Montanya Exclusiva

What is it? American rum, distilled, matured and bottled at the Montanya distillery in Colorado. The rum is a blend of sugar cane based rum and molasses base rum mixed together for distillation via direct fired Alembic pot stills – you an read more into this on my review of the Montanya Oro. In terms of maturation this one has had a different treatment; the official line is that it’s a 3 year old rum with 2 and a half years in American white oak casks that have previously held Laws Whiskey and then 6 months in French oak casks that have previously held Sutcliffe Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon and Port. In practice some of the rum may well have been aged longer than this 3 year period.

If you read about the Oro, there are details about added honey to the rum when it’s casked, the same applies here. A small amount of honey (0.04% of each bottle) is added, this appears to have had an impact of my hydrometer when measuring sugar levels, again this was covered off in the Oro review so you can hop over there for more detail.

Montanya are a B Corp certified business. This means that they have been certified as meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and their purpose. They were the first rum distillery in the world to be given B Corp status, they really care about the people and place around them.

In case you are interested my bottle is from barrel number 410.

Not coloured, not chill-filtered and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No. Hydrometer test shows 19g/l of added, but as stated above and on the Oro review, this is most likely due to the honey and the way in which hydrometers are used to measure sugar content.

Nose: Woah, fruit. This baby is massively fruity on the nose; loads of cherry, strawberry, raspberry and cranberry at the start. We’ve got ginger, white pepper and sweet chilli/pimento that follows it up and clove from the cask. After the big fruit and spice it settles in to a little honey, vanilla and a lovely warm pasty note – think breakfast fruit Danish. What’s really nice here is I keep getting a big waft of menthol and eucalyptus darting about which gives an unexpected counter to the juicy red berries.

Palate: Medium mouth feel. Ah, it’s more whiskey forward here at the start with those Laws casks taking the lead over the wine, just like the Oro, although it’s nowhere near as sweet. Spicy with ginger, clove and white pepper. Herbal with that menthol and cane’y, grassy freshness. Then creamy; vanilla, white chocolate bars filled with raspberries and black cherries. There’s this cooling feeling you get in your mouth, which follows the spices, and tastes of cherry stones – it’s an odd thing I find in Talisker single malt and it’s very welcome here. Not as fruity as the nose at all really, it comes to more honey, a little melon maybe, and on the whole stays spicier.

Finish: Medium. Creamy but still a little spicy heat. Milky coffee, chocolate (both white and milk this time), pastries, cherries and strawberry again. It starts to swing back to the nose but doesn’t make it all the way, so it’s a mix of the noses fruitiness and the honey and spices from the palate. Really nice.

Thoughts: Again, as with the Oro, unusual. This baffles me, in a good way. It’s very fruity indeed, you definitely get the wine casks on the nose, the whiskey casks have an intense impact on the palate, but it’s this odd mix of cane juice and molasses I’m struggling to calibrate my brain to. Montanya rums don’t taste like any other rum I’ve had before and that is really interesting and exciting. It’s a style all on its own.

I really like this rum. I prefer it to the Oro quite a bit, I did find that a little too sweet for my preference. This is much dryer, more complex and a lot more interesting. Be warned though, it’s very easy to drink, as my almost empty bottle will attest. I would just say that I’d prefer this up to at least 43% abv but preferably 46% as I think it’d really push those flavours. In the scheme of things though this is a very minor quibble.

So the damage? £45. That’s a fiver more than the Oro and for me a massive jump up. I’d happily spend £45 on this, I’ve been very much enjoying it.

You can pick this up from Master of Malt here:

Montanya Exclusiva

Diamond 2003/2015 – Bristol Spirits

What is it? Single Traditional Rum (column still, molasses based, single distillery) from the Diamond distillery in Guyana. It was distilled in 2003 and bottled in 2015 by Bristol Spirits for the Bristol Classic Rum range, making it 12 years old. Almost all of the aging for this rum would have been in Europe as DDL (Diamond) are no longer supplying tropically aged rum, but as this was distilled back in 2003 there may be some tropical aging that has taken place prior to their change of policy – unfortunately no-one has the details of the aging split on this bottle. So which still is it from? Well unfortunately no-one seems to have any information on that either! We know it’s column still rum and it’s unlikely to be from the four-column Savalle still, so that leaves the Enmore wooden column or the Diamond metal column. It’s lighter in style than I’d expect from the Enmore, but given how many different marques that can produce it’s hard to say.

