Monymusk 12 year old (2003) – Duncan Taylor

What is it? The Duncan Taylor Monymusk 12 year old (2003) is a single cask Jamaican Pure Single Rum (100% Pot still, from molasses, produced at one distillery) from the “Monymusk” distillery. Monymusk isn’t actually a distillery, it’s a brand or type of rum that is produced at the Clarendon distillery in Jamaica – their 100% pot still rum. You can read a lot more about the Monymusk brand and Clarendon in this review; which is of a 9 year old bottled by Kill Devil.

This rum was distilled in August 2003 and bottled in February 2016 by independent bottler Duncan Taylor, making it 12 years old. No details on the location of the maturation but going from from own historic reviews of Duncan Taylor bottles, the colour and taste profile I’d say it was matured in Europe. This bottle is one of 194 bottles from cask number 2. No details on the cask marque or ester levels for this.

Not coloured, not chill-filtered and bottled a cask strength of 52.1% abv.

So, molasses based, 100% pot still Jamaican rum at cask strength. Proper rum then. Perfect. On to the review:

Sugar? No

Nose: Ah, beautiful. We’ve got a soft Jamaican here, but don’t be fooled; there is some ester’y goodness inside lying in wait. Baked bananas drizzled with honey, golden syrup and salted butter. Pineapple jam spread on toasted brioche, toffee and pecan yum-yums and churros straight out of the oil. There is some fresh papaya, pear and lime lifting it up and a grungy smell of shipyards with old ropes, a little tar, distant boat engines and salty sea spray. Right at the back there is some oak evident but it’s pretty mild and doesn’t really impose any will on the rum here.

Palate: Full, rich and oily. A lot more savoury than the nose; olives, olive oil, sticking plasters, salted butter and maybe even a little seaweed. Very little spice, maybe a touch of white pepper but for 52% abv its not hot at all. At the back of the palate things sweeten again to light toffee sauce, maybe butterscotch, green bananas, orange rind and some fresh strawberries, of all things.

Finish: Medium to long. Carries on where the palate left off with sweeter notes, more strawberries, tangerines, cantaloupe melon, mango, limes and a funny sort of salted vanilla. There is a hint of rubber bands and olive oil right at the end.

Thoughts? Delicious. A lighter “heavy” rum if you will. Really good pot still notes, some good esters and amazing texture/mouth feel but plays it with a sweeter, more approachable side. I really like this softer Jamaican pot still stuff, lots of complexity and flavour without blowing your head off. Jamaican rum doesn’t need to be maximum ester, 100% of the time.

I picked this up for £60(!) at the time – late 2017 – and it’s a bargain. I’d easily buy this again at that price, although I suspect it’s likely to have gone up a bit now if there are any left about. I saw one recently (March 2019) for £80, which I think is pushing things a little too far. You’re getting into a different price category altogether there.

 

Mezan Jamaica 2005 (Worthy Park)

What is it? Jamaican Pure Single Rum, so molasses based, distilled at the Worthy Park distillery, in Jamaica, on a pot still in 2005 and bottled by Independent bottler Mezan in around 2015/2016, making this approx 10 years old. You may see another of these 2005 Jamaica’s around at the moment, that is a more recent bottling (2017) and bottled at a higher abv of 46% abv. From what I understand this rum was entirely matured in Europe. There are no details on the bottle outrun or the marque that has gone into this bottling, and I’ve not been able to find that information out anywhere either.

Not coloured or chill filtered and bottled at 40% abv. It’s ok, Mezan have done away with this low abv now on their more recent bottlings, worry not!

Sugar? No.

Nose: Hmmm, quite a light Worth Park here. Certainly bananas, lemon and lime (Sprite or 7up), very light golden syrup, more so than honey. Some cake’y, bread’y notes, so maybe indeed banana bread or banana pie. A little vanilla maybe, a tiny prickle of oak (I mean tiny) and a little bit of salty brine. Some really lovely generic floral notes are here too but I can’t pick out anything specific.

Palate: Medium mouth. Soft entry, quite acidic at first with green apples, gooseberries, sharp cider, grass and under ripe nectarine. There is a nice, creamier buttery/custard side that appears mid-palate with a touch of honey and chamomile tea, but doesn’t last long and goes salty, tarry and sour again to the finish.

Finish: Medium in length. Sweeter white wine (like a sweet Riesling), some green olives, a little tar, orange blossom honey and even a little milk chocolate pops up! Very little heat, spice or oak at all from the cask.

Thoughts? Quite different to Worthy Parks I’ve had before, I can see the similarities – a good whack of banana in there for sure – but it’s very soft, light and raw. A nice bottle to see how different styles from a distillery present themselves, but for me it was just lacking any real wow or oomph. I can’t even say it was the abv this time, I just think that it was too spirit driven (which is fine normally) but in this case the wrong marque of rum. Maybe this would have normally been blend filler?

