Berry’s St Lucia Rum Aged 14 Years

I’ve previously looked at a couple of Berry Bros. bottlings that have been for other people, a couple of Hampdens and a Caroni….and they all hit the mark, but this will be the first of their own releases that I have looked at.

Berry Bros & Rudd are a Wine and Spirits Merchant based in London, Britain’s oldest, and they have traded from the same premises at 3 St. James Street, London since 1698. They have also branched out with offices in Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. They have a Wine School and an exclusive fine wine and dining venue in London’s St James’s.

St Lucia you will be familiar with having seen plenty of reviews and articles on this site. They have numerous marques from four stills available and they are not afraid to use them.

The traditional Coffey two column (continuous) still at St Lucia Distillers was commissioned in 1985

John Dore 1 batch still has a 1500 litre capacity and was commissioned in 1998

John Dore 2 batch still has a 6000 litre capacity and was commissioned in 2004

Vendome  batch still has a 2000 litre capacity and was commissioned in 2003

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

Berry’s St Lucia Aged 14 Years – 46% abv – 0 g/l additives

There have been a couple of bottlings of this Rum released, I know of an 11 year and this 14 year. From the information that I have been able to uncover, the contents of this bottle were from a 2000 distillation with bottling and release in 2014. The high likelihood is that this has seen little to no tropical maturation with most if not all of its time being spent in a cooler climate. Bottled at 46%, with unknown quantities, I do know that until the past 18-24 months this bottle was available relatively easily. This is in fact my second open bottle of this Rum. Taking a guess at the stills, with a 2000 distillation it would put only two stills in play, the Coffey traditional column and John Dore I….but without further information, we’ll have to use our nose and palate to decide if its single still or a blend.

Tasting Notes

Nose: As has become the norm now, St Lucia distillers output definitely has some key indicators coming from their stills. The aroma from the glass is confirming my assumption of the stills used. A little sweetness, vanilla and acidity initially and a lightness to the nose that brings quite prominent, almost cooling menthol notes. A whiff of wet mint to accompany a growing medicinal quality, not quite Vendome-esque……more subdued but still light sticking plasters notes, a hint of oil and the aroma of a new air filter being installed on my old diesel Peugeot 306. A little fruit fights through with overripe and fermenting pineapple,  but still carrying a cool feel to it, like the aroma of the pineapple mint growing in our garden. It becomes a bit brine led too with some light salty green olive notes, lemon oils and a little savoury edge before the lightest hint of cedar and warming peppercorn ease in. Not a huge amount of wood on the nose but it is there playing second fiddle to the rest of the olfactory display. On the nose, for me this is a blend of both aforementioned stills.

Mouth: A solid yet not oily mouthfeel……lighter than expected though, maybe the pot to column ratio is dialed down. The initial sweetness of vanilla, toffee and light icing sugar coated fermenting tropical fruit soon gives way to a growing savoury character. Quite creosote like with plenty of black olives, preserved lemons and a large dose of liquorice. The mid palate becomes a little spicier with a hint of fresh fragrant green chili, cloves and ginger. There’s an almost herbal quality too easing its way past the light woody notes. The finish, which is of a decent length is quite spicy bringing back the ginger, chili and wet wood with the merest hint of plasters and liquorice. Sweetness pops back for a fleeting moment before the return of the cooling menthol and eucalyptus leaves you with a touch of cigar box and right at the death, pineapple cube sweets.

In conclusion: I thought it good to get this review out given the large quantity of 50/50 John Dore I and Traditional column blends that seem to be hitting the market at the same abv, tropically matured but coming with less time in the barrel. This is bottle number two of this Rum that has just disappeared, with one remaining in the rum store…that one was picked up for me by Wes at Rumfest a few years ago, incidentally he reviews this rum over in his website thefatrumpirate. The two bottles, both the 14 yr, have given me plenty of easy drinking with moderate levels of complexity and high levels of enjoyment. The rum displays almost as well as some of its entirely tropically matured cousins but lacks the intensity of a little more time in the sun. That said however, if you do see a bottle, be sure to pick it up as a lot of enjoyment sits within its sleek, tall silhouette.

4 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2020. 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.

AuRhum “Purity” Jamaican Rum

Today I have a familiar Rum but from an unfamiliar independent bottler. The familiar Rum was distilled in St. Catherine (so we know where its origins lie) and the unfamiliar bottler is AuRhum….who hail from Denmark. Before we dig into the bottle information it may be prudent to set the scene of who AuRhum actually are and why they choose to do what they do.