Coloured (most likely at source by DDL), chill-filtered and bottled at 43% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Woody at first, plenty of toasty oak and burnt fruit loaf. Roasted coffee beans, raisins, brown sugar and oranges. There’s a little liquorice, a touch of tar and some smoky rolling tobacco. With a bit of time I’m getting some banana, lemon and pineapple at the end, but it’s quite a rich, soft nose rather than light and fruity.

Palate: Medium mouth feel, I was expecting it to be a bit fuller and thicker to be honest. Fruity entry with plenty of raisin, sultana and pineapple. Some orange and banana as it progresses and then some heavier notes of fruit cake, coffee and caramel. A little vanilla note and oak come out and then a slight bitterness of liquorice and caught molasses.

Finish: Short. Ouch. It ends pretty quickly which is disappointing. It’s quite fruit cake’y again here still with loads of raisins, cherries, sultana and orange. There’s a slight tar note and a touch of rubber glove towards the end.

Thoughts? The bottle says “soft fruit and easy style”, yeah, it’s easy drinking alright, but I find it heavier than it’s being portrayed by Bristol. It’s certainly not a heavy rum by any means but I wouldn’t describe it as light and fruity. It’s a good classic Demerara style rum. It balances soft fruitiness well with the richer, darker, heavier, more brooding notes. Ok, it’s not going to blow your mind but if you’re after a sugar/additive free classic style Demerara at a “normal” drinking strength then this could be one for you to go for. The thing is, there aren’t that many rums around like this; most of the rums that people think of as a typical Demerara style rum (like El Dorado) are sugared, or  blends, or both – so actually finding an unaltered one is a pretty tough task.

You’re looking at between £60 and £70 for a bottle of this depending on where you go, which I do think it quite a lot of money, but it’s climbed in price quite a bit these days. Why? Well it’s from “back then”, that’s why. Bristol Classic don’t seem to put much stuff out these days, I’ve certainly not seen anything new from them for a few years, but they were quite prolific some years ago and when I started out on rum they were really one of the only Independent bottlers about, as such their “old” rums are in quite high demand.

Would I get another of this? No, not for £70, but certainly one I’m glad I picked up whilst I could, just for nostalgia sake if nothing else.

If you fancy this you can pick this up from The Whisky Exchange here:

Diamond 2003/2015 – Bristol Spirits


Or Master Of Malt here:

Diamond 2003/2015 – Bristol Spirits

Advent Calendars!

Before we start, this is a promotion, but I’m not getting commission from this, I’m doing a solid to a group of lads that I’ve got a lot of time and respect for.

It’s the time of the year when people are looking for those Christmas goodies. Over recent years there has been a trend in boozy advent calendars, I mean chocolate is ok but what we really (really) want is quality booze! You can get pretty much every type of advent calendar these days from beer and wine to gin and whisky. The one we’re interested in here is rum, because as we all know; rum is the best alcoholic spirit in the world and everything else is just second fiddle.

There are quite a few out there, so which one do you go for? Well you will get 24 samples of rum in various sizes, depending on your calendar of choice, at different prices and certainly different selections. For me it’s balancing the price of the calendar with the correct selection of rum and at the moment my personal opinion is that the one that ticks my boxes is the 24 Days of Rum calendar that is put together by World Class Spirits (the guys who do the S.B.S bottles) and distributed by Skylark Spirits (Indy Anand, Jaz Anand and Chetan Ladwa). I know the boys from Skylark through the UK Rum Club Facebook group and their work through the Rumcask blog – they are a sound trio, really do know their stuff when it comes to rum and have worked with rum producers to bring great rum into the UK, so I really don’t have any issue at all promoting their products.

