Zuidam Flying Dutchman No.3 (40%, The Netherlands)

Here we have a Rum from the very well-known Caribbean Island of the Netherlands, ehhhh, well, actually the Netherlands are closer to the north pole than the Caribbean, so what the hell did Patrick van Zuidam thought he was doing over there? At least he’s from the southern part of the Netherlands. People who like to submerge themselves in “Carnaval”, not entirely the same thing the Brazilians are doing, but never the less. Lets not get distracted now. Word is that Patrick’s brother Gilbert (the marketing) needed a Rum in his portfolio, so Patrick (the distiller) set out to make him one.

Zuidam Flying Dutchman No.3 (40%, The Netherlands)Color: Light orange gold.

Nose: From a distance when pouring: banana. When sniffing from the glass; Semi sweet, Thick and fruity, but over time the sweetness gets less and less. More wood influence combined with a slightly smelly organic smell. Not necessarily bad mind you. Hints of mint from the wood. Spicy, creamy toffee and molten vanilla ice-cream. Dark chocolate and mint, yes, hints of After Eight.

Taste: Yes great balance between wood and distillate. Not too sweet. Wood is the first thing you’ll notice, quickly followed by a hint of a grain distillate like Jenever, which makes it stand out from any other Rum (in the world). Next up some caramel and semi sweetness. Wood and (fresh) almonds, but also a tiny citrussy note, lemon. Caramel, toffee, milk chocolate with vanilla and vanilla ice-cream. Hard powder candy sweetness. The strange vegetal note from the nose is in here too and is noticeable on the tip of your tongue, right before the body starts forming in your mouth. Vegetal and some fresh oak, seem to make it up. Lacks a bit of complexity. Short finish where the balance loses out, almost like it breaks up into the components its made up of. Not a lot of after taste.

What I do like with this Premium Dark Rum is that Patrick managed to get the wood to play a part in this Rum instead of overpowering sweetness. OK, lots of experience from Jenever and Millstone Whisky. For me it tastes like an unfinished product though. A project that was started up, and left us with a Rum that has been aged for three years, and then was forgotten. Good enough for the time being. Patrick seems to be on the right path here, but also seems to have lost interest in this Rum, concentrating on Millstone and Jenever and Korenwijn. I’m guessing this Rum will become better when Patrick has aged himself somewhat more…nudge, nudge. So in the end not a bad Rum, but something that has potential, not fully explored yet. There is also a colorless version of this Rum, but if I understand correctly, that is essentially this dark Rum, stripped of its color and some of its aroma’s…

points: 80

Zacapa Centenario Solera Gran Reserva 23 (40%, Guatemala)

If memory serves me correctly, last year we had a pretty good summer. Alas summer is long gone, and to celebrate it, I had some Rum. At least there was some sunshine in my glass, so to speak.

Zacapa Centenario Solera Gran Reserva 23Zacapa is a very well-known Guatemalan brand, owned by Diageo. The Rum itself is made with the Solera system wherein the Rums are between 6 and 23 years old, hence the number 23 in the name. 23 is not an age statement, and although Rums are not that much regulated yet as Whisky, Diageo was carefull enough not to call this Rum 23yo. The Rum is made with first crush virgin sugar cane honey and was aged in American Whiskey barrels and (PX) Sherry casks.

Color: Dark reddish copper

Nose: Very floral, nice wood with a lot of depth. Some acidic winey and red fruit notes. Very appetizing nose. Vegetal and woody. Gravy. Overall, the rum comes across as fresh and lively and even sophisticated. Luckily no cloying sweetness in the nose. Small hint of wrapping paper and dried meat. Good wood.

Taste: Thinner and not as sweet as I remember it from a while back. Sweetish, with vanilla and some red fruits. Definitely has some PX-sherry influence. Very easy drinking rum, but for my tastes a bit thin and, dare I say it, simple. Some burnt Sugar stays on the tongue, but after that the whole experience is rather quickly gone. Funky acidity stays on too long and doesn’t match with the wood in the finish.

This Rum has no real flaws and it sells quite well. It’s a nice sipping middle of the road Rum.

Points: 80

Strathmill 17yo 1992/2010 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Refill Butt #40711, 873 bottles)

Strathmill 17yo 1992/2010 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Refill Butt #40711, 873 bottles)Strathmill was founded in 1891 in an old mill, that dates back to 1823. At first is was called Glenisla but when the distillery was sold to W&A Gilbey in 1895 they changed its name to Strathmill. Through some mergers along the way finally Strathmill becomes one of many distilleries in the Diageo portfolio. Strathmill is a big component in the J&B Blended Whisky. Not a lot of Strathmill was officially bottled by its owners. Best known of course, are the 12yo Flora & Fauna bottling, The Managers’ Dram and the Managers’ Choice that was released in 2009. This year Strathmill features in the highly priced annual releases from Diageo. A 25yo was released just recently…

Color: Full gold

Nose: Musty Sherry. Peanut oil and stale water. A little bit of old wood and almonds. Not sure this smells pleasant. Citrus oil from warm and soft tangerines. When the mustiness dissipates, a fresher apple skin note appears. Light apple compote. Still a sort of sidewalk after the rain smell stays. Maybe a trace of sulphur.

