WeiRon – Super Premium Aged Caribbean Rum

PrintHere we go then…..The claim is a big one…SUPER PREMIUM AGED CARIBBEAN RUM! A very brave claim and one that people will be wanting to disprove…..but they may have a hard job doing so…especially given the principles adopted by Peter and Tommy of Svenska Eldvatten (Swedish Firewaters). Svenska Eldvatten are independent bottlers from Sweden who specialise in Whisky, but also release Rum and Tequila. One of their most noteworthy Rum releases (among an excellent Jamaican and beautiful Demerara) has been the frankly phenomenal Barbados 2000 ‘Rockley Style’…..but that is for another article. The following is my assessment of Wei Ron…..their Caribbean Rum blend….one of many out there at the moment….but one that just could be blazing a trail and showing the others how it should be done.

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Wei Ron – 50% abv

Presentation wise the overall appearance is pretty stark and devoid of any information apart from the name, producer, volume and abv. The bottle is what I have come to know as the ‘Velier’ bottle……..opaque black and unbelievably cool whilst giving no hint of the liquid within…..no box means that this bottle on your shelf shouldn’t see any problems with light affecting the contents. A cork closure completes the look. I was given early sight of this bottling a while back when a package arrived for me. Inside was a branded t-shirt, press release, an empty full-sized labelled bottle and a small 20 ml sample……that sample bottle has seen me pick up three full size bottles so far.

So, the whole premise behind this Rum was to create a Rum that ‘whisky geeks’ would like to drink…..and for Svenska Eldvatten to able to sell it at an affordable price. The key points on the notepad were as follows:

  • It should be naturally coloured with no added caramel
  • It should be released at a powerful yet approachable abv
  • It should be non-chill filtered

Lastly and perhaps most admirable and important

  • It should be free of ANY additions

Both Tommy and Peter sourced the suppliers of the Rums, performed admirably as Master Blenders for the Rum and sourced the bottles and corks etc. After numerous trial blends and trials at whisky fairs the final blend was agreed upon. I sent a quick message to Tommy Andersen to ascertain the composition of the blend and I have uncovered that the main constituent parts are a blend of heavy pot still and light column still Rums from Barbados and Jamaica although there is more in the blend that Tommy is not willing to share…..he was also reluctant to share specific distilleries too. What I do know is that all Rums in the blend were aged solely at the distilleries that produced them and have seen only Caribbean age. Bottle priced is around £45 and Master of Malt is the only place that you’ll find it in the UK. But does it live up to its bold claim I hear you cry…..

WeiRon Bottle and GlassTasting Notes

In the glass: It is a vibrant gold in the glass with lighter bright flashes and a swirl of the glass shows thick and reluctant legs….it looks like a very oily prospect. The Rum has a very obvious Jamaican nose, but not in an overbearing way. A lot of ripe banana is in there along with the light rubbery aromas that come with the Jamaican component. There is something resembling lightly spiced Portuguese custard tarts and warming syrupy porridge. There is also quite a grainy spirit attack from the Rum too. The pot still component is certainly doing all of the heavy lifting with the column spirit providing the little accents. Swirling the glass quite aggressively reveals a light oily citrus facet to the Rum along with light smoke like aromas.

In the mouth: Initially the sweetness is very apparent (no added sugar remember), and this carries with it salted caramel and oily savoury lemon rind…similar to preserved lemons (not sweet sugary rinds). This then dries very quickly and leaves you with a menthol or mint like chilly feeling in your mouth…kind of like the vapours have been sucked out of your mouth via other worldly means. Subsequent sips (and there have been many, my notes are 1.5 bottles old) reveal obvious banana and a real spine of pot still Rum. There is a real depth to the Rum that screams of the liquorice component that I’ve found in decent Demerara Rums. The mouthfeel is all-encompassing and big but not overly oily. No corner of your mouth remains unaffected by the Rum. The long (ish) finish starts with a peppery tingle as the Rum lingers and this develops drying oaken notes with a welcome return of those bananas and spiced custard tarts. As the Rum fades the liquorice starts to develop and brings with it the return of that salted caramel and a touch of musty oak.

If you’ve not deduced so from my gushing complimentary ramblings above, in plain English, you absolutely need to grab yourself a bottle of this Rum…..maybe several. It is as honest as the day is long, it is well thought out, it is well constructed, it is brimming with flavours and aromas, it is devoid of caramel, it is non-chill filtered, it is punchy, it is not flavoured by any other means and it makes an absolute killer Old Fashioned! It could probably make you attractive to others if you dab a bit behind your ears. The price point is right on the button (around £45) and this Rum genuinely is a new benchmark for a multi island blended Rum. Rum has once again been treated sensitively and with the greatest of respect by Svenska Eldvatten and long may it continue.

