Diamond 2003/2015 – Bristol Spirits

What is it? Single Traditional Rum (column still, molasses based, single distillery) from the Diamond distillery in Guyana. It was distilled in 2003 and bottled in 2015 by Bristol Spirits for the Bristol Classic Rum range, making it 12 years old. Almost all of the aging for this rum would have been in Europe as DDL (Diamond) are no longer supplying tropically aged rum, but as this was distilled back in 2003 there may be some tropical aging that has taken place prior to their change of policy – unfortunately no-one has the details of the aging split on this bottle. So which still is it from? Well unfortunately no-one seems to have any information on that either! We know it’s column still rum and it’s unlikely to be from the four-column Savalle still, so that leaves the Enmore wooden column or the Diamond metal column. It’s lighter in style than I’d expect from the Enmore, but given how many different marques that can produce it’s hard to say.

Coloured (most likely at source by DDL), chill-filtered and bottled at 43% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Woody at first, plenty of toasty oak and burnt fruit loaf. Roasted coffee beans, raisins, brown sugar and oranges. There’s a little liquorice, a touch of tar and some smoky rolling tobacco. With a bit of time I’m getting some banana, lemon and pineapple at the end, but it’s quite a rich, soft nose rather than light and fruity.

Palate: Medium mouth feel, I was expecting it to be a bit fuller and thicker to be honest. Fruity entry with plenty of raisin, sultana and pineapple. Some orange and banana as it progresses and then some heavier notes of fruit cake, coffee and caramel. A little vanilla note and oak come out and then a slight bitterness of liquorice and caught molasses.

Finish: Short. Ouch. It ends pretty quickly which is disappointing. It’s quite fruit cake’y again here still with loads of raisins, cherries, sultana and orange. There’s a slight tar note and a touch of rubber glove towards the end.

Thoughts? The bottle says “soft fruit and easy style”, yeah, it’s easy drinking alright, but I find it heavier than it’s being portrayed by Bristol. It’s certainly not a heavy rum by any means but I wouldn’t describe it as light and fruity. It’s a good classic Demerara style rum. It balances soft fruitiness well with the richer, darker, heavier, more brooding notes. Ok, it’s not going to blow your mind but if you’re after a sugar/additive free classic style Demerara at a “normal” drinking strength then this could be one for you to go for. The thing is, there aren’t that many rums around like this; most of the rums that people think of as a typical Demerara style rum (like El Dorado) are sugared, or  blends, or both – so actually finding an unaltered one is a pretty tough task.

You’re looking at between £60 and £70 for a bottle of this depending on where you go, which I do think it quite a lot of money, but it’s climbed in price quite a bit these days. Why? Well it’s from “back then”, that’s why. Bristol Classic don’t seem to put much stuff out these days, I’ve certainly not seen anything new from them for a few years, but they were quite prolific some years ago and when I started out on rum they were really one of the only Independent bottlers about, as such their “old” rums are in quite high demand.

Would I get another of this? No, not for £70, but certainly one I’m glad I picked up whilst I could, just for nostalgia sake if nothing else.

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

Diamond 2003/2015 – Bristol Spirits

 

Or Master Of Malt here:

Diamond 2003/2015 – Bristol Spirits

Advent Calendars!

Before we start, this is a promotion, but I’m not getting commission from this, I’m doing a solid to a group of lads that I’ve got a lot of time and respect for.

It’s the time of the year when people are looking for those Christmas goodies. Over recent years there has been a trend in boozy advent calendars, I mean chocolate is ok but what we really (really) want is quality booze! You can get pretty much every type of advent calendar these days from beer and wine to gin and whisky. The one we’re interested in here is rum, because as we all know; rum is the best alcoholic spirit in the world and everything else is just second fiddle.

