Cadenhead’s Classic Rum – 6 year old 2019 release

What is it? A blend of rums done by Cadenhead, and Independent bottler of spirits. This blend is a mixture of molasses based pot and column still rums from Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Panama and was aged in oak casks for 6 years in the UK before it’s release in 2019. For a long time Cadenhead have produced their “Classic Rum” blend and it generally changes year to year, but the type of rum they are aiming to produce remains the same, so if you pick up a bottle from another year chances are it wont be too far from this profile.

Not coloured by Cadenhead, not chill filtered and bottled at 50% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Ah, proper dark rummy rum, in the “Navy” style if you will. Molasses, roasted nuts, soot, boot polish, ink and tar. Certainly some estery notes from the Jamaican element with squishy banana and citrus fruit. There’s some dark chocolate cake here too along with some cinnamon and handful of cloves.

Palate: Full, rich mouth feel. Some black olives, tar and brine at first then richness; coffee beans, cocoa beans, toffee covered banana, liqourice, cinnamon, fudge and a little flamed orange rind. The roasted nuts are still here and a little zing of lime part way keeps it from getting too heavy.

Finish: Long. A little salty brine here but it’s really on the sweeter side as it finishes off with molasses, toffee, strong black and sweet coffee, maybe a really good espresso with a thick crema, dark chocolate and loads of black banana, a little slightly burnt Christmas cake and a touch of charred pineapple right at the end.

Thoughts? Good. A little sweet at times, maybe that’s the Panama or Demerara if it’s been “treated” at the distillery, but I didn’t find any sugar in my hydrometer reading. There are plenty of good flavours going on here and it’s got a lovely body to it so it’s pretty versatile if you wanted to mix it or drink it neat. A proper dark rum without any of the over-the-top colouring nonsense and at 50% it’s good value too for £35. It’s not as good as the 1842 Cask in my view, but it’s cheaper and it is what is it – a consistent, good tasting dark rum.

 

Casa Santana 12 year old (batch 1) – That Boutique’y Rum Company

What is it? Rum (molasses based, multi-distillery, multi-column) bottled under the Casa Santana name by the independent bottles That Boutique’y Rum Company. So tells us nothing. Casa Santana aren’t a distillery, they are a company so they source their rums as New Make from various places and cask it for maturation themselves, so even though this is “Colombian” rum it’s really not; it’s rum that has been sourced from various distilleries around the Central American area (the likes of Panama, Venezuela and maybe even some stuff from actual Colombia) and matured in Colombia. The rum that have gone into this “blend” is all multi-column stuff, so nothing too exciting, and then aged for at least 12 years in Columbia (in what cask type, we don’t know) – I can’t say I’m too impressed with the story behind this, it’s not Colombian rum at all it’s a Central American Blend that any odd company could put out if they had some spare warehouse space. In case you’re interested, Casa Santana have various brands they produced, such as La Hechicera and Juan Santos to name a few.

This is from Casa Santana Batch 1 and my bottle it bottle 1721 of 3766.

Not coloured, not chill-filtered and bottled at 58.4% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Spicy. Clove, ginger, black peppercorns, red chillies and some tannic oak. Toffee chews, a little honey and a touch of leather after the spice dies down. A faint hint of some distant cigar smoke and heavy roasted coffee bean. There is a little chlorine and soapy smell near the end and another unusual smell I can’t pin down that I found in Dictador (another Colombian rum), and I didn’t like the smell in that either.

Palate: Medium mouth feel. Hot entry and woody. Some strong breakfast tea, praline, salted butter fudge, caramel infused with chilli, horseradish and coffee bean again. There is some tar, engine oil and a little sea salt mid way, which is nice, and a rubber glove note at the end that is almost latex like, which isn’t so nice. The odd banana shows up here and there as well as a small slice of pineapple, but there really isn’t much fruit.

Finish: Quite long actually. Hot. Generally softer here though, the spices seem to have gone so you get gingerbread, toffee and pecan pie, fudge, caramelised banana and an almost mince pie note – those posh ones though with lots of nuts in them, with allspice, nutmeg, roasted nuts and pastry.

