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.

Bank’s Connoisseur’s Cut Guyana – Malt Whisky Cask

What is it? Guyanese rum from the Port Mourant Estate, distilled from molasses in the double wooden pot still – so Pure Single Rum. The cask marque is MPMM, which I don’t have too much information on, other than there are many Indie bottlings of Port Mourant marked “MPM” and I believe this means “Main Port Mourant”. This rum was distilled in 1997 where it was matured in ex-bourbon casks for 2 years before being moved over to ex-Malt Whisky casks in 2000. The bottling was done in July 2013 – which makes this rum 15 or 16 years old (depending on the exact distillation and bottling dates). It was part of an outrun of 205 bottles released and going off the taste profile and colour, aged in Europe somewhere (purely speculation on my part).

Natural colour, no chill filtering and bottled at cask strength of 59.58% abv.

Sugar? No.

For the record, I’ve taken this down to about 55% abv as that is the strength I’ve been drinking it at consistently. Nearly 60% abv makes it too narrow and tight, so the flavours just aren’t giving themselves up enough.

Nose: Aniseed, fennel seeds, black olives in brine, capers, shells and rock pools. A handful of dried anchovies and some distant tar. Very savoury and herbal that’s for sure! There is some dried banana and pineapple but drizzled in some type of liquorice sauce, a little sharp gooseberry and mango that has gone off and is fizzy sour. At the back there is a little warm oak, but faint and distant, runny honey and a malty flat beer like note. A scattering of almonds finish it off.

Palate: Full, intense mouth, oily. We’re right back with the nose here; anchovies, capers, seawater. salty olive, olive oil and fresh liquorice root. There is that tarry, oily, WD40 note in here, some faint sweet tobacco smoke and a burst of citrus fruit, but savoury like a smoked and salted box of lemons and limes. Slightly sour too with those gooseberries. There is some cask sweetness here towards the end with thin caramel, honey and a touch of cinnamon.

Finish: Long indeed. Again tar, liquorice and brine. It’s sweeter here though, allowing those honeys, caramels and roasted malty/sweet beer notes to show – I’m definitely picking up some Speyside whisky flavours in the finish. Some nice fresh banana notes pop up, slices of pineapple and green apple too.

Thoughts? Excellent. It’s got some powerful fresh and raw Port Mourant notes to it but you can tell it’s a lot more complex, it’s see time in oak even though the cask isn’t very evident, it tames the spirit. It’s a very intense rum and for £100 it was very pricey at the time I bought this, however, looking at what Independent full proof aged Port Mourants go for now, it seems about right….

I can’t decide if i like this better than the Cognac cask. It’s sweeter. My first thoughts were “it’s better” but with time I’m not sure. The oak/cask on the Cognac cask seemed to have more effect on the rum, which I think is what it needs.

Would I buy this again? Probably. Is it a rum for everyone? No. It’s very focused in what is presents and isn’t for your casual drinker.

Mezan Guyana 2005 (Port Mourant)

What is it? This rum is a molasses based rum from the Diamond distillery in Guyana, specifically from the Port Mourant double wooden pot still – making this a Pure Single Rum . It was distilled in 2005 and I believe it was bottled in 2015/2016 making the rum 10 years of age. Recently Mezan have changed their labelling to show more information on ageing and bottling, but this is an old bottle so there isn’t much to go off. From what I understand, and certainly get from the tasting, is that this is European aged rum.

Not coloured, not chill filtered and bottled at 40% abv.

Nose: Quite pungent, you can smell it from quite a way off, so I’ve high hopes for this. Really fruity at the start with bananas, guava, papaya, a lovely light blossom honey and a whole host of fresh flowers – summer in a glass! The deeper in you get it starts to show it’s savoury side with aniseed, red peppers, fennel seeds, light liquorice, liquorice root, fresh ginger and menthol.

Palate: Medium mouth. Not so much fruit here, lots of fennel tea, aniseed balls, ginger again, brine, shellfish and some tarragon. It’s very herbal and really quite spicy. There is a dried banana note in there and a touch of sharp mango, but not much.

Finish: Medium. Spicy from the ginger and white pepper, but there is a softer more buttery side as it progresses, a little horseradish sauce. Fruitier at the end with lots more bananas and that guava. A slight tannic note is the only evidence of any age.

Thoughts? Lovely nose but the palate and finish let it down. There are some good flavours and a bit of complexity but it feels too young. It’s very spirit driven, which is fine, but it needs to be approaching 50% abv if they’re relying on it’s spirit character alone. I’d say it needed fresher casks really to add more depth into the rum.

This cost me £35 back in 2017, which is a good solid buy and something a little different; naturally presented “raw” rum. I’m not sure I’d be buying this again though, even if there were any left about.

Dark Overproof – Kill Devil

What is it? This is a blended rum put together by Hunter Laing for their Kill Devil range of rums. The blend, at least as far this particular bottling is concerned, is comprised of aged rums from Guyana and Jamaica; there are no details of specifically which distilleries these base rums come from or any details on ageing – I have spoken to Hunter Laing about it but naturally (for commercial reasons) they cannot divulge their blend recipe, which is fair enough. I must note at this point, that the rum is actually quite dark, I know that it’s not very old and Hunter Laing have not added any colouring – this is because some of the rum (I’ll take a guess at the Guyanese aspect) has been coloured at source when it was put into cask. DDL are quite known for doing this so it’s no surprise, please be re-assured that HL have not coloured it.

