Monymusk 14 year old (2003) – Adelphi Single cask

I ended last year with an absolute cracker by way of an independent Jamaican from Worthy Park (Habitation Velier Forsyths WPM) so what better way to start this year with another one! For today’s review we’re going to Adelphi for their 14 year old Monymusk. Now, I’ve previously reviewed their Hampden which was incredible, so no pressure Adelphi! Eyes down, look in, as they say.

What is it? Pure Single Rum from Jamaica (100% pot still, single distillery, molasses based). This one has come from the Monymusk brand produced at the Clarendon distillery in Jamaica. This rum is from a single cask and was distilled in 2003, after which it was shipped to Scotland for ageing until 2018, making it 14 years old – so European aged rum. The rum was finished in an Oloroso sherry butt for a period of time and a total outrun of 346 bottles were produced. I have spoken to Adelphi about this rum but other than vague details of ageing and the sherry dipping at the end, they don’t have any more information, which is a shame as I’d really like to know how long it was finished off for, if it spent any time in the tropics maturing and definitely some details on the cask marque so we can get an idea of ester levels – unfortunately none of that data exists…..take note please Adelphi, we want to know this stuff, it matters.

The bottle is labelled as cask JM2, which follows on from the Hamden JM1, so I just assume this is some Adelphi code. It was bottled at 58.8% abv, not chill filtered nor coloured.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Mmmmmm, lovely. Deep and rich. Firstly some ester’y, bread’y, banana’y rum – more so than with other Monymusks I’ve had, but it’s not an ester bomb by any means. Then comes the cask with hot buttered cinnamon and raisin bagels, cloves, toffee, flamed orange zest, tree sap, damp leaves and some hessian sacks. Some banana bread and green olive come out again later on as the play between rum and cask moves back and forward dynamically.

Palate: Medium, not as fat as I was expecting – maybe the abv here. A touch of water does make send it oilier. Dry, a little sharp at first and herbal with some lavender or something. Then oranges, the bitter white pith, sour raisins and a touch of white wine. Then comes the banana bread and a touch of pineapple, nutmeg and a real taste of dry sherry, toasted nuts and bung cloth.

Finish: Long, quite astringent at first and hot, but quickly it moves on to the sweeter notes of banana in toffee sauce, banana bread, a little green olive, a touch of brine and cask flavours of raisin, cinnamon, vanilla, chestnuts and orange zest.

Thoughts? Very good – “less good” than the Hampden bottling by quite some way, but that one is very hard to beat, we’re still looking at a top tier rum here though. I had been drinking it neat but after this review I added a touch of water to take it down to about 50/52% abv and it got fatter and less astringent, it does loose some of the oomph though but the gains out-weight the losses here and that’s how I was drinking it towards the end. The sherry cask does over step the rum with this one but it’s such a good cask that it compliments the rum and you can still easily find the Monymusk in there.

A great example of how to sherry cask finish a spirit this is. I paid £85, which I’m happy with. Yes, I know it’s pricey, but Adelphi bottles are always pricey, just have to live with that. One I’d get again and very much enjoy.

 

 

Forsyths 2006/2017 WPM (Worthy Park) – Habitation Velier

Well, the kids are breaking up for school and Christmas is around the corner, so it’s likely this will be my last review of 2019 – I’ve decided to end the year with a bang. This is a little bottle I’ve had tucked away and been stretching out for as long as possible, mainly because it’s outstanding, limited and bloody expensive; a “Forsyths” 2006 WPM (so Worthy Park) from Habitation Velier and I’ve been waiting to review this!

What is it? Pure Single Rum (one distillery, pot still, molasses based) from the Worthy Park distillery in Jamaica. In case you don’t know, Worthy Park don’t really like Independent bottlers putting the Worthy Park name on their bottles, which is fair enough I guess, and it’s why you see their releases with names such as “WP”, “Forsyths”, “Lluidas Vale” etc – we all know it’s a Worthy Park, the distillery all know we know it’s a Worthy Park, the bottlers all know we know its a Worthy Park, it’s all a little game we seem to play.

So this rum was distilled in 2006 and bottled in 2017 by Velier under the Habitation Velier brand, making it 11 years old. All of the ageing was done tropically which has given an Angel’s Share of over 63% – that’s around the same as if it was matured in Europe for 25 years or so (European Angel’s Share sits at 2-3% a year loss). It’s from marque WPM (Worthy Park Medium Light) and has an ester level of 209.3 gr/hlpa.