There are quite a few out there, so which one do you go for? Well you will get 24 samples of rum in various sizes, depending on your calendar of choice, at different prices and certainly different selections. For me it’s balancing the price of the calendar with the correct selection of rum and at the moment my personal opinion is that the one that ticks my boxes is the 24 Days of Rum calendar that is put together by World Class Spirits (the guys who do the S.B.S bottles) and distributed by Skylark Spirits (Indy Anand, Jaz Anand and Chetan Ladwa). I know the boys from Skylark through the UK Rum Club Facebook group and their work through the Rumcask blog – they are a sound trio, really do know their stuff when it comes to rum and have worked with rum producers to bring great rum into the UK, so I really don’t have any issue at all promoting their products.

So what is this one? Well you can view the homepage here at 24 Days of Rum which will give you an idea of what is inside (spoilers) and you can buy it from Amazon here, for £79.99 – buy 24 Days of Rum. You can also click the link on my menu at the top right which will take you to the Amazon listing.

The samples in here are 20ml, so they are a bit smaller than some other calendars, but 24 days of drinking rum….well, you’re only going to want a small amount each day, right? The rums come from all over the world and there is stuff in there that most people likely will not have ever tried before, which is the whole point of a sample box, right? And unlike some other calendars it’s not padded out with fillers and the odd very expensive sample thrown in, the rums really are all very good…..oh, and you get 2 glasses too!

So if you’re looking for a well priced, varied, quality and interesting rum calendar for 2020 then do yourself a favour and pick yourself up one of the 24 Days of Rum calendar.

Foursquare Diadem

What is it? Single Blended rum (molasses based, pot and column still rum from a single distillery) from Barbados, produced by the Foursquare distillery. There’s so many Foursquare releases these days it’s hard to keep up, this year alone has seen Nobiliary (ECS 12), the 2008 vintage (ECS 13), imminent UK release of Detente (ECS 14) and in a few months, Redoutable (ECS 15). So which one is the Diadem then? Well, it’s not any. It’s not an Exceptional Cask Selection release, it’s a Private Cask Selection which has been bottled exclusively for The Whisky Exchange, the same vein as Hereditas from last year if you can remember that far back. So what’s in the bottle this time? The rums in here are from both pot stills and column stills and are blended together prior to aging. A portion of the blend spent 12 years in ex-bourbon casks whilst another portion of the blend spent 12 years in first fill ex-Madeira casks, the resulting rums were then blended together again (at an undisclosed ratio) to get the final blend. So 12 full years of aging, tropically done in Barbados.

There is a total outrun of 2000 bottles in this release.

Not coloured, not chill filtered and bottled at a 60% abv.

I’m drinking and reviewing this at around 55%, which is the strength I tend to take these beasts down to. A drop of 5% doesn’t seem like much but it makes a world of difference to the nose, palate and the inside of my throat.

Sugar? Nah.

Nose: Yeah, this has spent some serious time in Madeira casks alright. Lots of dark fruit here at first with blackberries, black cherries and black plums, some meaty figs, prune and a shitload of roasted nuts; walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, brazils, almonds and cashew – like sticking your gonk into a Christmas nut selection. Following the nutty onslaught comes to oak, with varnished wood, cinnamon, ginger, clove, roasted coconut, smoked vanilla and the classic “old” smells from dusty libraries and leather armchairs. There’s a thread of dark chocolate that runs through it but it’s not prominent and as you get deeper in there’s a surprising zesty lift of pineapple and candied lemons. Yuletide here we come.

Palate: Hot. Full and rich oily mouth feel. Hot – ginger, black pepper, clove – it’s a fiery blighter at the start. A couple of sips in and we’re starting to get somewhere, it sweetens but still holds on to the spice; black cherry and chipotle jam, a pack of glazed pineapple and chilli cashew mix, those big bars of dark chocolate you get with chilli in them, chocolate covered stem gingers and black pepper infused caramel. There’s this constant play between sweet and spice, just when you get a nice bit of sweetness along comes the heat and chilli spice and punches you in the mouth.

