St Lucia Distillers Individual Distillates

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

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

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

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

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

John Dore I

John Dore Pot Still – 1500 litre capacity

John Dore II Pot Still

John Dore II Pot Still – 6000 litre capacity

Vendom Pot Still

Vendome Pot Still – 2000 litre capacity

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Coffey Twin Column Continuous Still

Tasting Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Compagnie des Indes St. Lucia 13

Its been a while, but I’m back with another independent bottling. Coming again from the stable of Compagnie des Indes single cask bottlings, this time the delicious Rum within is from one of my favourite producers, Saint Lucia Distillers.

For a little light background reading on Compagnie des Indes as a company you can have a look here and for info on the basics surrounding Saint Lucia Distillers you can look here…..and now that you’re back, we can continue.

Compagnie des Indes St Lucia 13 – 43% abv

CDI SL13 LabelTo kick things off, I’ve been told that every drop of this Rum is the product of Pot Distillation. It has seen just upwards of 5 years tropical age which gives it between 7 and 8 years in Europe, a similar level of European age as the quite excellent Compagnie des Indes Foursquare 16. There was something quite unique that the split in location did to that Rum and I hope that it also works here. There was an outturn of just 296 bottles in this cask (an ex-Heaven Hill barrel) and it weighs in at a not unsatisfactory 43%. The keen eyed among you may have also (if you read the linked articles) worked out the still that this Rum is from. As the John Dore 2 still was commissioned in 2004, the Vendome still was commissioned in 2003 and this Rum was distilled in 2002, it must by the process of elimination come from the John Dore 1 still. The interesting thing (for me anyway) seems to be the correlation between small pot stills (think the much fabled small capacity Rockley Still) and the production of really medicinal like aromas and flavours. As an obsessive of anything even remotely Rockley Still related, this really has me excited. Having been fortunate enough to taste both unaged and aged distillates from the John Dore 1 still on the recent Saint Lucia Distillers on Tour event, this assumption of a correlation between Pot Still capacity (John Dore 1 has a capacity of 1500 litres) and medicinal aromas and flavours appears, thus far, to ring true….to me anyway.

Tasting Notes

CDI SL13 Angle

In the glass: The Rum displays itself as a straw gold in the glass and getting your nose anywhere near it instantly gives you a real hit off sharpness and a kick of the signature medicinal note. This medicinal note is present in large quantities and it brings with it a sort of salty, briny smoke. More time with the glass reveals a slightly earthy, medicinal sweetness in the form of root beer. Once you power through this (and it does take its time) you’re rewarded with a hint of something fragrant and flower like…but no real punch of oak is present which surprised me for a Rum of this age.

In the mouth: Initial entry gives no real heat but it does lead with a light fragrant sweetness….this is however very short lived and soon gets muscled out of the way by a cutting dryness that rather strangely is carried on a lot of fragrant woody notes…more sappy than heavy oaky notes. In fact this fragrant wood is a total polar opposite to what the nose gave away…it is really dominant in the early stages. The fruit is there but it is more akin to fragrance than a taste being so light as it is. The mid palate is dominated by a light fragrant flower like quality, maybe elderflower but this soon succumbs to the powerhouse of a finish. The medicinal edge that I so love powers through into the medium length finish and leaves that drying quality in your mouth with a light fennel and celery taste that fades very slowly…

This Rum yet again helps to back up the fact that St Lucia Distillers really are able to produce something special. The character that is carried through into this Rum is astounding. It may be a little one dimensional to keep my interest over an evening and the whole medicinal thing is a real turn off for some people, but fortunately not for me. At around £68 a bottle it’s not the cheapest purchase and it’s not a Rum that I can drink in huge quantities in a single sitting and it is probably best served as a reference Rum. I was hoping for something to completely blow me away in the same way that the Berry Bros. St Lucia 11 sample that I was kindly sent by Wes did, and subsequently the Berry Bros. St Lucia 14 that I now own as a result still does. But this isn’t quite up to the task. Almost amazing, but certainly a worthy purchase. However, comment must again be made about Florent and his Compagnie Des Indes company which really is starting to spread its wings and make accessible some really great Rums.

3-0-star

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

St Lucia Distillers On Tour

*Press Release*Distillers-Final-Logo

St Lucia Distillers Set to Travel Around the North of England

 

This April, UK distributor Emporia Brands have put together a calendar of events involving its award-winning St Lucia Distillers range.

