Pampero Aniversario Reserva Exclusiva (40%, Venezuela, Circa 2009)

Nearly summer, but already quite a lot of sunny days. Add to that that I live besides a lake, makes for an almost carribean feel. Well, no white sandy beaches, no palm trees, and not really crystal clear water, but you can’t have it all can’t you? Not so long ago I reviewed a trio of Rums, which I haven’t done for a while then and I must admit, I had quite a lot of fun with them. So why not do it again? Lets start with a Rum most Rum aficionado’s know very well. Pampero Aniversario. If you don’t recognize the picture below, this Rum is sold in a leather pouch, which also comes in handy when wiping moisture off of your windscreen.

Pampero AniversarioColor: Dark brown.

Nose: When you see the (dark) color of this Rum, you expect a lot nosing this for the first time, but it actually smells sweet, but also very elegant and middle of the roadish. It sounds worse than I actually mean. Reminds me a bit of Abuelo 7yo (which is sharper) and the 18yo Panamanian Rum from Rum Nation (which is less sweet). Light, fresh and fragrant. Hints of cinnamon and thick brown sugar. Lightly acidic fruit and cola. New leather and butterscotch.

Taste: Quite thin and for a brief moment sugary sweet, acidic, cola again. (Slightly burnt) brown sugar, but alas a bit thin (as in watery) and a bit too simple. It is even drier than expected. Hints of bitterness from wood and slightly burnt caramel. Creamy toffee with hints of vanilla. All flavours are well integrated. Short finish, which leaves you only with the burnt aftertaste.

The color alone made for great expectations. Alas the Rum itself is rather light. I can’t help but feel this has a lot more potential than it is allowed to show, so that everybody will like it. Just smell the Rum deeply, let it breathe a lot, its very complex, well balanced and nice. Taste wise a lot simpler and lighter, with a short finish. This Rum has a profile with lots of competitors. I alreasy mentioned Abuelo from Panama, but also Diplomatico from Venezuela itself or Zacapa 23 from Diageo themselves.

Points: 79

Säntis Malt Edition Dreifaltigkeit (52%, OB, Old Oak Beer Casks)

End of the line, for now. We finish our short trip in Europe in Switzerland to visit the Locher Brewery in Appenzell. Nothing more interesting than the quest to find Whiskies not from Scotland. Earlier I reviewed the entry-level Edition Säntis, which I found reasonable and showed already some potential. This time around we have quite a different Säntis Malt, which is called Edition Dreifaltigkeit. Dreifaltigkeit has been finished in a Sherry cask but also peated malt was used. Sounds good!

Säntis Malt Edition DreifaltigkeitColor: Vibrant orange brown.

Nose: Heaps and heaps of smoke, yet not a lot of peat (for a peated malt). Lots of fruit, black, red, the lot. Nicely thick, highly aromatic. Lots of fruity esters too. Sherried, meaty and fishy. Smoked sausage and a hint of smoked mackerel. You can name any meat or fish that has been smoked, it seems to be all here. When given some time, and air, an odor of stale beer enters the fold. I have the glass before me and at the same time was reading something, and some less than excellent sour whiffs fly by my nose. The initial fruit was stronger than the stale beer nose, but it seems they are trading places now. Just move the Whisky around a bit in your glass and the off note is gone. Dry and chocolaty notes enter late as well as dry horse manure. What a Malt! Great nose, up there with a lot of other great noses like this Longrow. Hope it tastes similarly good and we’ll have a winner here!

Taste: Taste wise it seems a lot simpler at first. First of all, it doesn’t seem to be 52%. I expected more of an alcoholic bite. It has some (bitter) wood, dust and paint. Dry paint residue and definitely some smoke, even in the taste. Sweetish fruits again (Sherry, Cream Oloroso or PX I would say) and just like the nose, a slightly acidic off-note. The off-note changes a bit and can be identified as beerlike towards the finish. Hoppy bitterness in the finish and also a sour note. The finish is long and shows the higher ABV.