AuRhum is a company comprising three Rum enthusiasts, Alexander Vincit, Lindy Andersen and Tommy Andersen. These three enthusiasts have known each other for a good many years and they share a passion for their Rum ‘hobby’. But why decide to become independent bottlers in a market that is becoming saturated? Varying degrees of quality and varying degrees of honesty within the existing marketplace are two reasons. The raison d’etre for these three enthusiasts is that they believe that the consumer deserves an honest approach and a good experience when they purchase a bottle. As a result their key rules are based around zero additives and zero sugar. They want the experience to be authentic, honest and more importantly, affordable without having to spend upwards of £100 on a bottle. With all of this in mind, AuRhum aim to create a range of bottlings that are either unique or that enable rarely seen distillates to be enjoyed. As if their lofty, but sensible goals weren’t enough, as both Alexander and Lindy work in the armed forces they want to assist and support both current and former colleagues who perhaps have not shared their luck. They insist that 5% of the company profits must be donated to a Veteran Charity in Denmark.

Pretty admirable stuff. But we need to shift focus to the bottle that is being assessed today….AuRhum “Purity” Jamaican Rum

AuRhum “Purity” Jamaican Rum – 57% abv – 0g/l additives

As mentioned at the beginning, we gain most of the information that we need from the bottle, with the remaining questions being asked directly. Distilled in St. Catherine, Jamaica can only mean one thing, and that is distillation at the mighty Worthy Park on their Forsyths double retort pot still. You can gain a wealth of information about the distillery and its products by clicking here. The marque information is unavailable but generally the most commonly available aged marque is WPL (Worthy Park Light – 60-119 gr/laa) although that is not confirmed. Distilled in late 2013 / early 2014, the Rum was matured for 4 years at the distillery in ex-bourbon barrels prior to being shipped to Denmark in early 2018 for a further 1 year ‘finish’ in ex-Port casks. It was bottled for AuRhum in early 2019 and is a release of 360 bottles, mine being hand numbered as 148 and it is presented at 57% abv with No Sugar, No Additives and No Chill Filtration. It is available for the equivalent of around £82 plus postage. If awards are your thing, it picked up a Gold at the 2019 Nordic Rum Fest.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Nice and punchy. Its apparent youth and associated alcohol are quite forceful initially. Fortunately they don’t stick around and dissipate rather quickly after a few minutes in the glass. Immediately it reveals the now trademark signatures of a Worthy Park offering….Big solid notes of strong, stewed black tea. This is elevated and carried on a mushy overripe banana sweetness that throws mashed up mango into the mix, with spice bun and sweet coconut milk rice. Warm blackcurrant jelly that has been recently poured over trifle sponges and is waiting to set. Heavy berry and fortified wine notes themselves bring dark chocolate, raisins, prune juice and a developing spiced characteristic. This spice driven facet to the nose is initially quite peppery with cinnamon, fiery fresh ginger and a hint of cumin. As the Rum develops in the glass, and it really does develop over time, more of that sweet rice and coconut milk begins to usher in a creamy characteristic and the once stewed black tea morphs into a more mellow and milky spiced chai offering. The merest hint of window putty makes itself known.

Mouth: Plenty of heat on the first couple of visits. The relative youth of the rum coupled with its 57% abv means that it’s one that needs a little acclimatisation. As your palate becomes accustomed to the heat, a sharply sweet and hot spiced note are the order of the day with fiery crystallised ginger and pepper balancing well with a bag of dried cranberries. Almost immediately it feels like the rum is starting to dry out but rather confusingly as soon as this feeling has washed over the tip of your tongue, a real saliva inducing sweetness bathes the sides of your mouth with tart and sweet red and black currants and a hint of gooseberry which, given the vast quantity of other Worthy Park bottlings that I’ve consumed, must be as a result of the port cask. Continuity is there from nose to mid palate with the familiar overripe banana and black tea mixing with the creamier coconut rice, vanilla rice pudding and milky chai. There’s a slice of sour cherry pie leading into the finish that does possess some real length and is heavily spiced with ginger, black pepper and a touch of ginger cake. A little dark chocolate bitterness wrapped up with tart berries and sweeter prunes ushers in a return of a spicy red wine characteristic. Maybe some raisins and a touch of soft liquorice. It becomes a little bit ‘cigar ash’ at the back end as the fruit dissipates and you do begin to feel more cask influence growing.

