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 Demerera 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.

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.