Penny Blue XO Batch 004

20160120_152926What is it? Molasses based column still rum from Mauritius, distilled at the Medine distillery and produced in conjunction with Berry Brothers and Rudd (top notch independent whisky bottlers and wine merchants). This is 100% single estate rum as the sugar cane used for the rum is grown on the same estate as it is distilled and matured on. This is a small batch product and only 10,000 bottles of batch 004 were produced, with all bottling and labelling being done by hand (bravo!). Matured in the following: ex-Whisky casks (66%) and ex-Bourbon casks (34%). The oldest rum in this blend is vintage 2003, thus 11 years old, and I believe the youngest is around 5 years old – given that 7% is lost each year to the Angels share, 11 years is a long time.

Not chill-filtered, not coloured and bottled at 43.3% abv.

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Delicate and floral yet punchy and fragrant both at the same time, I can pick the nose up from a foot away from my glass. Big cask notes from the whisky and bourbon with caramels, warm nuts, breakfast pastries and quite a spicy oak prickle. Vanilla custard, gingerbread, and some banana. Ever so slight cane’y notes with a little grass/fresh flowers.

Palate: Medium mouth-feel, slightly coating. Sweet entry, very bourbon’esc with corn syrup, iced gingerbread, caramel and cinnamon. Mirror of the nose now with vanilla, banana and even a touch of orange rind popping up, maybe some tined pineapple too….but way off in the distance. Woah, big spice attack from the oak all of a sudden that makes you have to swallow.

Finish: Long. Dries as it progresses from palate to finish and stays spicy; ginger (stem ginger this time)…oh, some ground ginger too, hot hot hot, a little bit of chilli and black pepper. As things cool down you’re left with spiced caramel, cinnamon, and a drizzle of vanilla frosting.

Thoughts? It’s taken me a good 1/3 of a bottle to get to grips with this. At first I found it good but very hot and quite hard to pick much else out other than horseradish! As it’s been open and breathed, and I’ve got used to it, more and more has developed. It’s a good rum, well crafted and thoughtfully presented by people who know what they are doing, it’s also priced right for it’s market (£40 at the time) – therefore I’d recommend it. However, you need to know what you’re getting. Things seem easy when you nose it but be prepared to get slapped about by the casks and take the time that is needed to explore the deeper complexities that this has to offer.

On a side note; a kind friend of mine (also the one who has been going on at me to buy this for months) plied me with some batch 003 (Mauritius only bottling) and the difference between the 2 are huge. It’s a totally different rum. It goes to show how much this is a true small batch product when you compare the 2 batches side by side. Cheers Viz, eye opening! And I told you I’d get around to it at some point….

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