Brand Ambassador Dave Marsland will be touring four Northern cities as he brings together the Chairman’s Reserve range, which includes Gold, Spiced, White Label and Forgotten Cask, the Admiral Rodney, and the latest edition of 1931, the 4th release.

In 1931, the Barnard family founded a distillery at Dennery. Now based on the other side of the island at Roseau, the distillery has been considerably modernized and new technologies and improvements constantly incorporated. The installation of pot stills in 1998 added considerably to the variety of rums being produced in this highly regarded distillery which received the accolade of Individual Distiller of the Year at the International Spirits Challenge, one of six trophies received in six years – a unique achievement.

With the premise of a flavour experience, the tour sees an approach to the range that offers bartenders and key industry figures invited to not only learn about St Lucia, but ideas on how to embrace the versatility of St Lucia Distillers, from the Spiced variety to the rare 1931.

With Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle on the agenda, Emporia Brands are looking to strengthen their campaign as they look ahead to the next instalment of the ‘Chairman’s XI’ with their ever-expanding sales team seeking out some of the UK’s best and brightest to follow in the footsteps of some of the industries key figures, including Lyndon Higginson of The Liars Club in Manchester, Danny Murphy of Aloha in Liverpool and Adam Binnersley of the MOJO Group.

Places are limited to 30 maximum for each session, due to the rarity of gaining the exclusive 1931 4th Edition for the tasting’s. To secure your place, please contact Dave Marsland at dave@emporiabrands.com, stating the session you wish to attend from the list below.

Wednesday 6th April: Manchester – Almost Famous Great Northern

Wednesday 13th April: Liverpool – 81LTD

Wednesday 20th April: Leeds – Almost Famous

Wednesday 27th April: Newcastle – Tiger Hornsby

(All sessions run from 2-4pm)

A welcome drink will be offered, as well as a half-time serve of a Chairman’s White Label Daiquiri, and a finish of the 1931 4th edition.

Emporia

*End*

If there is even the slightest chance that you can make it and places are still available, this is a must. The quality and number of styles coming out of St Lucia Distillers is phenomenal and if rumors are to be believed, there may be a few special distillates to try too.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

St Lucia Distillers 1931

We are back on the subject of St Lucia Distillers again for the third post in my mini series on the distillery. Again, to refresh yourselves on the background of St Lucia Distillers, Chairman’s Reserve and Admiral Rodney Extra Old St Lucia Rum please click on the links.

IMAG1558_1Now you’re all refreshed and in possession of the history of the distillery, we can talk about not one, not two, but three expressions of this celebratory Rum. 1931 by St Lucia Distillers. As you will have noted the first post on St Lucia Distillers, the Dennery Distillery in the Mabouya Valley was commissioned in 1931 by Denis Barnard on the site of his family plantation and Rum was produced there until the merger of the Dennery and Roseau Distilleries and subsequent formation of St Lucia Distillers in 1972. The St Lucia Distillers 1931 Limited Editions are produced using some of the finest aged stock at the distillery in commemoration of this date. Currently there are three editions. 1931 Edition 1 was released in 2011 to celebrate the 80 year anniversary and was the first Rum to qualify for the Deluxe Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque. 1931 Edition 2 was released in 2012 to celebrate the 81 year anniversary and also possesses the Deluxe ACR Marque. 1931 Edition 3 was released in 2013 to celebrate the 82 year anniversary and again, possesses the Deluxe ACR Marque. Quite unique in their own right being blends of varying ages, cask finishes and if rumour is to be believed with the imminent Edition 4, varying styles!

It makes sense then that a little information should follow about each edition, so here goes.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 1 – 43% abv. My bottle is number 5330, is from Batch 01 and was bottled on 17th May 2011.

This release celebrates the 80th Anniversary and is a blend of 9 casks containing distillates from their three Pot Stills (John Dore 1, John Dore 2 and Vendome) and their two column Coffey Still. These casks were judged to contain some of St Lucia Distillers finest Rums and their ages varied from casks laid down in 2004 to older distillates laid down in 1999. Of the 9 casks used, 7 were American White Oak (ex-bourbon) and two were Port Casks. The distillates were blended and then placed back into American White Oak for 3 months to allow them a period to marry prior to being bottled. To echo the methods in use in 1931, only light filtering was used prior to being bottled to preserve the blends integrity. No chill filtering took place. This Rum also has the honour of being the first Rum to qualify for the ACR Deluxe Marque.

