Barbados 16 year old (2000) – WhiskyBroker

What is it? Well there’s some stuff about this that we are certain about, but there is also some stuff that we’re not. Let’s start with the certainties; This is molasses based rum from the West Indies Rum Distillery (WIRD) in Barbados, filled into casks in June 2000 and bottled on 9th February 2017 after 16 full years of maturation by independent bottler Whisky Broker. I have no idea how much of this was tropical or European. It’s a single cask (barrel number 18) and the distillation method was via a pot still. My bottle is number 43 from 245. Sounds good right? It gets better – now to the stuff we’re not certain about;

The cask was marked BBR (BRS), here is where the real fun starts. BBR means Black Rock and is the other name for WIRD (it’s located in Black Rock), it is rumoured to be home of the legendary Rockley Still, and the marking on the cask of BRS means that this rum is a Rockley Still. Now, there are debates still raging about the existence of the Rockley Still, did it exist and did it ever produce rum? Are rums labelled as “Rockley Still” actually from the Rockley Still or are they done in the style of Rockley Still? Is the “style” and the “still” actually the same thing and just become merged in folklore? The answer is that no-one really knows. You can read a bit more about Rockley Still here, over at TheRumDiaries – clicky click

Not Chill Filtered, natural colour and bottled at full proof of 57.6% abv.

Sugar? Nope.

Disclaimer: Before we go any further. Whether this is a Rockley Still or a Rockley “style” is pretty much irrelevant, they taste the same, and that’s that point you need to stop and take a minute. This is not your normal rum. Forget what you think of rum and forget what you think of Bajans, this is unlike anything you’ve had before (unless you’ve had a Rockley of course).

Nose: Iodine, honey and lemon throat lozenges, smoked lemons, chargrilled pineapple, BBQ banana, smouldering leaves deep within a forest in Autumn and the best cigars you can buy. Touches of menthol and eucalyptus. Ok, who poured some Laphroaig into my glass! Ah, interesting now, under that medicinal smoke there are some real Bajan notes of butterscotch, toffee, spicy oak, clove, ginger and black pepper. Right back to the seaweed and burning leaves again. Oh, now we’re back to the butterscotch and back to the lemons. Suddenly some flamed Seville orange zest pops up. This nose is incredible, absolutely incredible – I’ve been nosing this for about 20mins and I’ve still not got it all down.

Palate: Heavy, oily mouth feel – perfect weight, and that’s at full proof too. Everything the nose gave but dialled up to 11; straight away it’s the throat lozenges with that honey and lemon, old fashioned pear drop sweets, menthol and eucalyptus – think of a dentists. Then you’re hit by the seaweed, iodine, some anise, the breath of the first contact between steak and BBQ. Cutting it are the savoury fruits, so your lemons, bananas, pineapple and orange – they’ve all been smoked or charred and are far from sweet. Things start to get spicy mid-late palate with the cask playing; cloves, lots of fresh ginger root, horseradish and a big sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper. During the whole palate there is the weight of that most amazing cigar just hovering over your tongue and it stays right into the finish.

Finish: Long, not endless, but still long. Phenolic, peated, smoky. Loads of cigar smoke, burning leaves, sappy broken twigs, beeswax, seaweed, swimming pools and iodine. The fruits are pretty much all gone now, they just couldn’t stand up to the phenols and the spices. The spices really hold on with the ginger and black pepper keeping a grip right to the end, helped out by a handful of red chillies. By this time I’ve already gone back in for the next mouthful and we begin again.

Thoughts? This is not a rum, I don’t know what it is – maybe some type of meta-spirit. You give this to someone and tell them it’s a single cask, ex-bourbon matured Laphroaig or a Lagavulin (Single Malt whisky) and they wouldn’t even question you. Total time I’ve spent with this dram has been an hour and I still can’t get to the bottom of it, there is so much complexity, so many layers and flavours from all different areas that I doubt I’ll have figured it out by the time I get to the end of the bottle. Not only is this the best rum I’ve had so far this year, I think it may be the best rum I’ve had on my journey so far. I’ve said in the past I don’t give scores, but if I did this one would be getting a 10 – screw your “can’t give a perfect score because there may be something better out there” – right now, in this moment, with my glass of this, you can keep the rest of them. I just wish I had bottle number 1 through to 245 to keep me going for the next 10 years.

Oh price? Who cares, I’d pay what it cost, but for the purpose of fairness it was £54……just goes to show what you can get for your money. Whisky Broker, take a bow – with the Diamond, and the Belize so far reviewed these guys are really putting out some stunners.

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