Foursquare Dominus

What is it? Single Blended rum from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados, so pot and column still rum that has been produced from molasses and distilled at one distillery, then blended. This bottle is release number 7 from the Exception Cask Selection, and as with the previous Foursquare Exception Cask Selection bottles, this rum is blended after distillation and before ageing so that the entire blend is aged together – the pot and column still rums are not aged separately and blended at the end. In terms of maturation, this rum spent 3 years maturing in ex-bourbon casks before being moved over to ex-Cognac casks for a further 7 years, giving a total of 10 years maturation; all of which was done tropically, so around 20 or so years European equivalent, and was bottled in January 2018 as part of a limited run of 6000 bottles in Europe.

Not chill filtered, but coloured, and bottled at 56% abv.

Nose: Lots of oak at the start, cinnamon, clove and ginger. The usual Bajan honeycomb, vanilla and thin golden syrup come along, a touch of orange oil, spiced caramel and some red chillies. There are some deeper phenolic notes under this with WD40, engine oil, olives and a little brine, but the oak dominates over all.

Palate: Perfect weight, oily full mouth but not cloying. Hot and spicy at first with peppercorns, chillies and clove. Some spiced toffee, caramel sauce, vanilla pod and chilli infused milk chocolate mid-palate. The oily, briney note carries through here, a little tar, some candle wax and rubber gloves. Still spicy, right to the finish.

Finish: Very long. Hot and spicy. More chocolate here as the spices die off, a little liquorice candy (Pontefract cakes), black unsweetened coffee, honey on burnt toast and a little raisin note at the end. The spices never really leave though, the buzz stays on your tongue right to the very end and gets slightly bitter.

Thoughts? Another cracking rum form Foursquare. This is better, in my opinion, than the Premise but not as good as the Criterion. The thing with Cognac casks is that they are made from Limousin oak, and the thing with Limousin oak is that it’s bloody spicy, tight grained and can really dominate spirits. It gets blended out in Cognac as they use Eau De Vie from lots of different years and massive batches, but here it has a full 7 tropical years to muscle the rum about and it’s frankly too much really. The Habitation Velier 2013 was maturated in ex-Cognac but that was only for 2 tropical years and that was perfect, whereas this has seen too much time. It’s too spicy and as a result the rum looses the usually perfect balance that Foursquare brings……

….still, it’s a really, really good rum by anyone’s standards and it was a bargain for the £55 it cost. Yes. I certainly would buy it again.

 

Mezan Jamaica 2005 (Worthy Park)

What is it? Jamaican Pure Single Rum, so molasses based, distilled at the Worthy Park distillery, in Jamaica, on a pot still in 2005 and bottled by Independent bottler Mezan in around 2015/2016, making this approx 10 years old. You may see another of these 2005 Jamaica’s around at the moment, that is a more recent bottling (2017) and bottled at a higher abv of 46% abv. From what I understand this rum was entirely matured in Europe. There are no details on the bottle outrun or the marque that has gone into this bottling, and I’ve not been able to find that information out anywhere either.

Not coloured or chill filtered and bottled at 40% abv. It’s ok, Mezan have done away with this low abv now on their more recent bottlings, worry not!

Sugar? No.

Nose: Hmmm, quite a light Worth Park here. Certainly bananas, lemon and lime (Sprite or 7up), very light golden syrup, more so than honey. Some cake’y, bread’y notes, so maybe indeed banana bread or banana pie. A little vanilla maybe, a tiny prickle of oak (I mean tiny) and a little bit of salty brine. Some really lovely generic floral notes are here too but I can’t pick out anything specific.

Palate: Medium mouth. Soft entry, quite acidic at first with green apples, gooseberries, sharp cider, grass and under ripe nectarine. There is a nice, creamier buttery/custard side that appears mid-palate with a touch of honey and chamomile tea, but doesn’t last long and goes salty, tarry and sour again to the finish.

Finish: Medium in length. Sweeter white wine (like a sweet Riesling), some green olives, a little tar, orange blossom honey and even a little milk chocolate pops up! Very little heat, spice or oak at all from the cask.

Thoughts? Quite different to Worthy Parks I’ve had before, I can see the similarities – a good whack of banana in there for sure – but it’s very soft, light and raw. A nice bottle to see how different styles from a distillery present themselves, but for me it was just lacking any real wow or oomph. I can’t even say it was the abv this time, I just think that it was too spirit driven (which is fine normally) but in this case the wrong marque of rum. Maybe this would have normally been blend filler?

Clearly very well made rum and at £33 (at the time of purchase in 2016) was a no brainer, but it’s not a rum I’d go back to. Just not enough on offer for me.

Mezan Guyana 2005 (Port Mourant)

What is it? This rum is a molasses based rum from the Diamond distillery in Guyana, specifically from the Port Mourant double wooden pot still – making this a Pure Single Rum . It was distilled in 2005 and I believe it was bottled in 2015/2016 making the rum 10 years of age. Recently Mezan have changed their labelling to show more information on ageing and bottling, but this is an old bottle so there isn’t much to go off. From what I understand, and certainly get from the tasting, is that this is European aged rum.

Not coloured, not chill filtered and bottled at 40% abv.

Nose: Quite pungent, you can smell it from quite a way off, so I’ve high hopes for this. Really fruity at the start with bananas, guava, papaya, a lovely light blossom honey and a whole host of fresh flowers – summer in a glass! The deeper in you get it starts to show it’s savoury side with aniseed, red peppers, fennel seeds, light liquorice, liquorice root, fresh ginger and menthol.

