Santeria Rum

What is it? Well, this is the evolution to the Lost Spirits Navy style rum I reviewed back in April 2016 (clicky click). In short it’s “reactor aged” and not aged in a barrel – you can read the background in the Lost Spirits review. Santeria has taken the next step; the process has been refined and the machine has been leased out, essentially, for 3rd parties to produce rum for them – in this case it’s for Rational Spirits. A snapshot of the target rum is taken, as well as the distillate used and a few other components, fed into the computer and a rum is produced with the same signature (spectrographically speaking) as the target rum….so you want a 20 year rum? You scan it in and bang out the result. Where the technology has changed is that light is now used during the “maturation” period to break down the wood, oxygen is fed in to convert the chemicals and a temperature stage is used with bacteria to further convert acids into esters (yummies). There is more background here.

In terms of the actual distillate here, it’s molasses based and produced in a pot still. My bottle is from batch number 1 and bottle is number 768.

The rum is natural colour (which is pretty damn amazing), unfiltered and bottled at 46% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: Coffee, black and over brewed, dark chocolate (80% stuff), toasted oak, chocolate covered banana sweeties and some black bananas too. Plenty of dusty old notes of clove, tobacco, forest floors, damp earth and mushrooms – stuff that smells really old. Something sour and green, maybe gooseberries, walnut shells or something. Some mild sweetened black liquorice and treacle toffee. There is that sour, bitterness throughout and it really does smell old.

Palate: Medium, slightly coating. Very similar to the nose in terms of delivery order and progress; coffee and dark chocolate first, smoky cask char, tobacco and wet soil which bitters to over roasted nuts. There is the “green” note again, sour wood or tart fruit I can’t pin down and this artificial taste I also can’t seem to put my finger on.

Finish: Medium. Liquorice, treacle, bitter molasses moving to semi-sweet with creamier dark chocolate this time (60% stuff), milky coffee, toffee’d bananas and dark cherries – think Black Forest cake.

Taste: Nice but odd. This is more mellow than the Lost Spirits Navy (yeah I know it’s only 46% abv…) and the flavours are better balanced and more integrated, but there is always this feeling of fakeness from somewhere. I mean, it definitely tastes old, around 20 years plus, maybe Guyanese, but its not totally fooling me, I can tell it’s “different”. Maybe I’m prejudiced by knowing what it is, but I still suspect if I tasted this blind I’d know something was up with it. It maybe show up the same as an old rum on a spectrograph, but there is more to the experience than just the chemical evidence – we’re humans.

It does benefit from being in the glass this rum, and with some time open and breathing. Would I buy again? No, I don’t think I would.

Price? £50.

 

Travellers (Belize) 11 year old (2005) – WhiskyBroker

What is it? Column still rum, from molasses, distilled at the Travellers distillery in Belize. This is a single cask rum (cask number 33) with the mark SFBT and filled in November 2005, it was then matured for 11 years and bottled by Whisky Broker on 9th February 2017. My bottle is number 12 of 262 produced.

There are no details on aging but going off the colour, abv, nose and taste I’d say this has spent a lot of it’s 11 years maturing in the tropics.

Not chill filtered, not coloured (at bottling) and bottled at full proof of 66.1% (!).

Sugar? No

For the purposes of tasting, and my nose hairs, I’ve watered this. I’ll be honest; it’s dangerously drinkable at full whack but I want to get a bit more out of it and 66% is really going to masacre my nose and palate. I’ve taken it down to about 57-60%, as through experimenting I’ve found that it totally falls apart once you get below 55% (ish). It’s a tough one to balance right, so be warned.

Nose: Heh, give this to someone and tell them that it was a 12 year old, full proof, bourbon and they’d not question you. We’re so deep in Kentucky it’s scary; massive oak, pencil shavings, fresh sawn planks and coconut. Gingerbread, ginger, clove, nutmeg and loads of dry roasted peanuts. Honey glazed meat being cooked in a smoker, BBQ sauce and some vanilla under it all. It’s pretty big and in your face, but there is some fresh complexity that under cuts it; fragrant flowers (lilac, lilly, that sort of thing), some warm hay and even a tiny bit of tar.

Palate: Medium to full mouth feel. Ok, it’s hot, lets not beat about the bush here, but there is loads of flavour too, it’s not just all about the booze. Sweetish delivery, low cocoa dark chocolate (60% stuff like Bourneville), freshly brewed Columbian coffee, honey cake, gingerbread – no, Lebkuchen actually (more honey, more spices), some sweet cane and some banana flavoured candy. Vanilla turns up and then leaves coconut as it moves to the finish.