Finish: Initially your mouth is left with the heat from the palate, but it does soon disappear. The finish is long and once the spices have left you’re left with all the flavours that were hidden before; black forest chocolate cake, liqueur cherries, candied ginger and a lighter fruit note of raspberry and nuts, almost like Bakewell tart. There’s still oak here and prickles of heat, notes of the “old” from before with leather and mushrooms, so it’s not all fruits and fancies. Part way through the finish I keep getting savoury flashes of something oily, like WD40 or some type of glue, which is really nice as it just keeps you paying attention to what else there might be hidden in here to find. It bitters at the end with a really good cup of tea (Yorkshire) and some raw walnuts.

Thoughts? I’m not sure how to take this one. The last Madeira cask Foursquare I had was the Sagacity and I struggled with that for a while, this is way more intense and much better for it, it’s just really bloody hot! I like Madeira and this is dialled down somewhat but still clearly the main force of the rum, unfortunately I think that the usual wonderful balance that we find in Foursquare rums is lost here, it doesn’t know what to do to you; the Madeira wants to be all earthy and nutty and sweet, the bourbon wants to be all toasty and caramelly and something else inside it wants to kill you, but all 3 elements fight each other.

It’s really good, the day Richard Seale puts out a shit rum is the day I find another drink, but I’m looking at a line-up of Foursquare ECS bottles and shrugging with this. Yes I’ll enjoy it massively once Autumn proper starts, and no there isn’t any part of me that regrets buying it, but I just feel like it’s “another” bottle that’s been put out there. Where would I put this in the range of Foursquare bottles? Well you can’t do that really, the goal posts move forward at such a damn rate! I think it’s better than the Sagacity, but not as good as the Hereditas (yes I know they are different rums, but I’m placing it based on the Private Cask Selection and some Madeira).

This was £85, would I get another? Heh, of course. It may not be my favourite bottle of Foursquare rum but in the world of rum it’s still playing a whole other game.

You can pick this up from The Whisky Exchange here:

Foursquare Diadem

Monymusk EMB 9 year old (2010) – Habitation Velier

What is it? Pure Single Rum (100% pot still, molasses based, single distillery) from the Clarendon distillery in Jamaica and bottled under the Monymusk name – you can read a bit more about Monymusk and Clarendon here in this review. The rum was distilled in 2010 after which it was aged tropically for 9 years before being bottled in 2019 for the Habitation Velier series of rums. The aging has taken its toll on the rum with an Angels Share of over 64% lost in that short 9 years. This particular bottling is from the EMB marque of rum meaning it has an ester level of 275.5 g/hlpa – so a mid level range of esters.

Not chill-filtered, not coloured and bottled at 62% abv.

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Woody at first – toasty oak, varnish, furniture glue, toffee, maybe a touch of golden syrup. It’s not an ester bomb that’s for sure but Monymusk rarely are. We’ve got fruit in here though, richer, darker than you’d expect from a Jamaican with prune, plum, black cherry, sultana and dried apricot. There’s a little pineapple hiding in here too but it’s almost candied, some roasted nuts, marzipan, vanilla and dried coconut. Maybe a little note of chocolate here and there but it’s faint. It’s quite fruit cake like on the nose.

Palate: Full mouth feel. We’re at the same party as the nose, which is good. Cherries, figs, prune, black plum and raisin. Some dark chocolate, butterscotch, golden syrup, molasses, dates, flamed oranges – all that deep stuff. There’s a burst of sourness part way which is almost gherkin or caper like, some varnish notes, pear drops, mango and fresher pineapple, but it goes back to the richer side and gets cake’y again.

Finish: Long. Stays as we are here, nothing fancy. Brioche buns, vanilla, chocolate and fruit cake with marzipan again. The odd burst of sourness pops up with brine, some pear drops and mango too but it remains largely darker and cake’y. We get the addition of some rubber gloves and black olives here at the end as things tail off.

Thoughts? Very good. It walks a careful line between Demerara and Jamaica, and it’s definitely more brooding than normal Jamaican rum – it’s a cracker for our shit Autumn weather. Ok, this probably isn’t the “best” Monymusk I’ve ever had, but you often get a bit of a curveball with these Habitation Velier releases and this is one of them. This was a touch over a ton when I bought it, I think it was around £105 or £110.

