year Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Clarendon – EMB from the Vendome Pot Still with an ester range between 125-175 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Clarendon – MLC (Monymusk Light Continental) from the Vendome Pot Still with an ester range between 500-600 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks

Now there is way more information including specific distillate fermentation periods and abv prior to blending in the linked article.

The article linked to will also tell you that this initial release has another marque in the blend that could be permanent, may not be permanent, may be replaced or may be replaced repeatedly. It’s currently an unknown, but given the age of the marque,its doubtful that it will be available in enough quantities to be permanent.

Missing Marque:

  • Long Pond – ITP from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester level of 280 g/hL AA. 17 years predominantly Tropical maturation

The final Xaymaca noted ester level of 156 g/hL AA, putting it at the bottom end of the Plummer range of 150-200 g/hL AA lets you know that the VRW and the EMB marques are the predominant components of the blend. But, as with Hampdens DOK marque, a little higher ester goes a long way. So let’s have a look at how it tastes.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Candied fruit sweetness. Bright acidic fruit as I would expect with a Long Pond component. Orange peel. Warm Pineapple chunks. Overripe banana. The nip of young alcohol. Light oak. Quite subdued.

Mouth: Sweet warming entry. Thinner mouthfeel than I was expecting but it’s not overly watery. Quite a bit of spice and a more apparent wood influence that wasn’t present on the nose. Fresh ginger. Mild raisin. Faint milk chocolate. The mildest note of pear drop sweets is present if you really concentrate. Mid palate is warming and has hints of toffee. It’s very much Jamaica-lite….but too lite for me. More multi island blend. The finish is surprisingly short with watery wood and weak butterscotch. Pretty dull on the palate, especially when considering how promising the nose was. I would also note that it feels as if it may have an element of column Rum in the blend, even though not noted as such.

For a product that makes a big deal about “hogo”, “Rum Funk”, and “reviving the quintessential Jamaican style 100% pot still rums of the 19th Century”……even getting so geeky as to give a list of the marques used in the blend and giving Ester and Volatile Compound levels, I find that the message being pushed runs at odds with the liquid in the bottle. I’m also not sure who it is aimed at. It can’t be current Plantation fans as they have no issue with the additions anyway. It’s not aimed at geeks as although it has the info, it’s just not interesting enough. It seems to be tagged as a good “beginners” Jamaican Rum in a lot of reviews that I have seen post note writing. If I was new to Jamaican Rum and this was my first bottle, it wouldn’t excite me enough to make me want to know more. Beginners want approachable, not uninteresting. Much has also been made of the lack of ’dosage’. In fact, the lack of ‘dosage’ is stated on the label. Great move, but it only has meaning if you also state on the bottle label when you HAVE added something. Please correct me if this happens with the bottles that have high levels of “dosage” as I’ve not seen it. Website data, Bacardi and Diplomatico do it too, but it means nothing if you’re choosing when to disclose on the label and when not to. Small step, and one to be noted….but we’re not in the promised land yet.

I wanted to enjoy this Rum. It should be a winner on paper. 100% pot. Proper marques being used. Loads of label clarity. But it’s like a jigsaw, with all of the right pieces arranged to make the wrong picture. With those marques, it should be impossible to make a boring blend….but thats what I believe the Xaymaca is. Maybe the secondary age dulled it’s vibrancy. It would’ve maybe been better presented as the distillates blended without the “elevage”, as it has definitely not added value. Could’ve and should’ve been so much more.

2 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced

Don Q is a brand that has been written about on these pages previously. I will admit that although they have released some very fine Rums, I usually have a tendency to steer clear of lighter multi-column spirits….its purely a personal preference thing….though if I am compelled to go for a lighter Rum, Don Q is usually the bottle that I find in my hand. The range has some real stand outs including the very flavourful Gran Anejo and the Single Barrel 2005 and 2007 releases. The Gran Anejo and Single Barrel 2007 actually have a portion of single column distillate in them, as Destilería Serrallés has a Single Column Still made by the Vendome Copper and Brass Company. You can read a little more about the other releases along with Destilería Serrallés by clicking here and here. Spiced Rums get talked about even less than light multi-column Rums here, but in this instance we will be discussing both…..

Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced – 45% abv – Modern Rum

The first thing that may strike you is the ‘Oak Barrel’, hinting that the Rum is aged. Now that is not totally unusual as brands like Foursquare have been doing that for years with their Spiced Rum, but quite a large percentage of other brands utilise unaged Rums as the base for their Spiced products. The aged rum in question here is a 3-year-old blend of their multi-column Rum. This is then Spiced using Cinnamon, Vanilla, Nutmeg and Clove……natural spices….no flavoured syrups. Caramel will have been added for colour to give uniformity to the shelf appearance. The second thing that will strike you is that is presented at 45% abv…….most other Spiced Rums go in at 37.5% – 40% (probably as they don’t sell for a hugely inflated price, why pay the duty on a higher abv spirit) so this is a welcome change….though it does make me wish that they’d implement this in their Gran Anejo and Single Barrel releases which would really excel at a higher abv.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Initial sweetness. Cream soda. Vanilla. There is a warming spice character too (obviously) that is all Nutmeg and crystallised ginger. Light clove oil. Chocolate coated ginger biscuits and a fresh zesty orange rind. This is all carried on some pleasant oak notes being pushed along by the increased abv.

Mouth: A nice heated entry with the abv immediately noticeable. Not as sweet an entry as other spiced offerings though it feels like there is sweetener added. Vanilla, cloves and cinnamon in abundance. Quite a pleasant milky chai latte. None of the spices are ‘over done’…..and the best thing? Neither is the vanilla. There is a hint of kola nut being brought through on the dry woody accents which themselves run through the mid palate. Following the subtly sweet entry the rum finishes with drying oak, a nip from some fiery crystallised ginger and black pepper. Right at the back-end the vanilla has one last hurrah and the warmth of the spices sees it home.

It pairs well with coke in the right quantities (about 50/50 with plenty of ice) but this has been enjoyed mainly in a glass on its own or in the occasional daiquiri. As Spiced Rums go, its solid stuff.

4 / 5

We don’t consume much spiced rum here anymore, but when we do, this is one of our 3 go to offerings.

Better than 95% of spiced rums on the market and it very much models itself after the Foursquare Spiced with its aged rum base yet this offers a higher abv which is a nice touch. Now to just get them to up the abv of the Gran Anejo and Single Barrels and we’ll all be happy.

© 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.

Habitation Velier Worthy Park 2007

We’re no strangers to Worthy Park here at Rum Diaries HQ, we even started up the Worthy Park Society on Facebook, which you can join by clicking here. We have also written about quite a few Worthy Park releases. Todays review focuses on another Habitation Velier bottling, but this time it actually has the Worthy Park Distillery name on the label as opposed to WP or Forsyths from the previous Habitation Velier releases…..and talking about Habitation Velier releases, my thoughts on the earlier bottlings can be found here and a little history of the Worthy Park Estate can be found hereRight back to it…..

Worthy Park 2007 – Pure Single Jamaican Rum – 59% abv – 10 years old – WPL Marque

What is different about this release apart from the name. Well, a distillation date of 2007 for a start….but it is also the WPL marque. WPL being the Worthy Park Light marque with an ester level of 60-119 gr/hL AA which we first saw in the Habitation Velier Forsyths WP 2005. It was a very impressive Rum. This too has seen a maturation period of 10 years at the Worthy Park Estate, the Vale of Lluidas in the Parish of St Catherine. It also suffered a loss of 64% to evaporation….but this release is presented at 59%. Time to dig in….

Tasting Notes

Nose: Quite a calm approach for a 59% spirit. The trademark overripe banana is clearly present, the signature of Worthy Park. Quite waxy. A nice level of astringency, not too nose destroying and not underwhelming either. Nice integration of the alcohol here. New white board marker pens. Quite a lot of cereal notes and some spicy rye. Ice cream wafers. A touch of milk chocolate with freshly shaved coconut. Black tea, a freshly opened bag of mixed nuts and a beautiful warming and slightly spicy sweet oak. Something ‘dairy’ is in there too.

Mouth: Big oily mouthfeel. A real chewy palate pleaser. Citrus notes, salty lemon rind. Sweet cure bacon. Heavy bourbon oak influence and well-integrated alcohol. You have to wait for the sweetness to join the party…..but it does. Cocoa, banana chips, biscuity cheesecake base, BBQ bananas. Sweet grain whisky. The mid palate has the fading sweetness of coconut and milk chocolate and brings forward the stewed black tea before the spicy grains and bourbon oak make another appearance. The long finish is full and spice led initially. Very oaky, drying and suitably warm. A hint of molasses bitter sweetness. A short wait brings a smoke led oaken character and lightly smoked cheese. Molasses rounds off a truly pleasurable rum. So very drinkable.

