Worthy Park Cask Selection Series 8 – Quatre Vins – 2013

20210128_161457What is it? Pure Single Rum (100% pot still, molasses based, single distillery) from the Worthy Park distillery in Jamaica. This bottling has been done as part of the “Cask Selection Series” and is number 8 in that line-up. It was distilled in 2013 and matured tropically in first fill ex-bourbon casks for 4 years before being moved over into a variety of casks for further maturation, in this case ex-Monbazillac, ex-Sauternes, ex-Moscatel and ex-Jurancon casks (all sweet or desert wines), for a further 2 years – I believe this was done in Europe – making it around 6 years old. I don’t know how the blending was done for this but most likely the rum was split into 4 and each one matured for the extra 2 years and then blended back together again. It’s possible that the entire batch was moved from 1 cask to another in turn but I find that unlikely.

This bottle is one of 1318 produced.

Bottled at 52% abv without any colouring added. I don’t believe this has been chill-filtered either.

Sugar? No.

Nose: You get the Worthy Park banana immediately, butterscotch, sultana and coconut. We’ve got cask spices in here too with ginger. nutmeg and mace, a few peppercorns and a sweet chilli/pimento note. Part way through there’s a bouillon or vegetable stock note and some Bovril (bear with me here, it’s quite nice) – there’s a definite meaty note sitting midway on the nose that reminds me of Mortlach Scotch Single Malt. Oh no, whiffs of spent matches are starting to appear and some heavy sulphur notes arrive at the end. Bollocks.

Palate: Full mouth. Quite sweet at first, I’m very much getting the desert wines and sweet dried raisins, they are quite overbearing initially. We then get our Worthy Park banana, some drier brewed black tea, candied pineapple, papaya and black grape. There’s some heat in here too with ginger root, clove, red chillies and peppercorns again, but it’s a sweet type of spice. A little sulphur again but not as bad as the nose and it gives a nice smoked ham, like Brunswick, note which is really nice.

Finish: Medium. Spicy and sweet again, milk chocolate covered chilli and ginger mix, salt & pepper roasted cashews and a pineapple glazed smoked ham. It finishes quite sweet with intense dried grapes.

Thoughts? This is an odd one this. I’ve gone back to it quite a bit as initially the sulphur was pretty bad; I’m very susceptible to sulphur, it’s a genetic thing, some people get it badly and some don’t. I must admit that I found it very strong and it took a good month to settle down and blow off. What’s left gives a savoury, meaty undertone to the fruity rum which is very interesting. It drinks a lot older than the 6 years it has seen, but the problem is the sweetness from some of those casks really dominates and over sweetens the rum. It sits on top of the rum blend and doesn’t every really integrate well at all with the Worthy Park style here.

This is £70ish and as interesting as this has been as an experiment it’s not one I’d buy again, go for one of the other Cask Selection bottles, probably the sherry ones, if I were you.

O Reizinho 3 Year Old – That Boutique’y Rum Company

20210327_111718What is it? This one doesn’t have a category in the Gargano Classification. It is sugar cane juice rum, rather than molasses, but is produced on a single pot still rather than a column. It was produced at the O Reizinho (which means “The Little King”) distillery in Madeira and was aged for 3 years in ex-Madeira wine casks until it was bottled by That Boutinque’y Rum Company for batch 1 of their release. From what I’ve been able to find O Reizinho cask their rum at a very low 50% abv and the rum increases in abv with aging due to the water loss over time – this is all to do with climate, where a lot of spirits loose water and alcohol as they mature but some locations cause water loss at a greater rate thereby increasing the abv of the spirit. Also, such a low abv will give an increase in the water soluble components in the cask such as sugars and any residual wine that’s imparted into the cask so a 3 year maturation may seem short but the result could be interesting.

My bottle is number 1340 of 1936.

Not coloured, not chill-filtered and bottled at 52.6% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: What the fresh hell is this?! Prune juice, liquorice, anise, juniper, pink peppercorns, lavender and parsley. Very odd, but very good. There’s some thick toffee or treacle like notes, nutmeg, mud, black olive and a load of burning leaves. It’s like someone has taken a bag of liquorice Allsorts, chucked a load of herbs in, smoked it, poured in a bottle of prune juice and chunks of treacle toffee to make some weird smoothie – “I fancy a smoothie, what’s in the cupboard, oh this lot will do”. This isn’t like anything I’ve tried before and it’s fascinating. Smells awesome.

Palate: Full mouthfeel. Woah, liquorice again at first, then the herbs, then some sour pickle water, capers, brine, black olives and a massive scoop of raisins. Surprisingly little oak influence given the colour but that’s likely to be down to the low cask fill abv (you get tannins and higher wood notes at high cask fill abv as the ethanol is better at dissolving this than the water is), we’ve got a little clove and nutmeg but not much more from the wood. On the back half of the palate we’ve some dark chocolate, some milky coffee and a dark orange note in there too, the ones you use to make marmalade out of.