Would I get another at that price? You know, I really enjoyed this rum but if I were pressed for an answer, no I wouldn’t. There’s just something missing here and I can’t put my finger on it, but if I’m spending over £100 on a bottle I want a little something “extra”.

If you fancy giving this one a go it’s still around on The Whisky Exchange here:

Monymusk EMB 9 year old (2010) – Habitation Velier

 

Or Master Of Malt here:

Monymusk EMB 9 year old (2010) – Habitation Velier

Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 13 year old (2006) – The Whisky Exchange Exclusive

What is it? Pure Single Rum (molasses based, pot still, single distillery) from Saint Lucia Distillers, made on the island of Saint Lucia. The distillery produce a range of rums and one of their brands is Chairman’s Reserve which many people may have seen in supermarkets as simply “Chairman’s Reserve”, a spiced version and also the “Lost Casks”. They have 4 stills at the distillery; a two column still (a Coffey still) and 3 pot stills (2 John Dore stills and a Vendome), this rum is distilled on the John Dore 1 and the Vendome stills and mixed together to form a blend at 50% from each still, at which point it was matured tropically for 13 years in an ex-bourbon cask before being bottled on 16/08/2019. They use sugar cane juice as well as molasses at St Lucia on both of the pot stills that were used for this rum, but the information I have states that this rum is molasses only. This was bottled exclusively for The Whisky Exchange and you don’t see many single cask bottles from St Lucia distillers, so when this popped up I jumped on it.

This single cask rum produced 286 bottles and mine is bottle number 129.

Natural colour, no chill filtration and bottled at 56.3% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Crikey there’s a lot going on in here, it’s massive too; initially notes of thick molasses, raisins, red cherries, hazelnut, walnut and vanilla. Some cigar box notes, light tobacco and sandalwood. Very old balsamic and strong breakfast tea give it a sharp and tannic edge. Then things get phenolic, very phenolic. There’s boot polish, pine resin, eucalyptus, menthol, wood glue, bandages, sticky plasters, iodine, fennel and loads of brine. Right at the end is a floral note, cut flowers I guess, maybe lavender and a touch of herby marjoram.

Palate: Full mouth feel, very dry, tannic and oily. It’s massive in the mouth too, once you get used to it there is a sharp acidity to start with, almost like under ripe nectarine, very sharp. It doesn’t last too long though but it stays medicinal from the nose; licked stamps, TCP, menthol, throat lozenges, liquorice, ginger root, pine sap – like sucking on a damp pine branch – olives and balsamic again. Mid palate brings in the sweeter notes with some dark chocolate, mushy banana, a little papaya, vanilla, leather and sugared almonds. Almost marzipan like.

Finish: Long. Not as medicinal here but it’s still about. More of the sweeter notes and nutty depth with those roasted, caramalised mixed nuts you get a Christmas, raw walnut and candied stem ginger. There’s some sweetness of cherry jam and a cooling feeling of cherry stones which is something I often find in Talisker Scotch whisky. A hint of herbal toffee, iodine and olive brine pop up here and there too, every now and then.

Thoughts? Erm….not what I was expecting. The Vendome still produces a phenolic spirit but this is very intense, it’s almost like a blend of molasses and sugar cane rum and reminds me a lot of some Bellevue rum from Guadeloupe – I did initially question whether this was fully molasses based, but I’ve been told it is, so there we go! I love it. My sway in rum is towards the more savoury side of things anyway so this is right up my street. It’s really quite different to a lot of rum out there but I must say that I’d rather the sharp acidity be dialed down a bit as this is pretty polarizing and takes a while for your palate to adjust, but the flips and playoffs between the sweeter notes and the massive phenols is just ace.

I picked this up for £70 and would again if it were still on sale. As with single casks they come and they go. Recently TWE have had an 8 year old out and there are other single cask exclusives popping up at places like Royal Mile Whiskies so there’s clearly more of this stuff to come.