I wholeheartedly endorse this product.

4-0-star

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2016. 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.

The Balvenie Caribbean Cask

I was recently approached with regards to giving an opinion of a Rum cask ‘finished’ whisky, and though I’m more than partial to a little drop, I’m most certainly not a whisky drinker by any stretch of the imagination. But I thought that it would be a fun little aside to give it a try. I was duly sent a 100ml sample of The Balvenie 14-year-old Caribbean Cask Whisky for the purposes of this post. So here is a little about The Balvenie Caribbean Cask taken from choice excerpts of the press release information that accompanied the bottle.

This whisky was created by The Balvenie Malt Master, David Stewart who in 2012 celebrated his 50th anniversary at the distillery! The single malt whisky at the base of this release has undergone a 14 year maturation period in traditional oak whisky casks prior to being transferred to casks that have previously held Caribbean Rum. This is purely to ‘finish’ the aging process.

When asked about The Balvenie Caribbean Cask, David Stewart said “We’ve found that many years maturation in traditional oak whisky casks followed by a few months of Rum cask maturation complements The Balvenie single malt very well. This expression is a beautifully rounded whisky that combines traditional Balvenie vanilla notes with rich toffee, a hint of fruit and a warm, lingering finish”

The Balvenie Caribbean Cask – 43% abv

Balvenie in GlassPrior to receiving any information or indeed the sample bottle, I posed a few questions that were referred to the Balvenie Brand Ambassador who was very helpful in assisting with responses.

Firstly I asked how long the whisky spends finishing in the Rum barrels? Is it a fixed period based on experience or is each barrel sampled and a judgement call made? It appears that the whisky is finished for between 3 and 6 months in the casks. There is no fixed period as such as it depends on how active the cask is so it is the role of David Stewart to determine when the time is right. The barrels are then blended together to achieve the consistent flavour profile.

I foolishly assumed that they had obtained ex-Rum barrels for the finishing process but I was reliably informed that this is not the case. They utilise whisky barrels that are seasoned with Rum by Balvenie themselves. These barrels are ex-bourbon, American oak barrels that would usually be used to mature whisky. David Stewart has a ‘bespoke’ Rum blended just for him which he uses to season the barrels for a period of up to 3 years. I obviously asked about the source of this Rum blend and its components but was advised that the specifics are considered a ‘trade secret’. The time period for the seasoning is barrel dependent but the aim is to season the barrel for long enough to allow the spirit to permeate deep into the wood and for there to be a good amount of interaction between the Rum and wood. After this process, the now aged Rum is sold back to the producers and the barrels are then filled with 14-year-old Balvenie whisky for finishing.

I also asked about the abv of the whisky when it is finished. It sits at between 56 and 58% abv prior to being reduced to its bottling strength of 43% abv. I wonder how much flavour the Rum finishing imparts…..

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Whisky is an apple juice gold with darker bronze flashes displaying in the light of this particularly sunny day. Sweet vanilla instantly jumps out of the glass along with quite a dominant honeyed porridge. Sweet nutty aromas follow which are reminiscent of nougat and warm sugary peanuts. There is absolutely no bite from the nose aside from a little peppery tingle. A raisin fudge aroma begins to develop given time and there is some light tropical fruit akin to dried papaya chunks. The Rum used must be light of body and aroma as it influence is not massively apparent. To round things out there is a little floral note accompanied by green apples and honeyed vanilla.

In the mouth: There is a nice level of viscosity to the Whisky. A peppery bite leads at the front end but that is quickly quashed by a malty, honey and fudge concoction. A little oaty and flapjack like. There is also buttery croissant following. It is in the taste that I am picking up something familiar but it is not as expected. It may just be me but there is a distinctly agricole flavour imparted onto the Whisky. It’s quite green and vegetal. This sticks with me throughout subsequent visits to the glass. The finish is of a medium to long length and is all sweet short crust pastry topped with raisins. A little peach flavour exists at the back of my throat before the tiniest bit of oak influence washes it away.

You can certainly tell that the Rum has been used as a finish not as a maturation as it is very subtle. I’d love to compare to the same whisky minus the Rum finish to see just what additional flavour I’m getting. Would I purchase a bottle? Well as a Rum drinker not a whisky drinker I’d give it a go yes. It sits at around £41 a bottle so it’s not the cheapest but it is a 14-year-old single malt and therefore it commands that price (I wonder if a day will come that we are able to talk of a Rum in this way? Technique and age commanding a price point). I don’t know if there would be enough here to keep a serious whisky drinker entertained for a while but it would offer a pleasant and easy drinking distraction with just enough going on to make it interesting.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. 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.