Cadenhead’s Classic Rum – 6 year old 2019 release

What is it? A blend of rums done by Cadenhead, and Independent bottler of spirits. This blend is a mixture of molasses based pot and column still rums from Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Panama and was aged in oak casks for 6 years in the UK before it’s release in 2019. For a long time Cadenhead have produced their “Classic Rum” blend and it generally changes year to year, but the type of rum they are aiming to produce remains the same, so if you pick up a bottle from another year chances are it wont be too far from this profile.

Not coloured by Cadenhead, not chill filtered and bottled at 50% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Ah, proper dark rummy rum, in the “Navy” style if you will. Molasses, roasted nuts, soot, boot polish, ink and tar. Certainly some estery notes from the Jamaican element with squishy banana and citrus fruit. There’s some dark chocolate cake here too along with some cinnamon and handful of cloves.

Palate: Full, rich mouth feel. Some black olives, tar and brine at first then richness; coffee beans, cocoa beans, toffee covered banana, liqourice, cinnamon, fudge and a little flamed orange rind. The roasted nuts are still here and a little zing of lime part way keeps it from getting too heavy.

Finish: Long. A little salty brine here but it’s really on the sweeter side as it finishes off with molasses, toffee, strong black and sweet coffee, maybe a really good espresso with a thick crema, dark chocolate and loads of black banana, a little slightly burnt Christmas cake and a touch of charred pineapple right at the end.

Thoughts? Good. A little sweet at times, maybe that’s the Panama or Demerara if it’s been “treated” at the distillery, but I didn’t find any sugar in my hydrometer reading. There are plenty of good flavours going on here and it’s got a lovely body to it so it’s pretty versatile if you wanted to mix it or drink it neat. A proper dark rum without any of the over-the-top colouring nonsense and at 50% it’s good value too for £35. It’s not as good as the 1842 Cask in my view, but it’s cheaper and it is what is it – a consistent, good tasting dark rum.

 

Diamond 11 year old Port Ellen Cask (2008) – Kill Devil

What is it? Pure Single Rum (molasses based, 100% pot still, single distillery) from the Diamond Distillery in Guyana. This rum was distilled on the Port Mourant wooden pot still back in April 2008 and matured in the UK for around 10 years in an ex-bourbon cask, at which point it was transferred over to an ex-oloroso sherry butt for finishing for just under 2 years, after which it was bottled by Hunter Laing for their Kill Devil rum brand. Now this wasn’t any old ex-oloroso butt that Hunter Laing had knocking about, oh no, this was a sherry butt that had been holding Port Ellen single malt Scotch whisky. For those of you that don’t follow whisky, Port Ellen is a bit of a unicorn; it was an Islay distillery that produced a peated single malt (they had their own maltings, which are still used today for malting the barley on Islay for the distilleries there) and closed back in 1983 during an industry wide culling of distilleries. It’s very rare whisky and is now a collectors item, with bottles going for £1000’s. This cask was used to mature Port Ellen whisky for over 34 years, so there is plenty of the spirit soaked into the wood, and this rum is likely to be the closest I’ll ever come to Port Ellen!

One of 690 bottles produced.

Not chill filtered, not coloured and bottled at cask strength of 60.9% abv.

I’ve been waiting to review this Diamond 11 year old Port Ellen Cask Kill Devil for ages, but there’s some type of pandemic going on, my kids are off school, the wife is at home and knocking reviews out…..well…..it’s been on the back burner.

So Port Mourant, in a very old Port Ellen sherry cask, at full blast. Hold on to your hats.

Sugar? No

Nose: Quite rich and full actually, given the very light colour to this whisky. Typical Port Mourant notes of aniseed, fennel and salted liquorice, green olives and brine, crushed sea shells and marine fuel. Then we get the cask. What a cask! Sweet vanilla, a little cinnamon and soft billowing smoke, iodine, tarry ropes on a jetty, smoked lemons and a touch of icing sugar. We’ve also got meaty figs, flame raisins, sultanas and blanched walnuts in there too – that peat from the Port Ellen cask really shows up.

Palate: Full mouth, not as big and rich as the nose though. Holy shit, peat. Immediately the aniseed and liquorice of the rum are joined with thick, salty, medicinal peat smoke. Surgical bandages, sticking plasters, stamp glue, smoked ham, pine sap, menthol and smoke lemons again. The medicinal peat amplifies the fennel and liquorice of the Port Mourant and binds with it – it’s a savoury party in your mouth, hugely phenolic. The notes of new leather, fig and milk chocolate from the sherry butt show up part way just to keep it real, but that tell-tale peaty smoke sits there all the way.

