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.

Foursquare Empery – Single Blended Rum

The Foursquare Rum Distillery Bottling Facility

Firstly, I know that readers of this page have previously indulged me by reading my previous articles about Foursquare Rum Distillery……but for anyone new to the site, I have covered releases from Foursquare Rum Distillery quite extensively on these pages and you can either put your own search in the “search box” or click here to read a little more about them. A little earlier this year we were fortunate enough (but our wallets were not) to be blessed with a flurry of releases from Foursquare Rum Distillery. The new Exceptional Cask Selection marques IX and X, Empery and 2007 were joined by the surprise Private Cask Selection Whisky Exchange exclusive which was Hereditas. Our wallets were also even further depleted by the Velier distributed Foursquare Patrimonio. A further surprise was that three out of those four releases were ex-Oloroso Sherry & ex-bourbon barrel matured. The BIGGEST surprise however was that each of the three releases was 14 years old and each had seen a mix of 14 years in ex bourbon and 10 years maturation in ex-bourbon barrels before a further 4 years maturation in ex-Oloroso sherry barrels. Surely Foursquare had just released the same Rum under three separate names with differing labels? Why even bother to do this? Well, this series of releases in a lesson in blend ratios, cask management and the effects of barrels with differing histories. Refresh yourselves with a look at my reviews of Hereditas and Patrimonio linked above and then come back to read further about Empery. Empery has also been written about by my friends over at thefatrumpirate and Rum Revelations and both are worth a look….obviously after you’ve read the review below.

Bonded Warehouse No. 2 at Foursquare Rum Distillery

Foursquare Empery – 56% abv – Single Blended Rum

Bottled in December 2018, Foursquare Empery Single Blended rum is composed of two elements. A Single Blended Rum matured exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels for a period of 14 years and a Single Blended Rum matured for 10 years in ex-Bourbon barrels before transferring to first fill ex-Oloroso Sherry barrels for a further period of 4 years. These components are then blended and rested prior to being bottled at 56% abv. No colour. No chill filtration. No nonsense.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Straight away the Rum announces itself with plenty of wood on the nose. Big, bold, damp old wood. It’s a nose that immediately hints towards plenty of complexity to come. It doesn’t shun the familiar either as this is clearly Barbados in character, just bringing a little more to the table. Fruit is definitely present and accounted for….raisins and sharp dark berry compote hint to the time in oloroso barrels but less so than Hereditas which is a “Sherry-bomb”. The oak binds itself to a little chocolate and walnut…perhaps reminiscent of old school walnut whips (before they became smaller and when they contained more marshmallow)….Vanilla is certainly present as is some barrel spice, crystallised ginger and warm orange peel but they sit behind a growing black cherry note bringing with it the chocolate sponge of a Black Forest gateau. A little beeswax sits on the back end with the continued warmth of the fruity perfumed oak. It is such an approachable glass of Rum that opens up very well in a very short space of time.

Mouth: Warming, slightly spicy and with minimal heat and fuss…this again is a big mouthful of action with plenty of grip. Less fruit than the nose led me to believe initially but it comes. Time brings a little sweetness and a tart black currant jam. Raisins and molasses. Sherried notes are there but the wood is more dominant bringing dark chocolate. The mid palate is all about the depth of oak. Woody, very drying and bringing a fair bit of spice such as black pepper and fiery ginger…..maybe even some leather and tobacco notes. Toasted coconut. Along with this comes a little bitterness from the oak but it’s not out of place. The long warming finish brings quite a lot of wet wood, spice and ginger heat before the berries, bitter molasses and raisins come through. A little sweetness begins to return at the back end. It’s very rich and velvety…Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate with fruit and nuts…..a hint of coconut. The barrel and the fruit are quite well balanced here and it’s complexity and enjoyment relies upon this balance….it can tip towards a little arid at times but it never falls off that cliff.

In conclusion: On the nose I genuinely believe that Empery is my favourite of the Oloroso trio that includes Hereditas and Patrimonio. If Patrimonio is defined by wood and Hereditas is defined by the Sherry notes, Empery is a perfect blend of both. On the palate it also seems to be the more balanced of the three and it feels a little lighter in blend make up, perhaps less pot still, I don’t know. It definitely drinks the easiest of the three as the bottle count will show. I’m two in on Empery and one in on Hereditas and Patrimonio.

