Uitvlugt 17 year old – 1999 – (MPM Port Mourant still) – WhiskyBroker

What is it? A single cask rum from Guyana, distilled from molasses at the Uitvlugt Distillery on the double wooden pot still of Port Mourant – as I’ve already covered a few times, the various stills which are now resident at the Diamond Distillery have moved to various other distilleries over time and so is the case with the Port Mourant still; it was at Uitvlugt during the time this rum was distilled and moved on to Diamond in 2000. So, it’s an “Uitvlugt” but it’s actually a Port Mourant.

This rum was distilled and filled into barrel 18 in December 1999 where it aged for 17 years until it was bottled on 9th February 2017. From what I can tell from the tasting this was matured in Europe and not the tropics.

My bottle is number 29 of 149 – this seems like a low number of bottles from what appears to be an ex-bourbon cask, however there is a bottling of Rabbies Rum by TheWhiskyBarrel that is exactly the same barrel number, fill and bottle date as well as abv so it looks like the cask was split between TWB and WhiskyBroker.

Not coloured, not filtered and bottled at full proof of 60.8% abv.

Sugar? Nope.

I’ve been drinking this with water at about 55-57% abv so the review is based on that.

Nose: Aniseed, light liquorice, fennel, olive oil, white spirit – the expected start really. On to WD40, old tyres, plaster, concrete dust, soil and some candle wax; it’s a dirty old rum this one, lacking fruit and freshness but sometimes dirty is good….There is some thinned out toffee and maybe a hint of golden syrup, a spiced honey which is almost like a honey glazed ham. Very Islay whisky in style. Deeper down there are some smoky pipe notes/barrel char and some sourness or bitterness which reminds me of sour cherry stones.

Palate: Medium mouth feel. Tarry, rubbery, engine oil, the licked back of a stamp, sticking plasters (BandAids for our American friends) – very phenolic at first. Hello, some fruit! Sourness at the start with lemons but then it sweetens a little, olive oil again, limes maybe, a touch of dried apricot and a good handful if salt and pepper crumb you get on fish.

Finish: Long, Ah, there is almost a chilli kick and then cooling feeling with cherry stones and chalky tablets as it moves from the palate to the finish; very similar to a Talisker single malt whisky actually, uncannily so. As it leaves there are some green bananas, limes, a little aniseed and a touch of runny honey.

Thoughts? Off balance and totally clearly a single cask. This rum lacks any real fruit and freshness, and it’s not a typical Port Mourant, however it’s certainly not a “bad” rum. This is an MPM cask, so it was always going to be of a different style and should not be compared to a “bigger” Port Mourant; it’s very mineral, phenolic and spirit forward which is just the kind of spirit I like. It reminds me a lot of my whisky drinking past, but it’s not going to be right for every rum drinker out there, you’ve got to know what you like and know you like this type of rum to “get” this.

A nice change up and one I’m very glad I picked up for the £55 it cost me – damn good value for money if you ask me. Well done once more Whisky Broker.

 

Uitvlugt 18 year old (1997) – Duncan Taylor single cask number 13

What is it? Single cask rum, from molasses. distilled at the Uitvlugt distillery in Guyana. It was distilled in November 1997, aged for 18 years (looks to be European aged) and bottled in February 2016 by independent bottlers Duncan Taylor. This is from Cask number 13 and 304 bottles were produced.

No chill filtration, no added colouring and bottled at full proof of 53.5% abv.

Facts of out the way, now here’s where it starts to get a little confusing. As anyone who has more than a passing interest in rum will know, Demerara rum (especially single cask stuff) is a mine field; stills from various distilleries have been moved around various other distilleries during the years and most of them have ended up at Diamond, on their journey there have been periods where certain stills have been at certain distilleries and produced rum. Rather than the distillery that this rum has come from, what we really want to know as rum enthusiasts is the still that this was produced on – well we just don’t know. I’ve contacted Duncan Taylor for some more information, maybe a cask marque or anything, about which still this was produced on, but I’ve not had a reply – I guess they just don’t know. All that this bottle says is “pot” still.