Natural colour, not chill filtered and bottled at 57.5% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Bloody hell fire. Good job I’m sat down. This is something otherworldly. Banana bread, Jamaican ginger cake, smoked BBQ pineapples, candied mango, Fruit Salad chews and just enough oak with sandalwood, cinnamon, 2 cloves and some light pipe tobacco. Then we get that savoury undertone of hot car engines, those purple Kalamata olives, their oil, Pear Drops, brine and a tiny anchovy. There’s also some more banana, a touch of old leather bound books, old leather chairs, some banana, with some over ripe banana – yeah it’s a Worthy Park alright! Those bananas are not sweet or anything, just this banana’y savoury undercurrent throughout.

Palate: Full, oily and waxy. Incredible here. This isn’t a “big” ester rum but you certainly know where it’s from that’s for sure. Damn this is good. Big banana again, some piccalilli, olives, salty brine’y sand, engine oil, limes, pineapple, anchovies and some smokey mushroom even – not strong ones though, maybe those oyster mushrooms or girolle. Pear Drops again, banana, pineapple, ginger and some liquorice root that creeps in. A touch of rubber inner tubes and stamp glue. Finally a mix of cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg from the cask.

Finish: Long. Divine. Stays sweeter here for a while, with those caramelised almonds you can buy, brown sugar and a little very good Cornish fudge. After a minute or 2 liquorice and a little olive appears with some fragrant peppercorn. Things get fruity again with more banana and a sweet/sour yuzu type note. Candied pineapple and limes are there right at the end.

Thoughts? I don’t know where to start with this one. I’ve tried to write down how it smells and tastes to me, but it’s not at all doing this rum justice, there is something about it that is “extra”, it’s something you occasionally smell and taste in a spirit that you just can’t quantify; almost an X-Factor flavour, so I’ve done my best. This is easily one of the best rums I’ve ever drunk. Of course, preference is personal and all that but for me this rum is getting pretty damn close to perfection – if there are better rums out there I can’t wait to try them, they must be mind-blowing. This beaut has everything; the esters are just right, the cask interaction is just right, the strength is perfect and as with some rums, there is this Umami note that you can’t pin down, it just feels round and complete and it elevates the thing beyond normal rums.

Listen, Habitation Velier rums are not cheap, we know this. Even taking into account the tropical ageing and all that jazz, you’re still digging deep into your pocket to get one, and I paid £110 for this at the time. By God was it worth every penny. I have to forget about rationalising the cost against stuff it says on the label (we all do it, how old is it, how rare is it, what are the esters? – who cares) and think about what I’ve just drunk and if that is worth the money to me…..it is stunning.

 

Foursquare Hereditas

I’ve been waiting for December to turn up before doing my review of Foursquare Hereditas rum, because I like a big sherried whisky for the Christmas period and what better way to compliment that (or even replace it) than with a massive sherry bomb of a rum from an epic distillery.

What is it? Single Blend rum (molasses based pot and column still rum, from a single distillery) from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados. This rum was bottled exclusively for The Whisky Exchange as part of a “Private Cask Selection” – the rum was distilled, matured and bottled in Barbados. The rum blend is the usual Foursquare blend-of-a-blend job, where they mature some rum in a cask type and then move it to another cask type, the final rum is blended with another rum matured in different casks. In this case, part of the blend is matured in ex-bourbon casks for 14 years, the other part of the blend is matured in ex-bourbon casks for 10 years and then switched to ex-sherry casks for a further 4 years, both rums are then blended at the end making it 14 years old. All ageing is done tropically, so those years have a big impact, you’re talking about well over 30 years of European equivalent ageing.

Not chill-filtered, not coloured and bottled at 56% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Oh, good, God. We’ve definitively got Foursquare that much is clear – the beautiful integration of oak, vanilla and spice, but this is a sherry bomb rum. We have loads of big fat juicy raisins, little tiny Corinth raisins or currants, clove, cinnamon, roasted walnuts, chestnuts and marzipan – yeah, Christmas cake rum. Some lighter fruit with black plums, fig and burnt orange zest, honey and pralines. With some time there is some cigar smoke, damp leaves, old leather bound books, varnished wood and menthol.

Palate: Full mouth. Big on the sherry at entry, the Foursquare profile is totally lost at first and dominated by roasted nuts, dates, figs, leather, raisins and Christmas cake again. Once the first sherry blast passes, Foursquare appears under it with soft vanilla, toasted coconut, clove, cinnamon, light caramel and some savoury notes of liquorice, black olives, brine and grilled mushroom.

Finish: Very long. Ginger root, liquorice, the salty tang of brine, a little tar, camphor and menthol. Dark chocolate lebkuchens, caramel, vintage thick cut marmalade, rolling tobacco, black coffee and walnuts. There is an interplay of savoury, bitter and sweet here that works really well.

Thoughts? Stonkingly good rum. The sherry casks are as clean as a whistle but I do think they dominate a little over the rum. The nose and finish work really well but the palate is bullied around by the sherry for the most part, still, it’s bloody good.

If you want a Christmas’y winter warmer of a sherry bomb this year then get one of these. It’s sitting with the old style Glendronach 15 year old (which was really 21 years old) and Glenfarclas 25 year old whiskies, if that’s your thing, and trust me that is very high praise for a sherried spirit.

5p under £80. Yeah, ok it’s not cheap, but I’d pay it over and over again. Cracking.

New Grove 5 year old

What is it? New Grove “Old Tradition” 5 year old rum is a molasses based, column still rum, distilled at the Gray’s distillery in Mauritius – so Traditional Rum, under the Gargano classification. Once the rum is distilled, it is matured in Limousin casks (French oak) for at least 5 years in Mauritius. The Angel’s Share in Mauritius is higher than Europe but not as high as the Tropics, so with a 5 year age statement on here you’re looking at around 8 or so years of equivalent European ageing. What you have to remember though is that those 5 years have been spent in French oak, which is tight grained and has an intensity to it for spirit maturation.

Not chill-filtered, natural colour and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Very interesting indeed! Immediate massive hit of tropical fruit with bags of passion fruit, guava, mango and papaya. Quite quickly some more savoury elements appear in the form of eucalyptus, diesel, green olives, camphor and hot tyres. There is a little touch of smoke here too, like distant burning leaves.

Palate: Full mouth, quite oily; ah the joys of non chill-filtered rum, even at 40% abv. Savoury first here with olive again, celery, pear drops, diesel and a touch of rubber. Fruits then appear but more muted than on the nose; pineapple, nectarine, peach and a tiny bit of green banana skin. Some light oak spices with vanilla and cinnamon come out and a little brine at the end. There is something that keeps popping up throughout the palate that I can’t quite put my finger on and reminds me, oddly, of column still Caroni.

Finish: Medium. Not the biggest finish in the rum world, lets not beat about the bush here, it is only 5 years old and 40% abv. Sweeter here, some brine for sure and engine oil but more vanillas, nutmeg, cinnamon again and a little firm set honey. There is a faint smoke that lingers on your tongue and the tang of a flame grilled pineapple.

Thoughts? Very good. Different from most other rums out there. I don’t know what Gray’s do at their distillery but the fruit levels are intense on all the rums I’ve tried from them. If you gave this to someone who wasn’t widely familiar with rum styles for a blind tasting, they’d never say it was rum. This style of Mauritian rum is one I really love and it’s perfect for a hot day, very refreshing. I can’t quite decide if I prefer the 8 year old or this 5 year old to be honest, there isn’t really much in it in terms of quality and flavour but I guess this is less fruity and more savoury for some reason. I’d have thought it’d be the other way round.

I picked this up for £30. A lot of people would shy away given the age statement on the bottle, but forget it. For £30 it’s a cracker and you’re getting a real, transparent, aged rum – they could have quite easily put some”XO” or fancy name on the bottle instead of an honest “5 years old”, but no, they’ve told you what it is. They’ve not coloured it and they’ve not chill-filtered it. Hats off to them and it’s one I’ll be picking up again.

Top Beverages – Double Distilled, Mocha and Spiced rums

Long one here.

I get quite a lot of emails about Press Releases and samples and most of the time it’s not something I progress as that’s not really what this blog is about. I review what I buy (generally speaking) and it’s a hobby, not a job. Every now and then though something comes up that piques my interest, in this case it was a new batch of rums from a “craft” company; a white rum (double distilled), a Mocha rum and a Spiced rum – not rums I’d normally entertain. So why did I accept the samples and why am I reviewing them? Well, they are CBD spirits, that is, spirits that are combined with CBD (Cannabidiol) and it’s a trend that is taking the food and drink industry by storm, people are combining it with bloody everything, I’m sure at some point the government will start putting it in bread like they do with folic acid! CBD is being touted as somewhat of a wonderdrug. Now I’m not a doctor, or a pharmacist, or a scientist, so I can’t really go into it too much or with any form of authority, but in short it’s a non-psychotropic active ingredient in Canabis (you don’t get high from it) and it has a huge number of benefits in what it treats; anxiety, depression, cognitive issues, movement problems, chronic pain, just to name a few, and the side effects (in normal dose levels) are virtually nil – if you want to understand more about CBD then please read up on it and please don’t rely on me, it is a drug and should be looked into carefully.

So does CBD have a place in distilled beverages? Well Top Beverages are a craft company that think so, they combine it with gin, vodka and rum. You can read more about them at their website: https://top-beverages.com

Recently, they have launched the 3 rums already mentioned above, which are all combined with premium, full spectrum CBD and I’ve kindly been given some (rather large) samples to try out. I’ve tried them, so I’ll review them.

