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.

St. Lucia Distillers 1979 Ruby Reserve

Released to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of St Lucia’s Independence in 1979, the Ruby Reserve is only available on island and only 1979 bottles have been produced. Changing hands between the British and the French 14 times during the 17th & 18 Centuries, St. Lucia gained independence on the 22nd February 1979. More detailed information can be found with a visit here. I have been fortunate enough to get a small sample from a friend to use in this review, and use it I will. I have written quite extensively about St Lucia Distillers in these pages and a quick trip to the search box will uncover some detailed information on the distillery, their processes and their stills.

Image Copyright of Dave Marsland

I don’t want to waffle on more than I need to as we have some Rum to taste…..

St. Lucia Distillers 1979 Ruby Reserve – 46% abv – Single Blended Rum (though it contains both molasses and cane juice components)

The wonders of social media means that we have information from Michael Speakman of St Lucia Distillers about the exact components of the blend….and it as follows:

It is a blend of 49.5% column still and 50.5% pot still

Column Still components are:

21.5% is: Coffey Still – RR101 marque (molasses) – Ex bourbon barrels – 6-12 years

28% is: Coffey Still – RR104 marque (molasses) – Ex bourbon – 6-12 years

Pot Still components are:

16% is: John Dore I Still (molasses) – Ex bourbon barrels – 8-12 years

6.5% is: John Dore I Still (molasses) – Ex brandy barrels – 8-12 years

5.5% is: Vendome Still (molasses) – Ex bourbon barrels – 8-12 years

21% is: John Dore I Still (sugarcane juice) – Ex bourbon barrels – 8 years

1.5% is: Vendome Still (sugarcane juice) – Ex bourbon barrels – 7 years

Tasting Notes

 

Nose: Definitely instantly recognisable as a St Lucia Distillers Rum. That classic medicinal note from the John Dore I pot still is very prominent during the early exchanges. A hint of acetone and sticking plasters soon gives way to tobacco and a hint of barrel spice. There’s some real depth to the blend and an element of minerality to the nose. Time is shows a very rewarding experience. Light vanilla runs throughout with powdery cocoa and chocolate coated coconut pieces. Ever present astringency brings a beautiful Jamaican element to the Rum with caramelised pineapple, salty preserved lemons and citrus oil….there’s something about that classic sticky fruit, saline and citrus interplay that really elevates the Rum. Fresh star fruit, mango and guava juice. A hint of grassiness and a wine like note rides the growing oaken influence with a developing spiced and floral pink peppercorn before the well-integrated wood shows as freshly cut pipe tobacco culminating in walnuts and marshmallow sweetness.

Mouth: A dry and quite spicy entry to the Rum brings milk chocolate coated nuts and raisins. Mixed dried tropical fruit and citrus peels. A tannic wine note is certainly present along with stewed plums, prunes and baking apple with a touch of mincemeat (think Christmas mince pies). Syrupy oat flapjacks and caramelised bbq pineapple lead into a little bitterness. Maybe a touch of scrumpy. The mid palate carries a beautiful dryness from the oaken influence and brings cinnamon and nutmeg. More savoury spice notes of cumin and fennel seed rest in the background. There is also liquorice root, damp musty oak and wet cardboard. The finish which carries some length starts off with warm, spiced scrumpy. A light stone fruit bitterness leads into oak and jammy fruit with tobacco and a hint of spice rounding things out. The oak really hangs around and allows the medicinal notes from the nose to make a last-ditch come back with a touch of molasses.

This is a really solid Rum and as we’ve become used to with their 1931 Series and new Chairman’s Reserve 1931, the make up of the blend is really sound with every element playing its part. I prefer the nose to the palate on this one but it rewards time and provides plenty of interest.

4.5 / 5

I’m massively grateful to a friend for the sample. Sadly that has just made me crave a full bottle. Unfortunately as it’s only available on the island, the chances of me obtaining one are low. But if anyone can help me out, I’d be massively grateful.

 

© 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.

Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’

Plantation as a brand will be familiar to pretty much everyone reading this. No real explanation is required. Xaymaca however will need a little explanation. It is the name given to the island of Jamaica by its first inhabitants, the Arawaks. With their purchase of the West Indies Rum Distillery (W.I.R.D) in Barbados, Maison Ferrand also gained a third share in National Rums of Jamaica (NRJ). This gives them a share of Long Pond and Clarendon Distilleries. There are pot stills available at those distilleries. Long Pond has a John Dore Pot Still and Clarendon has a Vendome Pot Still. With access to the distilleries came improved access to stock. Hence, the Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ was born.

The release of the new Plantation Xaymaca has been accompanied by much fanfare in Rum circles. It speaks of a revival! Their own website marketing information states that the Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ will:

“revive the quintessential Jamaican-style, 100% pot still rums of the 19th century with an expression of intense flavors that reveal the traditional, legendary « Rum Funk » : aromas and flavours of black banana and flambéed pineapple, locally called “Hogo,” an Anglicization of the French term “Haut Goût” (high taste).”

Quite the claim.

Information provided by Plantation is as follows:

  • Alc./Vol. : 43%
  • Origin : Jamaica
  • Distilleries : Clarendon and Long Pond
  • Raw material : Molasses
  • Fermentation : 1 and 3 weeks
  • Distillation : Pot Still (Vendome) from Clarendon Distillery / Pot Still (John Dore) from Long Pond Distillery
  • Tropical ageing : 1 to 3 y.o. in ex-Bourbon casks
  • Continental ageing, elevage : 1 year in ex-Cognac casks
  • Volatile Substances : 312 g/hL AA
  • Esters : 156g/hL AA
  • Marques : Clarendon EMB & MLC marks / Long Pond VRW & STC^E marks
  • Classification : Plummer
  • Dosage : 0 g/L

Digging deeper, as Matt over at Cocktail Wonk has, more information can be gained from those marques. I urge you to view his article but I will also break it down further below utilising the detailed information that Matt obtained on his trip to Maison Ferrand.

Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ – 43% abv – Pot Still Rum

As mentioned above, the marques used in the Xaymaca are as follows:

  • Long Pond – VRW (Vale Royal Wedderburn) from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester range between 150-250 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Long Pond – STC^E (Simon Thompson Cambridge Estate) from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester range between 550-650 g/hL AA. 8 years Tropical maturation & 1 year Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Clarendon – EMB from the Vendome Pot Still with an ester range between 125-175 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Clarendon – MLC (Monymusk Light Continental) from the Vendome Pot Still with an ester range between 500-600 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks

Now there is way more information including specific distillate fermentation periods and abv prior to blending in the linked article.

The article linked to will also tell you that this initial release has another marque in the blend that could be permanent, may not be permanent, may be replaced or may be replaced repeatedly. It’s currently an unknown, but given the age of the marque,its doubtful that it will be available in enough quantities to be permanent.

Missing Marque:

  • Long Pond – ITP from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester level of 280 g/hL AA. 17 years predominantly Tropical maturation

The final Xaymaca noted ester level of 156 g/hL AA, putting it at the bottom end of the Plummer range of 150-200 g/hL AA lets you know that the VRW and the EMB marques are the predominant components of the blend. But, as with Hampdens DOK marque, a little higher ester goes a long way. So let’s have a look at how it tastes.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Candied fruit sweetness. Bright acidic fruit as I would expect with a Long Pond component. Orange peel. Warm Pineapple chunks. Overripe banana. The nip of young alcohol. Light oak. Quite subdued.

Mouth: Sweet warming entry. Thinner mouthfeel than I was expecting but it’s not overly watery. Quite a bit of spice and a more apparent wood influence that wasn’t present on the nose. Fresh ginger. Mild raisin. Faint milk chocolate. The mildest note of pear drop sweets is present if you really concentrate. Mid palate is warming and has hints of toffee. It’s very much Jamaica-lite….but too lite for me. More multi island blend. The finish is surprisingly short with watery wood and weak butterscotch. Pretty dull on the palate, especially when considering how promising the nose was. I would also note that it feels as if it may have an element of column Rum in the blend, even though not noted as such.