Finish: Long. I mean, it’s a big abv and that really sits on your tongue. I am sure that this is not a barrel proof bourbon? I’d swear it was! Big coconut, vanilla, hot ginger root, raw oak and quite tannic – the sweetness from the palate goes and leaves your mouth dry and hot. There is a lingering taste of smoky BBQ brisket and walnuts as it tails off.

Thoughts? It’s a sledgehammer. There is very little subtlety to this, it’s a glass of massive flavours delivered with a cannon. Do I like it? Hell yeah. There is a time for fruity high ester rum, there is a time for subtle and flowery rum, there is even a time for sugar topped stuff….variety is the spice of life and sometimes you just want your mouth detonated. This was about £46, and a cracking purchase. Oh, and they still have this in stock at Whisky Broker if you fancy having your head taken off.

 

New Grove 8 year old

What is it? Molasses based rum, distilled via column still at the Grays distillery in Mauritius. The rum is distilled, rested in oak for an initial period and then transferred to Limousin casks for aging, both new/virgin casks and refill casks are used. This rum carries an age statement of “8 years” and I’ve it on good authority that this is a minimum age, so there may be some older stock in here too. In terms of aging, the Angels Share in Mauritius is somewhere between Europe and the Caribbean, so you don’t get the intensity of tropical aging with this but you do get the smoothness you’d expect from say, a 12 year old, European aged rum.

Filtered, likely coloured and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No details, but I’ve heard from the coalface that it’s not tampered with and I’m certainly not getting any hint of sugar on tasting, so we’ll give them the benefit of doubt and say “no”.

Nose: Hello! Immediately a shopping trolley full of various yellow stone fruit; you’ve got a mass of peaches, apricots, nectarines – they jump straight out of the glass at you and some of it is a little sharp. Mixed in with this there is plenty of tropical fruit too with a fair amount of mango, some fresh papaya and some banana. This certainly is very, very fruity, aromatic and not what I was expecting. Just as you think things are getting one-dimensional along comes some faint tar, a whiff of smoke and some old leather. There is a little prickle of cask spice from the oak at the back with a little fresh ginger and black pepper – but it’s subtle.

Palate: Sharp delivery, and that slightly sour sweetness you get from over-ripe nectarines. Good weight to the mouth feel for 40% too, it’s not oily but you know it’s in your mouth. Follows the nose really; big whack of fresh fruits – mango, papaya, apricot, peach, nectarine and some pineapple too this time with a little zing. Again, just as things are going to start getting away from you it’s pulled back by that leathery smoke, a little brine and a nice savoury leafy note. It gets a bit hot after a while as things move on to the finish.

Finish: Nowhere near as fruity as the nose or palate, it’s quite spicy with ginger, clove and red chilli. There is still a little bit of a salty note from the brine on the palate to keep it in check. Dries towards the end with some pepper and cold tea. Finish isn’t all that long and the way it dies off leads you straight into another mouthful – which is always a promising sign.

Thoughts? I really, really like this rum. I mean, I like the big bruising savoury ones, but this just has something really loveable about it. The best way I could describe it would be “bright”; it really lifts you with the summery, fruity nature and when I drink it I get a feeling of happiness – sounds stupid I know, but the taste does make me feel uplifted. Sure, it’s lacking a bit of balance and depth, and the finish isn’t the longest in the world, but it’s a happy rum. I paid £40 for this in the UK, and I’d happily pay that again for this rum – in fact, I was so happy with it that I went out and bought one of their 2007 single cask bottlings as soon as I could, which was twice the price of this, without a second thought.

Want to try something different? Get one of these.

 

Rumbullion

20161022_124325What is it? A spiced rum made by “Ableforth’s”, which is basically the MasterOfMalt guys who produce a range of drinks under the parent company Atom Supplies. They state that this is a rum base of high proof Caribbean rum infused with various spices to produce a spiced rum. Various ingredients are used but mainly vanilla, orange zest, coriander, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. There are no details on the rum base and one would imagine that it changes from time to time depending on what’s available – I can’t detect anything about the base rum due to the levels of spicing.

Coloured, chill filtered and bottled at 42.6% abv.

Sugar? Yes. 29 g/l – we’re getting into liqueur territory again.

Nose: Yikes. This is big and intense stuff. Massively spiced. Very Christmas’y with plenty of flambéed orange, definite coriander and a bucket load of cardamom; they say “a hint” of cardamom – I say it’s been put in with a shovel. There are some aniseed notes in here too and a bit of grated ginger, along with that clove and some fresh ground black peppercorns. Basically, it does what it says on the tin; very little rum and very much spice.

