Readers and Subscribers will be more than aware that I have covered a few Rums from Mauritius previously, but this one is a little ‘different’ to say the least.
A chance meeting with Darius Burrows of Trilogy Beverage Brands gave me my first opportunity to taste Gold of Mauritius. Then whilst visiting the Boutique RumFest, we again got the opportunity to try the Rum and also to meet and talk to its creator, Frederic Bestel. It really is unlike anything that I have tasted previously, but first a little information on its creation.
Frederic buys in specific unaged Rums from local distillers on Mauritius and sets about his unique maturation process. He buys in used Port barrels from South Africa. These barrels arrive in Mauritius with Port residues still inside them and it is within these barrels that he ages the as yet unaged Rums. As a general rule the process takes approximately 12 months although this is barrel dependent. Some barrels have far less Port residue and therefore require the Rum to be in there for around 15 to 16 months, others far less.
Prior to bottling, around 10 to 14 barrels are selected, dependent upon how Frederic rates them in terms of maturation and flavour gained. Bear in mind that the wood used in South Africa for these barrels is not that great and if left in there too long, the Rum can develop an unwanted bitter taste. So Frederic takes these 10 to 14 barrels of Rum and blends them by hand to create the consistent flavour profile that he is looking for.
Given the high temperatures in Mauritius, cold filtration was initially employed by Frederic but now he has amended his methods to use normal paper filtration at 5 Microns. The colour and flavour come from the time spent in the barrels and the Port influence, although caramel colour is sometimes used to ensure consistency between batches as the specific barrels used can often give the Rum an Orange, Red or Brown appearance. The profile is one that Frederic believes gives him his own identity, and I’d have to agree. The wood influence is dialled down due to its bitterness and Frederic estimates that around 80% of the flavour profile is as a result of the Port influence with the other 20% as a result of the original unaged locally produced Rum.
Quite an insight into the methods used and all obtained directly from Frederic who has been very helpful since we first met. In this Rum, Frederic feels that he has a product that epitomises the essence of Mauritius. But how does it actually taste……
Gold of Mauritius – 40% abv
In the glass: The liquid is a dark mahogany brown / red and the initial aromas fight to jump out of the glass. Salted peanuts hit you in a big way along with chocolate and something that smells like sawdust! I would say that initially there is a bourbon like aroma to it. Fresh figs, malt, cocoa beans and more of the salted peanuts round out the aromas. It has a really unique aroma, very inviting stuff, although it is not Rum like at all.
In the mouth: There is an initial sweetness alongside a peppery spice. Instant nutty flavours are present, like a good quality chocolate bar with salted peanuts. There is also a heavy hit of coffee. Subsequent visits to the glass reveal chocolate pudding minus the chewiness, malted chocolate milkshake and freshly cracked black pepper. The chocolate and salted nuts play a big part in this liquid for me and alongside the salted peanuts there is something like freshly shelled hazelnuts. Strangely there is also a little bit of an Anejo Tequila taste to the it, maybe from the base Rums used. The finish is medium length and full of coffee, dark chocolate, those coffee beans coated in chocolate, and salted peanut butter. A very flavourful liquid, but not Rum like at all.
For want of a better phrase, this stuff is a little bit bonkers. It tastes like no Rum that I have ever tried before. It is not instantly recognisable as a Rum given its aromas and flavours. The chocolate I can only assume is as a result of the port residues in the barrels. Definitely a desert drink as this will dominate your palate for a while in it’s silken salty chocolate goodness and the sweetness will stick around. I often first try Rums in a daiquiri, but this one? Not a chance. I used this in a Rum Old Fashioned with a dash of Black Walnut Bitters and it did the trick. It is massively easy to drink and so far out of my usual range of flavours that I have become rather fond of it, but let’s not call it Rum. I would say that it has the ability to (when used by someone who knows what they’re doing) be the basis of some pretty unique cocktails, maybe a boozy milkshake alongside a coffee liqueur. Unrecognisable as a Rum which is a shame as that’s how it’s marketed, but I don’t mind the taste.
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