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Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a beautiful burnished gold with hints of deep mahogany. Straight away the pot still element is massively evident, even before pouring. There is also a touch of smoke billowing out of the glass as the Rum settles. Raisins and dates are apparent as is a real nose tingling astringency. Molasses, toffee and vanilla also fight for your attention. That pear drop element from previous St Lucia Distillers releases is there too and it is rounded out by more smoke and the time that components of this Rum have spent in oak is very prominent as this accompanies the smoke. That astringent tingle is still there too.

In the mouth: Straight away you are struck by the medium / heavy body of the Rum. Again the pot still component hits you like a truck. There is nothing gentle about that element. Oak, those raisins and vanilla are very prominent. Further sips, especially when held in the mouth for slightly lengthy periods reveal grapes, orange oils and chocolate. The Rum is sweet initially, not overly so, and dries out nicely but not excessively. It is a warming Rum with peach, banana and smoke staying with you in the form of the vapours left in your mouth. The pot still really carries this Rum and introduces honey roast nuts too. The finish is medium / long and starts with pot still but it then runs the gamut of peach, vanilla, banana and finally finishes with a smoky leather. The oak is not as dominant as it is in the Admiral Rodney, but it is there.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 2 – 43% abv. My bottle is number 9652, is from Batch 02 and was bottled on 23rd July 2012.

This release celebrates the 81st Anniversary and is a blend of distillates laid down in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and includes casks containing 100% Coffey Still distillates matured in a combination of American White Oak and Port Casks, 100% Pot Still distillates from their three Pot Stills and 50/50 blends of Pot and Coffey Still distillates matured in American White Oak. The distillates were blended and then placed back into American White Oak for 3 months to allow them a period to marry prior to being bottled. Again, only light filtration was used.

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Tasting Notes

In the glass: Again the Rum is a gold with mahogany. Maybe a shade lighter than the first edition. Straight away it is the pot still that hits you with a toffee and butterscotch sweetness. There is none of the astringency of the first edition. Oak is also a factor though again, not as prominent. Dried banana chips, apple pieces and the smallest wisps of smoke are holding it all together. Hazelnuts, the slightest hint of raisins and a light bourbon cherry are present. This is a better experience on the nose than the first edition as that astringency doesn’t limit your time with your nose in the glass. Molasses and a light chocolate round the experience out along with that pot still component.

In the mouth: Pot still again leads from the front like a battle hardened bruiser of a man! The port effects are way more prominent on this Rum along with that drying oak taking the edge off the sweetness. This has a heavier body than the first edition (for me) and there is a big hit of molasses accompanied by a touch of chocolate. Vanilla and a touch of smoky oak are in there and the dried bananas are also in the mix, but I can’t find the apples that I had in the glass. The finish on this one is very long. It is all caramel, oak, pot still, a little chocolate, grape and vanilla and it dries to an oaky, tobacco and leather finish.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 3 – 43% abv. My bottle is number 11416, is from Batch 03A and was bottled on 28th July 2014.

This release celebrates the 82nd Anniversary and is a blend of distillates from the three Pot Stills and the two column Coffey Still. The casks that were chosen were judged to contain some of the finer Rums produced by St Lucia Distillers. The Coffey Still distillates were matured for 6 and 11 years and the John Dore Pot Still distillates were matured for 14 and 15 years. A blend of Vendome and John Dore Pot Still distillates aged for 10 years is also utilised. Additionally, a 7-year-old Port Cask matured Coffey Still distillate and a 7-year-old Port Cask matured John Dore Pot Still Distillate are used. Quite a collection which just displays the sheer amount of distillates available at the distillery. The distillates were blended and then placed back into American White Oak for 3 months to allow them a period to marry prior to being bottled. Once again as with the previous two editions, only light filtration was used.

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Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a dark gold with amber flashes. As is the common theme, that pot still punches you straight away but this time there is also something medicinal! It is very much like the flavour found in the Rockley Still Rums from Barbados. It sets it apart from the first two editions for me. Oak, vanilla, honey and more of that apparent port astringency from the first edition is back. The Rum feels creamy and has a tobacco and warming chocolate edge to it with that pot still underlining all of the other flavours.