What this series of three releases have shown us is that whilst on the surface things may be the same….maturation time, cask type, batch and continuous blend….in reality the ratios of batch and continuous, the prior history of the barrels and 2% difference in abv can produce such varying end results. It’s perhaps a lesson in looking deeper and further than the label alone. I genuinely thought that I wasn’t a sherry guy and didn’t need a cupboard full of the “same” rum…..how wrong I was. If Hereditas is the sherry bomb, and Patrimonio is the oily, barrel driven Rum that plays the long rewarding game then that makes Empery the quick out of the blocks crowd pleasing structure that spans the two camps. Approachable yet complex and rewarding. It’s also the least expensive of the three. Patrimonio just shades it….but only just.

4.5 / 5

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

Foursquare Patrimonio – Single Blended Rum

Its been a hell of a few months financially…..and not in a positive way. Everything seemingly dropped at once….the new Exceptional Cask Selections, Doorly’s 14, the surprise of Hereditas, Worthy Park 12 and the new Habitation Velier releases. Sometimes thats just how it happens…..but we can’t forget the release of Patrimonio….even though it felt like it was on the boat for a hell of a long time. One of three partially ex-Sherry matured Foursquare releases that appeared in quick succession. I hadn’t considered myself a person needed that many ex-Sherry Rums in my collection but I duly picked them all up. Hereditas (linked in the opening sentence) was the second bottle that I opened after Empery. I really enjoyed Hereditas as you will see from my review, but at the time of writing this I am probably enjoying Empery more given the bottle fill levels. They are both different beasts, which is where this trio of releases becomes interesting. From the same origins, and the same upbringing, in the same climate, we see such differing results……maybe I did need ‘that many’ ex-Sherry Rums after all. Foursquare have made good use of ex-Oloroso barrels in some of their previous and ongoing releases. Doorly’s XO sees a secondary maturation of at least a year in them, Premise sees its three years in ex-bourbon complimented by an additional 7 years in ex-Oloroso and now we have the three new additions. Often seen as a relatively ‘new’ thing to do,  Foursquare Rum Distillery are at the forefront of the successful use of fortified wine barrels. These things are viewed by some as breaking away from the ‘norm’ of ex-bourbon barrel maturation, but in actual fact its the other way around. Deliveries of Port, Madeira and Sherry would’ve been made to Barbados, and to avoid shipping empty barrels, unaged Rum would’ve been sent back in them. It makes sense to use what is available. I was fortunate enough to attend the ‘Rum Tasting of the Century’ last year and I was able to try the 1780 dated Harewood House Rum. Now that Rum was definitely young, and it definitely displayed the effects of fortified wine barrel maturation. I allude to this in my write up of the event. Ex-bourbon makes sense now given the ease of transportation plus the rules of engagement for Bourbon stating that the barrels can be used once. Anyhow, enough waffling. Lets get down to the serious business of trying Patrimonio.

Foursquare Patrimonio – 58% abv – Single Blended Rum 

Patrimonio, as you will see above, means ‘Heritage’. Perhaps referring to the heritage of Barbados Rum in both the use of Batch and Continuous distillations to create the Rum and also the use of Sherry Barrels.

Distilled in 2004 and bottled in 2019, Foursquare Patrimonio Single Blended rum is composed of two elements. A Single Blended Rum matured exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels for a period of 14 years and a Single Blended Rum matured for 10 years in ex-Bourbon barrels before transferring to first fill ex-Oloroso Sherry barrels for a further period of 4 years. These components are then blended and rested prior to being bottled at 58% abv. No colour. No chill filtration. No nonsense. 6000 bottles were produced so hopefully more people get to experience the Rum. I first got the smallest taster of Patrimonio right at the end of the 2018 UK Rumfest on the Sunday. I was walking out of the room and happened to pass Richard who duly poured me a small drop. I had been tasting Rums all day at that point and all that I recall muttering was “Wow thats soft. Sherry? What abv? Late 40’s?”. Was my extremely ‘fatigued’ palate anywhere close?