Finish: Long. The smoke billows on and is joined by sweeter notes of milk chocolate, lemons covered with icing sugar, roasted walnuts, smoked fennel, pan-fried green banana and even a little butterscotch. There’s the odd tang of olive and bitter liquorice root that pops up during the course but it tends to stay sweeter and less phenolic here.

Thoughts? Rumsky! Give it to a whisky drinker and they’d tell you it was the latest Ardbeg release (whatever thing they were doing that year). That Port Ellen cask is magnificent, what I’d have given to actually have tried the whisky. There is so much character with peat, smoke and sherry that comes through to the rum even with such a short finishing period. The cask really compliments the savoury side of the Port Mourant, sure it’s dominant but it doesn’t over shadow the rum, it binds and amplifies it into one harmonious thing.

Ardbeg released a young whisky finished in rum casks some time back (Ardbeg Drum), it was the same price as this and it was shit. 1-nil to the rum world I’d say.

Right, £90. Yes, an expensive 11 year old European aged rum, but you’re paying for the cask it’s been sat in for that 2 years so that’s just how it goes I’m affraid. As I say, the closest I’ll ever get to Port Ellen. I think it’s wonderful, but it’s not going to be for everyone this, I happen to really like peated Scotch, and if you don’t then probably give it a miss. I feel lucky to have been able to get hold of a bottle and I’d buy it again.

Pusser’s 50th Anniversary Rum

What is it? Pusser’s is a brand of rum synonymous with the British Royal Navy and they play heavily on the navy theme and certainly produce what most people would call a “Navy” style rum – all very interesting given that the company was formed in the late 70’s and the Navy rum ration was stopped in 1970……but there you go. Pusser’s claim to follow the recipe for British Navy rum and historically this has contained a mixture of rums mainly from Guyana and Trinidad. Over the years the blend has changed somewhat with more recent versions of their Gunpowder Proof sourcing entirely from Guyana – I understand there used to be Caroni in the blend and for obvious reasons (they’re closed and the rum costs a shit ton of money) they don’t use it anymore. This rum, however, is a different story; what we have here is a rum released by Pusser’s to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Black Tot Day – ceasing of the rum ration – which was 31st July 1970. For this rum Pusser’s claim to have made a blend to the exact specifications of the Admiralty at the time the rum ration was stopped and does state that it is a blend of rums from Guyana AND Trinidad (is it going to have any Caroni in here? Probably not). The blend consists of 5 stills, 3 from Guyana (Port Mourant, Versailles and probably the Enmore still given it’s ability to produce a very heavy modified Navy component) and 2 from Trinidad. The rum is then aged for an unspecified time, which after some time researching looks to be around 7 or 8 years, which I would assume to be tropically.

This is a limited edition rum released in 2020 and consists of 5000 bottles with mine being bottle number 1776.

We don’t know if this is chill-filtered (I hope not), it is coloured and bottled at 54.5% abv.

Sugar? Yes, there is around 10g/l in here. Now the jury is out on whether this was done by Pusser’s or not as their website states they do not add sugar, but there is definitely some in here. As the blend relies heavily on rum from DDL (Demerara Distillers Limited) this could be the kicker; they are widely known to pre-colour and pre-sugar their rums in the cask before it’s sold on. They also coat some casks inside with molasses prior to cask fill, so it’s entirely possible that Pusser’s are being truthful and did not add anything – it may have been done at source by the distillers.

Nose: Yep, Pusser’s. At first glance it’s your usual Pusser’s nose, but quite quickly it becomes evident that it’s something more; it’s all grown up and very serious. Black boot polish, liquorice, aniseed balls, Bournville dark chocolate, nutmeg, flamed orange rind, wet leaves, mushrooms and a touch of brine. There’s walnut cake, banana bread, rich molasses and black coffee in here too and a lovely distant note of old diesel engines firing up. There’s a slight touch of spent matches at the end, but it doesn’t spoil anything.

Palate: Thick, rich and coating. Exactly what I was expecting, although it is a little sweet and a touch too much viscosity which is more than I’d hoped given the low sugar reading….hmmmm….treacle toffee, molasses, Java coffee but with milk this time, dark chocolate, prunes, tobacco smoke, caramalised banana on burnt toast with maple syrup. Those soft chew black liquorice sweets, salted plums, soaked porcini mushrooms, brine, rosemary and sage jelly. Things get a little bitter as it tails off, it’s touching on too much bitterness but just about manages to stay on the right side of ok.

