Uitvlugt 18 year old (1997) – Duncan Taylor single cask number 13

What is it? Single cask rum, from molasses. distilled at the Uitvlugt distillery in Guyana. It was distilled in November 1997, aged for 18 years (looks to be European aged) and bottled in February 2016 by independent bottlers Duncan Taylor. This is from Cask number 13 and 304 bottles were produced.

No chill filtration, no added colouring and bottled at full proof of 53.5% abv.

Facts of out the way, now here’s where it starts to get a little confusing. As anyone who has more than a passing interest in rum will know, Demerara rum (especially single cask stuff) is a mine field; stills from various distilleries have been moved around various other distilleries during the years and most of them have ended up at Diamond, on their journey there have been periods where certain stills have been at certain distilleries and produced rum. Rather than the distillery that this rum has come from, what we really want to know as rum enthusiasts is the still that this was produced on – well we just don’t know. I’ve contacted Duncan Taylor for some more information, maybe a cask marque or anything, about which still this was produced on, but I’ve not had a reply – I guess they just don’t know. All that this bottle says is “pot” still.

Now, the original stills at Uitvlugt were four-column Savalle stills, there has also been a Blair continuous still and the single wooden pot still (Versailles still) passed through, however the back of the bottle states there was also a copper pot still…..I’ve been searching long and hard through quite a bit of documentation on this and the only mention I can find of a copper pot still is that a John Dore high ester copper pot was in circulation through various distilleries. There is no definitive information that this John Dore pot still was ever at Uitvulgt but I know for certain that the Versailles wooden pot still was there; it was moved from Enmore to Uitvulgt in 1993 and didn’t get moved on to Diamond until Uitvlugt closed later on. So was this distilled on some hardly mentioned John Dore high ester still or was it in fact distilled on the Versailles still? Dunno. Lets see how the tasting goes…..

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Bananas, pineapple, soft brown sugar, marzipan, some smoky lemon and a little bit of funk (!) – it’s actually pretty fruity at the start, estery and quite Jamaican. Interesting. There is some lovely soft oak, white pepper, very light liquorice and some salty, pickled note like capers. This is not a heavy Demerara, it’s got an almost whisky like nose with the oak coming out more with time.

Palate: Medium mouth feel, more towards thin if anything. Fruity at first, lots of that banana and mango even, some light honey. Heat of oak with the white pepper again and some pencil shavings. Things then go south quite soon after and it starts to get sour with gurkins, capers, green raw oak – it totally looses steam and becomes fairly astringent.

Finish: Medium. Oaky, still sour and then some light smoke/char, fresh liquorice, brine and maybe a little honey just holding out. Not really the best bit.

Thoughts: Weird rum. It can’t decide what it is; fruity? Savoury? It doesn’t know. Honestly not the best cask of rum I’ve had, but a fine example of a single cask non the less – 100% singular and divisive, not blended out.

 

Ok, that was disappointing. However, I’ve been playing with this one for quite some time and adding water to see what it does. Usually I don’t add water for tasting notes and certainly not to something that’s a measly 53.5%, but benefit of the doubt and all that – here is with some water:

Nose: Quite like before, but the pickle notes are gone and everything is smoky; charred oak, smoked pineapple, burnt banana, honey on burnt toast. Much more depth and “thicker”, “rounder” nose.

Palate: Waaaaaayy better. Thicker mouth feel, less astringent and really quite fruity now. The sourness is almost gone, more honey, sugar cane, sweet grasses and some lavender. Oaky a bit still and a prickle of heat as you swallow.

Finish: Longer, softer oak but still with the spices. Some more wet wood and green oak here but much more restrained and less intrusive. Sweeter liquorice and some trailing banana.

Thoughts now? Wow. What a difference a few drops of water makes. I’ve literally added about half a teaspoon to a good double measure of rum and it’s totally transformed. From a flop to an interesting and complex sipper. Look, I’m not sure I’d blow £80 on this again, it’s just not good enough, but I don’t regret the purchase. Certainly not an easy rum.

Oh, and still? It does have some estery notes but it’s not a high ester rum, it shares far more in common with the Bristol Spirits 20yo Enmore – so I think it’s probably from the Versailles still and destined for some blending.

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