Casa Santana 12 year old (batch 1) – That Boutique’y Rum Company

What is it? Rum (molasses based, multi-distillery, multi-column) bottled under the Casa Santana name by the independent bottles That Boutique’y Rum Company. So tells us nothing. Casa Santana aren’t a distillery, they are a company so they source their rums as New Make from various places and cask it for maturation themselves, so even though this is “Colombian” rum it’s really not; it’s rum that has been sourced from various distilleries around the Central American area (the likes of Panama, Venezuela and maybe even some stuff from actual Colombia) and matured in Colombia. The rum that have gone into this “blend” is all multi-column stuff, so nothing too exciting, and then aged for at least 12 years in Columbia (in what cask type, we don’t know) – I can’t say I’m too impressed with the story behind this, it’s not Colombian rum at all it’s a Central American Blend that any odd company could put out if they had some spare warehouse space. In case you’re interested, Casa Santana have various brands they produced, such as La Hechicera and Juan Santos to name a few.

This is from Casa Santana Batch 1 and my bottle it bottle 1721 of 3766.

Not coloured, not chill-filtered and bottled at 58.4% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Spicy. Clove, ginger, black peppercorns, red chillies and some tannic oak. Toffee chews, a little honey and a touch of leather after the spice dies down. A faint hint of some distant cigar smoke and heavy roasted coffee bean. There is a little chlorine and soapy smell near the end and another unusual smell I can’t pin down that I found in Dictador (another Colombian rum), and I didn’t like the smell in that either.

Palate: Medium mouth feel. Hot entry and woody. Some strong breakfast tea, praline, salted butter fudge, caramel infused with chilli, horseradish and coffee bean again. There is some tar, engine oil and a little sea salt mid way, which is nice, and a rubber glove note at the end that is almost latex like, which isn’t so nice. The odd banana shows up here and there as well as a small slice of pineapple, but there really isn’t much fruit.

Finish: Quite long actually. Hot. Generally softer here though, the spices seem to have gone so you get gingerbread, toffee and pecan pie, fudge, caramelised banana and an almost mince pie note – those posh ones though with lots of nuts in them, with allspice, nutmeg, roasted nuts and pastry.

Thoughts? On the whole it’s enjoyable, but there is something in this blend that I don’t get on with. I suspect it’s the same stuff that is in Dictador; an almost fake, concocted note or slightly chemical like. Saying that there is a fair bit going on, but it is oak heavy and very hot – it’s not the most complex rum out there though.

Right, rant time. I paid £30 for a 50cl bottle (that’s all these Boutique’y Rum Company bottles come in). I hate these shitty little bottles, just put it in a proper 70cl bottle and have done with it. We all know what’s going on here, it looks cheaper and you don’t think you’re getting that much less rum but you bloody well are! A 70cl bottle has 40% more rum in it than a 50cl bottle! Factor that into the price you’re paying and these TBRC bottles aren’t very price competitive. Ok, I know some people like smaller bottles because it means they can try a rum without paying too much more, but when you work out how much the same thing would cost you for a full grown-up bottle it’s really not very good value for money.

Speaking of value, this was £30…..if I take the abv down to 40% and factor it up to a proper bottle size of 70cl that makes it £29, so it’s cheaper than the likes of La Hechicera from the same company. Given that, it’s not going to break the bank, so I think that’s OK. I wouldn’t really want to pay much more though.

Monymusk 14 year old (2003) – Adelphi Single cask

I ended last year with an absolute cracker by way of an independent Jamaican from Worthy Park (Habitation Velier Forsyths WPM) so what better way to start this year with another one! For today’s review we’re going to Adelphi for their 14 year old Monymusk. Now, I’ve previously reviewed their Hampden which was incredible, so no pressure Adelphi! Eyes down, look in, as they say.