In Conclusion: It’s quite young, and it shows in both the heated nature of the distillate and its delivery which can feel a little like an excited puppy dog clamouring for your attention. It’s also a fiery proposition, and one where the alcohol carries some real influence throughout and as a result the transitions can feel a little jumpy, but the overarching factor remains that the base spirit is a very solid one. The finishing period in port casks has definitely added something worthwhile to the Rum rather than detracting from it. For me it certainly is an enjoyable Rum, and like that excited puppy, I’ve grown quite fond of it. More than worth a purchase.

4 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2020. 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.

Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 2006 13 Years Old Exclusive to Royal Mile Whiskies

As its name would suggest, Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 2006 13 Years Old Exclusive to Royal Mile Whiskies is an exclusive bottling of Chairman’s Reserve for Royal Mile Whiskies. A large amount of releases appeared on the market towards the back end of 2019 and the early part of 2020. I own quite a few and so far I have only reviewed the Whisky Exchange bottling and that review can be found here. Again, as before, I will endeavor to put some distillery information prior to looking at the Rum in question.

Saint Lucia is one of the Windward Islands. The Windward Islands are the South Eastern, generally larger Islands of the Lesser Antilles within the West Indies. They are comprised of Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada. I have sadly never visited, but I am more than aware of the Pitons. The Pitons are two mountainous volcanic spires, Gross Piton and Petit Piton that grace the Chairman’s Reserve labels.

St Lucia Distillers emerged from a long tradition of on site, rustic rum production that was a common feature of the West Indies sugar plantations. The molasses (a by-product of the sugar industry) was fermented and distilled into Rum which was always in high demand, despite the fluctuations in the economy of the West Indian plantations. By the late 1950’s, only two distilleries remained on Saint Lucia. One in Dennery on the East coast, established in 1931 which was the site of the Barnard family plantation and the other in the Roseau valley which was owned and operated by Geest, a Dutch banana company. The St Lucia Distillers Group was formed in 1972 when due to the rise in European sugar beet, sugar production on Saint Lucia ended forcing the Barnard family to enter into a joint venture with the Geest owned Distillery moving their operations from the Dennery Distillery to the Roseau Bay Distillery in the Roseau Valley. This is the current location of St Lucia Distillers. In 1992, the Barnard family, who had been planters and Rum distillers for over a century, purchased the Geest shares. In 1997, the Barnard family sold some of their shares to Angostura Ltd before in 2005 selling their remaining shares to Clico Barbados Holdings with third generation rum maker Laurie Barnard staying on as Managing Director. In 2012 Laurie Barnard passed away and in 2013, Mrs Margaret Monplaisir was appointed his replacement. In early 2016, Martinique-based “Groupe Bernard Hayot” (GBH) acquired Saint Lucia Distillers Group of Companies (SLD) for an undisclosed sum.

Since its inception in 1972, St Lucia Distillers have grown from producers of single label mass market Rum to producers of well-regarded Rums and Rum based products. Not surprising given their capabilities. Distillation at St Lucia Distillers takes place on one of their 4 stills…..1 continuous and 3 batch.

Their continuous distillation process is supported by their Coffey Still , a two column (continuous) which was commissioned in 1985.

Their batch distillation is supported by three stills.

John Dore 1 – This pot still distills both molasses and sugarcane juice Rums, has a 1500 litre capacity and was commissioned in 1998.

John Dore 2 – This pot still distills only molasses Rum, has a 6000 litre capacity and was commissioned in 2004.

Vendome – This pot still distills both molasses and sugarcane juice Rums, has a 2000 litre capacity and was commissioned in 2003.

With that said, lets dig in.

Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 2006 13 Years Old Exclusive to Royal Mile Whiskies – 56% abv – 0g/l additives

Distilled pre-August 2006, this Rum is 100% Vendome distillate from the 2000 litre capacity Vendome Pot Still. It was matured in ex bourbon barrels for a full minimum period of 13 years at the distillery in St Lucia before bottling at 56% abv on 16th August 2019. It is without additives and the outturn was 286 bottles with the one being assessed today being number 043.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Big. Punchy. Sharp. Medicinal rules the early exchanges here and there’s no getting away from it…..(but why would you want to). I’m finishing up my tasting notes outside on a sunny afternoon, this glass is on the table three feet away from me and it’s STILL all that I can smell. It very vibrant and the air resonates with bright, stinging acetone. Fruity acidity. Sticking plasters. Menthol. Pine air freshener. The smell from your car tires when you’ve just come to a sudden halt, complete with accompanying 5ft skid mark left on the road and the aroma of someone melting plastic in the distance. A weird whiff of soapy water passes quite quickly fortunately and as we move past the medicinal qualities the nose begins to adopt far fruitier characteristics. Cherry stones. Freshly cut pineapple that’s perhaps been left a bit too long and is fermenting a little. A hint of warm, soft banana. Mixed nuts and raisins and the sharpness of cranberry sauce. Flamed Orange oils. There’s also plenty of brine and salty kalamata olives. It also begins to show its maturity with the damp, woody notes, tobacco, turmeric root and spice that form a canvas for the medicinal and fruity notes to sit atop.