Palate: Thick, viscous, actually quite cloying which isn’t a good thing. There is less sugar in this than in a bottle of El Dorado but it feels like way more – it’s very, very sweet. Flavour wise it’s pretty much a rinse and repeat of the nose but not as nice; the nose was Chirstmas’y, festive and inviting whereas the palate is like some form of cough syrup and cola concoction, way too sweet and way too spicy and neither of the 2 really blend. Not really much more to say on this…

Finish: Long (the sugar sticks the rum to your mouth, long). Yep; it’s the same as the nose and the palate. Loads of flavour but as complex as a cardboard box.

Thoughts: Ok look; I’m not being critical of this as a beverage, I’m really not. I see what they’ve tried to do here but as a rum it’s not very good at all, there is nothing remotely “rum” about it – in fact you could make the same thing with any neutral spirit and those spices – this isn’t really a rum, despite it’s name (spiced or not). This is a liqueur.  Now as a liqueur (or general beverage) it’s quite good; there is plenty of flavour and it’s interesting, in mulled wine or a winter cocktail this would be a cracker. The problem here is that it’s retailing for around £35 a bottle, which is sipping rum territory and it’s not in the same ballpark when you sip this neat. If I had £35 to spend on a bottle of spiced rum this week I’d be buying a bottle of Bristol Black, simple as that.

I must note; if you’re after a sweet and spicy Christmas tipple and you’re not too bothered about mixing it or exploring complexity then this may well be right up your street but for me it’s just not what I’m looking for really and not something I’ll buy again.

Bristol Black Spiced Rum

20160922_204323_001Well, December is upon us and it’s officially Winter, time for some proper warmers – the next 2 reviews will be rums of the spiced variety which help warm the cockles and get us feeling all festive.

What is it? A spiced rum “spirit drink” which has been blended together by Bristol Classic Rum. Information regarding the composition of this is quite hard to come by, not many people seem to know the rum base and it may well change from time to time due to supplies etc. A couple of tit-bits I found whilst looking at this have turned up a statement saying; “3 year old white rum from Mauritius and a 6 year old dark rum from Trinidad (Caroni) – as Caroni are well out of business, unless there is some 6 year old stuff tanked for storage somewhere, then it’s not Caroni. Ok, this is spiced rum, so the base is hard to identify and based on that a white Mauritian and a dark Trini are the best I’m going to be able to get. To the base rum, a mixture of “spices” are added to produce the final product; again little information on exactly what but there are some stand-outs from the testing, which will become apparent.

Coloured, filtered and bottled at 42% abv.

Sugar? Yes, looks to be at 16g/l, which is a lot less then some “normal” rums…go figure.

Nose: Ok, this wasn’t at all like I was expecting. It’s big but not heavy, initially there is a massive hit of clementine and lime rind – very citrus’y. The clementine is very hard to get past as it’s so intense, but after a while of nosing other smells start to make themselves known; thick black molasses, dry and salted liquorice, cloves, black pepper and some rolling tobacco. Right down at the bottom of the nose there is some dark, soft brown sugar that’s just slightly burnt, fruit cake that’s overdone too and hot buttered toast, maybe a cinnamon bagel too for good measure. Dry nose, if you know what I mean, and quite Christmas’y – the main smell are those Christingles you used to make at school at a kid.

Palate: Citrus sweet (not sugar sweet) delivery and a less viscous mouth feel than I was expecting, but not at all thin. Fresh orange juice, orange oil, candied peels, slight heat of pepper and them BOOM, liquorice explodes in your mouth. Dry, salted liquorice, puckering and mouth coating as the black molasses turns up to wade in on the party – very intense. Softens a bit and some more gentle spices pop up with cinnamon, clove and the faintest ginger root. Smooth and calming brown sugar helps things along as it moves to the finish.

Finish: Long. You’re basically left with the collateral from the assault you’ve just had in your mouth, so the liquorice and molasses are loitering about and things remain dry, spiced and pretty heated with spicy ginger, black pepper and some really good cigars. There is the teeniest bit of lime and clementine from the nose hanging on for dear life that add another level to the finish.

Thoughts? This is like getting a real, homemade artisanal mulled wine at a Chirstmas market, where they add real fruit and fresh spices to good wine, rather than a pre-made sachet steeped in a boiled bottle of Vin de Plonk.

At first I didn’t like this. When I thought “spiced rum” I thought more spice, more sugar and less “real” flavour, so reality didn’t match my imagination and I was caught on the back foot. The longer I’ve spent with it the more I’ve come to like it, now I know what I expect and I’m ready for that citrus and liquorice. Now I really, really like it. A lot. When I drink those other flabby “spiced” rums that are vanilla and sugar bombs I’m left hankering for this.

I’ve seen opinions on this rum that range from “appalling rubbish” to “magnificent” and it’s very divisive, the reason for this is the same reason I didn’t like it myself – expectation was different to reality. This really is a love it or hate it rum and I now love it!