What is it? Traditional Rum (column still, from molasses) from the Savanna distillery on the Isle of Réunion in the Indian ocean. The distillery uses both molasses and cane juice to make their rums as well as producing rums of very high ester in the form on their Grand Arôme style with minimum esters of 500g/hlaa. This 5 year old rum is made in the Traditionnel (normal style) and aged for at least 5 years, tropically, in a combination of Limousin and Allier (both French oak) casks; this wood is tightly grained and produces quite a spicy note in spirits, so a short maturation time provides a lot of character.
I have no details on colouring or chill filtration for this so I have to assume that it is chill-filtered and coloured, although the colour does look pretty natural for the oak and aging type. Bottled at 43% abv.
Nose: Oh, this is phenolic. Camphor, parsley, brine, green olive and this strange savoury dried banana note. Warming spices of cinnamon, clove, ginger and nutmeg, green coffee beans and pistachios. There’s a chocolate note too, like those artisan blocks with cranberry, cherry and nut chunks stuck on them. Some distant tobacco and a little umami note of the “seaweed” you get in Chinese restaurants.
Palate: Medium. Nice and dry but a sweet flavour at first….but not sweet, so we get the idea of banana, milk chocolate, milky coffee, pralines, sugared and roasted almonds, but without any actual sweetness. Sitting with these flavours are the phenolic notes but dialled back a bit; the olive and brine are there and some sappy wood but it feels like it’s over to one side, hovering around, just making you aware of it’s presence. We’ve also got vanilla, a light honey and a sprinkle of nutmeg, then the camphor turns up. It’s really good at blending flavours without one type taking over.
Finish: Pretty long actually. Again it stays between sweet and phenolic, some green bananas, a little pineapple here, dried mango pieces, nuts, pralines and black coffee. Tannic notes of sap, raw walnuts, camphor again and some brine. It gets slightly sweeter towards the end with vanilla, honey and a touch of mint.
Thoughts? I really love this rum. It’s youthful but not fiery and hot. It’s complex but easy to drink. There’s easy sweeter, comfy notes if you want them but then challenging phenolic and savoury notes if you decide you want to go looking and have a play with it.
I’m pretty gutted that we don’t get much Savanna rum in the UK as it’s a brand I really want to dig deeper into and explore – getting hold of the stuff means shopping internationally and is also very expensive!
This cost me £37 when it was available which is a real no-brainer, and just goes to show that the age stated on the front of the bottle isn’t a sign of quality; you can get a younger rum with loads going on if you look for it.