El Dorado 25yo 1980 (40%, Guyana)

Here is El Dorado Number four. After the more affordable and pretty sweet 12yo, the proper 15yo and the poor mans mid range premium 21yo, here is the true official Premium version. Just look at the decanter and the big knob on top. This is a 25yo distilled in 1980, so released somewhere around 2005. The previous, and first 25yo, was the millennium edition, released in 1999. El Dorado is the go-to-Rum when looking at Demerara Rums. However, the owners do get some slack for adding sugar. Many very good or even stellar Demerara Rums are released by independent bottlers offering expressions without added sugar, or less added sugar. Velier, Bristol and Rum Nation come to mind, but there are a lot more. Lately DDL themselves are now in the business releasing Demerara Rums as if they were an independent bottler with the release in 2015 of an 1993 Enmore, 1999 Port Mourant and a 2002 Versailles (with some added sugar). In 2017 another Port Mourant (1997) and Enmore (1996) were released. For me, Demerara is one of my favourite styles of Rum, together with the funk of Jamaica and St. Lucia and lets not forget about Rhum Agriciole, fantastic stuff in its own right. There are many wonderful Rums to be found. (Just opened my first bottle from Reunion, actually). Nice, and again different from the rest.

Color: Copper brown.

Nose: Sweet hints, with nice woody notes. Woody acidity and spicy. Slightly tarry, wood polish and plain old dust. Notes of clear glue as well. Compared to the 21yo, this does smell more distinguished, like entering an old mansion. Priceless antiques, beeswax furniture polish and so on. Definitely, some industrial notes with petrol, unlit tobacco and licorice (Enmore), but also (again) the whiff of fresh air, burnt caramel and brown sugar. How is that even possible with all these heavy aroma’s? It tells me the nose isn’t very clogged up, and roomy. It lets its treasures out in layers. Honey, cough syrup and more beautiful wood (and more licorice as well). Very, very nice. Amazing how well aged Demerara’s can smell. In fact this does smell a bit like an old Agricole (but less so than the 21yo). Next, another layer opens up, caramel, burnt caramel and vanilla, but not in a (sweet) way, gluing the aroma’s together, similar to the 21yo. This is the better smelling of the two. It’s there but not as much. Slightly more influence from the wood.

Taste: Good lord almighty! (no offence intended). Fruit syrup, definitely raspberry. Very dissonant and unbalanced. It sits on top of, and maskes, the rather brittle Rum, overpowering it massively. This seems like Jekyll and Hyde appearing at the same time, quite a feat. Underneath an overly dry Demerara. (I have a bone-dry 1964 Port Mourant locked away, so I know). This has that underneath, but quite another and strange fresh and fruity layer on top. Doctored! Messed with!! Ruined!!! Fruit syrup. Raspberry syrup for sure. Liquid sugar. Candied oranges. Where did that fruit fly come from? The second time around, trying this on another day, it didn’t take the fruit flies long to find me and my Rum. Amazing. This came from the bottle depicted to the left? Yes it did. Guyana Rum. No way they did this! Yes the reports are true, the consumer has been saved from old, heavy, over-the top, over aged, dry and potentially aggressive Rum by sugar of the added kind. This fruity sweetness should be very interesting for mixologists I guess, as Don Papapapapapapa can be called interesting as well and which will vanillin you long time. Both shouldn’t be sold as Rums, but rather as liqueurs, as which compared to “other” liqueurs, they aren’t bad at all. As Rums: stop! ban! forbid! just don’t! Short finish but and an aftertaste very similar to that of PX-Sherry. Get PX in stead, much cheaper than this El Dorado. Some amazing decisions were made in Guyana a long time ago…

Burnt sugar and burnt wood in the aftertaste. Very fruity. PX. Actually a very strange aftertaste: the insides of my cheeks are full of cloying sugar that won’t let go by itself, and the aftertaste is more sugary as well. Not nice. Only the wood seems to maintain itself well into the finish. Sugary aftertaste, which is also quite short. Although there is a lot of the greatness still around, I can imagine it was originally bone-dry, but to shoot it in the back like this, is a bit cruel don’t you think? I will savour the nice bits this displays, but the whole is quite well ruined (as a Rum). Not really a sipping Rum for the discerning consumer, but if you make a lot of money and are not a discerning Rum-drinker, this has nice packaging, nice bottle, oozing “success” and “because you can” and is rather excellent in cola! Go for it! Us poor people will buy the occasional cherry-coke and a bottle of PX instead. ’nuff said.