Clearly very well made rum and at £33 (at the time of purchase in 2016) was a no brainer, but it’s not a rum I’d go back to. Just not enough on offer for me.

Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve

What is it? Jamaican Pure Single Rum, so 100% pot still rum, from Molasses, and produced at the Worthy Park distillery in Jamaica. The rums that go into this blend are aged tropically for between 6 and 10 years before being blended for the final rum, and all of that ageing takes place in first fill ex-bourbon casks (only previously held bourbon, nothing else).

No dunder is used at Worthy Park, the esters are produced during fermentation using a propriety yeast strain and control of time for the fermentation. The marque used for this rum is entirely from the WPL marque, which is a lighter Worthy Park and comes in at 60-119g/laa. For reference, the range of marques for Worthy Park and their ester levels are:

  • WPEL: less than 60g/laa
  • WPL: 60-119g/laa
  • WPM: 120-239g/laa
  • WPH: 240-360g/laa
  • WPE: up to 800g/laa

Coloured, but not chill filtered and bottled at 45% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: This smells good. Definite and strong Jamaican pot still, but it’s not big, pungent or funky. A Hampden this is not. Key Lime Pie topped with a banana cream, soft vanillas – vanilla Danish pastry maybe, toasty oak, coconut and a little lemon too. The more I nose this I start to get crushed shells, salty rock-pools and a beach on a hot day. Faint notes of marine fuel and oil in the distance and anchovies marinated in very good olive oil. There is a light marzipan/almond note appearing from time to time too.

Palate: Medium mouth feel. Sharp at first with citrus fruits and yellow stone fruit, quite hot with a little ginger root and white pepper. After the initial heat it’s pretty savoury and salty; brine, green olives, salted fish, shellfish in lemon juice and a big breath of sea breeze when stood on a jetty. Mid-palate and as it moves to the finish the sweeter notes appear with some milk chocolate, vanilla custard, Lady Grey tea and bananas.

Finish: Medium to long. Some salty tang still in there but much sweeter than the palate and more funky; ripe bananas, fresh pineapple, lemon curd, maybe a light butterscotch too and a fudge’y note.

Thoughts? Cracking rum. The nose is a beauty but I’m less keen on the finish if I’m being honest, it’s not “bad” at all, I’d just prefer a bit more intensity and less “safeness”, but that’s just my preference here. Again, a fine example of a Jamaican pot still rum, much more approachable than a Hampden or Long Pond and a good foot in the door if you want to head that way in your rum journey. I’m being a bit spoilt with Jamaicans here at Rumtastic Towers at the moment, they’ve all been very good recently!

I picked this up for £45. That may put people off for a NAS (No Age Statement) rum, but you’ve got to bear in mind it’s 6-10 years old and tropically aged. If you are starting to explore more interesting and complex rum at the moment then it’s one I think worth investing in. Personally, I like the style and I’d buy it again.

 

Hampden 15 year old (2000) – Adelphi Single cask

What is it? Pure Single Rum (100% pot still, from molasses and a single distillery) from Jamaica. This rum was distilled at the Hampden distillery in Trelawney. It was distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2016 at 15 years old by Independent bottler Adelphi, after undergoing a finishing period (for an undisclosed amount of time) in ex-Sherry casks.

Hampden use dunder in their fermentation process and will ferment the rum from 2 weeks and up to 1 month for esterification to take place, depending on the marque of rum they are aiming to produce. They produce 7 marques of rum and you can read more about them at this link, which has been posted recently by Wes at TheFatRumPirate and was written by Marius Elder at SingleCaskRum; clicky click.

The only indication of cask on this bottle is “JM1” which is not one of the Hampdent marques, and I believe stands for “Jamaica Main”. In terms of esters, that’s not very helpful, but using the information provided by Marius it appears that 2000 vintage export from Hampden was from marque LROK, which is a lower ester level and comes in at 200-400g/hlaa. Now I say “lower”, that’s in terms of Hampdens, in terms of most other rums that’s still pretty damn high; most rums come in at around 50g/hlaa….

This is a single cask rum and only 346 bottles were produced from the cask.

It is not coloured, not chill filtered and bottled at full cask strength of 54.3% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: Hello! It’s a pungent little devil alright! The rum literally jumps out of the glass and punches you in the nose. We’re all bananas at the start, but gooey black ones, baked ones, bananas pan fried in butter and banana & walnut loaf. Very overripe pineapple slices, yellow stone fruits (nectarine mostly) and some fig. Then come deeper notes of raisins, fig jam, warm leather, cloves – all of which I presume are from the sherry cask. Finally, notes of hot sandy beach coves, raw shellfish, charcoal, a touch of beewax and a really interesting meaty note that reminds me a lot of home-made honey glazed ham.