What is it? Pure Single Rum from Jamaica (100% pot still, single distillery, molasses based). This one has come from the Monymusk brand produced at the Clarendon distillery in Jamaica. This rum is from a single cask and was distilled in 2003, after which it was shipped to Scotland for ageing until 2018, making it 14 years old – so European aged rum. The rum was finished in an Oloroso sherry butt for a period of time and a total outrun of 346 bottles were produced. I have spoken to Adelphi about this rum but other than vague details of ageing and the sherry dipping at the end, they don’t have any more information, which is a shame as I’d really like to know how long it was finished off for, if it spent any time in the tropics maturing and definitely some details on the cask marque so we can get an idea of ester levels – unfortunately none of that data exists…..take note please Adelphi, we want to know this stuff, it matters.

The bottle is labelled as cask JM2, which follows on from the Hamden JM1, so I just assume this is some Adelphi code. It was bottled at 58.8% abv, not chill filtered nor coloured.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Mmmmmm, lovely. Deep and rich. Firstly some ester’y, bread’y, banana’y rum – more so than with other Monymusks I’ve had, but it’s not an ester bomb by any means. Then comes the cask with hot buttered cinnamon and raisin bagels, cloves, toffee, flamed orange zest, tree sap, damp leaves and some hessian sacks. Some banana bread and green olive come out again later on as the play between rum and cask moves back and forward dynamically.

Palate: Medium, not as fat as I was expecting – maybe the abv here. A touch of water does make send it oilier. Dry, a little sharp at first and herbal with some lavender or something. Then oranges, the bitter white pith, sour raisins and a touch of white wine. Then comes the banana bread and a touch of pineapple, nutmeg and a real taste of dry sherry, toasted nuts and bung cloth.

Finish: Long, quite astringent at first and hot, but quickly it moves on to the sweeter notes of banana in toffee sauce, banana bread, a little green olive, a touch of brine and cask flavours of raisin, cinnamon, vanilla, chestnuts and orange zest.

Thoughts? Very good – “less good” than the Hampden bottling by quite some way, but that one is very hard to beat, we’re still looking at a top tier rum here though. I had been drinking it neat but after this review I added a touch of water to take it down to about 50/52% abv and it got fatter and less astringent, it does loose some of the oomph though but the gains out-weight the losses here and that’s how I was drinking it towards the end. The sherry cask does over step the rum with this one but it’s such a good cask that it compliments the rum and you can still easily find the Monymusk in there.

A great example of how to sherry cask finish a spirit this is. I paid £85, which I’m happy with. Yes, I know it’s pricey, but Adelphi bottles are always pricey, just have to live with that. One I’d get again and very much enjoy.

 

 

Forsyths 2006/2017 WPM (Worthy Park) – Habitation Velier

Well, the kids are breaking up for school and Christmas is around the corner, so it’s likely this will be my last review of 2019 – I’ve decided to end the year with a bang. This is a little bottle I’ve had tucked away and been stretching out for as long as possible, mainly because it’s outstanding, limited and bloody expensive; a “Forsyths” 2006 WPM (so Worthy Park) from Habitation Velier and I’ve been waiting to review this!

What is it? Pure Single Rum (one distillery, pot still, molasses based) from the Worthy Park distillery in Jamaica. In case you don’t know, Worthy Park don’t really like Independent bottlers putting the Worthy Park name on their bottles, which is fair enough I guess, and it’s why you see their releases with names such as “WP”, “Forsyths”, “Lluidas Vale” etc – we all know it’s a Worthy Park, the distillery all know we know it’s a Worthy Park, the bottlers all know we know its a Worthy Park, it’s all a little game we seem to play.

So this rum was distilled in 2006 and bottled in 2017 by Velier under the Habitation Velier brand, making it 11 years old. All of the ageing was done tropically which has given an Angel’s Share of over 63% – that’s around the same as if it was matured in Europe for 25 years or so (European Angel’s Share sits at 2-3% a year loss). It’s from marque WPM (Worthy Park Medium Light) and has an ester level of 209.3 gr/hlpa.