Points: 74 (hard to tell really, since it doesn’t seem to be a Rum)

P.S. Just to wash away the sugary aftertaste, I picked the El Dorado 21yo. That one now seems bone dry in comparison… (it isn’t, in case you’re wondering).

P.S.II. The second time around in stead of following it up with the 21yo I mixed the two together. 60% of the 25yo with 40% of the 21yo. The 21yo still managed to take over the end result, but, and you might have guessed it, this new concoction was way better than the 25yo by itself. Quite dry in the nose, but sweet on the palate, with less of the raspberry syrup. Not bad with a way longer and dryer finish. I actually like this mix very much, seems very balanced and somewhat “bigger” than the 21yo by itself.

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Chivas Regal 12yo (40%, OB, 2012)

After two highly specialized, anorak type of Glen Scotia’s, because, besides us, who in the world has ever heard of Glen Scotia? It’s time to move on and get back to basics again. Back to Blended Whisky even. This time we will have a look at Chivas Brothers Chivas Regal 12yo. This is something you might encounter in almost every hotel bar around the world, as well as any Whisky selling supermarket. It’s been around since the beginning of the twentieth century. Blends have homes and the “home” of this blend is the Strathisla Distillery.

Chivas Regal 12Color: Gold.

Nose: Barley with funky honey sweetness. Quite fruity too. Lemon, apple skins and apricot water, because it has quite a watered down nose. Vanilla powder and distant hints of charred oak. For a 12yo, this has remarkable little wood aroma, but I have to say that the whole is rather thin and light. Apart from that, the nose seems to be designed to have a certain composition. This composition is there all the time. No development whatsoever. Is that typical for a blend like this, a blend from a big company, blends we al know as well as our ancestors?

Taste: Sweet and honeyed, but not thick, and very likable, just like a lemonade in the summer. Lots of grainy elements, but before you can make your mind up if you like this grainy element it is already surpassed by the fruit, (peach and banana), and a delicious sweetness. Very rounded out, like you get from caramel colouring. When the sweetness slowly travels down your throat a more bitter note is left behind in my mouth. Here’s the wood, and here is maybe the age, I guess. This lingers on for a while, fruity sweet yoghurt, which is nice. The end of the body and the finish are the same. The bitterness fades out and there hardly is any aftertaste. Just an echo of the body, which is good, because you don’t want the slight bitterness to be the note that stays behind. So not a very long finish and the aftertaste lets it down a bit.

This is actually not bad. Love the taste, and do concentrate on the taste, since in no way you’ll get the “12yo”, and there isn’t any noteworthy development going on in the glass as well. So, not bad, but would you go for “not bad” or should we expect some more from our blends these days? Sipping along, yes, its nice initially, but I also get bored quickly with this. After a glass of this, which I enjoyed, I wouldn’t pour me a second one soon. So my pick from the hotel bar would be Glenfiddich 12yo, since it always sits next to this Chivas Regal.

Points: 74

Irish Whiskey Week – Day 1: The Tyrconnell (40%, OB, Circa 2008)

Irish CloverTime for another of Master Quill’s “Weeks”. This time we’ll be doing the Irish Whiskey Week. Irish Whiskey is something I would love to love. Ireland is a beautiful country with lovely people, and in Whisk(e)y they have become something of an underdog. I already have on my lectern a very good Redbreast 15yo that was bottled in 2005, and that bottling especially, turns out to be somewhat of a cult Whiskey, but I like to have some more excellent Irish Whiskey on there, so the search starts here…

The Tyrconnell (a racehorse) was once the biggest brand of the Watt distillery which dates back to 1762. Still on the label is the year 1762 as is the name of Andrew A. Watt & Co. The modern Tyrconnell was revived by the Cooley distillery, which today is part of Beam Suntory. Cooley also revived the Kilbeggan brand name, and Beam Suntory today calls the company Kilbeggan Distilling Co., with Cooley and The Tyrconnell to be two of its brands. There are two more brands you might have heard of: Greenore (a Single Grain) and of course Kilbeggan itself. As could be read earlier Jack Teeling sold Cooley to this group and started fresh with Teeling Whiskey.

The TyrconnellLets have a look at two Tyrconnell’s, first the standard The Tyrconnell at 40% ABV with no age statement (NAS), and the next review will be about another Tyrconnell Single Malt Whiskey.

Color: Light gold

Nose: Petrol (as you can have in a good Riesling) and malt. Fruity, as in apples and pears. Dry grass and toned down lemon sherbet. Machine oil and honey. Dusty toffee. Sweet, but more from fruit sugars and honey, than from sugar itself. Very nice and also interesting nose with a little bit of pepper and toasted wood. Industrial, but I very much like that.