In the mouth: The sweetness is the first thing that hits me on this one along with that medicinal Rockley Still element. Pear drops are back alongside some milk chocolate. There is something savoury on the back of my tongue when the Rum has gone. Almost buttery and salty. Red apples accompany the astringency along with grapes, red wine, oak and a little tart note. Again the finish is long and wrapped in port, vanilla and oak and it doesn’t dry as much as the others. The aftertaste is smoky oak and that medicinal note.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 1 and 2 blend – 43% abv. 25ml of each in a bottle and left to marry for a period of one week.

This is my own silliness and has been done to satisfy my own curiosity as a conversation with a nameless person at a nameless expo may (or may not) have revealed that a blend of the first two editions may (or may not) be the components of an exclusive release.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The astringency of the first edition has been calmed. This is very mellow and has vanilla, molasses, bourbon cherry, chocolate and hazelnuts. It is also very creamy though somewhat dulled.

In the mouth: This is ridiculously smooth. None of the slight roughness of the individual components. Pot still is there but strangely it is not the dominant factor. Raisins, honey and oak are in there and the finish is a medium / long one full of oak, vanilla and pot still. Some of the individual stand out components of each of the two editions as individuals have been lost by blending. It is however smooth, warming and quite decadent. It will go down very easily and be a bit of a crowd pleaser but it’s just not as interesting as the individual Rums and therefore doesn’t hold your attention for as long.

Conclusion

As this is a comparison tasting of all three editions, unfortunately you clearly need all three of these Rums in your collection. They each represent how good St Lucia Distillers are at making the most of their individual components. They are all flavourful, interesting Rums in their own right and they offer a solid experience, especially when tasted together as you really do then appreciate how different they are but also how they have a shared heritage.

If I were to buy only one of the three editions though (or recommend a bottle to you), it just has to be the 1931 Edition 2. It has all of the good, but none of the astringency. To choose a runner-up is more difficult. I really like both of the other editions but I’m a sucker for that little bit of a medicinal note in a Rum so I’d put 1931 Edition 3 in second place but that is purely personal preference as I also love 1931 Edition 1. But of course, 1931 Edition 4 is due for a release, and that is rumoured to contain agricole from St Lucia Distillers own grown sugarcane so that will add a further element into the mix! Just know that whichever edition you pick up, you will have made an excellent choice and have a lot of enjoyment from the bottle. If you have experience of any of these releases, please share your opinions.

For the purposes of full disclosure, throughout the whole of this series, which is not sponsored in ANY way, I have personally purchased the entire Chairman’s Reserve Range (multiple times), Admiral Rodney (multiple times), 1931 Edition 1 and 1931 Edition 3. I was supplied with a third of an opened bottle by Emporia Brands (shared with Simon Difford I believe) of 1931 Edition 2. Each of the three Editions of 1931 will set you back between £55 and £65 each dependent upon where you pick them up from. 1931 Edition 1 is all but gone n the UK with no further supplies expected. What is on sale is all that there is. Supplies are still there of Edition 2 and 3. I seemingly purchased all but my favourite, so I guess I’ll have to go online shopping again!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. 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

As a continuation of the mini-series of posts centering around the Rums produced at St Lucia Distillers, this article is all about Admiral Rodney Extra Old St Lucia Rum. I would suggest a quick read of the earlier article on Chairman’s Reserve Rums to give you an insight into the range of Rums produced by St Lucia Distillers

Now you’re back, we need to find our exactly who this Admiral Rodney chap is. Born on 13th February 1718 in Walton-on-Thames, George Brydges Rodney was a British Naval Officer. He is known for his commands in the American War of Independence and in particular, his victory over the French at the Battle of the Saints in 1782. He is also thought to have pioneered the tactic of ‘breaking the line’ which sees the British Navy with its superior firepower concentrate on specific parts of the enemy fleet, preferably the rear, to break down the enemy line as the centre will lose time by turning to support the rear. Moving on, in 1761, Admiral Rodney was elected MP for Penryn. Lord Anson then selected him to command the naval element on a planned amphibious attack on the lucrative and strategically important French colony of Martinique following a similar failed attack in 1759. The land forces were to be a combination of troops from numerous locations including Europe and additional reinforcements were sent from New York who were available following the Conquest of Canada in 1760. During 1761, Martinique was blockaded by Sir James Douglas to prevent supplies and reinforcements from reaching it. Within the first three months of 1762 Rodney had made serious movements towards capturing Martinique whilst both St Lucia and Grenada had surrendered to him and his squadron. Following the Treaty of Paris in 1763, part of the peace terms saw Martinique returned to the French. By the spring of 1782, the French fleet had its eyes fixed on the Caribbean sugar islands. Admiral Rodney was aware of their intentions as from his vantage point on St Lucia he saw the French fleet depart for Jamaica. He pursued and confronted the fleet on 12th April, beginning the Battle of the Saints. The two fleets were in line on opposing courses when a change in wind direction confused the French and gaps began to appear within their line. Spotting his opportunity, Admiral Rodney ordered his ships to turn 90 degrees and break the French line allowing the English guns on both sides to bombard the French with little chance of reprisal. As the French line could not be reformed, Admiral Rodney was victorious. Anyhow, that’s it for the history lesson…..