Mouth: Huge, oily mouthfeel on entry. This is a dry, tannic affair initially with a lot of sharp notes. Not as much heat as anticipated. It’s also a little bit ‘hoppy’. Yes there is acidity there but it’s not too distracting or off balance though the balsamic and fruit vinegar notes do creep in and make a beeline for your salivary glands. Antiseptic. Herbal. Eucalyptus. Creosote on a summers day. Fountain pen ink. Brine. Olives. Pink peppercorns. Fruit then comes strolling through the door in the form of fermenting Pineapple. Star fruit. A little of that banana from the nose. Maybe a hint of candied citrus peels. Definitely thick cut Orange marmalade. Honey. Rising bitterness on the mid palate brings forward the oak, barrel spices and promotes the saliva inducing moisture sapping influence on your tongue. The finish, which possesses some real length is led by antiseptic, eucalyptus, caramelised sugar, Lion Ointment before the oak brings crystallised ginger, growing spice and herbal notes. You’re left with an interplay of set honey and eucalyptus for a good while after you’ve taken your last sip. Muscavado sugar aromas sit with in the empty glass.

In Conclusion: Where the the Whisky Exchange release displayed the art of blending two similar, yet different heavy pot distillates, this Royal Mike Whiskies release is a balls out, take me as I am single still expression that doesn’t care for delicate floral nuances or popularity contests. It’s pure, unabashed medicinal glory brings with it a solid development from nose to palate and heaps of fruit and honey. When you push past the initial notes you’ll uncover a rum that plays sweet off perfectly against dry and they both bring the fight to the creeping sharpness. It’s very good.

4.5 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Rum Sixty Six ‘Fine English White Rum’

I first saw this release when a friend sent me an image of the bottle. I was very intrigued as I know that Rum Sixty Six is a brand that for a good few years, a lot of us have trusted solely based upon the fact that it is / was a Foursquare product in the bottle. I mean, just look online for reviews of their Cask Strength 12 which is astonishingly good, their Family Reserve which has been upped to 43% (my own review of the 40% release from back in 2015 is available here) and the newer and younger of the aged releases which is their Extra Old 6. The Rum Sixty Six brand is owned by The Bajan Trading Company and in the tradition of all Rum brands, there was a back story…..

So, the Sixty Six of Rum Sixty Six refers to the 30th November 1966 which was a date that saw the Barbados Independence Act 1966 come into effect. The Act also presented the ability for a new constitution to take effect upon independence and this was actioned through the Barbados Independence Order 1966. This effectively made Barbados the fourth English speaking country in the West Indies to achieve full independence from the UK. A coat of arms adorns the bottle with the motto ‘Pride and Industry’. This coat of arms was adopted on the 14th February 1966 by decree of Queen Elizabeth II. The Family Reserve aspect refers to the fact that due to production costs and the effects of evaporation on long aging of Rum in Barbados, the quantities of Rum aged for this time period are reduced and their allocation reserved for family. With an allocation given the the British branch of the family which emigrated in the 1960’s. Up until the launch of Rum Sixty Six, it was only ever exported when members of the family returned home with unmarked bottles after visits to Barbados. So now that is out of the way…..

In 2016, Halewood Wines & Spirits purchased a significant stake in The Bajan Trading Company and initially really upped the profile of the brand, adding the aforementioned 12 Year Old Cask Strength and the 6 Year Extra Old as well as increasing the abv of the Family Reserve to 43%.  Sadly of late though, the Rum Sixty Six brand has seen itself appear at Rum Festivals on the same table as the Dead Man’s Fingers range……and I’ll be brutally honest, it looks completely out of place for a brand with such provenance. When I looked further and closer at the rest of the range, I picked up that although the Family Reserve and Cask Strength are still labelled as Barbados Rum from Foursquare, the 6 Year Extra Old offering is now labelled as a 6 Year Old Panama Rum……which brings us nicely onto the bottle that is up for assessment today……Rum Sixty Six ‘Fine English White Rum’. I picked mine up from The Drop Store for £13 down from £16 for a short while and the service received was great….the bottle is priced at around £20 on most other sites.

