Monymusk 12 year old (2003) – Duncan Taylor

What is it? The Duncan Taylor Monymusk 12 year old (2003) is a single cask Jamaican Pure Single Rum (100% Pot still, from molasses, produced at one distillery) from the “Monymusk” distillery. Monymusk isn’t actually a distillery, it’s a brand or type of rum that is produced at the Clarendon distillery in Jamaica – their 100% pot still rum. You can read a lot more about the Monymusk brand and Clarendon in this review; which is of a 9 year old bottled by Kill Devil.

This rum was distilled in August 2003 and bottled in February 2016 by independent bottler Duncan Taylor, making it 12 years old. No details on the location of the maturation but going from from own historic reviews of Duncan Taylor bottles, the colour and taste profile I’d say it was matured in Europe. This bottle is one of 194 bottles from cask number 2. No details on the cask marque or ester levels for this.

Not coloured, not chill-filtered and bottled a cask strength of 52.1% abv.

So, molasses based, 100% pot still Jamaican rum at cask strength. Proper rum then. Perfect. On to the review:

Sugar? No

Nose: Ah, beautiful. We’ve got a soft Jamaican here, but don’t be fooled; there is some ester’y goodness inside lying in wait. Baked bananas drizzled with honey, golden syrup and salted butter. Pineapple jam spread on toasted brioche, toffee and pecan yum-yums and churros straight out of the oil. There is some fresh papaya, pear and lime lifting it up and a grungy smell of shipyards with old ropes, a little tar, distant boat engines and salty sea spray. Right at the back there is some oak evident but it’s pretty mild and doesn’t really impose any will on the rum here.

Palate: Full, rich and oily. A lot more savoury than the nose; olives, olive oil, sticking plasters, salted butter and maybe even a little seaweed. Very little spice, maybe a touch of white pepper but for 52% abv its not hot at all. At the back of the palate things sweeten again to light toffee sauce, maybe butterscotch, green bananas, orange rind and some fresh strawberries, of all things.

Finish: Medium to long. Carries on where the palate left off with sweeter notes, more strawberries, tangerines, cantaloupe melon, mango, limes and a funny sort of salted vanilla. There is a hint of rubber bands and olive oil right at the end.

Thoughts? Delicious. A lighter “heavy” rum if you will. Really good pot still notes, some good esters and amazing texture/mouth feel but plays it with a sweeter, more approachable side. I really like this softer Jamaican pot still stuff, lots of complexity and flavour without blowing your head off. Jamaican rum doesn’t need to be maximum ester, 100% of the time.

I picked this up for £60(!) at the time – late 2017 – and it’s a bargain. I’d easily buy this again at that price, although I suspect it’s likely to have gone up a bit now if there are any left about. I saw one recently (March 2019) for £80, which I think is pushing things a little too far. You’re getting into a different price category altogether there.

 

The Olde Sea Dog Black Spiced

Let’s get this out of the way first, before we go any further. If you have stumbled upon this review from a search engine result you need to be aware that whilst this is a rum blog, it’s one focused towards actual rum (generally higher end stuff that is made to be drunk neat and appreciated) and not your Sailor Jerry or Kraken, but there times when I review other stuff and I’ve reviewed several other “spiced rums” before. Just bear that in mind when you are reading this review and if Kraken is your thing, that’s fine, you just need to know the direction I’m coming at this from.

I happened upon this in my local Aldi, and it “accidentally” fell into my trolley. Being autistic I am quite literally the least impulsive person you’ll meet, my purchases are planned well in advance and meet certain criteria (mainly not duplicating regions or styles in the same order and ensuring that mixes of prices match to the budget I allow myself each month, for example) – all very boring and anal. For some reason I saw this and thought I’d give it a go, and I have no idea why. Imagine my surprise when I searched online for it and discovered it’s won a Gold Medal at some awards thing (The Spirits Business Rum and Cachaca Masters 2019), result I thought! I’ve scored a beaut here. Well you have to remember that companies have to specifically enter these awards and that the panel can only score what has been put in front of them, so they are far, far, from definitive awards. They also give out medals like a primary school sports day; everyone gets one for taking part……so let’s ignore that shall we.

So, The Olde Sea Dog Black Spiced (rum?)…..

What is it? It’s an Aldi own brand drink and it’s not a rum. There. Done. Credit to Aldi where it’s due, they have not labelled this as a rum either; it’s been labelled as a Spirit Drink, “A premium black spiced rum based spirit drink” to be more specific, so at least they are not trying to pass it off as something it’s not, unlike some other more well known producers….it seems to be based on their Old Hopking Rum brand.

The bottle says “Limited Release” – no details on how limited, but it’s April 2019 and I’ve seen it in the shops since the start of December 2018. It says “Premium Quality”, which just means it’s either got better ingredients in it, or is just more expensive than their “Standard” offering – want some good views on the word “Premium” when it comes to rum, read this from Wes at The Fat Rum Pirate: Premium Rum The Impossible Task? Part 3.

So we’ll go with molasses based rum, from somewhere, from some type of still and most likely not aged. Added flavourings and sugar.

Coloured, chill filtered and bottled at a respectable 40% abv, for a spirit drink.

Sugar? Why did I even ask. Yes. I’ve dipped my hydrometer in this and it’s around 50g/l sugar showing, but as it’s got other stuff added this reading my not be very accurate. Let’s just go with, lots.

Nose: Vanilla, masses of the stuff, muscavado sugar, molasses, cloves and milky coffee. There is some lime in here too but it’s like a lime cream or lime butter, and some vanilla. Tinned pineapples, chocolate oranges, some vanilla and a touch of coconut. And some vanilla. Can’t smell any rum in this I’m afraid, just flavourings.

Palate: Very sweet, but actually not that sticky and cloying, more of a medium mouth feel, which is surprising – and quite welcome. Vanilla, limes, rum and raisin ice-cream, fudge, vanilla and some limes. There is some soft brown sugar again, sweet black coffee, some more vanilla and a little bit of coconutty lime. Almost no heat whatsoever (caveat: when you drink full proof spirits a lot, like I do, pretty much anything at 40% tastes like water anyway!), but this has literally, no heat from the alcohol at all.

Finish: Short. Sweet. Gone. Faintest bite from the booze just to remind you that it’s young spirit, and a little bit bitter.

Thoughts? To be fair I’ll do this in 2 parts, firstly as a spiced rum based spirit drink (or general beverage) and secondly as a rum (don’t laugh). If you’re looking at this as a casual drinker of spiced rums, read Part 1, and I apologise for Part 2. If you’re looking at this as a real rum enthusiast, then you’re reading the wrong thing! (Sorry about this!) – Part 2 is for you.

Part 1. As a “drink”: Yum. Lovely tasting, sweet, easy and good value for money. You can mix it with coke, lemonade, coffee, other spirits, fruit juice and it’ll give you a really nice long drink with lots of ice. Great for summer. You could put it in a punch, or mulled wine, or hot toddy and it’d be great for winter. You can sip it neat with ice (or not) and it’d make a nice tasty way to get alcohol into you. There is virtually no alcoholic taste and it’s not spiced too strongly, unlike some “spiced” rums, I’m looking at you Rumbullion. Is it a good spiced rum/spirit drink thing? Yes. Is it worth £16.99? Yes. Is it better than other spiced rums that are out there? On the whole, yes. In my opinion it’s better than Sailor Jerry Spiced, it’s better than Captain Morgan Spiced, it’s better than Kraken and it’s better than Rumbullion. If that’s the sort of thing you like then get a bottle of this, it’s cheaper and better than most out there.

Part 2. As a Rum: Utter shite. Rum based my arse. You’d get the exact same thing if you swapped rum for vodka. It’s basically a 40% abv alcopop. I literally don’t know what I was thinking when I bought this – what part of my brain read the labels and thought “What could possibly go wrong here, sounds good”, I bought it knowing what it was so I’ve only got myself to blame. These things happen to us all, I guess it helps us realise what else you’ve got on the shelf. I got a bottle of Havana Club 7 anos for £19 last year and that’s a proper rum, if you want a real spiced rum then up your budget and grab a bottle of Bristol Black Spiced. I want my £16.99 back.