Finish: Medium, not the best bit. Still molasses, but bitter, treacle, fig, dark chocolate, yeasty Marmite or Bovril, strong breakfast tea, aniseed, some salted banana and liquorice – less than the palate but it’s still there, more of a root here than a sweet.

Thoughts? Really good. The finish lets things down a little but on the whole it’s a very good rum. It’s almost a mix of the old 15 year old and the Gunpowder Proof, it feels like Pusser’s come of age. If this were a permanent bottle in the line-up I’d have one on my shelf at all times, it’s really what Pusser’s should be and a must for anyone who is into their Navy style rums – it is exactly what you’d expect a Navy rum to be like. The problem is that this will never be a permanent member of the range as it’d simply make both the 15 year old and the Gunpower Proof obsolete! I’d like to see this with zero added sugar and hopefully that’d sort out the lackadaisical finish.

This was £50, which I think is spot on for what you get.

Cadenhead’s 1842 Cask Rum

October in the UK. The weather is shit and it’s getting dark early, time for something a little more…….robust.

What is it? Who knows! Basically, Cask 1842 Rum is a rum from Independent bottlers Cadenhead, who do a whole range of whiskies, rums and other goodies. They own Springbank whisky in Campbeltown and are very active in sourcing and bottling their own range of spirits in various guises, from single casks to various small batches. As part of their range of spirits they offer “Cask 1842”, now this is not just a rum, they do the range for whiskies also, so don’t get confused. They have a “live” cask in the shop in Campbeltown for each of their offerings, in the case of this review it’s for their rum. A “live” cask is basically a quarter cask that is filled with a mixture of rums and left, once it gets about half empty they top it up with more rum, from whatever they have that they think with go well in the mix. They mix it around, leave it for a bit and then start to bottle again, once it gets half empty they top it up with some more rum. The result of this is that there’s some rum sloshing around in the cask from way back when, and quarter casks are smaller than your standard barrel so there is quicker wood interaction.

Naturally, there is no age statement on the bottle as it changes all the time depending what has been put in and given the nature of what’s being done with it, age statements are largely irrelevant. I’ve been told that all the rums in the cask are all “dark” rums from Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica and that over the years some very old and rare rum has gone into the cask; 30 year old stuff and some Caroni for example, back when old Demerara rums were easy and cheap to come by!

This is a review of an 1842 Cask Rum that was bottled on 5/11/2018.

Natural colour, not chill filtered and bottled at 56.6% abv.

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Smells like a big, rich Demerara at first; dark roasted coffee beans (something like the heavy roast Monsooned Malabar that I’m currently drinking), soft eating liquorice, boot polish, black olives and thick molasses or treacle. Vanilla, coconut and bourbon cask caramels pop up along with a nice little lift of lime juice and fresh pineapple. There is a little banana here and there, tar and a salty note that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Palate: Full, oily mouth feel, chewy. Yeah, heavy on the Demerara that’s for sure, very “British Navy” style I guess you could say. Chewing new leather, some rolling tobacco, treacle toffee, big black raisins, deep brown muscavado sugar, liquorice and blackberries. There’s a touch of fig, black cherry, dark chocolate (like an unsweet Black Forest cake, if it was possible), some banana and salty black olives again. The lime lift shows up here too just to freshen the palate and stop it getting bogged down.

Finish: Long. Liquorice again, bitters a little with walnuts, black coffee (more of a Sumatran this time), very dark chocolate, smoky sweet cigars and a bit of a savoury note I can’t pinpoint – it’s almost like a ham I had once that was covered in treacle, porter ale and smoked – it’s bitter, sweet and meaty all at the same time, really hard to explain.

Thoughts? I love this. It doesn’t have much balance, why would it, it’s bits of casks that have been chucked into another cask over years and years, but it’s got big and bold flavours, and a huge richness. I really like the idea of a live cask, and you can see how it changes over the years with each release, plus I know some very good rums have gone into this; it’s not a load of leftovers. A great winter rum by all accounts.

So I paid £48 for this, that’s a lot of money for a NAS rum, but given I know Cadenhead and the provenance of some of the rums that have gone into this over the years I’m happy to pay it. The only thing to watch, as always with Cadenhead, is their bloody delivery charges! If you’re going to order something from them then it’s worth batching up several bottles to justify the charges. I’ll be getting the next batch when it’s bottled, that’s for sure.

 

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.