No details provided on chill-filtration, it has been coloured by DDL at source and it’s bottled at 57% abv.

Sugar? None will have been added by Hunter Laing, but I can’t confirm lack of sugar as it’s possible that DDL have had a little play with the source rum – they sometimes coat the inside of casks with molasses prior to filling and this would add sugar into the rum when it ages…..I really need to get one of those hydrometer thingies.

Nose: Very hot on the nose, don’t get too far into the glass with this! Immediately very funky; blackened bananas, pineapple cube sweets, tinned apricots and some lime zest. Probably young Hampden making up a large part of the Jamaican aspect of the blend I’d guess. Next to this funk sits in some deeper, murkier, dirtier notes from the Demerara rum with shoe polish, coffee beans, black eating liquorice and charcoal, maybe some smoky tobacco in there too. There is a little lift of mint the more I nose this which freshens it up.

Palate: Hot, as you’d expect. Good weighted mouthfeel and coats well. Feels a little sweet at first. Ah yes, here we go, almost certain we’re talking young Hampden in here, it blends better on the palate then the nose with a toffee’d banana, chocolate covered coffee bean and pineapple fudge. There is a salty lime note through it which cuts any sweetness, a touch of engine oil (well, what the smell tastes like, if you get me), a little pine sap and a beef brisket that is smoking on a BBQ 2 doors down.

Finish: Medium, just about. Pretty much a combination of the nose and the palate, little newness added here; black coffee, some dark chocolate maybe, tobacco smoke, a little liquorice, leather maybe and plenty of over ripe bananas at the end.

Thoughts? Quite intense, young, fruity and weighty – a good Navy overproof blend. It’s fruitier and lighter than many “Navy” blends out there but it does have those dirtier notes too. If I’m being honest I’m a bit disappointed in the finish, it’s not very long nor does it add anything more to what’s already going on. I imagine this would be very good in a cocktail or with cola, and frankly it’s also pretty good sipped.

I’m sure we’ve got Hampden and heavy variant of Enmore in here as the 2 main rums, at a young age, maybe some Port Mourant too for good measure. Given that, the abv and the price of around £35, I think it’s a good buy and value for money. If I was after a really good overproof navy blend this is exactly what I’d pick up again.

 

Pusser’s Gunpowder Proof – Black Label

What is it? Well, it’s a blended rum produced by Pusser’s. Pusser’s was founded in 1979 and has the rights to the blending information used for the original British Naval rum, the intention is that they produce a rum which is as close to the original Naval rum as possible given current global rum stocks and availability. The blend isn’t widely known, but from what I understand used to be mainly made up of rum from Guyana and Trinidad, I’ve seen bottles saying this on but my bottle only says “product of Guyana” so I’m guessing the blend has changed a little. Pusser’s state the blend is “predominately pot still” and I understand this to be from the Port Mourant wooden pot still. Naturally, Pusser’s keep their cards close to their chest so we’re working off online research, hearsay and guess work….as far as I’m concerned it’s fairly young rum, blended.

Coloured, chill filtered and bottled at 54.5% abv. Now this isn’t gunpowder proof. The term “gunpowder proof” refers to a strength by which grains of gunpowder that are soaked in the rum will ignite, which is actually 57% abv or 100 degrees British proof. The term “proof” comes from the rum being proven to be full strength.

Sugar? Yes, I’m afraid so. Only around 7 g/l, which isn’t really that much so we’ll let them off.

Nose: Big and rich, dark molasses, liquorice, aniseed balls and Big Red gum. Treacle, actually more creamy so maybe treacle toffee that you get on bonfire night, and thick butterscotch. Shoe polish, lots of black coffee and a little vanilla creeps in. There are slight herbal notes of marjoram, olives and a touch of an old boat engine. Not hugely complex but plenty going on. This is pretty much the exact smell I was expecting from a Naval rum.

Palate: Thick mouth feel, hmmm, this is pretty viscous and feels a lot sweeter than the sugar data would imply. Something not all too “natural” about this. Yep, as goes the nose so goes the palate; treacle toffees, over brewed black coffee, molasses, caramels and prunes. Very heavy and too much on the sweeter side for me. Some good notes of dirt/soil, burnt toast, shoe polish, mushrooms and pipe tobacco.

Finish: Medium length, a bit sticky. Molasses again with the treacle. A sugary buzz and flattening of the finish….but still some good flavours with dark chocolate, figs and Marmite. It’s young rum, not massively complex and pretty much follows the nose and palate.

Thoughts? As I expected really and very typical of my thoughts of a “Navy” rum. Certainly not the most complex rum in the world but it’s a real Ronseal rum (it does what it says on the tin), which is fine by me because that’s what I bought it for. I’m not sure if this purpose of this rum is to mix into cocktails or not but it does sip very well and for the price I wouldn’t really want to be mixing it anyway, I’d use Wood’s 100 or Goslings if I wanted a Navy mixing rum.

Look, I don’t have an issue with less complex rums that have been “concocted” a little, I just want to know what I’m buying and be able to make an informed decision. I decided to buy this based on what I thought I’d get and it totally delivered, so I’m happy with that. At £30 it was a pretty decent buy too and worth it in my opinion.