Now, the original stills at Uitvlugt were four-column Savalle stills, there has also been a Blair continuous still and the single wooden pot still (Versailles still) passed through, however the back of the bottle states there was also a copper pot still…..I’ve been searching long and hard through quite a bit of documentation on this and the only mention I can find of a copper pot still is that a John Dore high ester copper pot was in circulation through various distilleries. There is no definitive information that this John Dore pot still was ever at Uitvulgt but I know for certain that the Versailles wooden pot still was there; it was moved from Enmore to Uitvulgt in 1993 and didn’t get moved on to Diamond until Uitvlugt closed later on. So was this distilled on some hardly mentioned John Dore high ester still or was it in fact distilled on the Versailles still? Dunno. Lets see how the tasting goes…..

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Bananas, pineapple, soft brown sugar, marzipan, some smoky lemon and a little bit of funk (!) – it’s actually pretty fruity at the start, estery and quite Jamaican. Interesting. There is some lovely soft oak, white pepper, very light liquorice and some salty, pickled note like capers. This is not a heavy Demerara, it’s got an almost whisky like nose with the oak coming out more with time.

Palate: Medium mouth feel, more towards thin if anything. Fruity at first, lots of that banana and mango even, some light honey. Heat of oak with the white pepper again and some pencil shavings. Things then go south quite soon after and it starts to get sour with gurkins, capers, green raw oak – it totally looses steam and becomes fairly astringent.

Finish: Medium. Oaky, still sour and then some light smoke/char, fresh liquorice, brine and maybe a little honey just holding out. Not really the best bit.

Thoughts: Weird rum. It can’t decide what it is; fruity? Savoury? It doesn’t know. Honestly not the best cask of rum I’ve had, but a fine example of a single cask non the less – 100% singular and divisive, not blended out.

 

Ok, that was disappointing. However, I’ve been playing with this one for quite some time and adding water to see what it does. Usually I don’t add water for tasting notes and certainly not to something that’s a measly 53.5%, but benefit of the doubt and all that – here is with some water:

Nose: Quite like before, but the pickle notes are gone and everything is smoky; charred oak, smoked pineapple, burnt banana, honey on burnt toast. Much more depth and “thicker”, “rounder” nose.

Palate: Waaaaaayy better. Thicker mouth feel, less astringent and really quite fruity now. The sourness is almost gone, more honey, sugar cane, sweet grasses and some lavender. Oaky a bit still and a prickle of heat as you swallow.

Finish: Longer, softer oak but still with the spices. Some more wet wood and green oak here but much more restrained and less intrusive. Sweeter liquorice and some trailing banana.

Thoughts now? Wow. What a difference a few drops of water makes. I’ve literally added about half a teaspoon to a good double measure of rum and it’s totally transformed. From a flop to an interesting and complex sipper. Look, I’m not sure I’d blow £80 on this again, it’s just not good enough, but I don’t regret the purchase. Certainly not an easy rum.

Oh, and still? It does have some estery notes but it’s not a high ester rum, it shares far more in common with the Bristol Spirits 20yo Enmore – so I think it’s probably from the Versailles still and destined for some blending.

Enmore 1988/2008 – Bristol Spirits

20160621_201217What is it? Molasses base rum from Guyana. This was distilled at the Enmore distillery in 1988 and bottled by Bristol Spirits in 2008, making it around 20 years old, with the vast majority of the aging done in the UK and in ex-bourbon casks. Demerera distilleries are a bit hard to fathom out; the Enmore still (EHP) is a wooden Coffey still (column still) but the Bristol Spirits website says that this was produced on a pot still. Now there was a pot still at the Enmore distillery in 1988; the Versaille wooden pot still was moved from Versaille to Enmore in 1977 and then on to Uitvlugt in 1993, so in 1988 (when this was distilled) the Versaille still was at Enmore and in operation. As Bristol has said that this rum comes from a pot still then it has to have come from the Versaille still.

Chill filtered (I’d guess), bottled at 43% abv and no details on colouring. Whilst colouring is sometimes added to Bristol bottlings this has a very light colour and quite light for 20 years in oak, so I don’t think it’s been coloured.