Natural colour, not chill filtered and bottled at 57.5% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Bloody hell fire. Good job I’m sat down. This is something otherworldly. Banana bread, Jamaican ginger cake, smoked BBQ pineapples, candied mango, Fruit Salad chews and just enough oak with sandalwood, cinnamon, 2 cloves and some light pipe tobacco. Then we get that savoury undertone of hot car engines, those purple Kalamata olives, their oil, Pear Drops, brine and a tiny anchovy. There’s also some more banana, a touch of old leather bound books, old leather chairs, some banana, with some over ripe banana – yeah it’s a Worthy Park alright! Those bananas are not sweet or anything, just this banana’y savoury undercurrent throughout.

Palate: Full, oily and waxy. Incredible here. This isn’t a “big” ester rum but you certainly know where it’s from that’s for sure. Damn this is good. Big banana again, some piccalilli, olives, salty brine’y sand, engine oil, limes, pineapple, anchovies and some smokey mushroom even – not strong ones though, maybe those oyster mushrooms or girolle. Pear Drops again, banana, pineapple, ginger and some liquorice root that creeps in. A touch of rubber inner tubes and stamp glue. Finally a mix of cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg from the cask.

Finish: Long. Divine. Stays sweeter here for a while, with those caramelised almonds you can buy, brown sugar and a little very good Cornish fudge. After a minute or 2 liquorice and a little olive appears with some fragrant peppercorn. Things get fruity again with more banana and a sweet/sour yuzu type note. Candied pineapple and limes are there right at the end.

Thoughts? I don’t know where to start with this one. I’ve tried to write down how it smells and tastes to me, but it’s not at all doing this rum justice, there is something about it that is “extra”, it’s something you occasionally smell and taste in a spirit that you just can’t quantify; almost an X-Factor flavour, so I’ve done my best. This is easily one of the best rums I’ve ever drunk. Of course, preference is personal and all that but for me this rum is getting pretty damn close to perfection – if there are better rums out there I can’t wait to try them, they must be mind-blowing. This beaut has everything; the esters are just right, the cask interaction is just right, the strength is perfect and as with some rums, there is this Umami note that you can’t pin down, it just feels round and complete and it elevates the thing beyond normal rums.

Listen, Habitation Velier rums are not cheap, we know this. Even taking into account the tropical ageing and all that jazz, you’re still digging deep into your pocket to get one, and I paid £110 for this at the time. By God was it worth every penny. I have to forget about rationalising the cost against stuff it says on the label (we all do it, how old is it, how rare is it, what are the esters? – who cares) and think about what I’ve just drunk and if that is worth the money to me…..it is stunning.

 

Foursquare Hereditas

I’ve been waiting for December to turn up before doing my review of Foursquare Hereditas rum, because I like a big sherried whisky for the Christmas period and what better way to compliment that (or even replace it) than with a massive sherry bomb of a rum from an epic distillery.

What is it? Single Blend rum (molasses based pot and column still rum, from a single distillery) from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados. This rum was bottled exclusively for The Whisky Exchange as part of a “Private Cask Selection” – the rum was distilled, matured and bottled in Barbados. The rum blend is the usual Foursquare blend-of-a-blend job, where they mature some rum in a cask type and then move it to another cask type, the final rum is blended with another rum matured in different casks. In this case, part of the blend is matured in ex-bourbon casks for 14 years, the other part of the blend is matured in ex-bourbon casks for 10 years and then switched to ex-sherry casks for a further 4 years, both rums are then blended at the end making it 14 years old. All ageing is done tropically, so those years have a big impact, you’re talking about well over 30 years of European equivalent ageing.

Not chill-filtered, not coloured and bottled at 56% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Oh, good, God. We’ve definitively got Foursquare that much is clear – the beautiful integration of oak, vanilla and spice, but this is a sherry bomb rum. We have loads of big fat juicy raisins, little tiny Corinth raisins or currants, clove, cinnamon, roasted walnuts, chestnuts and marzipan – yeah, Christmas cake rum. Some lighter fruit with black plums, fig and burnt orange zest, honey and pralines. With some time there is some cigar smoke, damp leaves, old leather bound books, varnished wood and menthol.