Admiral Rodney Extra Old St Lucia Rum – 40% abv

Admiral RodneyAdmiral Rodney is a blend of 100% column still Rums that have been aged in used bourbon barrels for an average of 12 years. The blend itself utilises Rums taken from a number of plate levels on the two column Coffey Still at St Lucia Distillers and will include RS 203 (Roseau Spirit 203) and RS 204 (Roseau Spirit 204) with their medium and high levels of congeners as mentioned in the previous article, but all Rums within the blend will have been chosen specifically to add to the complexity of Admiral Rodney. Apparently it is also the intention of St Lucia Distillers, as they gain more aged stock, to increase the average age of the blend to 15 years.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a dark coppery bronze in the glass and the initial aromas are of deep vanilla, oak, cherry and toffee. There is also a dryness to the aromas coming from the oak. Dried fruits like raisins, banana chips and apple pieces are also apparent and there is a spice tingle to the Rum. I can also smell pear spirit and bourbon. Longer time in the glass reveals leather and peanuts. I’m expecting a meaty, deep Rum….

In the mouth: There is an initial sweetness but that dries quite rapidly. The mouthfeel is not as thick as expected when comparing it to the nose as it has a medium body. There is a light caramel and plenty of oak followed with nutmeg on the tip of my tongue there is a peppery bite to the Rum. That dried banana, apple and those raisins and peanuts come back into play alongside light vanilla. The oak is really dominant on this Rum but it does allow a good balance between the sweet and dry. It just needs a little more punch. I think that I expected a little more from the flavours given the intensity of the aromas so my initial thoughts were slightly subdued due to what I found. (Note: I revisited my initial three nights with further visits to the bottle over week later). Given time, the pear spirit is more apparent along with a touch of smoke. The Rum feels sweeter, calmer, woodier and I am enjoying it a lot more on this occasion. The spices and wood are well-tempered by the spirit and it feels more complete and well-rounded. The finish is of a medium length and starts spicy but ends with oak and lots of banana. This is my second bottle (I inhaled the first a few year back prior to deciding to write about Rum) and I still believe that the aromas promise something really deep and heavy but the flavours lack some meat on their bones that maybe a little addition of a pot distilled Rum would add, but that may just be me. It is however one of the best examples out there of a very flavourful column spirit that offers a lot, gets better with repeated visits and continues the award-winning performance of Rums from St Lucia Distillers.

I’ve never tried this Rum in any way other than neat, no ice, no mixers. That’s just how I enjoy it, but the extent to which I enjoy it does seem to be mood dependent. It sits at around £43 a bottle (I paid slightly more for both of mine as I picked them up from a local independent shop) and it is in a crowded price bracket with some amazing Rums…..what should give you a level of comfort though is the fact that I’ve not tasted a bad Rum from St Lucia Distillers yet on my Rum journey…..and long may that continue. Again, I’d love to hear your experience with this Rum.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. 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 Rum

Chairmans LogoThis article will be the first of a mini series covering the Rums produced by St Lucia Distillers. Seemingly you can’t talk about St Lucia Distillers without talking about Chairman’s Reserve Rum, perhaps their most well know brand, which is why that is where I will start. But to truly understand the origins of Chairman’s Reserve Rum, you need to understand the capabilities that exist within the set up at St Lucia Distillers to produce a wide range of Rums utilising their four individual stills. A little background first then……

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. The Windward Islands are Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada. I have 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.

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.

