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.
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.