The ultimate smoky malt. For me the Beer notes in this malt do not work, but they are well-kept in the background. I understand this is essentially a brewery, so it has ages and ages of history with making Beer, and using Beer casks, but this isn’t a Beer, its Whisky and it is proven over and over again, that Beer casks are not the best casks you can use for ageing Whisky. Having said that, this turned out to be a wonderful uniquely smoky malt. Recommended!

Points: 86

The English Whisky Co. 3yo 2007/2010 “Chapter 6″ (46%, OB, American Standard Barrel #001-011)

Next stop is in Roudham, Norfolk, UK. Although close to the source, from a Scottish perspective, this is a World Whisky. The English Whisky Co. is the brand name and the distillery is called St. George’s Distillery. Founded by James and Andrew Nelstrop, its location was chosen because of clean and pure water, and well Barley and Norfolk, need I say more? Initially they wanted to build a micro distillery, but customs and excise wouldn’t have it, they wanted a big distillery, otherwise they wouldn’t bother giving off a licence. In december 2006, distilling commenced under the supervision of Laphroaigs one and only Iain Henderson. 29 barrels were filled. This particular Whisky was distilled two months after opening by Iain, aged for three years so it is barely legal…

The English Whisky Co. 3yo 20072010 Chapter 6 (46%, OB, First Fill American Bourbon Casks #001-011)Color: Light gold.

Nose: Extremely malty, and noses like new make spirit. White bread used for sandwiches dumped in water. I guess the eleven casks used weren’t very active. Grassy, lemongrass and sugar. Hay and all sorts of grass plants. Citrussy. It will remain the new make spirit it essentially is. Malt, bread and Vodka. That’s it. Sure, noses like this are part of the Whisky industry as a whole, so you “gotta love it”. But I don’t like it when I buy a bottle of a finished product. I’m not nosing this and enjoying myself, to be honest.

Taste: Soft and sweet. At least the taste shows some potential. Well rounded, and just the right amount of sweetness. Taste wise no off notes whatsoever, just plain young and massively un-complex. Enjoyable? Very! Toffee and vanilla. light and sunny. You get my drift.

Nosing this stuff I really asked myself why would anyone bottle this when it is clearly not ready. This is why they came up with the rule that Whisky must be three years old. Well, if you make stuff like this in a cold climate with inactive casks (first fill, really?) and it reaches three years of age, then it hardly meets requirement doesn’t it. Tasting it is a different story completely. Good potential, and I’ll be watching this Whisky grow. I hope they will succeed. Good luck!

Points: 75

Reisetbauer 12yo (48%, OB, Limited Edition)

Time to take a small trip and have a look around some European distilleries producing Single Malt Whisky. We’ll start our mini trip in Austria to have a look at Hans Reisetbauers flagship Whisky, the 12yo. Earlier I already reviewed the 1998 Reisetbauer 7yo. Hans matures his Whisky in casks that once held Chardonnay and Trockenbeerenauslese, one, a dry and the second a sweet White Wine. Hans doesn’t import barley, but grows four hectares of summer brewing barley himself.

“The barley was crushed and malted at 65° C before being cooled and fermented in stainless-steel tanks for around 70 hours. The fermented mash is then twice distilled in copper pot stills. At this pointed the distillate, which has an alcohol content of around 70 per cent, is aged until fully mature in four casks that the top Austrian wine makers Alois Kracher and Heinz Velich previously used for aging Chardonnay and Trockenbeerenauslese.”

Reisetbauer 12yoColor: Slightly copper gold.

Nose: Plastics and fruit. Orchard fruits. Hints of pear, apples. Ear wax. Extremely duty underneath and for a while the plastics dominate the nose. Some of the plastics are slightly burnt. The plastic note is very close to the waxy aroma, which probably comes from the wine casks used. Given some time to breathe, aroma’s of Grappa emerge. If I would venture a guess (and I can be completely wrong here), I would say the grappa note comes from the Chardonnay casks, and the waxy/plastics come from Trockenbeerenauslese (a sweet White Wine). Next up the woody notes, which are quite soft and slightly spicy. Mocha and Latte. The plastics give way, but the Grappa remains. Very interesting distillate. Nosed blind I wouldn’t have guessed this is a Whisky.

