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

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

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

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

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

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

Their batch distillation is supported by three stills.

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

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

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

With that said, lets dig in.

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

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

Tasting Notes

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

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

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

4.5 / 5

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

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.

Duncan Taylor Single Cask Rum – St Lucia 2002 – Cask 5

Duncan Taylor are an independent bottler of (mainly) whisky, and in their own words:

“Duncan Taylor & Company has ownership of one of the largest privately-held collections of rare scotch whisky casks. The company has been “laying down” casks from premium Scottish distilleries for decades and has, in recent years, made its branded products available to whisky connoisseurs throughout the World.

Duncan Taylor has its origins in Glasgow where the company was initially a merchant and broker of Scotch Whisky casks within the Industry. Devotion to the principle of providing only the finest casks to be filled at Scotland’s leading distilleries has been a key feature of the company’s history and this tradition of building an outstanding portfolio of only the finest scotch whiskies is being maintained to this day by the current owners.

When the company moved its headquarters to the North East of Scotland, close to Speyside – Scotland’s largest whisky producing region – it also took the decision to focus on the production and marketing of its own brands and to cease the “brokering” of whisky in cask form to Distillery companies and Independent bottlers.”

They are also celebrating 80 years of business, being founded in 1938.

Duncan Taylor bottle many Rums, mainly at cask strength or close to cask strength. Having whisky as their origin they do not chill filter and they bottle with natural colour. Now I have numerous bottlings from Duncan Taylor spanning Jamaica, St Lucia, Guyana and Fiji. I also have one of their own Caribbean Blends. Up for review today though is one of their St Lucia offerings.

Duncan Taylor Single Cask Rum – St Lucia 2002 – Cask 5 – 52.6% abv

You can have a read of my previous writings on products from St Lucia Distillers here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Phew. Now you’ll be fully versed with St Lucia Distillers, we can continue. As the label states, this Rum was distilled in September 2002 and bottled in September 2013 giving it 11 years of (assumed) Continental age. Bottled entirely from Cask No 5 which yielded 242 bottles, this has been bottled at 52.6% which I can only assume is cask strength. Though others have questioned bottle yield with assumed angel share and assumed barrel size to potentially arrive at a different number insinuating that it may not be cask strength. I personally can’t say I’m too bothered to dig into that. Of note is the fact that this Rum is Pot distilled. Now St Lucia Distillers have 3 Pot Stills, the John Dore I, John Dore II and Vendome. Given the date of distillation of 2002, that would point towards the John Dore I still as it is the only one that was commissioned at that point. It is also the smallest of their batch stills with a capacity of 1500 litres.

John Dore I on the left

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

Tasting Notes

Glass: The Rum displays as a dark straw gold  in the glass. Heavy. Medicinal pot still. A little diesel and a dose of creosote. All the good stuff. Sticking plasters and antiseptic cream. A hint of menthol and mint. Quite grassy too. Rubber and acetone back up the medicinal quality of the nose and time in the glass allows the merest hint of savoury vanilla and sticky grilled pineapple. Citrus oil. Whiffs of sweet smoke. It has quite a fresh and nuanced nose that gives more and more over time like the merest hint of barrel influence. A brine and salty quality is ever-present and is rounded out with a hint of powdery icing sugar. A few drops of water and half an hour in the glass adds enamel paint and sugarcane.

Mouth: Very heated entry with the smallest and short-lived hint of sweetness in the form of floral wildflower honey before the dryness shoulder barges its way in. Mint. Creosote. Petrol. Oily but not viscous. A thinner mouthfeel than expected but it does cling on, mainly in the vapours. Almond brittle. No really influential barrel notes can be picked up through the peppery heat. Liquorice. Olives and salty feta cheese. If its possible for Rum to morph into a molasses based offering from Guadeloupe mid-palate, this one does. Bringing with it pickle vinegar and ginger puree. A few drops of water push the sweeter elements to the fore with chocolate, dialed down brine. Less mint. More menthol.

Quite a long finish starts out relatively sweetly with the sugary minty residue from the bottom of a poorly made mojito and wildflower honey but again this dries to leave a grassy sugarcane and mild vanilla. Maybe some almonds. The medicinal pot still note announces itself again bringing to mind any number of Rockley ‘style’ Rums…..but for me never hitting the flavourful heights of them.