Production

Given the lack of large-scale sugar industry on Saint Lucia, to make their molasses based Rums, St Lucia Distillers import their molasses from Guyana. It has a unique method of getting the molasses inland too. The Molasses tanker ships its contents into a jetty in Roseau Bay where it pumps its contents into an underground molasses pipeline which follows the Roseau River for a distance of just shy of 2 kilometres until it arrives at St Lucia Distillers where it is stored in their molasses storage tanks. The distillery accepts for or five shipments of molasses per year. Recently, the distillery planted five acres of sugarcane to experiment in the distillation of sugar cane juice and I believe that we need to watch a later release of St Lucia Distillers 1931 to experience it. The sugarcane comprises four varieties sourced from the West Indies Breeding Station in Barbados.

Prior to fermentation the molasses is diluted with 75% water to create the ‘raw wash’. Fermentation takes place using one of two proprietary yeast strains dependent upon the intentions for the final product. The first yeast strain is specific to the Rums that will not be aged. It is utilised to give the purest spirit possible and is used in conjunction with their two column Coffey Still. The second yeast strain is a Caribbean yeast cultured from the natural yeasts found near the base of the sugarcane. This is said to create a higher level of congeners making flavourful Rums for aging. Congeners are substances produced during fermentation. These include a small amount of chemicals such as other alcohols (known as fusel alcohols), acetone, acetaldehyde, esters and aldehydes such as propanol, glycols and ethyl acetate. Congeners are responsible for a lot of the tastes and aromas of Rum. For the first 24 hours, fermentation takes place in the ‘Propagation Area’ which comprises a Propagator Tank where the Raw Wash and Yeast are first introduced to each other and two other vessels. Mother Vessel 1 and Mother Vessel 2 which are next in line to receive the fermenting brew. The final 24 hours of fermentation takes place in open tanks. The wash once fermented is about 7% abv, is maintained at a temperature of 32 degrees C and is ready for distillation.

Distillation – Coffey Still

The two column (continuous) Coffey Still at St Lucia Distillers was commissioned in 1985. Three coded spirit types are produced in this particular still, all over 93% abv. Within the still there are 40 plates with distillate taken off at plates 40, 35 and 30. The first spirit type is coded RS 201 (Roseau Spirit 201) and is the cleanest spirit produced. Yeast strain 1 is used and the spirit is taken of at plate 40. This spirit is never aged. The second spirit type is coded RS 203 and has increased levels of congeners. Yeast strain 2 is used and the spirit is taken off at plate 35. This spirit is used for aging. The third spirit type is coded RS 204 and has the most congeners. Yeast strain 2 is used and the spirit is taken off at plate 30. This spirit is also used for aging.

Distillation – Pot Still

There are three different pot stills operating at St Lucia Distillers but common to all is the fact that the first distillation takes the spirit to around 70% abv with the second distillation taking it up to 80% abv.

  • John Dore 1

This pot still distills both molasses and sugarcane juice Rums, has a 1500 litre capacity and was commissioned in 1998. Spirits from this still are always aged.

  • John Dore 2

This pot still distills only molasses Rum, has a 6000 litre capacity and was commissioned in 2004. Spirits from this still are always aged.

  • Vendome

This pot still distills both molasses and sugarcane juice Rums, has a 2000 litre capacity and was commissioned in 2003. Spirits from this still are always aged.

Maturation

For all distillates apart from RS 201 (unaged), the abv of the distillate is reduced to 63% abv. St Lucia Distillers used mainly first fill Bourbon Barrels for initial aging and believe that the perfect Rum is dependent upon the skill of the Master Blender to discover the perfect marriage of age and distillate. They see age statements as meaningless and misleading. The St Lucia Distillers Master Blender, Evanus Harris believes that there is no improvement in the quality of a Rum beyond 10 years, in fact their belief is that the Rum begins to lose quality. In addition to the Bourbon Barrels, St Lucia Distillers are also experimenting with Hermitage and Chilean Wine Barrels; Sherry, Madeira and Sauternes Barrels alongside using Port Pipes for products such as the 1931.

Chairman’s Reserve Range

Now that you are aware of the numerous styles of Rum available for use by the Master Blender, we can look at the Chairman’s Reserve range and their components.

Chairman’s Reserve White Label – 40% abv

CR WhiteChairman’s Reserve White is an aged Rum mostly comprising 5 different column still Rums that have been aged for up to 3 years in previously used Bourbon Barrels. The colour gained during the aging process is gently filtered (at just 15 psi of pressure) to retain as much character as possible.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is crystal clear and displays some reluctant droplets on the side of the glass. The initial aromas are of a light, sweet vanilla custard and raisins. It smells crisp with citrus oils and a little pot still element.