Taste: Plastics again and lots of wax. Polyester!That’s it! Have you ever repaired a polyester boat? WYSIWYG (What You Smell Is What You Get). The Polyester is there immediately, but luckily dissipates quite quickly, to give way to wax wood and a winey note. Coffee in the aftertaste. “Do-a-burp™” after drinking this and it’s all plastics again.

Just reading my note about the nose alone, its pretty obvious this is not a Scottish Malt, and reading it all it hardly seems to be a Whisky at all! In case of the 7yo Reisetbauer I reviewed earlier, I found that it already was dominated by the cask used. The 12yo we have at hand is so dominated by the casks, that it is difficult, if not impossible to detect that this is a Whisky at all! This is a Wine (and polyester) finished Single Malt Grappa. If you want a Whisky, you’re better off with the 7yo. Nevertheless, this distillate has a lot of good sides to it too, so maybe it is unfair to hammer it with its off-notes.

Points: 73

Hampden 17yo 1990/2007 (46%, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Jamaica)

Quite nice trying some Rums in a row, something I haven’t done in a while, and I have to admit it, it’s quite fun. After the white Plantation, and the brown Cockspur 12, let’s try a super premium high ester Rum from Jamaica, bottled by the old Wine and Whisky traders, Berry Brothers & Rudd.

Hampden Distillery from Jamaica is known for heavy pot still Rums a.k.a. high ester Rum. A lot of effort is made in the workings of yeast in the production process using century old fermentors, and of course, they use their own cultured yeasts. Hampden has a reputation to uphold when it comes to this kind of high ester Rum.

Hampden 1990 BBRColor: White wine.

Nose: Highly aromatic. Lots of esters. Extremely funky and dense. I l, really love Jamaican Rum, and this is exactly why. I recognize the typical Jamaican smell from the Plantation Jamaican Rums. Its thick and chewy. Rum with raisins or raisins full of Rum. It reminds me of a lot of things but I can’t put my finger on it what it exactly is. Christmas cake. Vanilla Ice cream with raisins in it. Reminds me of Napolitanean cassata ice-cream. That’s it. Loads of vanilla and new (bicycle) tires, where do you get that! Great funkiness. After a while a bit dusty. This is reggae in a bottle. Excellent stuff, I need it.

Taste: Sweet (just right for me) and lots of fruity acidity. Which is a great addition that prevents this Rum from becoming too heavy or cloying, what is even worse. Heaviness I can deal with, but overly and sugary sweet, nope, not my cup of tea. This Hampden ís my cup of tea. Give me the whole pot! Clean (no, not clean actually) and funky, slightly Industrial. But I like Industrial notes in Rum. You can find it in Caroni from Trinidad, but also in Rum Agricole. Good drinkability at 46% ABV. Lovely stuff. Sipping away at this, the added acidity stand out in the finish, defining it, and sometimes can be too much.

I don’t want to add too much to what I’ve already written above. This is great Rum and I really like this style. For a Jamaican, it could have been dirtier even, and bottled at a higher strength even, but I’m not complaining. this is wonderful stuff, with more than usual fruitiness, and a nice fresh acidity. All that after 17yo! Wow. I can almost cry this isn’t available anymore.

Points: 89

Cockspur 12 (40%, Barbados, Circa 2008)

Well, that didn’t do the trick. For some strange reason or another, I picked a white Rum for sipping purposes, when white Rums are usually made for mixing. However I heard Plantation make a very good white Rum, I just had to have a go at it. Quite nice, but as I said before, it didn’t do the trick for me, and I still need a sip of a good Rum. This time I’ll try a brown one, and my eye fell on this Cockspur 12, a handcrafted Bajan Rum. Cockspur 12 is made from both column still and pot still Rums. Careful readers have seen that the 12 in the title is not really an age statement. The 12, means that the Rum is blended as to seem to be 12 years old. In fact the Rums in this blend can be even 17 years old but also as young as 4 years old. Although this is Bajan Rum, the bottle itself comes from Scotland with an UK distributor, so I’m guessing this Rum came as bulk to europe, where it also was bottled.