Palate: Thick and full mouth, oily in texture. Hot entry – well, it’s 54.3% – bags of bananas again, crushed walnuts and peanuts, baked banana cream pie, banoffee even maybe, salted butter and a brioche with Creme Anglaise over the top. There’s a smoky note of BBQ pineapple, that meaty glazed ham is here too, or a pulled pork, varnished oak and some rubber tyres. As the palate ends there is a zippy citrus and metallic twang like licking your fingers after holding copper coins…..don’t do that, you don’t know where they’ve been 🙂

Finish:  Long, very long. Still dominated by banana and pineapple baked into a cake, but it’s joined by dry leather, spices from the cask and a slight sweetness of raisin from the nose. A touch of smoked lime zest keeps it lively and rubber bands as it tails off.

Thoughts? I need a sit down after that. Absolutely incredible. Easily one of the best rums I’ve drunk so far. The first and only thing I said to my wife when I drank this for the first time was “wow!”, and that pretty much still sums it up.

I’ve lost count of how many different bottles of spirits I’ve drunk over the years, hundreds easily, but I can tell you now that I’ll remember this one for a very long time indeed.

Now I picked this up for £80 in November 2016, which after tasting it, feels like I’ve nicked it. You’re not going to be able to find a bottle of this now, sadly, unless you’re lucky enough to stumble upon a bottle at auction. Another one where I should have bought a case of the stuff at the time, dammit!

Monymusk 9 year old (2007) – Kill Devil

What is it? This is a pot still rum distilled at the “Monymusk Distillery” in Jamaica, so Pure Single Rum, distilled in March 2007 and then aged for 9 years (I assume in Europe) and bottled as a single cask by Hunter Laing for their Kill Devil rum range. One of 303 bottles from the cask.

Now I say “Monymusk Distillery” because that’s what it says on the bottle, however, there is no such distillery – hence the “quotes”. Monymusk as actually a rum brand not a distillery. The largest rum maker in Jamaica is Clarendon, producing around 40 million bottles (75cl) of rum every year, and is owned by 4 different interests: DDL of Guyana (those El Dorado peeps) Goddard Enterprises (who also own W.I.R.D in Barbados, amongst others), the Jamaican government and Diageo. The first 3 form a organisation known as NRJ (National Rums of Jamaica) and the 4th is the massive multi-national conglomerate.

Of all the rum produced by Clarendon, 90% of it goes to Diageo for their Captain Morgan blend sold in Europe (US Captain Morgan is mostly from St Croix in the Virgin Islands). Very little of the rum produced at Clarendon (less than 10%) is destined for the Monymusk brand.

Clarendon produce 2 types of pot still rum; light/low ester rum that undergoes a quick 24 hour fermentation in steel tanks and a heavy/high ester rum that is fermented for up to a month in wood tuns. The esterification is controlled by yeast strains and dunder is not used here. The lions share of rum from Clarendon comes via column still, but only pot still is used for Monymusk.

…..anyway, enough of that, on to the review:

Not coloured, not chill-filtered and bottled a 46% abv.

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Delicious! A lower ester rum than I was expecting, well, compared to the likes of Hampden or Long Pond that is. Still a funky hogo with plenty of banana and some pineapple cubes, but just softer and less in your face. Some tarry ropes, brine’y sea spray, a little liquorice and maybe green olives in there too. Fresh fruit keeps it lively with ripe pears, lime zest and a little strawberry. There is quite a decadent, richness to the nose too with golden syrup, chewy toffee or maybe butterscotch and a light vanilla. Not one smell dominates, one minute you get fruits, the next you get sweet and go back again to savoury. Really lovely.

Palate: Full and oily, the legs running down the glass hardly move they are that thick. Great mouth feel and weight. Savoury start, olive brine, fennel, tar, and rubber bands. Some surprising wood spice with cloves, grated horseradish and black pepper – gets a little hot in the middle. There is some sweetness in here too with baked pears with a light toffee glaze, but it’s fleeting and hard to keep hold of. A little lift of lime juice as it moves to the finish.

Finish: Medium. Creamy here actually, I mean there is still some heat and pepper but it’s a weird creamy pepper, maybe like horseradish cream. More of the sweet notes come through with time than they do on the palate with golden syrup poured over porridge oats, honey on toast, pear compote and even the faintest hint of sweet pipe tobacco right at the end.

Thoughts? It’s quite a heavy rum but not huge in esters which produces a very noticeable Jamaican but is softer and richer. When I first opened this it was much sweeter tasting but after a third of a bottle it’s morphed and is starting to get more and more savoury.

This is a lovey rum for someone who wants to try a natural Jamaican pot still but may be put off by the massive ester stuff, it’s certainly not an easy rum by any means but would be a great stepping stone into the Jamaican style and it’s fairly approachable.

£45 this cost me, which is a fair bit for a European aged 9 year old rum, but I think it’s got a lot to give and a lot of flavour. One that I’d certainly buy again – if there were any left!