In the mouth: What first strikes you is the medium-heavy body of this Rum. It immediately coats your mouth in a creamy vanilla sweetness. There is a little pepperiness to the Rum on the tip of your tongue. The finish is short to medium length and is full of custard, pepper, vanilla and a little citrus.

This Rum can stand up for itself in a mixed drink and does make a really meaty Daiquiri with the citrus assisting in lifting the lime and the body of the Rum ensuring that if you dilute the drink too much, you won’t have completely ruined it.

Chairman’s Reserve Finest – 40% abv

CR FinestChairman’s Reserve Finest is a blend of molasses based column and pot still Rum. The Rums are initially rested in new oak for 9 to 12 months before being aged in a combination of used Jack Daniels and Buffalo Trace barrels. There is no age statement provided on the label but it comprises both younger and more mature Rums and has an average age of 5 years. Post blending the Rum is returned to the barrel for a further 6 months to allow the blend to marry prior to bottling.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a brilliant gold in the glass and the pot still elements come billowing out of the glass. Honey, vanilla, toffee, mango and banana notes are all evident and carried on a creamy caramel.

In the mouth: The Rum has a medium body and leads with caramel and a dried mango. There is a peppery tingle on the tongue and once again, the pot still is evident, but is calmed by the slight oakiness. It adds a real depth to the Rum and for me, makes it very drinkable, despite not being the easiest Rum to enjoy neat. There is quite a bit of heat on the medium length finish with that pot still carrying a buttery vanilla caramel and a peppery kick.

Chairman’s Reserve Finest is a Rum that gets heavy use here at Rum Diaries HQ. It is mainly used in Cuba Libres here in rotation with the usual pot still influenced Jamaican classics. I also have my own play on a White Russian that uses this Rum and a nice dry Rum based coffee liqueur topped off with a dash of black walnut bitters.

Chairman’s Reserve Spiced – 40% abv

CR SpicedChairman’s Reserve Spiced utilises the Chairman’s Reserve Finest blend as it’s base. Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, lemon, orange, almond are used to spice the Rum along with a local tree bark known as Bois Bande. This is traditionally used in Rum Shacks to infuse into high strength unaged Rum to create what is said locally to be a powerful aphrodisiac! Certain of these spices are left in a tank to macerate in aged Rum for in excess of 12 months to further increase the intensity of flavour.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a mahogany colour with deep red where it thins at the edges of the glass. There is an instant hit of cloves which I happen to love in a spiced Rum. Nutmeg, cinnamon, orange, ginger and cola are present by the bucket load. The orange is a bitter orange, a little like an orange liqueur, and doesn’t smell overly sweet. I can also pick up allspice berries.

In the mouth: This Rum is a lot sweeter than it smells. It again leads with a mouthful of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, cola, allspice berries and a little coconut. There is also a good dose of black peppercorns. For me it needs to dial back the sweetness a little but it is hugely drinkable. The finish is of a medium length and is all cloves and ginger with citrus elements and a slight marzipan.

Again this is a Spiced Rum that has seen multiple bottles used in quick succession here. It makes for a really good Spiced Daiquiri and when mixed with lime, cinnamon syrup, apple juice and ginger beer it’ like a liquid strudel.

Chairman’s Reserve: The Forgotten Casks – 40% abv

CR Forgotten CasksOn 2nd May 2007, St Lucia Distillers suffered a major fire. Fortunately the majority of the distillery was undamaged but the areas greatly hit were storage areas. There was a need to find alternative arrangements for a quantity of the barrels and these were placed wherever possible, including some random locations. A ‘memory lapse’ on the part of the cellar team meant that some of the barrels which held Chairman’s Reserve Finest in its marrying stage which had been laid down in 2006 remained unlocated until 2011. By this time the average age of the Rum was 10 years old. Once the barrels were opened and tasted, the resulting extra aging was found to have added a complexity to the Rum. St Lucia Distillers decided to offer the Rum as a limited release calling it Chairman’s Reserve: The Forgotten Casks. Quite how many barrels were ‘lost’ is unknown to me but if this is more than just a marketing tale, there must’ve been a fair few as it is still readily available……

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a dark reddy gold in the glass. Caramel, pot still elements, and a little alcohol burn are immediately apparent. As the Rum calms itself down, chocolate, coffee, brown sugar, oak, vanilla, raisins and a nutty element reveal themselves. There is also a mango and pineapple element playing around between the nut brittle and cinder toffee elements.