So what is this one? Well you can view the homepage here at 24 Days of Rum which will give you an idea of what is inside (spoilers) and you can buy it from Amazon here, for £79.99 – buy 24 Days of Rum. You can also click the link on my menu at the top right which will take you to the Amazon listing.

The samples in here are 20ml, so they are a bit smaller than some other calendars, but 24 days of drinking rum….well, you’re only going to want a small amount each day, right? The rums come from all over the world and there is stuff in there that most people likely will not have ever tried before, which is the whole point of a sample box, right? And unlike some other calendars it’s not padded out with fillers and the odd very expensive sample thrown in, the rums really are all very good…..oh, and you get 2 glasses too!

So if you’re looking for a well priced, varied, quality and interesting rum calendar for 2020 then do yourself a favour and pick yourself up one of the 24 Days of Rum calendar.

Foursquare Diadem

What is it? Single Blended rum (molasses based, pot and column still rum from a single distillery) from Barbados, produced by the Foursquare distillery. There’s so many Foursquare releases these days it’s hard to keep up, this year alone has seen Nobiliary (ECS 12), the 2008 vintage (ECS 13), imminent UK release of Detente (ECS 14) and in a few months, Redoutable (ECS 15). So which one is the Diadem then? Well, it’s not any. It’s not an Exceptional Cask Selection release, it’s a Private Cask Selection which has been bottled exclusively for The Whisky Exchange, the same vein as Hereditas from last year if you can remember that far back. So what’s in the bottle this time? The rums in here are from both pot stills and column stills and are blended together prior to aging. A portion of the blend spent 12 years in ex-bourbon casks whilst another portion of the blend spent 12 years in first fill ex-Madeira casks, the resulting rums were then blended together again (at an undisclosed ratio) to get the final blend. So 12 full years of aging, tropically done in Barbados.

There is a total outrun of 2000 bottles in this release.

Not coloured, not chill filtered and bottled at a 60% abv.

I’m drinking and reviewing this at around 55%, which is the strength I tend to take these beasts down to. A drop of 5% doesn’t seem like much but it makes a world of difference to the nose, palate and the inside of my throat.

Sugar? Nah.

Nose: Yeah, this has spent some serious time in Madeira casks alright. Lots of dark fruit here at first with blackberries, black cherries and black plums, some meaty figs, prune and a shitload of roasted nuts; walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, brazils, almonds and cashew – like sticking your gonk into a Christmas nut selection. Following the nutty onslaught comes to oak, with varnished wood, cinnamon, ginger, clove, roasted coconut, smoked vanilla and the classic “old” smells from dusty libraries and leather armchairs. There’s a thread of dark chocolate that runs through it but it’s not prominent and as you get deeper in there’s a surprising zesty lift of pineapple and candied lemons. Yuletide here we come.

Palate: Hot. Full and rich oily mouth feel. Hot – ginger, black pepper, clove – it’s a fiery blighter at the start. A couple of sips in and we’re starting to get somewhere, it sweetens but still holds on to the spice; black cherry and chipotle jam, a pack of glazed pineapple and chilli cashew mix, those big bars of dark chocolate you get with chilli in them, chocolate covered stem gingers and black pepper infused caramel. There’s this constant play between sweet and spice, just when you get a nice bit of sweetness along comes the heat and chilli spice and punches you in the mouth.

Finish: Initially your mouth is left with the heat from the palate, but it does soon disappear. The finish is long and once the spices have left you’re left with all the flavours that were hidden before; black forest chocolate cake, liqueur cherries, candied ginger and a lighter fruit note of raspberry and nuts, almost like Bakewell tart. There’s still oak here and prickles of heat, notes of the “old” from before with leather and mushrooms, so it’s not all fruits and fancies. Part way through the finish I keep getting savoury flashes of something oily, like WD40 or some type of glue, which is really nice as it just keeps you paying attention to what else there might be hidden in here to find. It bitters at the end with a really good cup of tea (Yorkshire) and some raw walnuts.