It is St Lucian Pot Still Rum at its most identifiable from first nosing. It is everything that I like about St Lucian Pot Still Rum. I would love to see more barrel influence that would come with tropical age and although it’s probably completely off the table given the new owners, a release of cask strength tropically aged individual still offerings from St Lucia Distillers would be welcomed with open arms and wallets by the geeky Rum crowd. Its good, almost very good, but it just lacks that light and shade that I think tropical age would offer.

3.5 / 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

Hamilton Ministry of Rum Collection – St Lucia 2005 Cask Strength

This bottle, unavailable in the UK was obtained at the 2015 UK Boutique RumFest. Ed Hamilton had his rum collection on display for tasting and this particular bottle, along with the Jamaicans really stood out. I was fortunate enough to win a coin toss with Keegan that saw me go home with the remains of this bottle and Keegan go home with the remains of the Jamaican (following mutual sample swaps). Aside from the occasional drop here and there, the bottle has spent the last two years gassed and sealed using parafilm at the back of my St Lucia shelf. So it’s about time that I write about it whilst there is still enough left. The majority of you will be familiar with the Ministry of Rum website that was started by Ed Hamilton many moons ago. Most of us will have used this website as a source of information and discussion and many still do. Anyhow, Ed decided to release a series of Rums under the Hamilton Ministry of Rum Collection and if you live within the USA you’re fortunate as that is currently the only point of distribution, but not everywhere given the differing state laws. But you’re here for the Rum…..

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

Hamilton Ministry of Rum Collection – St Lucia 2005 Pot Still Rum – 66.7% abv

The barrels were shipped to New York for bottling in late 2014, and this particular bottle of pot still magic came from barrel number 420 and is bottled at cask strength. The Rum was distilled on the 2000 litre Vendome Pot Still which was commissioned in 2003. Rum from this still is always produced for ageing according to the information at hand. The distillate was condensed at approx. 82% abv and is collected in large holding tanks with other batches from the same still. From there the distillate which now sit at around 70% abv is matured in ex-bourbon barrels. Distilled in October 2005, this Rum was bottled in January 2015 giving it just over 9 years of tropical maturation. Again, if you refer to other St Lucia posts on this site, more information regarding stills and marques can be found. Personally I have found that certain stills at St Lucia Distillers offer something that for me has only ever been found in the ‘Rockley Style’ Rums from Barbados, so as a proposition this Rum is pretty attractive.

Tasting Notes

Glass: The Rum is a dark burnished gold and it appears to be nice and oily….you can’t help but smile at the aromas flooding out of this impressive cask strength thoroughbred. The initial spike of alcohol astringency is short-lived and gives way to beautifully accessible aromas of acetone, rubber and pear drops. Very apparent and growing oaken influence is present as is wet cardboard. It’s remarkably approachable given its heft. Little whiffs of smoke give way to wet pumice stone. There is a light and quite frankly beautiful medicinal quality to this Rum. Time sees growing stone fruit, raisins and cocoa. The medicinal notes are well-tempered by the fruit and underlying oaken spine to the distillate. Burnt orange oil rounds out things. This really is just a delight to sit and nose….

Mouth: Dry, spicy entry. Tannic. Oily. Chocolate, honeycomb (crunchie bars), light, delicate florals all make an appearance in a very impressive first few sips. There is a peppery spike of oak followed up by black olives, salty brine, acetone and that quite frankly beautiful medicinal note. Water (only a few drops) brings out syrupy oat flapjacks, tropical fruit (guava and pineapple), liquorice, wet wood and leather. Again and again, this Rum really impresses. The finish is long, tannic and full of liquorice, acetone, olives and those majestic medicinal notes with the merest hint of sticky dates.

The interplay of flavours and aromas from this rum is mind-blowing. From the sublime medicinal notes to the fruit, acetone and solid oak presence. It’s the integration of all of these elements that makes this Rum so damn impressive. If you had any doubt about St Lucia’s ability to compete with the big guns of Barbados, Jamaica and Guyana then don’t….some really exciting stuff could be on its way out of St Lucia Distillers soon and I for one hope to be able to sample it….

For now, this is the best St Lucian that I have tried to date…..by a long shot….and I’ve tried a lot..

 

© 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