Thoughts? On the whole it’s enjoyable, but there is something in this blend that I don’t get on with. I suspect it’s the same stuff that is in Dictador; an almost fake, concocted note or slightly chemical like. Saying that there is a fair bit going on, but it is oak heavy and very hot – it’s not the most complex rum out there though.

Right, rant time. I paid £30 for a 50cl bottle (that’s all these Boutique’y Rum Company bottles come in). I hate these shitty little bottles, just put it in a proper 70cl bottle and have done with it. We all know what’s going on here, it looks cheaper and you don’t think you’re getting that much less rum but you bloody well are! A 70cl bottle has 40% more rum in it than a 50cl bottle! Factor that into the price you’re paying and these TBRC bottles aren’t very price competitive. Ok, I know some people like smaller bottles because it means they can try a rum without paying too much more, but when you work out how much the same thing would cost you for a full grown-up bottle it’s really not very good value for money.

Speaking of value, this was £30…..if I take the abv down to 40% and factor it up to a proper bottle size of 70cl that makes it £29, so it’s cheaper than the likes of La Hechicera from the same company. Given that, it’s not going to break the bank, so I think that’s OK. I wouldn’t really want to pay much more though.

Top Beverages – Double Distilled, Mocha and Spiced rums

Long one here.

I get quite a lot of emails about Press Releases and samples and most of the time it’s not something I progress as that’s not really what this blog is about. I review what I buy (generally speaking) and it’s a hobby, not a job. Every now and then though something comes up that piques my interest, in this case it was a new batch of rums from a “craft” company; a white rum (double distilled), a Mocha rum and a Spiced rum – not rums I’d normally entertain. So why did I accept the samples and why am I reviewing them? Well, they are CBD spirits, that is, spirits that are combined with CBD (Cannabidiol) and it’s a trend that is taking the food and drink industry by storm, people are combining it with bloody everything, I’m sure at some point the government will start putting it in bread like they do with folic acid! CBD is being touted as somewhat of a wonderdrug. Now I’m not a doctor, or a pharmacist, or a scientist, so I can’t really go into it too much or with any form of authority, but in short it’s a non-psychotropic active ingredient in Canabis (you don’t get high from it) and it has a huge number of benefits in what it treats; anxiety, depression, cognitive issues, movement problems, chronic pain, just to name a few, and the side effects (in normal dose levels) are virtually nil – if you want to understand more about CBD then please read up on it and please don’t rely on me, it is a drug and should be looked into carefully.

So does CBD have a place in distilled beverages? Well Top Beverages are a craft company that think so, they combine it with gin, vodka and rum. You can read more about them at their website: https://top-beverages.com

Recently, they have launched the 3 rums already mentioned above, which are all combined with premium, full spectrum CBD and I’ve kindly been given some (rather large) samples to try out. I’ve tried them, so I’ll review them.

In terms of the rums, all 3 are based on the same distilled spirit and as you’d expect from a craft distillery they were very open and complete when I asked them about their method, so geek hats on:

The rum is distilled in Arbroath, Scotland, from molasses. Distillation takes place by combining 650 litres of molasses with water where it is fermented for 3 weeks, creating a Wash of around 10% abv. The Wash is then distilled in a 500 litre and 200 litre hybrid still which uses 3 copper plates to produce around 150 litres of rum at 50% abv, the first run off is then distilled a 2nd time (double distilled) in the 200 litre still, using 1 copper plate. Cuts are made which produces around 65 litres of rum at 78% abv. The rum is then left for 3-5 days to mellow out, at which point it’s reduced to 60% abv. Here is when the spices are added to the Mocha and Spiced rums, for 24 hours to infused, before filtering. It’s reduced again to a bottling strength of 54.4% abv.

Cool.

These rums are all natural colour, not chill filtered, bottled at 54.5% abv and do not contain any sugar or other nasties other than the natural spices where stated. They are in 500ml bottles with 50mg of CBD.