Rum Sixty Six ‘Fine English White Rum’ – 38% abv – 0g/l additions

There doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of information around about this release……it’s almost as if they want it to slip under the radar. I have sent several emails to Halewood with hopes of gaining information regarding the sourcing of the Rum and further details but as yet I have not received a response. What I am 100% sure of is that this is NOT a Foursquare Rum Distillery product. So all that we have to go on is the bottle information. A 2 Year Old ‘Caribbean’ Rum is imported to the UK where it is rectified at the Sovereign Distillery in Liverpool. This is then rested and ‘matured‘ in copper tanks. Apparently the result is an ‘outstandingly smooth white rum’.  What’s also amazing is that the rectification of a Caribbean Rum in the UK also makes it an English Rum…..Lets have a look.


Tasting Notes

Nose: Initially the nose on this is very neutral. In all fairness, even an hour in and its still very neutral. It has the spike of a very young spirit, a hint of sweet alcohol and it then just fades into white spirit.

Mouth: Neutral again. I’m trying hard to uncover something. Young, mildly sweet alcohol. A touch of white pepper before the burn of a harsh young spirit leaves you with a warm tongue and nothing else.

In conclusion: If I had to guess and without any of the requested information, I’d say that the base 2 Year Old Rum was multi column Rum. I also don’t really see the need for it to be matured as its hard to imagine that it has any impact on the bottled product, predominantly because I just can’t imagine it being any more lacklustre than it is in its current form. The rectification has reduced what was probably in all honesty, a dull base rum, to a joyless neutral spirit. Resting a spirit in holding tanks to allow the multiple batches to marry, I’ve read about…..’Maturation’ in copper tanks however is straight up nonsense. A Caribbean Rum rectified in the UK does not become an English Rum…..but I’m glad to see that they’re not trying to pass it off as a product of its origin country…..and that country of origin should also be mighty thankful.

You may now be wondering what I actually expected from a bottle that can cost up to £20…..so I opened a couple of unaged and lightly aged & filtered Rums that cost the same or less than this bottling and carried out a side by side tasting. These were Alleyne Arthur’s White Rum from Barbados which cost me £6 (creamy, citrus oil, ginger, surprising body), Rum Bar Silver from Jamaica which cost me £22 (straight up Ester driven funk) and for the multi-column comparison I opened Don Q Cristal which cost me £20 (ginger, lightly floral, citrus). They all offer a far better experience than this bottling for similar money…..and let’s face it, you can buy Appleton Signature for £15 at times.

The really saddening thing to see is that this brand, which has built a solid reputation upon being associated with a trusted Rum producer, is being exploited and treated with such utter disdain in this way by a brand owner that clearly doesn’t care. Using the purchased Rum Sixty Six name, which up until this point has been synonymous with quality, severely and irreparably damaging it by unleashing this perfect storm of neutral spirit and meaningless marketing hogwash on an unsuspecting public is absolutely unforgivable.

This whole experience shows the complete disrespect that still exists from some quarters towards the category and the consumer.

0 / 5


© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2020. 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.

Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 2006 13 Years Old Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange

The Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 2006 13 Years Old Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange (to give it its full and complete title) is one of a deluge of new releases that we have seen from St Lucia Distillers under their Chairman’s Reserve label recently. With a bit of a dry spell for new releases from the distillery being well and truly ended as like the proverbial buses, you wait ages for one…..so and and so forth. Not that there will be any complaints from me…for once. Before we get into this Rum, a little history about the distillery.

Saint Lucia is one of the Windward Islands. The Windward Islands are the South Eastern, generally larger Islands of the Lesser Antilles within the West Indies. They are comprised of Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada. I have sadly never visited, but I am more than aware of the Pitons. The Pitons are two mountainous volcanic spires, Gross Piton and Petit Piton that grace the Chairman’s Reserve labels.

St Lucia Distillers emerged from a long tradition of on site, rustic rum production that was a common feature of the West Indies sugar plantations. The molasses (a by-product of the sugar industry) was fermented and distilled into Rum which was always in high demand, despite the fluctuations in the economy of the West Indian plantations. By the late 1950’s, only two distilleries remained on Saint Lucia. One in Dennery on the East coast, established in 1931 which was the site of the Barnard family plantation and the other in the Roseau valley which was owned and operated by Geest, a Dutch banana company. The St Lucia Distillers Group was formed in 1972 when due to the rise in European sugar beet, sugar production on Saint Lucia ended forcing the Barnard family to enter into a joint venture with the Geest owned Distillery moving their operations from the Dennery Distillery to the Roseau Bay Distillery in the Roseau Valley. This is the current location of St Lucia Distillers. In 1992, the Barnard family, who had been planters and Rum distillers for over a century, purchased the Geest shares. In 1997, the Barnard family sold some of their shares to Angostura Ltd before in 2005 selling their remaining shares to Clico Barbados Holdings with third generation rum maker Laurie Barnard staying on as Managing Director. In 2012 Laurie Barnard passed away and in 2013, Mrs Margaret Monplaisir was appointed his replacement. In early 2016, Martinique-based “Groupe Bernard Hayot” (GBH) acquired Saint Lucia Distillers Group of Companies (SLD) for an undisclosed sum.

