Mezan Belize 10 year old – 2008/2018

What is it? Rum from Molasses, distilled in a triple column still at a distillery in Belize. The bottle doesn’t state the distillery but says that it is in Belmopan, which makes this a Travellers Liqours rum. The rum was distilled in 2008 and bottled in 2018 by Independent bottler Mezan. Now Mezan have really upped their game. Gone as the low abv bottlings with screw caps and along have come a new(ish) bottle complete with wooden topped cork stoppers and a higher abv, but more importantly the back of the bottle is excellent in terms of information – just the sort of thing this rum geek loves! So it tells us that the rum is matured in ex-bourbon casks for a period of 6 years tropically and 4 years in Europe, giving a total age of 10 years. However, the 6 tropical years are worth 12-18 years of European ageing due to Angels Share, so it puts this on a maturation par with a European rum of 16-22 years old. The bottle also notes the raw material used and the still type (molasses and triple column in this case); excellent Mezan, exactly what we’re after!

No added colour, not chill filtered and bottled at 46% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: I really like this style, sometimes. It’s some quasi rum/bourbon thing going on; loads of warm oak, incense, cedar, sweet pipe tobacco, warm leather that has been in the sun. Brown butter, some lovely violets and bitter orange. There’s a zippy sherbet fizz to this too and some tinned pineapple chunks in juice – as well as the metallic tang of the tin they are in. Right through there is an earthy note of cashew nuts and dry roasted peanuts.

Palate: Medium to full mouth. Quite floral at first actually, with parma violet sweets, some orange blossom and rose. Then we get the oak, bitter dark chocolate, stem ginger, cinnamon and a whoosh of nutmeg. There is some orange caramel in here mid-way, vanilla, a tiny bit of coconut and butterscotch. The peanuts from the nose are there too under it all, but it’s creamy like a peanut ice-cream.

Finish: Long. Sweeter finish here with the chocolate, a little black cherry jam, cherry stones (like a cooling nutty taste), overcooked fruit loaf, raisin & cinnamon bagels that have been toasted and covered in salted butter. Some coconut appears here and a surprising rubber note of new tyres, rubber bands or a balloon. It starts to tighten up and gets tannic as it goes on, but just in time for another sip.

Thoughts? Like, like, like. Travellers rum can be quite hot and spicy, but I like that sometimes. It’s a rich, flavourful and warming rum. Very whisky or bourbon like at times and has a lot of complexity. There is a nice balance between the sweeter notes and the spices from the cask, and it’s always nice to have the option of something a little different from your normal rummy flavours on the shelf.

I think Mezan have the ageing balance and abv spot on here – I’ve really enjoyed drinking this rum and would happily buy another at the £45 it cost me. This is quite a price increase on older Mezan bottlings but you’re getting a decent increase in abv, nicer bottle and a damn sight more information. I’m more than happy to pay that bit extra to get that from my rum.

Flor De Cana 18

What is it? Molasses based, multi-column distilled rum from Compania Locorera de Nicaragua (CLN), in Nicaragua, and bottled under the Flor De Cana (Cane Flower) rum brand. I’ll not go into the background any more on this as I’ve already reviewed the Flor De Cana 12, but this is essentially a No Age Statement rum. Without covering old ground, this rum is not 18 years old, the producers say that it has an average age of 18 years – it says so on the website but not on the bottle, which gives them the ability to change their mind as and when they want. If you’re going to put a number on a bottle, that looks like an age statement, then put a bloody age statement on the bottle. If you’re not going to give the rum an official age statement then don’t put an a number on the bottle that looks like one.

Chill filtered, coloured and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: Ah, not what I was expecting; it’s a bit dirty at first (that’s good by the way), with dry soil, damp leaves, raw walnuts and even some tar and marine fuel of all things. After that it gets more of what I thought it’d be; roasted pecans in toffee sauce, burnt sugar, some toast with honey on, Seville oranges or marmalade, a touch of toffee apple and a lift right at the end of copper pans or a cutlery draw – a sort of tangy metallic note.

Palate: Medium mouth. Oak at first and some of the savoury with olive oil, glue and some mushrooms – this doesn’t last long before we go sweeter with honey, oranges, vanilla, milk chocolate, “Tracker” bars that I found in the 12 too and some butterscotch. There’s some cinnamon butter, a touch of clove and a generic floral notes I can’t quite pin down as it finishes.

Finish: Medium. Sweeter here with caramel, candied orange, lime and lemon peels, vanilla custard and tails off with oak spices of clove, cinnamon and a little hint of ginger heat – maybe chocolate covered stem gingers.

Thoughts? A decent and solid rum, infinitely better than the “12” and I’d certainly put it at “above average”. You can see this is related to the 12, but it’s the better looking, more successful and more popular older sibling (we all know those people!). The savoury side was unexpected, and whilst it is a bit off balance it does give much more complexity to the rum and I think was what I was missing from the 12 – it also carries a lot more amplification of flavour, everything is more concentrated and more intense.

Now, I paid £41 (!!!) for this online, which at the time was only £6 more than the 12 and it’s twice the rum, so make your call on that. Total no brainer when the price is right. At £40-£45ish it’s one I’d buy again, but I’m not too sure that I would at £60 though, it’s not that good.