In the mouth: There is an initial sweetness to the Rum along with some bite and heat before it dries a little. The pot still again is evident along with a heavy dose of milky chocolate. Coffee and creamy vanilla are also carried on the Rums medium body. Further sips reveal oak, more chocolate and peaches on the back of my tongue. The Rum has a medium to long finish that starts sweet with vanilla, raisins, coffee and milk chocolate. This then dries out to reveal a peanut element.

This is a great Rum to drink neat. It has plenty to keep your interest. It also makes a killer Old Fashioned with the chocolate flavours working really well.

The Chairman’s Reserve range of Rums, for me, represent real value. All four are worthy of a place in your collection as they are produced by a credible distillery with a good range of stills enabling them to draw upon a wealth of flavours. The prices are also not extortionate with the White Label available for around £20, the Finest for around £20 (also available in supermarkets), the Spiced for around £22 and the Forgotten Casks for around £32. We are into multiple bottles of each expression now and I cannot see that changing. The availability of the Finest in supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s means that there really is no excuse.

There are other Rums produced by St Lucia Distillers and their Admiral Rodney will be covered in another post. As will their special edition 1931, releases 01, 02 and 03.

As usual, we’d love to get some feedback on your experience with the Rums and we’re more than happy to share.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. 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 ‘Rovers X1’

*Press Release*

Chairmans BottlesSt Lucia Distillers has recruited a new Chairman’s Reserve X1 who are currently touring top bars in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield giving mixology demonstrations, cocktail tastings and discounted serves to eager customers who want to taste the rums which have won the “Best Rum” Trophy four times in the last six years.

The tour started at Kosmonaut Bar on Tariff Street, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter where Tom Higham has invented a new cocktail ‘5 Spice Sour’ to accompany their Spice Club evening when they serve a grand home-style 4 course Indian meal (recipe below).

Montpellier’s Café on Back Turner Street, Manchester organised a “Caribbean Calling” evening and informal food-pairing event with Chairman’s White Rum, Chairman’s Spiced and it included a warm goat’s cheese, pine nut and honey salad paired with a Honey and Walnut Rum Manhattan using Chairman’s Reserve Finest Rum.

Tom HighamThe Almost Famous Bar at 100-102 High Street also in Great Northern, Manchester will also be offering individually created cocktails by four of the new Chairman’s Rovers X1: Adam Binnersley, Jonathan Leathley, Brodie Meah and Tom Higham at the new outside terrace area on Tuesday 26th August, when all four join forces to run the Chairman’s Reserve evening pop-up. Also at Almost Famous, a new Chairman’s Reserve Rum cocktail called ‘Custard Reserve’ specially created by mixologist Jonathan Leathley will be on the drinks menu – for the recipe – see below.

On the same evening, Under New Management, the popular bar in Barlows Croft, Salford M3 5DY will host a late-night session with plenty discounted Chairman’s Reserve Rum serves including Brodie Meah’s new rum cocktail ‘Watermelon Punch 1999’ – recipe below.

Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield will also be hosting in the coming weeks master classes of Caribbean rums from St Lucia showing the blends of pot and coffey still rum from one of the world’s most successful distilleries.

*End*

All sounds pretty awesome and I’ll hopefully be able to nip along to Great Northern on the 26th for a drink or two as they sound well worth checking out…………

Cocktail Recipes

‘Watermelon Punch 1999’ – Brodie Meah at Under New Management , Salford.

37.5ml Chairman’s Reserve Finest

25ml Vermouth

15ml Wheat beer & Coriander Seed Reduction

20ml Citrus

Watermelon

 

‘5 Spice Sour’ – Tom Higham, Kosmonaut Bar, Manchester

40ml Chairman’s Reserve Finest

10ml Mandarin Liqueur

25ml Lime Juice

15ml 5 spice syrup

15ml Mango

Splash ginger beer

 

‘Custard Reserve’ – Jonathan Leathley, at the Almost Famous Bar

50ml Chairman’s Reserve Finest

50ml Cocchi Americano

25ml Lemon

25ml Cooked Custard Cordial

25ml Egg White

2 Dashes Jerry Thomas Bitters

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2014. 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.