Sugar? No

Nose: Raw, grassy, cane juice – very little oak at all. Seaside notes of brine, seaweed and dried, salted fish. Limes and some green olives. The more it’s sat in the glass the dustier it gets; Garam Masala, paprika and turmeric, but like they’ve been open too long and smell musty rather than pungent. A bit of paint thinner, petrol and a tiny hint of toffee sauce in the distance.

Palate: Light touching medium. Dry entry, slightly sour and acidic, not all that pleasant on delivery really. 20 years old? I can’t find many years in this rum, palate or nose wise. Those spices from the nose but dusty and powdery again, like if you cook a curry and don’t fry off the spices first, they taste raw at the end. A little oak appears here, eventually, with some light vanilla tucked away, but it’s a brief passing.

Finish: Pretty short. Lingering spices, hot, alcoholic vapour. Still fusty and dusty, sour again as it ends – luckily it doesn’t last long as the finish isn’t really the best bit. 20 years old? Really?

Thoughts? I’ll set my stall out right away; it’s too expensive. Don’t get me wrong, a 20 year old “Versaille” for £95 seems quite reasonable when you look at the price of the official DDL bottle from the same still, but you have to bear in mind that the DDL bottling is full proof and 100% tropically aged. This is a very different rum. So, price aside, is it a rum worth buying? Well it all depends on your taste preference and what you want to get from the experience – for me, no, it’s not. As interesting as this is to drink it’s a bit too “out there”, the flavours aren’t right, it’s out of balance and far to raw for my liking. I’m not sure if something went wrong in the distillation or if there were cask issues during maturation, but something just isn’t right with this rum – given the lack of aging evidence when tasting I’d wager that the casks were well past it (probably 4th or 5th fill); if put bad spirit into good casks and you get average results, however if you put good spirit into bad cask you get a bad result. Now this isn’t a “bad” rum, it’s just not benefited from the effects of maturation, which has left a bit of a FrankenRum. It’s probably all sold out now, but that aside it’s not something I’d consider spending £95 on again.

 

Diamond 12 year old (2004) – Whiskybroker

20170106_152108What is it? A single cask rum from Guyana, distilled from molasses at the Diamond Distillery on the Enmore wooden Coffey still. Cask marque for this is MDXC, which there is very little information about; it’s likely a heavy variant (the Enmore still can produce many styles of rum) that was intended for a Navy blend. This was bottled by Whiskybroker as their first rum bottling in a line-up of several rums. My bottle is number 149 of 264.

Not chill filtered, no colour added at bottling* and at a very healthy 63.5% abv.

*This has not been coloured by Whiskybroker, however, DDL are known for adding colour to some of their rums at the point they cask fill. This rum is far too dark to be uncoloured, especially at 12 years old with a portion of European aging, so it’s very likely this was coloured at the distillery when it was filled into cask.

Sugar? No. This was tested by Wes over at thefatrumpirate and came back as zero sugar. I’m certainly not getting any on tasting.

Note: Now, I don’t routinely add water when I drink or taste spirits, however at 63.5% it’s pushing things a little. Don’t get me wrong, you can drink this neat and it’s very easy to do so, but if you want to get the most of out it then it needs to be taken down a bit. I’ve dropped the abv to about 55% (or there abouts) and it’s how I’ve been drinking it since I’ve opened it. Swims like a fish and makes a massive difference.

Nose: Big and pungent, as you’d expect. Coffee beans (freshly roasted), dark chocolate, fudge, black liquorice. Crushed black olives, tar – definite phenolic notes deep in here. Burnt brown sugar (Demerara, oddly enough), my old leather boots that are caked in dry mud, tobacco, barbequed meat and a dollop of charred oak. Under the heavy weight smells are some lovely cane’y, grassy smells and some dried herbs.

Palate: Perfect mouth feel, not too thick, not too thin and a great weight. Dry entry with sugar cane, olives, brine, fenel, cut flowers (if you could taste them) and then things gets all big; bitter liquorice, chocolate and coffee. This progresses and it intensifies with raisins, salted beef, maybe even jerky and wood sap.