For a product that makes a big deal about “hogo”, “Rum Funk”, and “reviving the quintessential Jamaican style 100% pot still rums of the 19th Century”……even getting so geeky as to give a list of the marques used in the blend and giving Ester and Volatile Compound levels, I find that the message being pushed runs at odds with the liquid in the bottle. I’m also not sure who it is aimed at. It can’t be current Plantation fans as they have no issue with the additions anyway. It’s not aimed at geeks as although it has the info, it’s just not interesting enough. It seems to be tagged as a good “beginners” Jamaican Rum in a lot of reviews that I have seen post note writing. If I was new to Jamaican Rum and this was my first bottle, it wouldn’t excite me enough to make me want to know more. Beginners want approachable, not uninteresting. Much has also been made of the lack of ’dosage’. In fact, the lack of ‘dosage’ is stated on the label. Great move, but it only has meaning if you also state on the bottle label when you HAVE added something. Please correct me if this happens with the bottles that have high levels of “dosage” as I’ve not seen it. Website data, Bacardi and Diplomatico do it too, but it means nothing if you’re choosing when to disclose on the label and when not to. Small step, and one to be noted….but we’re not in the promised land yet.

I wanted to enjoy this Rum. It should be a winner on paper. 100% pot. Proper marques being used. Loads of label clarity. But it’s like a jigsaw, with all of the right pieces arranged to make the wrong picture. With those marques, it should be impossible to make a boring blend….but thats what I believe the Xaymaca is. Maybe the secondary age dulled it’s vibrancy. It would’ve maybe been better presented as the distillates blended without the “elevage”, as it has definitely not added value. Could’ve and should’ve been so much more.

2 / 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.

Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced

Don Q is a brand that has been written about on these pages previously. I will admit that although they have released some very fine Rums, I usually have a tendency to steer clear of lighter multi-column spirits….its purely a personal preference thing….though if I am compelled to go for a lighter Rum, Don Q is usually the bottle that I find in my hand. The range has some real stand outs including the very flavourful Gran Anejo and the Single Barrel 2005 and 2007 releases. The Gran Anejo and Single Barrel 2007 actually have a portion of single column distillate in them, as Destilería Serrallés has a Single Column Still made by the Vendome Copper and Brass Company. You can read a little more about the other releases along with Destilería Serrallés by clicking here and here. Spiced Rums get talked about even less than light multi-column Rums here, but in this instance we will be discussing both…..

Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced – 45% abv – Modern Rum

The first thing that may strike you is the ‘Oak Barrel’, hinting that the Rum is aged. Now that is not totally unusual as brands like Foursquare have been doing that for years with their Spiced Rum, but quite a large percentage of other brands utilise unaged Rums as the base for their Spiced products. The aged rum in question here is a 3-year-old blend of their multi-column Rum. This is then Spiced using Cinnamon, Vanilla, Nutmeg and Clove……natural spices….no flavoured syrups. Caramel will have been added for colour to give uniformity to the shelf appearance. The second thing that will strike you is that is presented at 45% abv…….most other Spiced Rums go in at 37.5% – 40% (probably as they don’t sell for a hugely inflated price, why pay the duty on a higher abv spirit) so this is a welcome change….though it does make me wish that they’d implement this in their Gran Anejo and Single Barrel releases which would really excel at a higher abv.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Initial sweetness. Cream soda. Vanilla. There is a warming spice character too (obviously) that is all Nutmeg and crystallised ginger. Light clove oil. Chocolate coated ginger biscuits and a fresh zesty orange rind. This is all carried on some pleasant oak notes being pushed along by the increased abv.

Mouth: A nice heated entry with the abv immediately noticeable. Not as sweet an entry as other spiced offerings though it feels like there is sweetener added. Vanilla, cloves and cinnamon in abundance. Quite a pleasant milky chai latte. None of the spices are ‘over done’…..and the best thing? Neither is the vanilla. There is a hint of kola nut being brought through on the dry woody accents which themselves run through the mid palate. Following the subtly sweet entry the rum finishes with drying oak, a nip from some fiery crystallised ginger and black pepper. Right at the back-end the vanilla has one last hurrah and the warmth of the spices sees it home.