Taste: Sweet and malty. Some of the Industrial warm oil notes return in the taste. Petrol is here too. Malty and sugary sweet, with some air it develops into honey sweetness. It is young, yet not vibrant, slightly under-developed and for my taste a tad too sweet. Entry into the mouth is nice and oily, sweet, than a nice body shows itself, but quickly hides. Towards the end everything seems to turn into water. Extremely short finish with some woody bitterness.

Very interesting Whisky with a nice, but light, industrial revolution profile. The old owners issued quite some single cask bottlings of The Tyrconnell and I hope the new owners will do the same, hopefully at cask strength. For a NAS bottling it is quite nice, and sure shows some potential. Tweak the stuff with some older ex-Bourbon cask Whiskey (for a longer finish) and maybe up the strength a bit and in my opinion you may have a winner!

Points: 74

Arran “Amarone Cask Finish” (50%, OB, Violet label, Circa 2012)

Here is the second Arran on these pages. Earlier I reviewed a pretty good 16yo and usually Single cask bottlings at Cask Strength are very good to. When they start to fiddle a bit with their Whiskies I tend to not like Arran that much any more. So I don’t have high hopes for this funky colored Amarone finished Arran…

Arran Amarone Cask Finish (50%, OB, Violet label, Circa 2012)Color: Salmon (Somewhere between orange, bronze, light red and pink). Very strange.

Nose: Malty and very winey. Wine gums. We know its Amarone wine, but it smells more like a less fruity, Ruby Port. Fruity and dusty, woody and vegetal. This is hardly Whisky, but it isn’t wine either. Very simple and the wine overpowers everything. It’s hard to discern anything. No sense in nosing this any further.

Taste: Sweet, milk chocolate mousse, hard fruity candy, but not wine gums. Pretty harsh. To sweet for my taste and its a bit anonymous. What is it actually? The finish has staying power, but is a bit, ehhh, unpleasant for my taste. Funky, but not terrible. Don’t get me wrong.

Yet not uncommon, this is more or less one of the strangest colored Whiskies of late You don’t expect to have Whisky in your glass as long as you don’t smell it. Actually the smell isn’t quite characteristic for a Single Malt either. The Amarone wine dominates the color, but not the nose and for the taste, well, you be the judge. I would recommended this to a bartender, because to me it seems an excellent spirit for a summery cocktail. Something has to be done with this…

Points: 74

Santpoorts Bier – Blonde Tripel (8.5%, 33 cl)

Santpoorts Bier logoSantpoorts Bier is a very locally brewed and sold beer. It is made in Hillegom by Brewery “Klein Duimpje” (Tom Thumb) and made for the “community” of Santpoort (near Haarlem in The Netherlands). With the proceeds the instigators hope to fund their own brewery in Santpoort (2020). This first Santpoorts beer is called a Blond Tripel and boasts a hefty 8.5% ABV. Blond as in blonde or a lightly (colored) beer, and Tripel after the Belgian Abbey and Trappist beers. Looking at the list of ingredients: Pilsner malt, Carapilsner malt, Munich malt, wheat malt, Challenger hops, Saaz hops and yeast. It doesn’t seem to be a Belgian Style Tripel, since a lot of typical Pilsner malts are used, so somehow I’m expecting a more Pilsner style Beer that is higher in alcohol.

The beer I’ll be reviewing here is from the first batch (best before date: July 2014, I aged it a little). By now, a second batch has been released called ‘Reprise’ (orange label again) as well as a winter beer (blue label) and a just released Spelt Weizen Beer (green label), that isn’t even on their website yet!

Santpoorts BierColor: Lively, yellow, almost orange gold. Murky, with a lot of yeast deposit. A lot of ivory foam.

Nose: Fresh and spicy, fruity (banana and peach without the sweetness). Very appetizing. A city after the rain and a distinct hint of warm plastic. The beer starts out fresh, lively and fruity, but quickly turns into something more broody. Can’t quite put my finger on it. Pretty “dirty” if you ask me. Fresh egg-white and new wood. Whiffs of cold dishwater. A very unusual nose. After half a year of ageing the nose didn’t change much (I’ve tried this beer when it was just released).