Finish: Long. Not as long as I was expecting given the palate and abv, but long none the less. That sappy, bitter and slightly sour note dominates along with the black liquorice, a touch of unsweetened black coffee and a handful of roasted walnuts at the end. Very pleasant but the finish doesn’t really add anything extra to the whole thing other than carrying on the lovely flavours from the palate.

Thoughts? Wow, very good. First review of 2017 and I’m glad it’s turned out this way, what a flavour! I think that this was originally destined for a Navy blend as I’m getting a shed load of Pusser’s from this, and that may well be where this was intended for by the distillers, given the flavour profile and the colour that was added (pure speculation on my behalf). This is £45, for a single cask, at 12 years old and at full proof; for a first bottling by a whisky bottler it’s superb and the profile of this rum is right up my street. Normally I don’t do repeat buys (too much rum, too much time and not a big enough budget), but I’ll be getting more bottles of this….well, as long as they have some left!

Well done Whiskybroker, more of the same please!

El Dorado 21 year old review

20160519_120833Ok, so it’s about time I got around to this, having done the 12yo and the 15yo, given that this is the “daddy” if you will. Another one of those rums that seems to pick up zillions of “awards” by “experts”. I’m pretty sure I know what I’m about to get with this one as I’ve read many a review on this myself. Here we go.

What is it? Guyanese rum blended from 3 stills that are now operated by DDL (Demerara Distillers Limited); the dominant component being from the Albion Still (four-column Savalle still). The other 2 stills included in the blend are from the Enmore Still (wooden Coffey still) and the Versailles Still (single wood pot still). At least 21 years old. Molasses based.

43% abv, coloured, filtered.

Sugar? Yep. Of course. It’s an El Dorado. Online sugar test data shows anywhere between 16 grams/litre and 33 grams/litre, so we’ll go in the middle and call it “some”. It appears to have less than both the 12 and the 15 year old, which can only be a good thing. There also seems to be some variation by batch.

Nose: Lots of oak and your typical Demerara straight away with liquorice, aniseed and a little bit of tar. The brown sugar you use to make cakes with, infact….yes, overcooked and slightly caught fruit cake. Molasses, blackberry jam, prunes, bananas, black coffee and a little bit of smoke. There are some woody spices in there too, your typical cinnamon and clove while a slight mentholly note picks things up a bit. Pretty complex actually and a fair bit lighter (well, less “heavy”) than the 15 year old. Oh, a nice bit of worn leather pops up after a while too. There is a good bit of age on the nose.

Palate: Sweet delivery and semi-viscous mouth feel. Not as bad as I was expecting given I know this is loaded with sugar. Herbal, minty, banana liqueur, prunes, figs, dates, maybe a hint of orange/marmalade. Lighter liquorice, slightly bitter coffee, actually there is a fair amount of bitterness given the sugar levels (too much cask?), black cherry jam and a touch of earthy mushroom. Pretty complex despite the meddling.

Finish: Medium to long, quite sappy and actually bitters off with some strong oak. Touches of leather, cigar smoke and a burst of bitter orange marmalade, some black coffee and a handful of fresh herbs. Ends with that fuzzy buzz you get with altered rum and the lingering taste is a confusing mix of sweet and bitter that’s not entirely pleasant nor is it unpleasant.

Thoughts? It’s a pretty good rum. I don’t taste rum blind because I drink what I’ve bought and I know what I’ve poured into my glass, and this can cause a problem. The problem is expectation. I expect this to be very good, it’s quite expensive (£80) and it’s won loads of awards, but at the same time I know it’s loaded with added sugar which I generally don’t enjoy as a rule. So what do I do? I’m judging this before I’ve even tried it and I’m not any wiser after having tried it. I don’t think it’s one of the best rums in the world, even if I was a sugar fiend there are “better” ones out there. Sure, it’s more complex than the 15 year old, it’s got less sugar and that’s good, but personally I’d take the 15 year old over this (or buy 2 bottles for the same price). In my view it’s not twice as good and the Port Mourant still in the 15 gives it the oomph it needs.