Thoughts? I’m not sure how to take this one. The last Madeira cask Foursquare I had was the Sagacity and I struggled with that for a while, this is way more intense and much better for it, it’s just really bloody hot! I like Madeira and this is dialled down somewhat but still clearly the main force of the rum, unfortunately I think that the usual wonderful balance that we find in Foursquare rums is lost here, it doesn’t know what to do to you; the Madeira wants to be all earthy and nutty and sweet, the bourbon wants to be all toasty and caramelly and something else inside it wants to kill you, but all 3 elements fight each other.

It’s really good, the day Richard Seale puts out a shit rum is the day I find another drink, but I’m looking at a line-up of Foursquare ECS bottles and shrugging with this. Yes I’ll enjoy it massively once Autumn proper starts, and no there isn’t any part of me that regrets buying it, but I just feel like it’s “another” bottle that’s been put out there. Where would I put this in the range of Foursquare bottles? Well you can’t do that really, the goal posts move forward at such a damn rate! I think it’s better than the Sagacity, but not as good as the Hereditas (yes I know they are different rums, but I’m placing it based on the Private Cask Selection and some Madeira).

This was £85, would I get another? Heh, of course. It may not be my favourite bottle of Foursquare rum but in the world of rum it’s still playing a whole other game.

You can pick this up from The Whisky Exchange here:

Foursquare Diadem

Monymusk EMB 9 year old (2010) – Habitation Velier

What is it? Pure Single Rum (100% pot still, molasses based, single distillery) from the Clarendon distillery in Jamaica and bottled under the Monymusk name – you can read a bit more about Monymusk and Clarendon here in this review. The rum was distilled in 2010 after which it was aged tropically for 9 years before being bottled in 2019 for the Habitation Velier series of rums. The aging has taken its toll on the rum with an Angels Share of over 64% lost in that short 9 years. This particular bottling is from the EMB marque of rum meaning it has an ester level of 275.5 g/hlpa – so a mid level range of esters.

Not chill-filtered, not coloured and bottled at 62% abv.

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Woody at first – toasty oak, varnish, furniture glue, toffee, maybe a touch of golden syrup. It’s not an ester bomb that’s for sure but Monymusk rarely are. We’ve got fruit in here though, richer, darker than you’d expect from a Jamaican with prune, plum, black cherry, sultana and dried apricot. There’s a little pineapple hiding in here too but it’s almost candied, some roasted nuts, marzipan, vanilla and dried coconut. Maybe a little note of chocolate here and there but it’s faint. It’s quite fruit cake like on the nose.

Palate: Full mouth feel. We’re at the same party as the nose, which is good. Cherries, figs, prune, black plum and raisin. Some dark chocolate, butterscotch, golden syrup, molasses, dates, flamed oranges – all that deep stuff. There’s a burst of sourness part way which is almost gherkin or caper like, some varnish notes, pear drops, mango and fresher pineapple, but it goes back to the richer side and gets cake’y again.

Finish: Long. Stays as we are here, nothing fancy. Brioche buns, vanilla, chocolate and fruit cake with marzipan again. The odd burst of sourness pops up with brine, some pear drops and mango too but it remains largely darker and cake’y. We get the addition of some rubber gloves and black olives here at the end as things tail off.

Thoughts? Very good. It walks a careful line between Demerara and Jamaica, and it’s definitely more brooding than normal Jamaican rum – it’s a cracker for our shit Autumn weather. Ok, this probably isn’t the “best” Monymusk I’ve ever had, but you often get a bit of a curveball with these Habitation Velier releases and this is one of them. This was a touch over a ton when I bought it, I think it was around £105 or £110.

Would I get another at that price? You know, I really enjoyed this rum but if I were pressed for an answer, no I wouldn’t. There’s just something missing here and I can’t put my finger on it, but if I’m spending over £100 on a bottle I want a little something “extra”.

If you fancy giving this one a go it’s still around on The Whisky Exchange here:

Monymusk EMB 9 year old (2010) – Habitation Velier


Or Master Of Malt here:

Monymusk EMB 9 year old (2010) – Habitation Velier