Taste: Dark, and a nice hoppy bitterness which almost seems woody. Pretty fruity, hot butter and has a lot of fresh (baker’s) yeast and a note of polyester. This polyester component is also easily recognizable in Hoegaarden White. Polyester is a maybe bad word here, but I’m using it for lack of a better word. Santpoorts Bier isn’t warming so it seems a lot lower in alcohol. This beer is advised to drink at 10 degrees Centigrade, but I like it better, when its colder. It finishes a bit like a Pilsener does, with its typical acidity, but the perfect bitterness this beer has, does a lot for balance. When freshly brewed, it was said to be nice already, and doesn’t need a lot of ageing. I tried it a few times and not a lot happened in half a year. The beer seems young (easily recognizable in the yeast taste, it has a lot of fresh yeast notes, ánd a lot of yeast in the deposit), but most definitely has it’s potential.

I’ve opened a lot of bottles of this to have people taste this and it is a very vigorous beer. You can’t Always open it without spilling some (and in some cases, a lot). In the glass the little yeast balls are moving around very quickly, like a speeded up lava lamp. Quite a stunning view. The beer is very lively!

Conclusion. To me, this first batch seems to be somewhat of a work in progress. It does have its charm, but it isn’t perfect yet. Overall I like the beer, but I didn’t care that much for the polyester notes and the “Pilsener” finish, but the start and the body (the middle part) are already quite good, as is the perfect bitterness of this beer.  The brewers are on the right road, but in my humble opinion, some more work has to be done. By now a second batch has been produced, called ‘Reprise’ which I haven’t tried yet.

Points: 74

Rum Week – Day 6: Flor de Caña 12yo Centenario (40%, Nicaragua)

Flor de Caña is made by Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua that is based in Managua. Their first distillery was built in 1890 in Chichigalpa that lies some 120km from Managua. Flor de Cana was only introduced in 1937. The Chichigalpa distillery was modernized three times in 1963, 1965 and 1996, and in 1973 a second distillery was built in Honduras. I’m not sure if distillate from this Honduran distillery finds its way into Flor de Caña.

Color: Orange copper.

Nose: Vegetal, leafy and spicy. Lemons combined with fresh air. Unripe strawberries. Dry and cardboardy. Old books, musty. Hot water with hints of wood. Average balance.

Taste: First cardboard, and decent sweetness, Dissolved sugar cubes in lukewarm water and brown sugar. Quite a lot of wood. Half-firm body. The taste is even less balanced than the nose was. The finish is rather light after the woody body.

This one is not for me, not my style of rum. It doesn’t bring a lot into the fold. Lots of wood and cardboard and a short finish. Do I want to say some more about this? Nope.

Well yes, actually. I come from Single Malt Scotches, so I will most definitively look at these rums with a specific baggage of knowledge that is very different from a rum-buff’s. This Flor de Cana Centenario and The Diplomatico I reviewed first are both multiple award-winning rums. They just don’t seem to match up with my palate. So keep this in mind, when reading these reviews.

Points: 74

Rodenbach (5.2%, 25 cl)

Here’s something else to put in your mouth!

It’s difficult to say what kind of beer Rodenbach really is. Michael Jackson called it a Red Beer or Burgundy of Belgium. In Flanders they call it a “(Flemish) Old Brown” or “Flemish Red Brown”. Sometimes it’s also called a “West Flanders Red Brown” So take your pick. The brewery started in Roeselare Belgium in 1821, and as of 1998 Rodenbach is part of the Palm group.

Rodenbach Original or Classic is blended from aged (1/4) and young beers (3/4) and married for two years. There is also a Rodenbach “Grand Cru” (6%) wich also is blended from aged (2/3) and young beers (1/3). Besides these two, some less known special editions are released. The vintage 2009 springs to mind.

Color: Red Brown, Mahogany.

Nose: Sour, fruity and yeast. After a while it smelled a bit like sugar syrup.

Taste: Watery (in comparison to the Grand Cru). Sour and winey. Lemon-lime citrus notes and very fresh. Hints of wood which gives the beer some body. Sometimes this reminds me of a Lambic beer.

This one is all right and could be savoured any time. It’s probably at its best on a terrace in the summertime. Really refreshing, thirst quenching. It has its place, and in comparison with other Belgian beers it shure is unique, but if you like more depth and more…well everything, you should go for the Grand Cru. This still is pretty decent and fresh, classic Rodenbach.

Personally I wouldn’t buy this (any more). The Grand Cru is so much better. The ‘Cru’ also is great for outside drinking in the summertime and has some more meat on its bones. If given the choice, a no brainer for me.  Master Quills tip: this beer is still ok, past its best before date…

Points: 74