…..still, I’m going to drink it, because I’ve bought it and I’m tight. I’ll just have it after a spicy meal, or if I have a cold or something.

 

 

Rum Nation Demerara 23 year old (1990)

What is it? A right treat, for a start! This rum is from the Port Mourant still, owned by Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) and is molasses based, making it Pure Single Rum. The rum was distilled in 1990 and aged for 14 years (no details of where, but looks to be in Europe), at which point it was bought and transferred into Olorso sherry casks for further ageing – this was done until bottling, in this case 2013 by Rum Nation, but there are some other bottles out there from the same parcel of rum that was aged for 25 years and bottled in 2015.

Not coloured, but chill filtered and bottled at 45% abv.

Sugar: No

Nose: Incredible, exactly what you’d hope for with a well aged Demerara; deep brown sugar (muscavado), really smooth black coffee like a Colombian or Guatemalan, damp leaves, pipe tobacco, really old leather chairs, muddy boots and some roasted chestnuts. Really beautiful soft oak, liquorice, clove, rich vanilla and raisins. There is a savoury side of aniseed balls, black olives and diesel in there too. The smells are all very “big” and rich.

Palate: Full mouth, oily. Old sherry aged whisky for sure, lots of rancio, forest floors and meaty mushrooms. The deep brown sugar arrives with coffee beans, chocolate, marzipan, plums, figs, raisins again and handful of black grapes. Lots of sweet eating liquorice, aniseed, clove, leather and sweet tobacco. A touch of rubber bands, sticking plasters and the back of a stamp keep things interesting.

Finish: Long. Liquorice in bucket loads here, some anise, vanilla and milk chocolate. There is a buzz of black pepper and menthol that pops up, just to keep you on your toes. Roasted nuts again, marzipan topped Christmas cake and a good glug of dry sherry.

Thoughts? Fabulous stuff. This is just what old Navy style Demerara should taste like; big, rich, bold and brooding flavours right through, and slightly dirty too. From nose to finish it is massively complex and deep, sure it’s not perfectly balanced but the pay off is volume and depth of flavour – i’ll take that without issue here.

I paid £100 for this, and honestly would again without much thought. My only issue is that it’s a bit too easy on approach, I’d love to see this at 50% abv, it’d be another level of rum altogether.

Rum Sixty Six 12 year old Cask Strength

What is it? Bajan Single Blended rum (pot and column still rum, from molasses, distilled at a single distillery) from the Foursquare distillery in St Philip, Barbados. This rum is one of the brands/rums produced by the Foursquare distillery and uses a recipe that was originally reserved for family members. It is named after the year of Bajan independence in 1966, hence the Sixty Six. The rum, as with most Foursquare blends, is blended after distillation and before cask fill so that the rums have the full maturation period to marry together – in this case for at least 12 years, all of which is done tropically in ex-bourbon casks. This rum is produced in small batches (100-120 casks per batch), and the rum is first matured for around 8-10 years before being sampled, selected and the chosen rums re-racked for the remainder of the maturation period. Now, the bottle does refer to this as “Cask Strength”; I don’t believe that this is truly a cask strength rum in the literal sense, but more in the message of the rum. What I mean is, it is impossible for a rum that is small batch from a 100 or so casks to come out at exactly 59% abv every single time for every single batch – the abv has either been rounded to the nearest full percent abv or (I suspect) is a slightly higher abv that has been diluted a little to take it to 59%, this way they can get the batches done and bottled at the same abv every bottling run. I may be wrong on this, just my opinion.

Not coloured, not chill filtered and bottled at a whopping 59% abv.

Sugar? No way in hell.