It pairs well with coke in the right quantities (about 50/50 with plenty of ice) but this has been enjoyed mainly in a glass on its own or in the occasional daiquiri. As Spiced Rums go, its solid stuff.

4 / 5

We don’t consume much spiced rum here anymore, but when we do, this is one of our 3 go to offerings.

Better than 95% of spiced rums on the market and it very much models itself after the Foursquare Spiced with its aged rum base yet this offers a higher abv which is a nice touch. Now to just get them to up the abv of the Gran Anejo and Single Barrels and we’ll all be happy.

© 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.

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

Don Q Signature Release Single Barrel 2007

I’ve written about the core Don Q range including the Single Barrel 2005 but minus the recent Spiced addition (which I still need to grab) previously and you can refresh yourselves  by clicking here if you wish.

Now the Don Q stand at the 2017 UK RumFest gave us a little insight into two great things…Firstly the Rum that I’ll be looking at today…Don Q Single Barrel 2007….and the quite frankly mind-blowing Don Q Double Aged Vermouth Cask Finish which is a 5 to 8-year-old Rum finished for 4 to 6 weeks in 600 litre Mancino Vecchio Vermouth casks and its pretty crazy stuff with the fact that it is a multi-column distillate playing in its favour. This will be released in the UK hopefully before summer.

Alexx kindly displaying the Vermouth Cask – UK RumFest 2017

Don Q Signature Release Single Barrel 2007 – 40% abv

This is very similar in principle to the Single Barrel 2005. The explanation behind use of the ‘single barrel’ term is that all of the Rum in this limited release was from the same 2007 distillation which would then be split between the pre-requisite number of ‘similar’ barrels to carry the volume. Each barrel would then bottled individually so rather than each bottle containing the vatted blend of all barrels from the 2007 distillation, technically each barrel has its own series of bottles. There is again no way to know which barrel the bottle that you have is from. Mine is bottle 47, 823….so not too limited. Bottled in 2016 makes this a 9-year-old Rum. The same distillation process is employed as the majority of the range but this time there is a component from the Vendome Single Copper Column (taken off the still at 75%) and given the discussions recently regarding congener levels, potentially quite high in congeners. It is again bottled at 40%.

Multi-column set up and Vendome Single Column at Destilería Serrallés

Tasting Notes

For reference I carried out the tasting process with a glass of 2005….it quickly became apparent that this was a different animal and the 2005 as not my reference…

Glass: Immediately different to the nose on the 2005. The 2007 feels a lot heavier. It’s actually, as far as column rum goes, quite the bruiser. A lot of heavy astringent oak up front. The light whiff of freshly burnt wood. A hint of tropical fruit is carried on the vanilla notes, though the vanilla notes are subdued by a little sulphury note. There is even a slight unleaded petrol aroma to the nose. This all gives way to powdery cocoa and coconut chips along with a very obvious hazelnut. I’m not aware of the ratio of single column to multi column in the Rum but its clear that the single column has a real influence….and its a good move.

Mouth: Lip-smacking entry. Peppery and dry. The oak has real teeth and it shows them straight away. This gives way to a light, floral sweetness followed up by burnt brown sugar. The mid-palate is all drying oak and spice. Nutmeg, cloves and an ‘earthy’ turmeric root. It has the pepper and spice of a rye whiskey. There is also a slight soapy note. The medium length finish brings a spicy, throat tingling heavy oak, dark stone fruit and freshly cut vanilla pods. Right at the end there are poached pears studded with cloves.

4.5 / 5

This is clearly a step up in experimentation from the 2005 and is all the better for it…though the 2005 was no slouch. This even surpasses the Gran Anejo for me which was my previous benchmark…..its a real treat. Maybe a touch higher abv would be welcome….a bump up to 43 or 46% for a special release would be ideal. That said, this is £35 a bottle and very well priced for the enjoyment within.

© 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

Secret Treasures Selection Privée St.Lucia Collection

Another visit to St Lucia and I’m expanding my array of reviews from the island with three more independent bottling’s from the same range…..The Secret Treasures Selection Privée St.Lucia Collection.