Top Beverages Double Distilled white rum:

Nose: Very grassy at first, some white stone fruit, green grape maybe and white pepper. Starts to get phenolic with brine, green olive and sea shell. Some floral notes appear part way through, a touch of brioche and a little vanilla.

Palate: Sharp and quite astringent. Some fruity mango, white pepper and brine. There’s a cardboard note part way that’s not too great but it does soon go. A little vanilla, pears and some nail polish.

Finish: Short. Clean, green apples, white pepper heat, the sweetness of thinned honey and sugar dusted lemons.

 

Top Beverages Mocha rum:

Double Distlled white rum infused with organic cacao husks and South American cold brewed coffee.

Nose: Woah, coffee. Chocolate. You need to like coffee and chocolate to like this, luckily I like both. Yeah, lots of chocolate, real stuff though, actual cocoa beans and fresh roasted coffee, There is a touch of salinity under it that gives it a fudge note, some fried banana, a little light toffee and hot buttered crumpets.

Palate: Hot and sharp again at first. Not like the nose……which is a shame. Fizzy cola bottle sweets, nail polish, white pepper and sharp mango again, or nectarine.

Finish: Short. Ah, back to the nose we go with fudge, chocolate, salted caramel and a really good milky coffee.

 

Top Beverages Spiced rum:

Double Distilled white rum infused with cassia bark, orange peel, ginger and Indian vanilla pods.

Nose: Well, this is pungent. Loads of ginger, cinnamon, almost a Chinese 5 spice note, a touch of vanilla, some dark chocolate and a brine/salty tang. Some light liquorice and spiced vanilla pop up as the ginger dies down.

Palate: Hot, but ginger hot. Cloves, ginger root, chillies, cinnamon powder and dry – yes, a dry spiced rum, thank god! No sugary sweet stuff here. A little anise, hint of chocolate, mango, apple and pear.

Finish: Medium. Lots of ginger again, cinnamon and anise. Vanilla shows up here, guess it could finally get out from behind the heat and spices from the palate, and some orange zest.

 

Thoughts in general? I find the white rum too rough. I buy my rum to sip and I don’t think it’s really a sipping rum, none of them really area. There is a nice sharp fruit that runs through it and a salty note that balances things out, and what I do like is that these notes filter through to all 3 of the rums, so you can see that they are all based on the same thing. I think the white would be very good in any fruity cocktail, it’s a strong enough flavour that you’d pick it out and it’d compliment the mixing ingredients well, but as a sipper…..no. Pass.

The Mocha rum smells amazing and finishes well, but the smells are not translated into the drinking really, I think it needs longer with it’s infusions. Again would go very well in a more robust cocktail, something where the rum needs to have more strength to it. As a sipper, I’d drink it, but I’d probably just end up with my nose in the glass most of the time.

The Spiced rum is very good. It’s too heavy on the ginger and too hot there, needs to be toned down, but I could happily drink it neat. To be fair I like ginger a lot…..outside of that it’d be a great winter warmer in a punch or hot toddy, or even in a hot chocolate.

Would I buy any of these rums with my own money? In honesty, no. They’re not what I’m after in my journey and they are bloody expensive (500ml bottle for £39.95), and whilst I understand that craft distilling is very small batch and has higher costs, and the ingredients are absolutely top quality, the target for these are going to be people with deep pockets who are looking for ultra-premium mixing rums.

What I’d be very interested in seeing, is if they age some of the rum. Bang it into some small quarter casks and give it time with oak. There are some good notes in the base rum that’d age well and transform with that ageing.

Aldi Crossbones Premium Rum Mashup

I shop in Aldi. I shop there for a number of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that the general price to quality ratio of the stuff you get is excellent. Sure, there are a few duds on their shelves, but on the whole the stuff I buy is better in quality than other supermarkets at the same price point, if we’re comparing like for like. This extends right into their alcoholic drinks range with their wines blowing away stuff 3 times the price. Long have Aldi done a range of whiskies and about a billion gins, but rum has always lagged behind. They put out the Sea Dog spiced rum this year which really wasn’t very good, but I have been hoping for more offerings. So there I was, minding my own business in the Aisle of Wonder when I see some new rum. I’ll have some of that!

A while ago Aldi released 2 new “Premium” rums as part of their Special Buys (they come, they go, then they’re gone), one was a golden rum and one was a dark rum, both called “Crossbones”. As I have a lot of time for Aldi I thought I’d give them chance to make amends for the Sea Dog. I’m going to review both rums here to give you a fair account of them against each other as I imagine most people will see them on the shelf and be wondering which one to go for.

Update: It looks like these rums may have been incorporated into the wider range rather than Special Buy as they are now sitting with the rest of the booze on the main shelf. Hopefully the dark rum will be part of the core range.

First, lets start with the review of Aldi Crossbones Premium Golden Rum:

What is it? Dunno. Rum. It’s a blend of young and older rums from around the Caribbean, aged in oak casks. We don’t know the still type, or the countries, or how long they have been aged in oak for. So we’ve looking at a generic rum blend here. Without a doubt this will be entirely from molasses.

Coloured, chill filtered and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? My hydrometer says 4g/l, that is perfectly fine and generally considered to be “none” as anything under 5g/l can be attributed by cask sugars. So well done Aldi, they’ve not smoothed it over with sugar.

Nose: Pretty pleasant actually, smells like rum. Some spirity varnish notes and it’s on the lighter Cuban or Central American side, high in column still, but none the less it’s a fair nose; banana, coconut, caramels and baking spices with cinnamon and clove. A touch of runny honey, vanilla and a little menthol.

Palate: Medium mouth feel. Light and grassy, slightly astringent but not too bad, easy to drink neat. It’s a rinse and repeat of the nose really, a little more savoury note here though with some brine and a touch of tar but nothing too much as to sway it from the oak caramels and spices.

Finish: Short. More astringent here and a little bitter, still some cinnamon, caramel and vanilla though. It gets some lime part way through which lifts it.

Thoughts? A standard “golden rum” I guess. Generally though it’s decent enough. I’ve had worse rums for more money and in respect to Aldi it probably wasn’t ever designed to be drunk neat from a Copita glass and judged by some dude on the internet. Based on that, its general flavour and price of a mere £15 I think it’s a solid buy.

 

Ok, let’s move on to the Aldi Crossbones Premium Dark Rum review:

What is it? A bit more detail here; this one is solely a blend of Jamaican column and pot still rums, so we know we’re likely to be getting a bit more in terms of quality, it’ll be solely from molasses. No mention of ageing here, but then I don’t know what defines “older” rum in the Golden one anyway, the lack of any age indication isn’t a deal breaker, it’s a dark rum blend.

Coloured (oh yes, heavily), chill filtered and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? As with the Golden Rum, this has come in at 4g/l so totally fine. No issue here.

Nose: Yikes. Big, rich and decadent that’s for sure, definitely got some Jamaican pot still in here. It’s going for the “Navy” style of rum, if that’s your thing. Black bananas, boot polish, treacle toffee, molasses, roasted coffee beans and black olives. Notes of camphor, soil, wet leaves and brine. There is a slight meaty note too, mushroom’y, maybe ham and a little grilled pineapple.

Palate: Yeah, same here. Full mouth though, quite oily and rich but not cloying. Chocolate, fudge, cinnamon, treacle toffee again and a massive waft of banana bread, black bananas, ginger and coffee. It still has some savoury notes though with that boot polish, some leather, camphor and mushroom. A little black olive and brine too at the end.

Finish: Medium this time. Stays on the treacle, coffee, chocolate and wood spices here with ginger, clove and nutmeg. A little vanilla and coconut towards the end and a lighter banana note.

Thoughts? Heh. Really pretty good. Lots of rich flavours, not much heat or astringency and easy to drink neat. It’d mix very well but honestly it’s easy peasy to drink it neat. I imagine this is what most people expect when they order a “dark rum” and it delivers on that expectation.

Just reading the bottle tag I knew that this one would be better than the Golden rum, it was the one I originally went for before I decided to get both; knowing it’s fully Jamaican rum is the kicker here as even industrial Clarendon column still rum is better than the vast majority of shite from Central America, chuck in some heavy pot still and it’s game on.

£15, again. No thought needed, it’s an absolute bargain. I’d recommend going out and getting this one if you are a fan of dark rums, it blows away stuff twice it’s price. The only issue is that it’s on the Special Buy so you may find your local Aldi like mine; sold out of this. I guess that’s a fair indication of which one was better!

Cadenhead’s 1842 Cask Rum

October in the UK. The weather is shit and it’s getting dark early, time for something a little more…….robust.

What is it? Who knows! Basically, Cask 1842 Rum is a rum from Independent bottlers Cadenhead, who do a whole range of whiskies, rums and other goodies. They own Springbank whisky in Campbeltown and are very active in sourcing and bottling their own range of spirits in various guises, from single casks to various small batches. As part of their range of spirits they offer “Cask 1842”, now this is not just a rum, they do the range for whiskies also, so don’t get confused. They have a “live” cask in the shop in Campbeltown for each of their offerings, in the case of this review it’s for their rum. A “live” cask is basically a quarter cask that is filled with a mixture of rums and left, once it gets about half empty they top it up with more rum, from whatever they have that they think with go well in the mix. They mix it around, leave it for a bit and then start to bottle again, once it gets half empty they top it up with some more rum. The result of this is that there’s some rum sloshing around in the cask from way back when, and quarter casks are smaller than your standard barrel so there is quicker wood interaction.

Naturally, there is no age statement on the bottle as it changes all the time depending what has been put in and given the nature of what’s being done with it, age statements are largely irrelevant. I’ve been told that all the rums in the cask are all “dark” rums from Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica and that over the years some very old and rare rum has gone into the cask; 30 year old stuff and some Caroni for example, back when old Demerara rums were easy and cheap to come by!

This is a review of an 1842 Cask Rum that was bottled on 5/11/2018.

Natural colour, not chill filtered and bottled at 56.6% abv.

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Smells like a big, rich Demerara at first; dark roasted coffee beans (something like the heavy roast Monsooned Malabar that I’m currently drinking), soft eating liquorice, boot polish, black olives and thick molasses or treacle. Vanilla, coconut and bourbon cask caramels pop up along with a nice little lift of lime juice and fresh pineapple. There is a little banana here and there, tar and a salty note that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Palate: Full, oily mouth feel, chewy. Yeah, heavy on the Demerara that’s for sure, very “British Navy” style I guess you could say. Chewing new leather, some rolling tobacco, treacle toffee, big black raisins, deep brown muscavado sugar, liquorice and blackberries. There’s a touch of fig, black cherry, dark chocolate (like an unsweet Black Forest cake, if it was possible), some banana and salty black olives again. The lime lift shows up here too just to freshen the palate and stop it getting bogged down.

Finish: Long. Liquorice again, bitters a little with walnuts, black coffee (more of a Sumatran this time), very dark chocolate, smoky sweet cigars and a bit of a savoury note I can’t pinpoint – it’s almost like a ham I had once that was covered in treacle, porter ale and smoked – it’s bitter, sweet and meaty all at the same time, really hard to explain.

Thoughts? I love this. It doesn’t have much balance, why would it, it’s bits of casks that have been chucked into another cask over years and years, but it’s got big and bold flavours, and a huge richness. I really like the idea of a live cask, and you can see how it changes over the years with each release, plus I know some very good rums have gone into this; it’s not a load of leftovers. A great winter rum by all accounts.

So I paid £48 for this, that’s a lot of money for a NAS rum, but given I know Cadenhead and the provenance of some of the rums that have gone into this over the years I’m happy to pay it. The only thing to watch, as always with Cadenhead, is their bloody delivery charges! If you’re going to order something from them then it’s worth batching up several bottles to justify the charges. I’ll be getting the next batch when it’s bottled, that’s for sure.