Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 13 year old (2006) – The Whisky Exchange Exclusive

What is it? Pure Single Rum (molasses based, pot still, single distillery) from Saint Lucia Distillers, made on the island of Saint Lucia. The distillery produce a range of rums and one of their brands is Chairman’s Reserve which many people may have seen in supermarkets as simply “Chairman’s Reserve”, a spiced version and also the “Lost Casks”. They have 4 stills at the distillery; a two column still (a Coffey still) and 3 pot stills (2 John Dore stills and a Vendome), this rum is distilled on the John Dore 1 and the Vendome stills and mixed together to form a blend at 50% from each still, at which point it was matured tropically for 13 years in an ex-bourbon cask before being bottled on 16/08/2019. They use sugar cane juice as well as molasses at St Lucia on both of the pot stills that were used for this rum, but the information I have states that this rum is molasses only. This was bottled exclusively for The Whisky Exchange and you don’t see many single cask bottles from St Lucia distillers, so when this popped up I jumped on it.

This single cask rum produced 286 bottles and mine is bottle number 129.

Natural colour, no chill filtration and bottled at 56.3% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Crikey there’s a lot going on in here, it’s massive too; initially notes of thick molasses, raisins, red cherries, hazelnut, walnut and vanilla. Some cigar box notes, light tobacco and sandalwood. Very old balsamic and strong breakfast tea give it a sharp and tannic edge. Then things get phenolic, very phenolic. There’s boot polish, pine resin, eucalyptus, menthol, wood glue, bandages, sticky plasters, iodine, fennel and loads of brine. Right at the end is a floral note, cut flowers I guess, maybe lavender and a touch of herby marjoram.

Palate: Full mouth feel, very dry, tannic and oily. It’s massive in the mouth too, once you get used to it there is a sharp acidity to start with, almost like under ripe nectarine, very sharp. It doesn’t last too long though but it stays medicinal from the nose; licked stamps, TCP, menthol, throat lozenges, liquorice, ginger root, pine sap – like sucking on a damp pine branch – olives and balsamic again. Mid palate brings in the sweeter notes with some dark chocolate, mushy banana, a little papaya, vanilla, leather and sugared almonds. Almost marzipan like.

Finish: Long. Not as medicinal here but it’s still about. More of the sweeter notes and nutty depth with those roasted, caramalised mixed nuts you get a Christmas, raw walnut and candied stem ginger. There’s some sweetness of cherry jam and a cooling feeling of cherry stones which is something I often find in Talisker Scotch whisky. A hint of herbal toffee, iodine and olive brine pop up here and there too, every now and then.

Thoughts? Erm….not what I was expecting. The Vendome still produces a phenolic spirit but this is very intense, it’s almost like a blend of molasses and sugar cane rum and reminds me a lot of some Bellevue rum from Guadeloupe – I did initially question whether this was fully molasses based, but I’ve been told it is, so there we go! I love it. My sway in rum is towards the more savoury side of things anyway so this is right up my street. It’s really quite different to a lot of rum out there but I must say that I’d rather the sharp acidity be dialed down a bit as this is pretty polarizing and takes a while for your palate to adjust, but the flips and playoffs between the sweeter notes and the massive phenols is just ace.

I picked this up for £70 and would again if it were still on sale. As with single casks they come and they go. Recently TWE have had an 8 year old out and there are other single cask exclusives popping up at places like Royal Mile Whiskies so there’s clearly more of this stuff to come.

 

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