Since its inception in 1972, St Lucia Distillers have grown from producers of single label mass market Rum to producers of well-regarded Rums and Rum based products. Not surprising given their capabilities. Distillation at St Lucia Distillers takes place on one of their 4 stills…..1 continuous and 3 batch.

Continuous

Coffey Still – The two column (continuous) Coffey Still at St Lucia Distillers was commissioned in 1985.

Batch

John Dore 1 – This pot still distills both molasses and sugarcane juice Rums, has a 1500 litre capacity and was commissioned in 1998.

John Dore 2 – This pot still distills only molasses Rum, has a 6000 litre capacity and was commissioned in 2004.

Vendome – This pot still distills both molasses and sugarcane juice Rums, has a 2000 litre capacity and was commissioned in 2003.

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

I’m a big fan of a lot of the output from the distillery with a particular penchant for the Vendome and John Dore I stills, and there is far more information contained within this site as I have previously written quite extensively about the distillery. Information can be found by clicking here.

Right….lets get into the Rum in question…..the Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 2006 13 Years Old Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange.

Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 2006 13 Years Old Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange – 56.3%abv


Distilled in pre-August 2006, this Rum is a 50 / 50 blend of batch distilled Rums. The first was distilled on the 2000 litre capacity Vendome Pot Still and the second was distilled on the 1500 litre capacity John Dore I Pot Still. Matured in ex bourbon barrels for a full minimum term of 13 years at the distillery in St Lucia, this Rum was bottled at 56.3% abv on 16th August 2019 is devoid of additives. Its great when there are no shenanigans. Only 286 bottles and this one is 264.

Tasting Notes

Nose: As expected, the nose on this blend of pot distillates is a big one. There’s so much billowing out of the glass. Quite sharp initially it also possesses some sweetness. The unmistakable qualities of both stills are fully on display here. Medicinal is the order of the day for the Vendome and more classic pot still notes are present for the John Dore I. Acetone is unmistakable and very prominent. Plenty of brine is accompanied by an acidic, almost balsamic note. Sticking plasters. Pine. Sweet menthol notes. Given time to breathe in the glass, you can push past the medicinal characteristics and this really opens up. There’s cherry stone aroma, similar to the one found in the new Mount Gay Pot Still release. This ushers in barrel influence with wet wood, vanilla and some growing spice characteristics….think black pepper, ginger, fennel seeds, candied hazelnuts and the unmistakable aroma of the cedar wood insert from a cigar tube. I want to say black tea too…..it kind of is and isn’t at the same time. A minerality follows this with wet pumice stone. There’s a sweet sugared almond or maybe a powdered sugar aroma that sticks with the back end and some warm sticky tropical fruit like papaya and guava jam show up. Molasses, Raisins, dates and maybe black walnut bitters. It becomes almost floral at the back end.

Mouth: Blimey. There it is. Big. Dry. Tannic. Very oily. Plenty of warmth to the entry but not as much heat as expected. It’s in possession of a big and oily mouthfeel and that starts bringing a fair bit of acidity which grows a little too much and becomes mildly distracting….fortunately only for a short while. It’s a little tangled and knotted based upon the first sip and you definitely need to acclimatise to separate the experience, but it starts to develop very nicely with the Vendome medicinal notes playing a role up front and dead centre. Herbal tablets. Antiseptic. Fiery ginger. Medicinal, verging on peat smoke…..more Ledaig than Caol Ila though as it’s carried on the drying wet spicy oak. It teases your mouth encouraging your salivary glands to work overtime with its dry pepper, sharp vinegar and citrus oil. This slowly guides you towards the John Dore I with its acetone, brine and salty coastal notes. The mid palate has plenty of weight and is barrel led initially with cocoa, ginger, and plenty of peppery heat. A touch more smoke, leather, cedar sap, pine and menthol. Milk chocolate coated ginger pieces…..think more fiery heat than sweet ginger. Maybe a hint of cigar tobacco. The back end brings chocolate coated honeycomb, caramelised peanuts and cashews. A touch of sweet syrupy black cherry and a heady mix of stewed rhubarb and ginger syrup. The finish is still going…..it’s a full reflection of the preceding experience. The herbal, acetone, brine, medicinal and sharp notes pull you through heat and spice into the fading sweetness of honeycomb, caramelised nuts, and strangely a hint of melon Jolly Rancher sweets. The barrel bursts in at the death with black pepper, fennel, a return of the minerality rounded out with sweet smoke and menthol.