This collection comprises the following:

Vendome 9 Year – Single Cask No. 528 – 53% abv

Vendome 6 Year – Single Cask No. 850 – 52% abv

John Dore 9 Year – Single Cask No. 26 – 55% abv

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

Again, you can familiarise yourselves with my previous writing on St Lucia Distillers and some of their own label products by clicking here, here, here and here…..and there is also information on a magnificent independent bottling here.

Right, now you’re back and have a little background on St Lucia Distillers, its straight into the bottles.

Tasting Notes

Vendome Pot Still – 6 Years Old – 52% abv

This still has a 2000 litre capacity and was commissioned in 2003

Glass: Bright gold. Oily. A pleasant alcohol spike initially. Light fruit such as pineapple, ripe banana and mango. Mild oaken influence. Light floral notes. Sweet vanilla fudge. Liquorice bitterness and that magical medicinal quality.

Mouth: A little alcohol up front gives way to peppery oak. Light sweetness and an almost biscuit-y whisky note. Medicinal for sure but with pipe tobacco. Time gives pineapple, mango and ginger. An herbal quality is present. That medicinal note is well pronounced and it carries through to the medium-long finish. This starts with dry oak and herbal notes before developing into peaches, caramel, oat biscuits and pipe tobacco. Youthful but with a good level of maturity.

Vendome Pot Still – 9 Years Old – 53% abv

Glass: Gold. Oily. Less aggressive from the off. Acetone. Burnt rubber. Oak. Ripe bananas. Beautiful medicinal quality again. Very pungent and well-rounded. Like Hampden meets Rockley. Light smoke. Oak. Liquorice. Vanilla. Pineapple chutney. A more accessible and mature proposition with the medicinal notes well-tempered.

Mouth: Again the alcohol is well-integrated. Oak meets pepper meets herbal tablets (maybe this is just a UK thing). Ginger. Banana jam. Mildly menthol. Honeycomb. Light florals wrapped in that beautiful medicinal smokey note. The long finish starts with fruit, caramel and liquorice chewy sweets before developing into a moisture sapping smoke driven dryness with a faint herbal note to end. Very well-rounded and really impressive.

John Dore Pot Still – 9 Years Old – 55% abv

There is no specific mention of which John Dore Still this comes from, I or II. John Dore I has a capacity of 1500 litres and was commissioned in 1998. John Dore II is the largest Pot Still at SLD and has a capacity of 6000 litres. It was commissioned in 2004

Glass: Dark gold. Viscous. Very pungent. Acetone, pear drops. Fruit. Oak. Honey. Banana chips. Chocolate. Caramel. It all seems less medicinal forward through it is there. Pineapple. Mango. Cloves. Cinnamon. Pipe tobacco. Integration is the overarching theme here. Maybe the still gives out less medicinal notes?

Mouth: Hot Hot Heat….pretty sure that was a band? Far sweeter entry than expected. Pronounced cinnamon. Pepper kicks hard and is followed by a light oak. A beautiful candyfloss joins the party. Banana chips, mango fruit leathers. It could be Jamaican for a split second. Funky. The mid-palate is all about the medicinal notes, smoke and spice. Anise and a liquorice bitterness. It remains quite heated with a growing foreboding dryness. This Rum is a lot more meaty and all-encompassing. The long finish starts with banana chips in chocolate before developing a nutty oaken quality. Tobacco follows along with whiffs of smoke and just a hint of that medicinal note.

It hard to separate the Vendome 9 and John Dore 9. Both display maturity and complexity far in excess of their tender years. Even the Vendome 6 brings a more playful puppy like quality to the party. Given my time again, I’d buy all three again. If you have to only have one, ask how much you like medicinal notes….if you adore Rockley style rums then it has to be the Vendome 9….if you like medicinal notes present but tempered by a sweeter spice driven note…it has to be the John Dore. I personally can’t pick between the two older expressions as you’ll note by the scores. I love medicinal notes, I love the bite of a Rum that sits over 50% and I pretty much love St Lucian pot still rum. More!!!

© 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