Palate: Medium mouth. Not so much fruit here, lots of fennel tea, aniseed balls, ginger again, brine, shellfish and some tarragon. It’s very herbal and really quite spicy. There is a dried banana note in there and a touch of sharp mango, but not much.

Finish: Medium. Spicy from the ginger and white pepper, but there is a softer more buttery side as it progresses, a little horseradish sauce. Fruitier at the end with lots more bananas and that guava. A slight tannic note is the only evidence of any age.

Thoughts? Lovely nose but the palate and finish let it down. There are some good flavours and a bit of complexity but it feels too young. It’s very spirit driven, which is fine, but it needs to be approaching 50% abv if they’re relying on it’s spirit character alone. I’d say it needed fresher casks really to add more depth into the rum.

This cost me £35 back in 2017, which is a good solid buy and something a little different; naturally presented “raw” rum. I’m not sure I’d be buying this again though, even if there were any left about.

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.

Depaz Rum – Official UK launch

As a blogger, I occasionally get asked to post Press Releases for various things, from new rums to festivals. As this blog is a personal blog, purely based on my own opinions and reviews (almost exclusively from rums I buy, swap or get samples from friends), I don’t publish a lot of them. Sometimes though, there are certain festivals (RumFest being one) and certain rums that I feel should be publicised. This is one of those times.

Depaz is a rum brand from Martinique and carries the AOC (appellation d’origine controlee) classification. For those that don’t know, this is a very strict set of rules around production and bottling methods that must be adhered to – the same way that Cognac does and Scotch Whisky, very (very!) basically it; indicates a rum made from sugar cane cultivated in strictly authorised areas on the island, with limited yields and agricultural practices that protect the land and the quality of the crops. 100 per cent sugar cane juice must be used in production, distillation is made through columns or continuous stills, alcohol levels must not be lower than 40% ABV and colouring must be natural from ageing only in oak casks. There are only seven AOC accredited distilleries on Martinique. Just 3 per cent of the world’s rum holds the AOC Agricole Rum mark. It goes on and on to include the brix level (sugar content) of the juice, fermentation times allowed, level of organic volatiles for each grade, minimum maturation periods etc…..

Now we don’t tend to see a lot of Agricole rum in the UK and even less with AOC classification, so the fact that an official UK launch is being done by such a brand is exciting news. Agricole rums are an area that I’ve not had much chance to venture into so far and something that I’m planning to change – if only I could get the bottles I want at the right price! One of the main reasons I’m publishing this is that the regulations in the UK on what can be sold as rum are a farce, and the likes of AOC is a perfect example of the type of thing we need more exposure to. As a consumer, knowing how my rum is made and to what standards would give me far more confidence in my purchases.

For transparency purposes, I’ve been sent a sample kit by Depaz which contains the 4 rums mentioned in the Press Release. I was hoping they would be good, as I wouldn’t be prepared to post this for rum that I didn’t like. I’ve tried them, and will be reviewing them separately with my own notes – and as such won’t publish their “official” notes, but they are very good.

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Depaz, one of the world’s oldest and most exceptional rums, has announced its official launch in the UK this autumn, bringing a taste of its lush Martinique home in the French West Indies to British drinkers.

One of the few rums to hold ‘AOC Rum Agricole’ status (‘appellation d’origine controlee’) – a mark exclusive to Martinique, denoting production in a small designated geographical area – Depaz is one of the island’s finest terroir spirits; a traditionally crafted rum of exquisite quality and flavour, the perfect embodiment of its place and the perseverance of its people over 350 years.

The Depaz team will launch a portfolio of four 700ml expressions in the UK market, all perfect for sipping and savouring: Depaz Plantation Rum, Depaz VSOP Reserve Speciale, Depaz Grand Reserve XO and Depaz Port Cask Finish. Launch events and tastings are planned for Rumfest on 20th and 21st October and The Spirit Show 22nd and 23rd November (both in London), with limited stocks then available at specialist spirits retailers and bars around the UK. The range will have an RRP of £35 – £55.

From cane to cask, every drop of Depaz Rum is produced at the Depaz Estate and Distillery on Martinique’s rugged north west coast, nestled in the shadow of the island’s highest mountain, volcanic Mont Peleé.

This terroir is at the heart of the rum. The rich volcanic soil surrounding Mont Peleé, and the shelter it provides from rain clouds brought to Martinique on the eastern trade winds, cultivate the estate’s high quality blue sugar cane. Harvested each spring amid celebrations, its juices result in a rum of unique character and superb depth of flavour.

Depaz is also defined by its history, which stretches back to 1651 when ‘Chateau Depaz Estate’ was founded; and the resilience of the Depaz family in the face of enormous tragedy. A catastrophic eruption of Mount Peleé in 1902 claimed the lives of 30,000 islanders and destroyed the entire Depaz Distillery. Just one member of the Depaz family survived, with a resolve to rebuild the estate and restart rum production for future generations.

Unlike standard rums which are made with syrups and molasses, Depaz is crafted using only the pressed juice of freshly cut sugar cane. Each expression is smooth, flavourful and perfectly balanced, with different styles and finishes to suit different tastes.

Commenting on the launch, Ruaridh Paterson, Key Account Manager for Depaz Rum said: ‘We are very much looking forward to bringing Depaz to the UK, and to sharing the extraordinary taste of our rums and the fascinating story of our Martinique heritage with British drinkers. We are seeing a growing interest in spirits that are more premium and crafted, offering interesting new flavours, distinctive provenance and an authentic story. As an agricole rum with centuries of island heritage, Depaz is rich in all of these areas and is already highly acclaimed and sought after in our existing markets. We look forward to sharing these exceptional rums with drinkers over the coming months.’

www.depazrhum.com

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