Again Worthy Park have produced a corker of a rum. The only thing that this rum suffers from for me is the fact that it’s not the exemplary 2006 WPM…..but it’s not meant to be. Different marques, different Rums. They are all 100% unmistakably Worthy Park but they are doing things slightly differently than the Hampden, Monymusk and Long Pond releases. Less bright fruit, more banana and oak influence. It works, makes them unique and I love everything that they stand for and nearly everything that they produce. Colour me smitten. It’s worth your money.

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.

Transcontinental Rum Line Jamaica WP2013

The Transcontinental Rum Line brand is owned by La Maison du Whisky and in their own words:

“The Transcontinental Rum Line is inspired by Rum Casks’ historical trips between the New World and the Old Continent. From the beginning of its production Rum has always been shipped to Europe for nautical, economical and technical reasons”

So what we gather is that the Rums within the range have a portion of both Tropical and Continental maturation. Fortunately this information is housed on the front and rear bottle labels.

Now I’ve written on a lot of solely Tropically matured Worthy Park releases, some unaged and some having a 12 month ‘finish’ in a Continental climate. This information can be found by clicking here, here and here. With a wealth of other Worthy Park bottlings on my shelves, this number of articles will only increase.

So lets dig straight into it……

Transcontinental Rum Line Jamaica WP2013 – 57% abv – Pure Single Rum

As stated on the label, this Rum is presented at 57% (Navy Strength). Distilled at Worthy Park in 2013 and bottled in Europe in 2017 it spent 57% of its maturation time in Continental weather giving just shy of 2 years maturation in Jamaica and just in excess of 2.5 years maturation in a Continental climate.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Oily in the glass and of a light straw colour. Huge nose of pear drops, acetone and model glue. Some window putty too. Trademark Worthy Park banana but it’s a vibrant green banana initially carried on those stinging estery notes. A large punchy molasses note runs straight through the nose carrying with it buttery pastry wrapped treacle tart and creamy vanilla custard. There is a small wood influence but it’s more sappy and resinous than outright oak. Time in the glass works wonders for this rum….allow the initial sting of young alcohol to subside and you’ll be rewarded. It has that salty oily citrus and powdered sugar thing that I adore in young Ledaig offerings. A little rubbery note follows most visits to the glass along with brine and black olive tapenade. It has a grassy agricole like edge and it’s also a little ‘farm yard’ with notes of hay.

Mouth: Very heated entry with a dominant peppery note gives way to a growing sweetness once the initial alcohol shock has subsided. Light cocoa and milky hot chocolate. It becomes quite salty too….salted liquorice. That trademark overripe banana appears and brings with it caramelised sugar and syrupy pineapple. Tropical fruit topped flapjacks. Quite drying on the mid palate which is where the molasses takes hold. Light nuttiness and a lot of spice….think nutmeg and fennel seeds. There’s a slight metallic tang to the rum and it sits off the back of the molasses notes that feels like licking treacle off a spoon….in fact I’ve previously described this rum as being like licking treacle off a spoon whilst someone flambes bananas in the next room. It’s youth remains very apparent throughout and the alcohol is not as well-integrated as I would like and as well-integrated as some of the unaged Worthy Park that I’ve tried, but sometimes that doesn’t ruin the experience….and this is one of those times. Olives, vibrant cane and floral notes nestle in the resultant vapours at the back of your throat. The finish is a long one, resplendent with those caramelised mushy bananas, molasses and salty brine. Growing peppery dryness and those acetone vapours keep you company for a good while.

It’s a very good rum. I purchased my second bottle the day after my first sip of this bottle. It sits on an almost 50/50 split of tropical and continental maturation and is a very good example of that practice. Sure it’s not as impressive as some of the Habitation Velier releases or their own Single Estate Reserve Cask Strength and the alcohol integration issues could be off-putting, but it just works for me. I love the stuff. Makes a killer daiquiri too.

4 / 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.

Pardin 3 Madeiras Cachaça

Well this will mark a first for the site…..My first Cachaça review. Having visited Manchester Rum Festival in early June, I found myself taken with one particular exhibitor. I met Leszek Wedzicha on the Weber Haus table and was instantly enthralled by his enthusiasm, his knowledge….and his ability to rival Yves on the Amathus table next door for sheer enthusiasm whilst giving a tutored flight through the available range. I picked up a cachaça during the evening whilst still “fresh” and will write about that particular bottle later. But since then I’ve expanded my horizons and I thought that it would be fun to kick things off with this interesting number….a blend.

The beginnings of Pardin Cachaça hark back to a 20-year-old dream to produce a Cachaça that expresses two differing terroirs within a blend. The components for Pardin 3 Maderias are produced in two locations. Within Minas Gerais and within Sao Paulo State. These two locations have been chosen for their differing terroir which influences the cane grown there.