Palate: Full mouth. Big on the sherry at entry, the Foursquare profile is totally lost at first and dominated by roasted nuts, dates, figs, leather, raisins and Christmas cake again. Once the first sherry blast passes, Foursquare appears under it with soft vanilla, toasted coconut, clove, cinnamon, light caramel and some savoury notes of liquorice, black olives, brine and grilled mushroom.

Finish: Very long. Ginger root, liquorice, the salty tang of brine, a little tar, camphor and menthol. Dark chocolate lebkuchens, caramel, vintage thick cut marmalade, rolling tobacco, black coffee and walnuts. There is an interplay of savoury, bitter and sweet here that works really well.

Thoughts? Stonkingly good rum. The sherry casks are as clean as a whistle but I do think they dominate a little over the rum. The nose and finish work really well but the palate is bullied around by the sherry for the most part, still, it’s bloody good.

If you want a Christmas’y winter warmer of a sherry bomb this year then get one of these. It’s sitting with the old style Glendronach 15 year old (which was really 21 years old) and Glenfarclas 25 year old whiskies, if that’s your thing, and trust me that is very high praise for a sherried spirit.

5p under £80. Yeah, ok it’s not cheap, but I’d pay it over and over again. Cracking.

New Grove 5 year old

What is it? New Grove “Old Tradition” 5 year old rum is a molasses based, column still rum, distilled at the Gray’s distillery in Mauritius – so Traditional Rum, under the Gargano classification. Once the rum is distilled, it is matured in Limousin casks (French oak) for at least 5 years in Mauritius. The Angel’s Share in Mauritius is higher than Europe but not as high as the Tropics, so with a 5 year age statement on here you’re looking at around 8 or so years of equivalent European ageing. What you have to remember though is that those 5 years have been spent in French oak, which is tight grained and has an intensity to it for spirit maturation.

Not chill-filtered, natural colour and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Very interesting indeed! Immediate massive hit of tropical fruit with bags of passion fruit, guava, mango and papaya. Quite quickly some more savoury elements appear in the form of eucalyptus, diesel, green olives, camphor and hot tyres. There is a little touch of smoke here too, like distant burning leaves.

Palate: Full mouth, quite oily; ah the joys of non chill-filtered rum, even at 40% abv. Savoury first here with olive again, celery, pear drops, diesel and a touch of rubber. Fruits then appear but more muted than on the nose; pineapple, nectarine, peach and a tiny bit of green banana skin. Some light oak spices with vanilla and cinnamon come out and a little brine at the end. There is something that keeps popping up throughout the palate that I can’t quite put my finger on and reminds me, oddly, of column still Caroni.

Finish: Medium. Not the biggest finish in the rum world, lets not beat about the bush here, it is only 5 years old and 40% abv. Sweeter here, some brine for sure and engine oil but more vanillas, nutmeg, cinnamon again and a little firm set honey. There is a faint smoke that lingers on your tongue and the tang of a flame grilled pineapple.

Thoughts? Very good. Different from most other rums out there. I don’t know what Gray’s do at their distillery but the fruit levels are intense on all the rums I’ve tried from them. If you gave this to someone who wasn’t widely familiar with rum styles for a blind tasting, they’d never say it was rum. This style of Mauritian rum is one I really love and it’s perfect for a hot day, very refreshing. I can’t quite decide if I prefer the 8 year old or this 5 year old to be honest, there isn’t really much in it in terms of quality and flavour but I guess this is less fruity and more savoury for some reason. I’d have thought it’d be the other way round.

I picked this up for £30. A lot of people would shy away given the age statement on the bottle, but forget it. For £30 it’s a cracker and you’re getting a real, transparent, aged rum – they could have quite easily put some”XO” or fancy name on the bottle instead of an honest “5 years old”, but no, they’ve told you what it is. They’ve not coloured it and they’ve not chill-filtered it. Hats off to them and it’s one I’ll be picking up again.