*No water has been added for this review, I’ve been drinking it at full whack so that’s how I’m reviewing it*

Nose: Wow. It’s big, and I don’t mean the abv, the smells are intense. Grilled coconut, roasted peanut, pecans and cashews, smoked almonds with that sticky sugar stuff on it. Dark chocolate, vanilla fudge, butterscotch, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger. Big whiffs of old leather jackets, distant pipe tobacco and a salty, brine’y olive note. There is a smell of dried leaves, soil, grease and cut grass – like your hands smell when you’ve been in the garden using an old petrol mower – dirty, mucky, but wonderful. I could smell this all day long.

Palate: Full and coating, even at 59%. Hot, it’s 59% though right! Dangerously drinkable at full proof, and that’s how I’ve been drinking it. It really doesn’t need water at all but if you do add any then it swims like a fish and gets fatter, oilier and lets some of the sweeter notes come out. Basically, this is the same here as the nose, it carries through all those intense flavours well. If anything it’s more fudge’y and has extra butterscotch here, with less nuts. Mid-palate the grease, oil and olive come out with some red chillies that have been dipped in dark chocolate. There’s a lovely taste on the back end of the palate that is a mixture of camphor and the taste I expect boot polish to taste like if you could taste it, if you know what I mean.

Finish: Waaaaaaaaay long. You measure the length of the finish in parsecs, not minutes. Hot, naturally, but not unpleasantly so. Stem ginger, black peppercorns, chillies then nutty, sweet oak, coconut, caramels, maple syrup, vanilla fudge and dark, dark chocolate. There is a tiny bit of salty olive right at the end to remind you it’s also savoury and that camphor note creeps in every now and then.

Thoughts? Holy shit this is good. I’ve always felt that the “core” range of Foursquare rums played second fiddle to “everything else” they do; the Exceptional Cask Selection, Habitation Velier, other Velier collaborations etc, but not this. This is what the core range needed, a rocket up it’s arse. It is indeed exceptional rum, the intensity of flavour that is packed in here is incredible, yet it’s so easy to drink at full strength is scary, and as always with Foursquare, the balance of flavour is harmonious. I simply cannot fault it.

Let me put some perspective around this; it’s at least 12 years old, it’s tropically aged, it’s pure/undoctored rum, it’s 59% abv and it cost me £44. Yes, you read that right, £44! C’mon. I just can’t get my head around this – why would I not buy this rum?! (Rhetorical question by the way).

A rum I’ll have in my cabinet for as long as they keep making it.

 

 

Depaz Port Cask Finish

What is it? Rum, distilled in a column still where the raw material is pressed sugar cane juice – so a R(h)um Agricole. This rum was produced at the Depaz distillery on the island of Martinique in the French West Indies and has been aged for around 8 years in oak casks followed by a finishing period of 11 months in Port casks, all ageing is done tropically. You can read more about the rum and distillery in my previous posts here and here, which cover off the AOC classification and background.

Chill filtered, not coloured and bottled at 45% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: A shy nose at first, there is some rich chocolate – the 60% dark stuff, like Bournville – liquorice, cinnamon, some slight cane but not much. Chocolate covered cranberries, plums (those deep black ones) and ground black pepper. There is a little vanilla in there right at the back but the richer flavours keep it down.

Palate: Medium. More cane here but it’s quickly take over by milk chocolate, liquorice, coffee beans, stewed plums with vanilla cream topping, raspberry jam, damsons and Turkish Delight. There is some sweet nutty oak, marzipan and handful of hazelnuts, almonds and cashews pop up towards the finish.

Finish: Long. Spicy at first with black pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon but it gets chocolatey, then soft cooked stone fruits and a little butterscotch as it progresses. Vanilla and some dried banana chips, dusted with coconut appear right at the end.

Thoughts? This is my 2nd favourite of the new Depaz rums. There isn’t all that much sugar cane juice on offer but there are really lovely rich, nutty flavours and the Port cask adds a deep dark fruit that really compliments the rum rather than cover up the character, which often happens with “finishing”. Ok, this one is quite pricey and it’ll set you back around £80 or more for a bottle, and whilst it’s really very good I’m not sure I’d get a bottle of this over the VSOP as that really is the sweet spot for me.