Camanducaia in Minas Gerais is located close to the tourist town of Monte Verde. It has both hot and cold extremes of temperature and is within the Serra da Mantiqueira (Mantiqueira mountain range) at an altitude of 1100 metres above sea level. This altitude is said to favour the growth of sugarcane allowing the location to express itself in the Cachaça. The Pardin Cachaça production in this location utilises controlled fermentation and a 1000 litre steam-heated alembic still.

Camandicaia Distillery Steam Heated Still

Sao Paulo State is a known sugarcane producing region and its heated climate is said to allow cane with a high sucrose content to be grown. The Pardin Cachaça production in this location also utilises controlled fermentation but a 350 litre direct fire heated alembic still is used.

Pardin 3 Madeiras Cachaça – 40% abv – Cachaça

Pardin 3 Madeiras actually uses 4 differing barrel types though two are Oak (Carvalho). At the Minas Gerais distillery, the Cachaça is matured in French Oak, Amburana and Jequitiba. At the Sao Paulo distillery the Cachaça is matured in American Oak. These components are then blended to produce Pardin 3 Madeiras. Age wise, the component of the blend aged in American Oak is a 5-year-old Cachaça, the French Oak, Amburana and Jequitiba all see a maturation period of 18 months. Quite interesting to see established woods utilised in the Rum and Rhum maturation process being blended with native Brazilian woods.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Very pleasant honeyed vanilla sweetness. That beautiful cinnamon of the Amburana that always manifests itself as iced cinnamon buns for me. Spiced pumpkin syrup. Pumpkin pie. Light peppery oak spice. Bakewell tart like almond and sweet marzipan. It has a freshness and vibrancy from the youthful components. Quite a herby note, maybe dill…..and a touch of dried mixed peel

Mouth: A little of sweetness. Lightly spicy oak and an almost savoury roast pumpkin soup note. The oak shows itself way more on the palate as it dries things out. Celery. A definite fennel, dill and fresh herby quality. Like chewing a slice of sugarcane such is the grassy quality. Cinnamon buns appear as the Amburana powers into view. Nutmeg, cinnamon, slightly burnt fruit loaf. Perhaps the finish is where it lets itself down slightly. It has a spice driven finish with hints of caramel, light toasted oak and the vapours carry floral notes…but it’s quite short lived. A very solid Cachaça overall and the skill involved in the blending of differing woods is clear to see.

4 / 5

What an amazing start (for me) on this journey into Cachaça. A very well composed and well-integrated blend that allows the individual qualities of each wood, of which two are native Brazilian, to shine whilst also avoiding one-sided dominance. A nice level of complexity. If I could buy it in the UK, I most certainly would.

© 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.

Admiral Rodney St Lucia Rum Collection

Yes you read that right…..collection. You see, one of the best examples of 100% Coffey Column Rum is soon to gain a younger and an older sibling. Part of the new strategy from the new owners of St Lucia Distillers, Groupe Bernard Hayot (also owners of Rhum Clement and Rhum JM) is to introduce a shake up of the current ranges from the distillery and to breathe new life into the distillates from their amazing collection of stills. The Bounty range seems to be getting a push outside of St Lucia, the 1931 releases are becoming part of the Chairman’s Reserve brand and the Admiral Rodney range gains two new expressions and a rebrand of the original. I’ve written extensively about St Lucian rums here, about the Chairman’s Reserve range here, and more importantly about Admiral Rodney here.

But allow me to elaborate with a bit of marketing bumf and the story of Admiral Rodney.

Admiral George B. Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney KB (1718-1792) was a famed and brilliant naval strategist. A gambler and a collector of the spoils of war. He will historically be remembered as the Admiral who broke the French line at the Battle of the Saints thus ensuring the British domination of the Caribbean.

It’s nice to see the range expanding and to also see how the range is has been renamed. The original Admiral Rodney will renamed as HMS Royal Oak whilst the two new additions will be HMS Princessa and HMS Formidable. Due to a stroke of good fortune, I have a small sample of each to review today. So without further ado, let’s dig in.

Admiral Rodney HMS Princessa – 40% abv- Traditional Rum

HMS Princessa was originally a Spanish vessel but was captured by the British in 1780 at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. Captained by Charles Knatchbull with Rear Admiral Francis Samuel Drake aboard, this 70 gun ship of the line was one of the first ships to engage the French in the Battle of the Saints.