Cockspur 12Color: Copper gold or dark amber.

Nose: Well this is something else. This does smells of age. Wood, but also fresh. Sweet yes, but with nice touches of fruity acidity. Nice. Elegant polished wood, reminding me of some good Bourbons. Give the glass a whirl to release some more aroma’s from it and the deep brooding slightly tarry notes allow you to smell this is actually a Rum. Fatty and sweet milk chocolate of reasonable quality. Give it some time and you still believe this to be an older kind of Bourbon. Honey and wood and warm freshly roasted nuts and peanuts.

Taste: Well definitely no Bourbon now. In part it may well have been. but the syrupy quality most definitely isn’t. Toffee, wood and caramel. Thank god for the wood in this one. It gives it character and gives the sweetness a run for its money. Not an overly sweet rum this is, but think away the wood it probably would. Vanilla and a creamy note. Pudding.

Very easily drinkable. This really lies very close to Bourbon, albeit a sweet one. So a mashbill with lots of corn. It definitely smells of an (older) Bourbon, but the taste is Rum. Still some traits of Bourbon, but definitely a Rum. Taste wise quite a simple Rum, but one with great balance and great drinkability. Personally I think this could have done with some more oomph. 43 or 46% would have been nice. Recommended.

Points: 83

Plantation 3 Stars (41.2%, Jamaica, Barbados & Trinidad)

Although maybe 90% of my reviews are about Whisky, essentially this is a drinks blog. I do prefer Whisky, but not all the time. There is more great stuff around, and mine is a constant journey in finding the best quality stuff to have around and enjoying my life with. I was on quite a roll of mostly nice Whiskies lately, but today I had a real craving for one step beyond the usual realm of Single Malt Whisky. Two days ago we had some guests over for an evening of Wines and Cheese, but already then I had an intermezzo of three Grappa’s. Today I’m getting off the road usually chosen and take a detour with a Rum. Long time since I reviewed Rum, which is also a fantastic and global distillate. This three stars Rum, blended by Cognac Ferrand, is made with Rums from three distinct places. Jamaica (partly an unaged Rum and a small portion of 12yo Rum), Barbados (unaged Rum) and Trinidad (a filtered 3yo Rum). So quite the blend. This may prove to be one of the best White rums around, at least on paper…

Plantation 3 Stars (41.2%, Jamaica, Barbados & Trinidad)Color: Colorless, ever so slightly green.

Nose: A bit alcoholic and vegetal. Very green, with unripe banana, and ripe tangerine skin. It also shows a lot of potential. Initial smell is very appetizing. For a white rum it smells like something to sip and not let go to “waste” in a coke or cocktail. Mind you, I do enjoy them very much, and this Rum is designed for usage in cocktails. Tea and lots of spices and a tiny hint of wood. Sprite or 7-up, so citrus and brown sugar and cane juice, but in a very appealing way. Nosing it more deeply, even some cola seems to have found its way into the blend. Tiny hints of wood related mint. Wonderful stuff.

Taste: Sweet, green tea with too much sugar in it. Citrus again. Lemon and lime with refined sugar. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t make the rum too sweet. Very smooth and seems a lot lower in ABV than it actually is. Definitely good enough to sip, although it is obvious from the start this was meant to be used in another way. Very young and light, and without a real finish.

Nope, I wouldn’t sip this. It’s good, but there are so many golden and brown Rums around, that are way better and much more complex to sip than this three stars Rum. And that’s no shame. This was never meant to be sipped on the beach or around a fire-place. It was meant for cocktails and give you the chance to make the best cocktail you can make with this. Well made stuff and tasty too.

Points: 73