Tasting Notes

Nose: A little astringent in the nose when first poured. I’ve found that Patrimonio needs more time to acclimatise and reveal itself that Empery or Hereditas….even though there is only 2% abv between them. It also presents itself as an oilier proposition. Plenty of wood up front and a hint of smoke. Deep dark and brooding damp oak. It’s not overly dominant though, merely announcing itself at the start of the journey. Familiarity muscles in with the classic Foursquare notes of vanilla and a hint of butterscotch. Time brings a touch of fruit and nut milk chocolate. Warm Crema Catalana with a crispy caramelised brown sugar topping. The nose on this rum is continually developing over time, it’s more an experience than an easy and immediate pour. There is also a hell of a lot developing from the barrels on the nose here with plenty of coconut and black pepper spice. Stewed stone fruit. Mixed raisins and peel. Glazed fruit cake with toasted almonds. It remains an attention holding rum with developing tobacco notes, more wet wood and an almost candied boiled fruit sweet note as it sits in the glass.

Mouth: Very big and very oily mouthfeel. A little heat from its 58% but nowhere near the level one would expect from a 58% spirit. In actual fact is pretty soft in its approach. It’s also a chewy rum and one that drinks far more instantly than the nose suggested….but the time spent nosing definitely affords the rum space to stretch its legs and develop. A beautiful sweetness washes over your palate bringing with it baked apples with a mincemeat filling. Solid and moist Christmas fruit cake. Candied citrus peel. There is a developing Demerara sugar note too. The mid palate is dominated by a growing and increasingly more forceful wet oak that excerpts an almost arid dryness on your palate. Less spice notes from the barrel, though they are there. The deep sherried notes appear and cast a little pleasing bitterness that is fully aligned with the robust oak. Tart fruits….cranberries and fresh raspberries, maybe a hint of gooseberry. Ripe Victoria Plums. The continual drive from the wood brings forth the vanilla, coconut and cocoa notes found on the nose. Pan de Higo from the crazy Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona. Continual glass visits bring a little growing bitterness from the fruit and barrel influence but that is expertly balanced by the ubiquitous sweetness of vanilla, coconut and cocoa. The finish is long and entirely consistent with the palate which is quite wonderful. The addition of a more prominent assertion of the tobacco notes during the final exchanges is joined by powdered liquorice root and a whiff of burnt splints.

Balance seems to be critical with Sherry Cask Rums and is very well displayed with the trio of recent releases. They are an example of how from very similar origins of ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso, three connected but differing experiences can be created. The sherry casks, whilst all are first fill, have differing backgrounds. But how do these differing experiences come about? Temperatures can vary in the beautiful partially open sided Ageing warehouses at Foursquare. Maybe this causes more exchanges through the barrel in certain locations, maybe differing pot/ column ratios were used, this release definitely feels a little oilier and heavier. I don’t know. What I do know is that through 2006, Triptych, Principia, both Destino releases, I have been suitably impressed by the quality and experience found within these bottles. Triptych with its faultless blend of three differing oaks, Principia with its 6 years in ex-Oloroso, Destino with its 2 years in ex-Madeira all offered so much. Then we have the one that set the benchmark for all subsequent bottlings so high…..Foursquare 2006 with its 3 years in ex-Bourbon and 7 years in ex-Cognac. Patrimonio for me, is the one that can rival the experience of the legend that is 2006. A faultless display of rum making utilising traditional techniques and perfectly employing the heritage associated with historical maturation of Rum in Barbados. All of this is being done in a fully compliant manner with the proposed Barbados Rum GI which some are calling stifling and a barrier to innovation…..Amazing eh…..

5 / 5 +

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

Foursquare Hereditas – Private Cask Selection

Seemingly of late, releases from the Foursquare Rum Distillery Exceptional Cask Selection have been a little like buses here in the UK……you wait ages for one, then three turn up at once. That is definitely the case here. Setting aside the Foursquare Distilled, Blended , Bottled and Velier Distributed Patrimonio we have in the space of a week seen the Exceptional Cask Selection IX which is Empery and X which is 2007 and is the successor to the excellent 2004 and even more excellent 2005. The third in this public transport based Rum release analogy was a surprise to some but a piecing together of the jigsaw pieces for others. It is the appropriately named Foursquare Hereditas Rum – Exclusive to the Whisky Exchange.

I have covered release from Foursquare Rum Distillery quite extensively on these pages and you can either put your own search in the “search box” or click here to read a little more about them. This bottling is the first exclusive release from The Whisky Exchange post unveiling of their new classification system and would be classed as Single Traditional Blended Rum under their system….or Single Blended Rum under the Gargano / Seale. It is also an exclusive Private Cask Selection bottling. But what is it like?

