Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 9 year old (2011) – The UK Rum Club

What is it? Pure Single Rum (molasses based, pot still, single distillery) from Saint Lucia Distillers in Saint Lucia and this rum is bottled under their Chairman’s Reserve brand. SDL have a range of stills and produce rum from both molasses and cane juice which gives them an incredible blending range to chose from when making rums, this particular rum was produced on their Vendome pot still. It was a single cask that was selected by the founders of the UK Rum Club (Steve James; RumDiaries and Wes Burgin; TheFatRumPirate) and made available initially to their members (of which I am one), I think that it was later made available to the public via Royal Mile Whiskies.

The rum is from cask 173(1109). The ex-bourbon cask was filled in 2011 and it was aged tropically for 9 years before being bottled in 2020. 

My bottle is number 46 of 248.

Not coloured, not chillfiltered and bottled at 59.5% abv.

Note: I’ve taken this down to around 55% abv for my day-to-day drinking and the review as I find that is where it works best.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Woah, this is pungent. Lots of herbal, floral notes straight away with lavender, parsley, star anise and raw liquorice. Things settle down then to some beautiful banana bread, toffee, custard, sweet pipe tobacco, roasted mushroom then damp leaves and mud (that’s a good thing by the way). We’ve plenty of wood in the form of cinnamon and clove, little lifts of lemon, grapefruit and apple, then more banana. There’s a sharpness here too but it’s a sweet sharpness so we’re looking at some very well aged Balsamic and a little caper – there is an awful lot going on in here. 

Palate: Full mouth feel. Sharp and tangy at first, pickles, capers, Balsamic, horseradish. Then we’re on to the fruit with that gorgeous banana bread, grilled pineapple, candied papaya and a touch of mango. Things swing back around to the phenols shortly after with petrol, creosote, Tiger Balm, eucalyptus, stamp glue and pine sap. There’s wood here too but more in the form of some spiced warmth, a touch of leather and black pepper.

Finish: Very long. Hints of the medicinal and herbal notes linger but it’s more settled and “easier” here. There’s tobacco, leather, roasted nuts, very dark chocolate, banana again and some slightly sour fruit notes of green strawberry or something, I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Thoughts? Very intense, very deep and complex. There’s so much going on here it’s crazy. Even as an experienced rum drinker this is pushing the envelope; it’s a real Marmite rum, you’ll either love this or hate it. I LOVE it, I’ve literally laughed all the way through the tasting notes I’ve written. Ok look, it’s not very balanced and some of the notes are extreme, but this was selected to show the Vendome still off in all it’s glory and boy has it done just that. Bottles like this push a distillery right up my list of rums to chose in future.

This cost £90. A 9 year old rum. Now before anyone loses their shit this is one of those rums that you just ignore the number when it comes to age – this could have been a 4 year old or a 24 year old rum, I really don’t care, it’s all about the flavour.

So, if you’re new to rum, it’s probably best to leave this one alone. If you’re after expanding your rum horizons and want a bit of a challenge then this is definitely one for you. It’s mind blowing.

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