In terms of the rums, all 3 are based on the same distilled spirit and as you’d expect from a craft distillery they were very open and complete when I asked them about their method, so geek hats on:

The rum is distilled in Arbroath, Scotland, from molasses. Distillation takes place by combining 650 litres of molasses with water where it is fermented for 3 weeks, creating a Wash of around 10% abv. The Wash is then distilled in a 500 litre and 200 litre hybrid still which uses 3 copper plates to produce around 150 litres of rum at 50% abv, the first run off is then distilled a 2nd time (double distilled) in the 200 litre still, using 1 copper plate. Cuts are made which produces around 65 litres of rum at 78% abv. The rum is then left for 3-5 days to mellow out, at which point it’s reduced to 60% abv. Here is when the spices are added to the Mocha and Spiced rums, for 24 hours to infused, before filtering. It’s reduced again to a bottling strength of 54.4% abv.

Cool.

These rums are all natural colour, not chill filtered, bottled at 54.5% abv and do not contain any sugar or other nasties other than the natural spices where stated. They are in 500ml bottles with 50mg of CBD.

Top Beverages Double Distilled white rum:

Nose: Very grassy at first, some white stone fruit, green grape maybe and white pepper. Starts to get phenolic with brine, green olive and sea shell. Some floral notes appear part way through, a touch of brioche and a little vanilla.

Palate: Sharp and quite astringent. Some fruity mango, white pepper and brine. There’s a cardboard note part way that’s not too great but it does soon go. A little vanilla, pears and some nail polish.

Finish: Short. Clean, green apples, white pepper heat, the sweetness of thinned honey and sugar dusted lemons.

 

Top Beverages Mocha rum:

Double Distlled white rum infused with organic cacao husks and South American cold brewed coffee.

Nose: Woah, coffee. Chocolate. You need to like coffee and chocolate to like this, luckily I like both. Yeah, lots of chocolate, real stuff though, actual cocoa beans and fresh roasted coffee, There is a touch of salinity under it that gives it a fudge note, some fried banana, a little light toffee and hot buttered crumpets.

Palate: Hot and sharp again at first. Not like the nose……which is a shame. Fizzy cola bottle sweets, nail polish, white pepper and sharp mango again, or nectarine.

Finish: Short. Ah, back to the nose we go with fudge, chocolate, salted caramel and a really good milky coffee.

 

Top Beverages Spiced rum:

Double Distilled white rum infused with cassia bark, orange peel, ginger and Indian vanilla pods.

Nose: Well, this is pungent. Loads of ginger, cinnamon, almost a Chinese 5 spice note, a touch of vanilla, some dark chocolate and a brine/salty tang. Some light liquorice and spiced vanilla pop up as the ginger dies down.

Palate: Hot, but ginger hot. Cloves, ginger root, chillies, cinnamon powder and dry – yes, a dry spiced rum, thank god! No sugary sweet stuff here. A little anise, hint of chocolate, mango, apple and pear.

Finish: Medium. Lots of ginger again, cinnamon and anise. Vanilla shows up here, guess it could finally get out from behind the heat and spices from the palate, and some orange zest.

 

Thoughts in general? I find the white rum too rough. I buy my rum to sip and I don’t think it’s really a sipping rum, none of them really area. There is a nice sharp fruit that runs through it and a salty note that balances things out, and what I do like is that these notes filter through to all 3 of the rums, so you can see that they are all based on the same thing. I think the white would be very good in any fruity cocktail, it’s a strong enough flavour that you’d pick it out and it’d compliment the mixing ingredients well, but as a sipper…..no. Pass.

The Mocha rum smells amazing and finishes well, but the smells are not translated into the drinking really, I think it needs longer with it’s infusions. Again would go very well in a more robust cocktail, something where the rum needs to have more strength to it. As a sipper, I’d drink it, but I’d probably just end up with my nose in the glass most of the time.

The Spiced rum is very good. It’s too heavy on the ginger and too hot there, needs to be toned down, but I could happily drink it neat. To be fair I like ginger a lot…..outside of that it’d be a great winter warmer in a punch or hot toddy, or even in a hot chocolate.

Would I buy any of these rums with my own money? In honesty, no. They’re not what I’m after in my journey and they are bloody expensive (500ml bottle for £39.95), and whilst I understand that craft distilling is very small batch and has higher costs, and the ingredients are absolutely top quality, the target for these are going to be people with deep pockets who are looking for ultra-premium mixing rums.

What I’d be very interested in seeing, is if they age some of the rum. Bang it into some small quarter casks and give it time with oak. There are some good notes in the base rum that’d age well and transform with that ageing.