Cadenhead Demerara Rum 12yo (46%, Green Label, Laphroaig Cask Finish, Guyana)

First of all I’d like to start telling you that this review won’t be about the Cadenhead 15yo Demerara Rum that’s in the picture. It’s actually about the Cadenhead 12yo Demerara Rum, and not just any 12yo, but one that was finished in an ex-Laphroaig cask. Laphroaig being one of the most famous of peated Islay Whiskies. Of course Ardbeg and Lagavulin are equally as famous, but that’s beside the point. I couldn’t find a suitable picture of the bottle (I don’t have it here), so I put in this one, since it looks pretty similar. The 12yo has an additional sticker over the neck and cork, starting this is from an ex-Laphroaig cask. The 12yo Rum is even lighter in color, than that of the 15yo in the picture. Cadenhead of course, is an Scottish independent bottler whose main business is bottling Single Malt Whiskies, who also bottle some pretty good Rums as well. I’m sure, more of those will feature on these pages in the future, especially the cask strength ones.

Cadenhead Green Label 15yo DemeraraColor: White wine. Very pale gold.

Nose: Sweet and funky. Thick and unmistakable Demerara. I know peated Whiskies very well, but I can’t detect any peat in this yet. Distant hint of yellow fruits, white peach. The fruit interacts very well with a mystical hot dry wind note. Sweet peach yoghurt (not the acidity, there is no acidity in the nose whatsoever) and sweet black tea. Creamy. Small hint of nice smelling paper, which adds to the wonderful balance this Rum emits from my glass. All aroma’s go together very well. At this point I have to stress that this Rum has had plenty of time to “settle” with air. Maybe one to decant as well. (I’ve written about the benefits of decanting Whiskies earlier). Still no peat, nor smoke, but I do get some toasted wood. A more than wonderful nose that seems to go on and on. Exceptional. Just give it time to breathe!

Taste: I get the tea note first. Starts sweet, but the sweetness is quickly gone, to be replaced by a prickly woody note, which strips most of the sweetness out of my mouth like it’s been done with sandpaper. This makes room for the strange combination of acidity from unripe berries, milk chocolate and earwax. Wow, this is getting strange fast. Is this the effect of the peat? It still doesn’t remind me of peat though. Lets take another sip. When the dryness takes over, the balance deteriorates a bit. Not everything seems to be in check, and the aroma’s feel a bit uncomfortable. Something new moved into the building and the older residents don’t know yet what to make of it. More toasted cask now, with even some bitterness from one, or both casks. The finish seems short at first but when it turn into the aftertaste a smoky prickly sensation starts to happen mixed with mustard and the typical aroma’s of Demerara that were pushed out of the body and finish of the Rum. The Laphroaig cask did have an effect on this Rum, just not as I expected.

Maybe you Rum buffs don’t know this, but Laphroaig is actually a very sweet Whisky underneath. It’s sweetness is just well hidden underneath heaps of peat and iodine. Well, Laphroaig used to taste like that. More modern Laphroaigs are more obviously sweet, and the peat became more accessible, and the iodine, well, you can get that at your local pharmacy. How strange it is then, that a sweet Whisky with a sweet and heavy Demerara Rum make for such a dry Rum?

I always passed on the Green Labels when buying Rum from Cadenhead in favour of the dumpy bottles with Cask Strength Rum’s in them. Somehow a dumpy bottle with 36yo Uitvlugt (PM Mark!) Demerara Rum from 1966 bottled at 69.3% ABV, had more appeal to me than a 12yo Laphroaig finished Demerara. It still does, but this Green Label is no punishment to drink either. Maybe a bit unusual but also a very interesting experiment. I like it, and its even better than I thought it would be. Beyond the obvious, I’m not sure what the Laphroaig cask did for this Rum, but I do feel that the Demerara Rum, before it was finished, was already good to start with. I’m pretty sure it is Enmore (VSG Mark).

Points: 86

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