The rum itself is as alluded to earlier, the product of the Coffey Column at St Lucia Distillers. The still which was commissioned in 1984 has 45 plates. The Rums set down to mature for the Admiral Rodney Range are taken from the lower plates of the still. The distillates are matured in ex bourbon oak and are aged between 5 and 9 years prior to blending.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Light oak. Vanilla. A fair dose of astringency and pepper. Light creme patissiere on a buttery vanilla slice. Vague hints of banana chips and honey. Quite soft. Maybe the lightest drop of almond. Really well-balanced.

Mouth: Initial sweetness. A touch of tannic oak. Quite a pleasant bite of alcohol. White pepper teases the tongue as the oak encourages you to chew the rum. A beautiful dryness with a hint of tobacco. Banana yoghurt. Light custard with caramelised brown sugar. A well-balanced finish that shows great integration of all components but it is all butterscotch, green apple and pepper underpinned with a drying oak

4 / 5

Admiral Rodney HMS Royal Oak – 40% abv- Traditional Rum

HMS Royal Oak was in the vanguard of ships to engage the French in the Battle of the Saints. Captained by Thomas Burnett, the Royal Oak manoeuvred skilfully and brought to bear all of her 74 guns on the enemy for the duration of the battle. With 8 men lost and 20 wounded, Royal Oak played an integral role in the first skirmishes of the battle.

Again taken from the lower plates of the Coffey Column, the distillates are matured in ex bourbon oak and are aged between 7 and 12 years prior to blending.

Tasting Notes

Nose: That delightful Admiral Rodney toasted coconut and oak leads things. Savoury vanilla leads into Cherry. Christmas mince pies. A hint of Nutmeg. Powdery cocoa. Roasted peanuts and Bourbon oak. A touch leathery. Chocolate coated peanuts

Mouth: Again there is an initial sweetness before the drying oak forces itself in. Better mouthfeel than I remember. Feels a lot fuller. Some Stewed stone fruit sweetness but this is definitely spice and spicy oak driven. Nutmeg. Pepper. Chocolate coated peanuts. Saliva inducing dryness rolling across the tongue. Mild vanilla and banana. The finish is of a medium length with a touch of sweetness courtesy of caramel and raisins before the spicy, peppery oak barges through and takes over

4 / 5

Admiral Rodney HMS Formidable – 40% abv- Traditional Rum

Launched in August 1777, HMS Formidable was Admiral Rodney’s flagship in the Battle of the Saints. Formidable was in the centre of the British fleet and took advantage of a sudden change of wind to break the line and sail into the French fleet unleashing her 98 guns on Admiral de Grasse’s ships.

This time the distillates are aged for between 9 and 12 years prior to blending.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Really really intense. More of everything. Properly cutting and nose tingling acetone takes you by surprise. Based on the first sniff I’d question whether this had a touch of pot still but I know it’s 100% Coffey Column. Crazy good. A beautifully intense oak and spice driven nose. Honey. Raisins and dried tropical fruit. Such a big oaky nose. Toasted coconut. Tobacco. Chocolate. Heavy bourbon cherry. Mixed roasted peanuts and hazelnuts. Pear drops….really. Furniture polish. Creosote. This is properly impressive

Mouth: Quite a gentle well-balanced entry. Pear drops. Astringent oak. An underlying sweetness being kept at bay by the crushing power of the oak influence. This has plenty going on. Puff pastry mince tarts. Mixed candied fruit peel. A little citrus oil. Milky, sweet coffee. Hot chocolate with marshmallows. Candied warm peanuts. A light smoke. There’s so much depth and complexity to this Rum…..you have to remind yourself that it’s a Coffey Column spirit. Beautifully long and chewy finish full of cutting, drying oak. That furniture polish and nail varnish lingers in the vapours. Warm peanuts, raisins and more of that coffee carries through but the oaken influence is the star. Very very good rum

4.5 / 5

The new additions really do step things up a notch. The youthfulness of the HMS Princessa makes it a really intriguing addition to the range and one that I really do rather like. HMS Royal Oak is the solid performer and it feels as though the blend has been tweaked slightly for the better. But the real star of the show is HMS Formidable. It just in possession of so much complexity it really shows how good a tool the Coffey Column still is. So fully of complexity and enjoyment.

Yes I’d love to experience all of the range at between 43 and 46% and I really do believe that this is something that should be investigated for the range in the future….even as special releases. The market that is interested in Admiral Rodney as a product really does demand it.

St Lucia Distillers have really stepped up their game and given the array of Rums that they have in their warehouses, maturation in differing casks and the complex array of available Rums from their wonderful stills at their fingertips, St Lucia is definitely my third favourite Rum producing Island!

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