Foursquare Hereditas Rum – Exclusive to the Whisky Exchange – 56% abv – Single Blended Rum – 2520 bottles

As you will be well aware, Foursquare produce predominantly ‘single blended rum’ which is a single distillery blend of traditional batch (pot) and traditional continuous (twin coffey column) distillation. Unlike most other producers, Foursquare blend their batch and continuous distillates prior to maturation. Exact ratios are never revealed but you’ll occasionally be advised when something is batch or continuous ‘heavy’.

The make up of Hereditas is a 14 year solely ex-bourbon barrel Single Blended Rum and a 14 year ex-bourbon / ex-sherry Single Blended Rum. The former is self explanatory but the latter saw 10 years in ex-bourbon prior to being placed into ex-sherry barrels for a secondary maturation period of 4 years. 14 years is a long time in the Caribbean climate and we are only just starting to see Rums of this age coming out of Foursquare……the ones that I’ve tried thus far have been an intense proposition to say the least. The Sherry barrels used are all ex-Oloroso with varying histories prior to their use at Foursquare but they are all first fill.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Higher abv but absolutely no need to fight through any pesky alcohol bite. As soon as your nose gets anywhere near the glass you immediately get that familiar and classic Barbadian, and more so Foursquare nose of a well integrated oak and Vanilla. But there is so much more depth here. The intensity of a spiced fruit loaf nearing readiness in the oven. Imagine that the top of that fruit loaf had slightly burnt and crisped up a few raisins. Plump Raisins. Flamed orange peel. A heavy, warming stewed plum note develops. Hereditas possesses the kind of depth and character from the Sherry cask that I had previously only experienced on a short lived love affair with a good batch bottle of Aberlour A’Bunadh. Time in the glass allows those classic notes of coconut and damp wood to come to the fore accompanied by hazelnuts and light cocoa. Deep, approachable and inviting but with a light floral perfumed quality.

Mouth: Blimey. This is a BIG rum. Good mouthfeel. Sweetness. Bitterness of burnt raisin. Mixed candied peels. Hazelnuts. Walnuts. Plump, juicy raisins. Plenty of fruit loaf notes. Light ginger syrup. Very hedgerow….homemade mixed berry jam. Soft Liquorice. There is plenty of weight and heft on the palate. The mid palate becomes pleasingly spicy. Those 14 years of tropical maturation begin to flex their muscles. A robust dryness grips your tongue and begins to tug at the edges with a little heat and peppery spice. Plenty of wet wood and a hint of minerality. An earthy quality. Right at the back end there is a hint of coconut, dark chocolate and fennel seed. Plenty of woody and stone fruit bitterness…..all in balance with the arid barrel and sweet fruit loaf notes. The finish is entirely consistent with the entry and mid palate. Dark chocolate, plenty of wood, fruit, barrel spice and pleasing molasses and soft liquorice bitterness.

Hereditas is a multi faceted but entirely cohesive experience. Whilst it is heavily influenced by the 4 years maturation in those first fill ex-oloroso barrels…it also carries with it the heft of those 14 years in ex-bourbon in that beautiful Barbadian sunshine. Don’t you dare confuse it with the awful Rum / Sherry hybrid abominations coming out of continental Europe either. We’re talking Single Blended Rum, two barrel types, no colour and no chill filtration plus patience and time. This is a deep, woody, intensely fruity and rewarding tropically matured beast that will win over sherried whisky lovers and Rum fans alike.

It is available from The Whisky Exchange.

4 / 5

I have to confess that I was a little cautious about the trio of Sherry cask releases. I’ll be brutally honest. Premise, whilst a very competent and approachable Rum, maybe an excellent Rum by many other producers standards, just wasn’t for me. We’re talking very “nit picky” but for me it was completely overshadowed by its companion releases at the time in Dominus and 2005 and therefore was the only release that didn’t get picked up in quantities larger than two….an action which has become the norm for me and Foursquare releases. After having a little time with all three, my fears are without foundation.

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

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

*Press Release*

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

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

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

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

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

The Classification

Single Distillery Rum:

Single Traditional Column

Rum distilled at one distillery in traditional column stills.

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

Single Traditional Pot Still

Rum distilled at one distillery in traditional pot stills.

Single Traditional Blended

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

Single Modernist

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

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

Multi-distillery Rum:

Blended Traditionalist

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

Blended Modernist

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

‘Flavour Camps’

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

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

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

*End*

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

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

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.