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.

 

Flor De Cana 12

What is it? Molasses based, multi-column distilled rum from Compania Locorera de Nicaragua (CLN), in Nicaragua, and bottled under the Flor De Cana (Cane Flower) rum brand. Molasses comes from local sugar and is produced at the Ingenio San Antonio sugar mill which is part of the same company as CLN and undergoes a 36 hour fermentation. The is the bottling of the “12”, this does not mean 12 years old; in recent years the packaging has changed and where it used to say “12 anos” on the bottle it now just states “12 slow aged”. They also produce a “7”, “18” and “25” – none of which are the age of the number on the bottle. I really don’t like this misleading labelling that is often used in rum, which allows the consumer to believe they are buying a product of a certain age but in fact that are not, they may was well call their line-up “Flor De Cana 1, 2, 3 and 4” for all the difference it makes.

Chill filtered, coloured and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Quite oaky at first, a good sign – maybe it has actually seen some aging after all! Pecans, walnuts and syrup; think Tracker Bars (nutty snack bar things in the UK). Vanilla, some cinnamon, light brown sugar and Werthers Original sweets. There isn’t much fruit on display here, a little red apple perhaps, that’s been caramelised as if to make a Tart Tatin and a little dried papaya, but other than that it’s really cask smells. With some time I can pick up the faintest floral note, almost of Peonies.

Palate: Medium mouth feel, quite coating actually. We’re in the same place as the nose really, it’s a bit more buttery, cinnamon certainly, vanilla and Allspice. Hints of warm oak, caramels, burnt sugar and pecans again. No floral notes here but a toffee apple sweetness, which again is the only real fruit. Tanic as it moves to the finish.

Finish: Short. Tanic, starting to bitter. Burnt toast with butter and honey on top, some toffee and that’s about it. Hmmm, not the best finish really.

Thoughts? Not bad, but not good either. It’s a very run-of-the-mill rum and all a little pointless. I’m not really sure who this rum is aimed at; your casual drinker will find it too dry and bitter whereas your seasoned rum drinker is unlikely to find it complex or interesting enough and all a bit dull. Maybe it’s aimed at whisky drinkers, who knows. I’ve started going to this bottle when my palate is having an off day, it still tastes ok but I don’t feel guilty about wasting a decent rum when I can’t taste too well.

So, £35……now that seems ok but there are a hell of a lot of better rums out there for that price…. not one I’ll be buying again.

English Harbour Madeira Cask Finish

What is it? Rum (multi-column at over 95%), from Molasses, produced at the Antigua distillery in St John’s, Antigua and bottled under the English Harbour brand. The rum is distilled in a copper 3-column still which runs off at 95.5% abv, so it’s virtually neutral spirit (pretty much no taste). The flavour profile of the rum is built up during the maturation process by barrel selection and ageing, which in this case are; approximately 5 years in ex-bourbon casks followed by a finishing period of between 3 and 6 months in ex-Madeira casks that were previously used to mature Malmsey and Bual wine. All ageing is done tropically so that 5 years is more like a 10-15 year old European aged spirit.

The rum is produced in small batches, and this review is from batch 001. My bottle is number 7995 and was bottled in November 2016.

No details on colouring but the rum is non-chill filtered and bottled at 46% abv.

Sugar? No online details for this. There is some sweetness but it seems comparable to Madeira cask maturation and I don’t have any reason to suspect additions.

Nose: Big Madeira influence straight away with roasted almonds, pecans and raw walnuts. Behind the earthy walnut there is a meaty, earthy mushroom, notes of wet leaves, old hessian sacks and cardboard. The savoury side gives it a nice counter to the sweeter notes that follow with; toffee, cinnamon, marzipan and vanilla flavouring or syrup that you put in your coffee, in fact there is a milky coffee too so maybe it’s more of a vanilla cinnamon latte type thing…..

As expected, there isn’t really much spirit character here at all but a lot of cask influence. Oh no. A full packet of spent matches right at the end, which isn’t too nice. It looks like some of the casks have been sulphur treated, but please note that I’ve found that I’m quite sensitive to sulphur so you may not actually notice.

Taste: Medium mouth feel, verging to full maybe. Sweet entry and quite spirity at first. A couple of sips in and you can taste more; very similar to the nose with loads of nuts, big marzipan and caramel. Dries after time and becomes earthy (walnuts), soil and mushrooms in there too. The whole thing loose steam part way through and becomes a little thin and slightly bitter, but not in a good way.

Finish: Medium, just about. All savoury here; dry roasted nuts again, buzzing spices from the cask with white pepper, cinnamon and clove. Unfortunately the sulphury notes come through here with those spent matches and used candle wick.

Thoughts? On the whole a pretty nice rum. I’m not getting a lot of “rum” in the rum as the cask influence is too great, but the flavours are nice, it’s got a good balance of dry, savoury and sweet notes with a good lean to the nutty side. The sulphur does let it down though, but as I say I am quite sensitive to it; some people are more than others, genetic thing apparently, like asparagus metabolism (don’t ask, if you’ve got that affliction then you know what I mean!).

I paid £32 for this, which for a small batch, 46% unfiltered rum I think is a fair price and right for the market. I would buy this again at that price.