In Conclusion: It’s a near spot on amalgamation of the more straight up (when compared to its bottle mate) pot still nose of the John Dore I with its acetone and brine and the more weighty medicinal nose of the Vendome. The balance achieved on both the nose and palate with these two big, vocal characters is very impressive and is testament to what they can do at St Lucia Distillers. It continues to develop and the transition from nose to palate is excellent. It’s no secret that my favourite still at St Lucia Distillers is the Vendome, second place goes to John Dore I…..it could’ve been a mess…but it isn’t. The John Dore I tempers the Vendome perfectly well and the abv is spot on. Now all we need are regular releases like this with more blend combinations…..I’d even like to see a John Dore I only bottling released here. It’s not without its flaws…..but it’s just so enjoyable. Well done St Lucia Distillers…..you listened…..and this Rum geek is very happy.

4.5 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2020. 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.

By the Dutch White Batavia Arrack – Indonesian Rum

A recent release from By the Dutch and complimenting their aged Batavia Arrack, this is their “White Batavia Arrack”. But what is it and what the hell has it got to do with the Dutch?

Batavia was the name of the capital city of the Dutch East Indies, known in the present day as Jakarta. Established in 1619 at the site of the razed city of Jayakarta, Batavia became the epicentre of the Dutch East India Company’s Asia trading network. The trade of Batavia Arrack was handled exclusively by the Dutch. All Arrack exported to Europe arrived in either Amsterdam or Rotterdam.

In its most basic form, Batavia Arrack is similar to Rum. It is a sugar cane molasses distillate produced exclusively on the island of Java in Indonesia. It can trace its roots back to the 17th Century. Fermentation is very similar to that of Rum with the main difference being the addition of local wild yeast cultivated on top of red rice cakes. The fermentation is open and takes place in wooden vats taking the wash up to around 8% abv. This wash is then pot distilled to an abv of around 30%. A second pot distillation takes the distillate up to between 60-65% abv. It is at that point that the distillate is placed in large teak wood vats for between 8 to 12 months.

Specifically relating to the By the Dutch White Batavia Arrack, the 8 to 12 month rested distillate is shipped to Amsterdam in large steel containers. This is then blended and bottled at 48% abv. The product carries no age statement. Weirdly, due ‘religious legislation’ in Indonesia the arrack is marked as ‘Medicine’ when shipped.

By the Dutch White Batavia Arrack – 48%abv – Indonesian Rum

Tasting Notes

Nose: It’s tough to pin down straight away……the aromas seem to span a wide range of the familiar yet don’t seem to completely correlate with any. With time, there is definitely the initial fresh sugarcane familiarity of Cachaça, the grassy notes of Agricole, the brine notes of pot distilled Rum and the earthy notes of a Clairin. But it doesn’t comfortably adhere to any of these fully. There is a freshness to the nose accompanying an underlying vegetal note. Earthy fresh turmeric root sets a basis for light, fresh unripe tropical fruit….reminiscent of walking through the fruit aisle of a mini-mart somewhere in the Caribbean…Freshly picked bananas, green mango skin and the aroma of almost ripe papaya still on the tree. Familiar notes of black pepper, vanilla and light pimento punch through and I can’t quite shake the cinnamon notes of Amburana wood which I know isn’t there…..but the light cinnamon definitely is. Both familiar and unfamiliar in equal measures.

Mouth: Far brighter and fruitier on the palate. A real sweetness to the initial entry and a medium body to the experience. Mango. Papaya. Maybe a hint of banana. It’s also lightly floral. Definite agricole like sugarcane notes. It turns down the sweetness and brings forward a hint of coastal brine, cracked black pepper spice, cinnamon and a light herbal note. Something mildly spicy and ‘green’…..warm freshly charred and salted padron peppers. Sweetness lingers on your lips and a return of banana, papaya and vanilla accompany further visits to the glass. The finish is longer than expected and is all sweet fruit initially leading into the brine and spice notes that made the mid palate so pleasant with a hint of wood and molasses at the fade.

In Conclusion: It’s a bit of a strange one that doesn’t sit in any one camp. Shades of Cachaça, Rum, Agricole and Clairin but not fully giving the individual experience of any of them. Sweet. Vegetal. Spice. Brine. Cane. It could’ve been a bit of a non-committal mess but it really isn’t…..its actually quite a pleasant thing to drink neat even though that’s not the intended use…..it just makes me want to get my hands on the two aged releases to fully explore this spirit further. Its not Rum, its not Rhum, its not Clairin and its not Cachaca, but it is a good distillate presented at the right abv.

4 / 5

As cocktails seem to be the aim of this release, there are plenty of suggestions on the bottle. I went with a drink that has been a favourite recently…..a twist on the Saturn with the Gin replaced with By The Dutch White Batavia Arrack and with the passion fruit syrup dialed up by 5ml. Beautiful.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2020. 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.

Barbados Distillers Unite in Push for a GI

No fence sitting here…..Readers of this site will be more than aware of our standpoint on the topic of a GI for Barbados and the GI already in place in Jamaica. We see them both as critical in protecting the reputation, provenance and quality of the Rums being produced there and economically they ensure that the majority of the value is is earned in the country of origin. We have articles written on the subject of the alleged ‘threat to diversity’ here and the Barbados GI proposals here. An article was published in The Spirits Business yesterday highlighting the counterpoint made by three of the four distilleries (FS/MG/SNA) on the island in agreement with the GI to the earlier article from the one distillery (WIRD) or more probably the owner of the distillery, that is not in favour of the GI and its lack of allowance for up to 20 g/l of additions among other things. To roll over on this one would be a tragedy. No innovation is being stifled, no hands are being tied….everyone can use whatever yeast strains they like……ferment for a day or a month with seawater, dishwater or pond water…..mature in any wood…..use any method of distillation that they desire…..they just can’t call it Barbados Rum when it is not produced in compliance with the GI.

Anyhow, my ramblings are over with and perhaps the strongest statement is the simplest….

*Press Release*

20 January 2020 – Mount Gay, Foursquare and Saint Nicholas Abbey have jointly agreed on a Geographical Indication for Barbados Rum as prepared by the Barbados Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC) in consultation with its legal counsel. The three distillers are the largest bottlers of Barbados Rum and together hold over 90% of the island’s aged reserves.

A Geographical Indication means that a product’s “given quality, reputation or other characteristic…is essentially attributable to its geographic origin.” Under EU spirits regulations, “a name shall only be protected” if the production steps which give it this quality and reputation “take place in the relevant Geographic area.”

Under the GI, Barbados Rum will be required to be matured in Barbados as the climate of maturation has a defining impact on the nature of a spirit.
“The value of rum increases as it matures. We cannot afford the loss of forex earnings by letting this production step happen outside of Barbados” – Larry Warren, proprietor, Saint Nicholas Abbey.

The Barbados GI gives ample room for innovation. There are no restrictions on the type of stills used, long and short fermentation techniques are allowed, and either fresh juice, syrup or molasses may be used. Any yeast may be used, but non saccharomyces strains must be native.
“At Foursquare we have gained a reputation for innovation. I am happy to say the Barbados GI places no restrictions on our rum making methods.” – Richard Seale, proprietor, Foursquare Distillery.

Unlike nearby volcanic Islands, Barbados is an Island of coral limestone with underground aquifers. Barbados is famous for the quality of its water and the GI retains a requirement for the use of Barbados water to make Barbados Rum.
“Till this day, Mount Gay uses the same water sourced from our centuries’ old well to make our Rum” – Raphael Grisoni, Managing Director, Mount Gay Rum.

To protect the quality and reputation of Barbados Rum, maturation must be in new oak or in refill casks from a list of recognised wine and spirit denominations. Age statements must refer to the youngest spirit. Vats are not acceptable for age statements. To protect the integrity of Barbados Rum, the addition of sugar syrup and flavourings is prohibited; however, caramel colour under strict guidelines, will be allowed for consistency.
The fourth major distillery in Barbados – West Indies Rum Distillery – is primarily a bulk producer of non aged rum acquired by Maison Ferrand in 2017. Ferrand has appealed directly to the political leadership of Barbados to overturn the work of the BIDC and has demanded to mature Barbados Rum outside of Barbados in wooden vats and to sweeten Barbados Rum with added sugar syrup. The former request would violate the EU’s requirement for production steps to take place within the protected geographic area.

*End*

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2020. 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.