What is it? As with the Black Tot 50th Anniversary Rum from 2020, this is again a molasses based blend of rums from various countries, still type and ages. I’m not going to go over old ground with the Black Tot line-up, you can read about that in the link to the 50th Anniversary, but the Black Tot Master Blender’s Reserve is the next rum along and continues where the 50th left off. This rum was to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the ceasing of rum rations to the Australian Navy (the nod to the Aussies will become clear later) and uses the Black Tot 50th Anniversary Rum blend as the base, it was re-casked it into ex-sherry butts in 2020 and is blended with rums aged between 9 and 24 years, from Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica and Australia, as well as incorporating some of the original British Royal Navy rum blend itself – this is not just simply an further aged version of the 50th Anniversary rum but a different blend altogether, although there is going to be quite a lot of comparing to each other in this review as naturally many people will consider them as part of the same run and will want to know how they face off.
As with the 50th Anniversary there is a really good transparent back label on the bottle that lists the blend components, as you can see some Australian rum from Beenleigh has been added this time to provide the ode to Australia:
Bottled at 54.5% abv, unchillfiltered and of an outrun of 6000 bottles.
Nose: Really quite fruity at first with lots of pineapple, mango, apricot and over ripe banana. Little touches of caramel or butterscotch here and there as well as some lovely sweet raisin…..and then things get dirty, really dirty; diesel, liquorice, black olives, brine, tar, treacle and some meaty note tucked away that’s not quite heavy enough to be Jerky, but something similar, maybe touching on very crispy/almost burnt smoked bacon. Really deep and heavy near the end, lovely.
Palate: Good weight and mouth feel. Fairly restrained at first but then it gets quite hot and peppery. We’re not as fruity here, pineapples, sure, but it’s mainly phenolic and herbal as if following straight on from the end of the nose. We’ve got loads of diesel, oil and tar. Lifts of aniseed, liquorice and then some solventy black boot polish (if you’ve ever accidentally inhaled the stuff you can taste it and you’ll know what I mean). There’s a really nice meaty mushroom note in here too, touches of raisin and some wet leaves or forest floor notes, all of which seem to be coming from the sherry casks.
Finish: Long. Less phenolic here, much more on the traditional sweeter sensed notes with banana, dark chocolate, black coffee, treacle toffee and some bitter nutty notes like raw walnut. It’s much richer at this point, coating and heavy but still carries some phenols with salty black olives sneaking in to keep it interesting and a zing of tropical fruit at the end which stops it getting bogged down.
Thoughts? Really good. The addition of the Aussie from Beenleigh definitely livens things up and gives it some real zip, it really does taste like a different rum to the 50th Anniversary but you can still pick out the lineage here. So is it as good as the 50th Anniversary? Well, yes, and that says a lot as I ranked the 50th Anniversary in my top 5 rums of 2020 (specifically my 4th best), so we’ve got no slouch here. I don’t score rums but if I were to do so I’d score both this Master Blender’s Reserve and the 50th Anniversary the same, however, my personal preference would be to the 50th Anniversary just because if I’m drinking a Naval style blend I like a rich a dirty rum and this is much more fruit driven.
So what’s the damage? £120. Ok, yes I guess so as it’s only increased a little year on year and we know what happens to the cost of things…..so I think that’s fine.
If you fancy this you can pick this up from The Whisky Exchange here: