The Olde Sea Dog Black Spiced

Let’s get this out of the way first, before we go any further. If you have stumbled upon this review from a search engine result you need to be aware that whilst this is a rum blog, it’s one focused towards actual rum (generally higher end stuff that is made to be drunk neat and appreciated) and not your Sailor Jerry or Kraken, but there times when I review other stuff and I’ve reviewed several other “spiced rums” before. Just bear that in mind when you are reading this review and if Kraken is your thing, that’s fine, you just need to know the direction I’m coming at this from.

I happened upon this in my local Aldi, and it “accidentally” fell into my trolley. Being autistic I am quite literally the least impulsive person you’ll meet, my purchases are planned well in advance and meet certain criteria (mainly not duplicating regions or styles in the same order and ensuring that mixes of prices match to the budget I allow myself each month, for example) – all very boring and anal. For some reason I saw this and thought I’d give it a go, and I have no idea why. Imagine my surprise when I searched online for it and discovered it’s won a Gold Medal at some awards thing (The Spirits Business Rum and Cachaca Masters 2019), result I thought! I’ve scored a beaut here. Well you have to remember that companies have to specifically enter these awards and that the panel can only score what has been put in front of them, so they are far, far, from definitive awards. They also give out medals like a primary school sports day; everyone gets one for taking part……so let’s ignore that shall we.

So, The Olde Sea Dog Black Spiced (rum?)…..

What is it? It’s an Aldi own brand drink and it’s not a rum. There. Done. Credit to Aldi where it’s due, they have not labelled this as a rum either; it’s been labelled as a Spirit Drink, “A premium black spiced rum based spirit drink” to be more specific, so at least they are not trying to pass it off as something it’s not, unlike some other more well known producers….it seems to be based on their Old Hopking Rum brand.

The bottle says “Limited Release” – no details on how limited, but it’s April 2019 and I’ve seen it in the shops since the start of December 2018. It says “Premium Quality”, which just means it’s either got better ingredients in it, or is just more expensive than their “Standard” offering – want some good views on the word “Premium” when it comes to rum, read this from Wes at The Fat Rum Pirate: Premium Rum The Impossible Task? Part 3.

So we’ll go with molasses based rum, from somewhere, from some type of still and most likely not aged. Added flavourings and sugar.

Coloured, chill filtered and bottled at a respectable 40% abv, for a spirit drink.

Sugar? Why did I even ask. Yes. I’ve dipped my hydrometer in this and it’s around 50g/l sugar showing, but as it’s got other stuff added this reading my not be very accurate. Let’s just go with, lots.

Nose: Vanilla, masses of the stuff, muscavado sugar, molasses, cloves and milky coffee. There is some lime in here too but it’s like a lime cream or lime butter, and some vanilla. Tinned pineapples, chocolate oranges, some vanilla and a touch of coconut. And some vanilla. Can’t smell any rum in this I’m afraid, just flavourings.

Palate: Very sweet, but actually not that sticky and cloying, more of a medium mouth feel, which is surprising – and quite welcome. Vanilla, limes, rum and raisin ice-cream, fudge, vanilla and some limes. There is some soft brown sugar again, sweet black coffee, some more vanilla and a little bit of coconutty lime. Almost no heat whatsoever (caveat: when you drink full proof spirits a lot, like I do, pretty much anything at 40% tastes like water anyway!), but this has literally, no heat from the alcohol at all.

Finish: Short. Sweet. Gone. Faintest bite from the booze just to remind you that it’s young spirit, and a little bit bitter.

Thoughts? To be fair I’ll do this in 2 parts, firstly as a spiced rum based spirit drink (or general beverage) and secondly as a rum (don’t laugh). If you’re looking at this as a casual drinker of spiced rums, read Part 1, and I apologise for Part 2. If you’re looking at this as a real rum enthusiast, then you’re reading the wrong thing! (Sorry about this!) – Part 2 is for you.

Part 1. As a “drink”: Yum. Lovely tasting, sweet, easy and good value for money. You can mix it with coke, lemonade, coffee, other spirits, fruit juice and it’ll give you a really nice long drink with lots of ice. Great for summer. You could put it in a punch, or mulled wine, or hot toddy and it’d be great for winter. You can sip it neat with ice (or not) and it’d make a nice tasty way to get alcohol into you. There is virtually no alcoholic taste and it’s not spiced too strongly, unlike some “spiced” rums, I’m looking at you Rumbullion. Is it a good spiced rum/spirit drink thing? Yes. Is it worth £16.99? Yes. Is it better than other spiced rums that are out there? On the whole, yes. In my opinion it’s better than Sailor Jerry Spiced, it’s better than Captain Morgan Spiced, it’s better than Kraken and it’s better than Rumbullion. If that’s the sort of thing you like then get a bottle of this, it’s cheaper and better than most out there.

Part 2. As a Rum: Utter shite. Rum based my arse. You’d get the exact same thing if you swapped rum for vodka. It’s basically a 40% abv alcopop. I literally don’t know what I was thinking when I bought this – what part of my brain read the labels and thought “What could possibly go wrong here, sounds good”, I bought it knowing what it was so I’ve only got myself to blame. These things happen to us all, I guess it helps us realise what else you’ve got on the shelf. I got a bottle of Havana Club 7 anos for £19 last year and that’s a proper rum, if you want a real spiced rum then up your budget and grab a bottle of Bristol Black Spiced. I want my £16.99 back.

…..still, I’m going to drink it, because I’ve bought it and I’m tight. I’ll just have it after a spicy meal, or if I have a cold or something.

 

 

Depaz Port Cask Finish

What is it? Rum, distilled in a column still where the raw material is pressed sugar cane juice – so a R(h)um Agricole. This rum was produced at the Depaz distillery on the island of Martinique in the French West Indies and has been aged for around 8 years in oak casks followed by a finishing period of 11 months in Port casks, all ageing is done tropically. You can read more about the rum and distillery in my previous posts here and here, which cover off the AOC classification and background.

Chill filtered, not coloured and bottled at 45% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: A shy nose at first, there is some rich chocolate – the 60% dark stuff, like Bournville – liquorice, cinnamon, some slight cane but not much. Chocolate covered cranberries, plums (those deep black ones) and ground black pepper. There is a little vanilla in there right at the back but the richer flavours keep it down.

Palate: Medium. More cane here but it’s quickly take over by milk chocolate, liquorice, coffee beans, stewed plums with vanilla cream topping, raspberry jam, damsons and Turkish Delight. There is some sweet nutty oak, marzipan and handful of hazelnuts, almonds and cashews pop up towards the finish.

Finish: Long. Spicy at first with black pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon but it gets chocolatey, then soft cooked stone fruits and a little butterscotch as it progresses. Vanilla and some dried banana chips, dusted with coconut appear right at the end.

Thoughts? This is my 2nd favourite of the new Depaz rums. There isn’t all that much sugar cane juice on offer but there are really lovely rich, nutty flavours and the Port cask adds a deep dark fruit that really compliments the rum rather than cover up the character, which often happens with “finishing”. Ok, this one is quite pricey and it’ll set you back around £80 or more for a bottle, and whilst it’s really very good I’m not sure I’d get a bottle of this over the VSOP as that really is the sweet spot for me.

Depaz XO Grand Reserve

What is it? Rum, distilled in a column still where the raw material is pressed sugar cane juice – so a R(h)um Agricole. This rum was produced at the Depaz distillery on the island of Martinique in the French West Indies and has been aged for around 8-10 years in oak casks, tropically. You can read more about the rum and distillery in my previous posts here and here, which cover off the AOC classification and background.

Chill filtered, not coloured and bottled at 45% abv.

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Plenty of lovely French oak here with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and black peppercorns. Fragrant notes of rose water, fresh root liquorice, hazelnuts and more vanilla. There is a little milk chocolate, some distant old leather and a meaty mushroom’y note too; almost sherry like or grape’y Cognac notes. All very “smooth” and constructed – words I dislike in spirits. Smooth for me is shy, “easy” and lacking vibrant character. It’s a very nice nose indeed but not a conversation starter.

Palate: Medium. First off there is some sour green wood, but that dies away. The flavours are quite muted; some fresh cane and tight oak spice, apple and white grape, but picking out individual flavours here is hard – maybe my lack of experience with Agricoles. I get a feeling of soft, well matured spirit more than anything individual – the types of smells I find in a good aged Cognac.

Finish: Long. Lingering spices of nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and white pepper. This fades off and leaves room for plenty of milk chocolate, figs, stewed stone-fruit, coconut and vanilla. There is more to find here than on the actual palate, which is good as the finish does last a long time.

Thoughts? Hmmm. It’s normal to expect things to get better as you move up a range, age and price, but this isn’t what’s happened here. The vibrant cane notes and floral aspects that are present in the Plantation and the VSOP are lost in this and it becomes a different rum altogether. It takes quite a lot of time in the glass and some getting used to to find the notes. I suspect that Depaz are aiming firmly at the XO Cognac type drinkers with this rum, it’s so similar and constructed in the same way it would easily be interchangeable for a normal XO Cognac, like a Courvoisier. It’s clearly well made and matured, but I find the whole thing just a bit too muted and “smooth” for my liking, I want some more character to jump out of the glass at me.

Good, but not my style and I wouldn’t part with £75 for it I’m afraid.

Depaz VSOP Reserve Speciale

What is it? Rum, distilled in a column still where the raw material is pressed sugar cane juice – so a R(h)um Agricole. This rum was produced at the Depaz distillery on the island of Martinique in the French West Indies and has been aged for at least 7 years in oak casks, tropically. You can read more about the rum and distillery in my previous posts here and here, which cover off the AOC classification and background – I wont labour old ground. This rum is also labelled as a Très Vieux which means it is “very old” and meets the additional classification of Vieux rhum under the AOC that was outlined in the review of the Depaz “Plantation” Rhum on the link above.

Chill filtered, not coloured and bottled at 45% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: Toasty oak, pipe tobacco, dried coconut flakes from muesli and mixed nuts. Lovely candied papaya and dried pineapple too. A little fig jam, milk chocolate, vanilla and a hint of nutmeg. There is, naturally, cane juice, green olives, hay and a touch of lavender.

Palate: Medium. Cane’y at first, with cut grass, white wine, dried herbs (parsley and marjoram). Some notes of banana, coconut, papaya and vanilla pop up and then it gets spicier with cinnamon, allspice and pink peppercorns. There’s a salty white chocolate note, some soured yogurt, hazelnuts and prune. At the end, the faintest hint of tobacco in the distance and the tang of black liquorice.

Finish: Medium to long. Milk chocolate mouse, chocolate coated nuts, salt and pepper cashews, a little olive’y note and a meaty fig in here too. Right at the end there is a lovely creamy banana, soft vanilla and desiccated coconut.

Thoughts? My favourite of the 4 new Depaz rums. This one is a lot more balanced than the Plantation, it’s less oaked than the XO and sits in the right place for age, price and overall flavour. I’ll be get getting a full bottle of this, for sure. A lovely complex and enjoyable rum and a great buy at the £50-55 is costs.

Depaz Plantation Rhum Vieux Agricole

Back in October 2018 Rhum Depaz launched in the UK with 4 new rums. The PR company behind the release contacted me asking if I would like some samples and if I would post the Press Release for the launch. I don’t go seeking samples and don’t usually accept offers as I’m self funded (I buy my own rum with my own hard earned money) and totally impartial, but this time I thought it was a worthy promotion. I won’t labour details in my previous post, that can be read here, but my view is that rum labelling and classification generally is a farce and the UK is appalling at this too. Now, Martinique AOC (appellation d’origine controlee) is a classification and labelling set of rules that must be followed for the AOC to apply and we get very little of the rum over here in the UK so consumers are not exposed to it. I think the classification is fabulous and we really need to get more exposure to that sort of thing in the UK. So I accepted the samples. Now, I was sent a load of tasting notes with the samples, but there’s no way I’m going to publish someone else’s notes – so I’ve done my own. They are a little late coming, lots of rum to get through and a busy Christmas!

What is it? Rum, distilled in a column still where the raw material is pressed sugar cane juice – so a R(h)um Agricole. This rum was produced at the Depaz distillery on the island of Martinique in the French West Indies and has been aged for at least 3 years in oak casks tropically. To adhere to the AOC regulations the rum must be 100% pressed sugar cane juice, that juice has a very tightly controlled brix (sugar content), it must be distilled in a column still to between 65% and 75% abv with no further rectification (second, abv boosting distillation) and the setup of the still must meet certain standards – such as the number and size of stripping plates used. Further more, no sugar or colouring can be added to AOC Martinique rums.

This rum is labelled as “vieux”; this additionally part of the classification and the rules for the AOC are very strict. It means that it has been aged in oak casks within the production area and for at least 3 uninterrupted years. The capacity of barrels must be under 650 litres and the rum must also contain at least 325 grams per 100 litre of pure alcohol of volatile elements other than ethanols and methyl at the end of the three years (these are your esters).

Chill filtered, not coloured and bottled at 45% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: Fresh cane juice, as I’d expect. Hay, white flowers (sweet peas and lilly) and marjoram. A little vanilla, white chocolate, blanched almonds, a touch of cocoa powder and some faint allspice. There is some white wine here too and a faint hint of green olives. It smells very fresh and vibrant, and different from a mass produced molasses based rum indeed.

Palate: Very grassy, those herbal cough lozenges you can get from a traditional English sweet shop, white wine again and a little sour note. There are some fuller notes of milk chocolate and white chocolate, cinnamon, a little prune juice, vanilla, almonds and gentle coconut.

Finish: Short. Sweeter here than the nose or palate with more milk chocolate, yogurt coated cranberry or other dried and tart fruits as well as those dried, toasted coconut flakes you get in muesli.

Thoughts? As an Agricole novice, the taste does take some getting used to. With time the sharpness and sourness seems to go and more sweeter cask notes come through. As an entry level young Agricole I like it but I’m not sure I’d pick a bottle up for £35. It’s not that it’s not a good rum, I just find it very different to what I’m used to and there are a lot more complex rums out there at that price. However, if you want to give Agricole a punt then it’s certainly nice and worth looking at more closely – unfortunately Agricoles are more expensive than most other rums due to the production methods and limited time of the year they can make it. In terms of the range (the other 3 rums Depaz do) this clearly sits at the bottom. No spoilers here, but there are a couple of crackers as the rum gets older, albeit more expensive!