Finish: Medium. Big on the raisins here, spice with peppercorns and ginger, the occasional dry dusty soil note blowing around, butterscotch, liquorice and dark chocolate again. It’s much less phenolic and much sweeter in style as it ends, which provides a nice cool-down from the palate before the next sip starts.

Thoughts? This is hilarious stuff, I’ve never had a rum with this profile before and it really took some getting used to indeed. Once you’re in the zone with it though then things are really enjoyable. Sure, I certainly wouldn’t give a glass of this to someone and be all “This is what rum is like”, but I’d give them a glass of it and be all “Hey, look what rum can be like”.

This set me back £43 for a 50cl bottle, which does seem a lot for a 3 year old rum but really in the scheme of things these days it’s pretty much getting on pocket change for something decent. It is a fantastic rum? Probably not. Is the experience of drinking this worth the money I paid? Most definitely. Would I buy another? Absolutely. In fact it’s made me turn my eye to what else is being produce in Madeira and has put the country on my watch list.

 

If you fancy this you can pick this up from The Whisky Exchange here:

O Reizinho 3 year old – That Boutique’y Rum Company

Saint James 12 year old

20200722_193732What is it? An Agricole rum (cane juice based, column still) from the Saint James distillery in Martinique. I wont go over old ground here as I covered off Saint James and the Martinique AOC regulations around their rum and how it’s made in my review of the Saint James XO here. This one has spent at least 12 long tropical years maturing in oak and given the seasonality of the sugar cane harvest and the requirement to only use cane juice, getting hold of some of these longer aged Agricoles can be a bit of a challenge in the UK.

Not coloured, but chill-filtered and bottled at 43% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Really beautiful straight away. Cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Fragrant sandalwood, ginger root, ground coffee, figs and prunes. There’s quite a bit of fruit here too with pineapple, mango and apricot but it’s not lively fresh fruit, instead the fruits are mixed in with the rich cask notes so they have a deep and full smell to them. There’s some lightness and freshness of white flowers, some warm cut grass or hay, and a lovely pipe tobacco deep down. You could probably wear this as a perfume and get away with it.

Palate: Medium mouth. A little sour and sharp at first with capers and a pickle like note which carries straight into some very floral and grassy tastes, with a touch of musty sack cloth. As it goes on it gets fruity with the pineapple, mango and some under ripe pears. Then the richer notes arrive with the prune, cinnamon, coffee grounds, a little tobacco and some bitter honey. Not as rich as the nose but definitely fresher, lighter and more tangy in the mouth.

Finish: Long. Just as it was trailing off things pick up again with a burst of spice in the form of ginger, nutmeg and some black peppercorns, a little brine and black olives. Dark chocolate and espresso pop up here and there, some more fragrant pipe tobacco again and pops of the sourness from earlier in the palate.

Thoughts? Really very nice. We’re walking that fine line here between fresh/floral, sour and rich. It has all of these elements and shows you a little of each without being too much in any one way. A really solid and inviting rum with a nose I could sit and smell all day long. It shows you its cane juice roots but holds your hand when it does it, so if you’re like me and primarily a molasses based rum drinker (it’s what we get most of in the UK), it offers a sense of safety whilst letting you explore some of the more traditional Agricole side.

I picked this up for £70. A great stepping stone from molasses rum into cane juice rum and one that makes me really want to explore the category much more. A very good balance between the cost of the rum and the quality of the experience you get, one I’d certainly pick up again.

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.

Panama 2008 (10 year old)- Mezan

20180821_193005What is it? Molasses based multi-column rum from Panama. This rum was distilled in 2008 and bottled in 2018 by Mezan, making it 10 years old. The aging breakdown of this rum has been covered off nicely by Mezan on the back of the bottle; 3 years tropical aging, 7 years European aging, all of which was done in ex-Bourbon casks.

Not coloured, not chillfiltered and bottled at 46% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Lots of oak influence straight off the bat with cloves, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and real vanilla. Toasty warm oak and sun baked leather. Caramel, a little set honey, pralines and peanut. There is very little in the way of fruit, maybe a touch of charred pineapple in here and some orange rind, but it’s pretty much cask city on the nose.

Palate: Medium mouth feel. Dead easy to drink. Nothing more to add from the nose…..There’s a touch of oil, and a green olive type salty note but it’s pretty much nutmeg, clove, ginger, cinnamon and vanilla sitting over the top of caramels.

20180821_193014Finish: Short to medium. Some heat as you swallow and notes of tobacco, but once again we’re doing a rinse and repeat of everything that’s already come before. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s very one dimensional.

Thoughts? The nose is really nice but there’s not really much excitement to be had here, it’s all perfectly fine but a bit dull. This certainly isn’t the best Mezan rum I’ve ever had I’m afraid, and if I’m being totally honest it’s that boring I forgot I even had it open. I can’t even remember how much I paid for this, I think it was just under £50 and for that you really can do better, not a rum I’d buy again or recommend.