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

*Press Release*

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

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

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

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

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

The Classification

Single Distillery Rum:

Single Traditional Column

Rum distilled at one distillery in traditional column stills.

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

Single Traditional Pot Still

Rum distilled at one distillery in traditional pot stills.

Single Traditional Blended

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

Single Modernist

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

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

Multi-distillery Rum:

Blended Traditionalist

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

Blended Modernist

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

‘Flavour Camps’

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

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

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

*End*

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

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Mount Gay 7 Year Old – TWE Exclusive Cask Strength

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

Master Blender Allen Smith

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

Mount Gay Distillery Pot Still House

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

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

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

Tasting Notes

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

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

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

4.5 / 5

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

Velier Caroni 2000 TWE Exclusive

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

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

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

Tasting Notes

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

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

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

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

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

4.5 / 5

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

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

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