Taste: Sweet with a strange kind of sourness added to it. Pencil shavings, cardboard and dabs of licorice. Slightly waxy. Not quite balanced, but the sourness works refreshing and quite nice in its strangeness. Very malty later on with sugary sweetness and grassy and hay like notes. Not heavy on the sweets but it definitely tastes like sugar. Uncomplex.

Funky stuff, but its strangeness is interesting. Probably full of faults and to sweet to make it your daily drinker. I’m guessing this is a bottle that will stay open for a long time, but once in a while you take a sip and it becomes surprising and nice (for one glass only). To be enjoyed for a long time, although not the best stuff around. As I said, interesting.

Points: 80

The Dalmore 12yo (40%, OB, Circa 2004)

Time for Dalmore, or The Dalmore as it’s called. I haven’t reviewed a Dalmore before on these pages, nor have I tasted Dalmore for a long time. So in a way I’m getting re-acquainted to it. Looking at my list of scores I have to say that Dalmore usually is not a very high scoring malt for me. Of course there are bottling that fetch high scores but when that happens it’s a Dalmore after some extensive maturation. However, the highest scoring Dalmore in my book is a Dalmore 12yo! A Duncan Macbeth bottling for the Italian market from around 1963! I won’t compare the two, since times have changed, but let’s have a look at a more modern 12yo. This example was bottled around 2004, so not yesterdays malt either…

The Dalmore 12yo (40%, OB, Circa 2004)Color: Full gold.

Nose: Powdery, creamy and slightly sour. Old bananas. Distant Sherry influence. Paper, I somehow smell a lot of paper in this. Malty, burnt sugar and some alcohol (like smelling Vodka). It smells a bit of caramel coloring. (Everybody tells you it doesn’t chance the smell and taste, but just try it for yourself and make your own mind up). Yet the whole smells just a bit different from other entry-level Malts. This is not bad, not bad at all (in the nose department).

Taste: A little bite from the wood, a little bit of dishwashing liquid too. Burnt sweetness you can find in some Rums. Did I mention some soapiness yet, indirectly maybe. Very nutty too. The nuttiness and the particular sweetness make up the signature of this malt. Crushed almonds ánd marzipan. A nice touch of woody bitterness towards the finish. Lots of markers that may well be typical for Dalmore. Finish is weaker than the body is, and lets it down a bit.

In the end a very different Highland Malt. Maybe not everything is in balance, not everything seems to fit together. It feels like a malt that was made to be accessible, but also a little bit different. I’m guessing this has a specific fan base. In the quest to make it different it isn’t quite congruent yet, but you have to love it for being slightly different.

Points: 80

Plage du Sud Pays d´Oc IGP 2013

Next up a Rosé wine from the Languedoc region in France.

Plage du SudNot so long ago, Rosé Wines had colours almost like light red wines and were made with grape varieties like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. But the fashion has changed, today the fashion is more about more elegant and more refined rosé wines from the Provence region in France and northern Italy. Very pale Rosé’s with very light old pink colours or even salmon-like colours. Plage du Sud is one of those Rosé wines from the south of France that has that pale pink colour rreferring to the Mediterranean feel from the Cote d’Azur. The wine is made with ​​Grenache (60%), Cinsault (35%) and 5% Syrah to give it a slightly heavier body.

Color: Pale old pink. Very elegant looking

Nose: Lots of aroma. Fruity with peach and banana. Sweet and sour in one gulp. The acidity is very nice and refreshing. Peach yoghurt, but also slightly floral, yes it smells of (pink) roses.

Taste: Less complex than the nose and not as aromatic as expected. Nice balance though. Light and simple. Not acidic nor sweet, keeps in the middle. All is in control and very drinkable. After a while the fruity aroma’s return. Quite nice stuff and nobody should be having troubles finishing a bottle like this. Just relax, sit back and enjoy the nice weather looking at people passing by. Do not sip this, drink this with big gulps, it tastes even better that way. Luckily they also sell nice 1,5 litre bottles 🙂

Excellent example of the modern style, pale looking Rosé wines from the south of France. The colours of these wines are really stunning.

Points: 80

Piraat (9%, 33 cl, overaged)

Cleaning out the closetCleaning out the closet, I found some (but not a lot) Beers well beyond their best before dates. Most can be, and should be aged like most Trappist and some Abbey beers. This Piraat (Pirate) is a heavy blonde beer with refermentation in the bottle, isn’t one of them though. Yesterday I poured two beers into the sink, clear examples that you shouldn’t age everything. Those two were Kasteel Blond 11 and Abdij van ‘t Park Blond.

Out of that old batch comes this Piraat, and with this one I’ll take the plunge. Please don’t compare it with a freshly brewed Piraat, because the extra ageing does a lot for taste and smell. Treat this review as an experiment after which you can decide if you want to age a Beer like this. By the way, best before date on this bottle is 12/02/2010! How did that happen?

Piraat is brewed by Brouwerij Van Steenberge, from Ertvelde Belgium, which also makes Augustijn and Gulden Draak, but also Bornem Dubbel, Celis White, Leute Bokbier and Sparta Pils.

PiraatColor: Orange gold with, not a lot of, off-white foam.

Nose: Very murky, canals in the rain. Dust and lots of esters. Burnt sugar and heated orange skins, and that’s all the fruit that can be had from this nose. Not extremely pleasant, but not bad as well. Lets try a sip.

Taste: Heavy in alcohol, and the first sip is needed to was the smell away. Good warming qualities, and nice depth. The murkiness of the nose, and that has probably a lot to do with the yeast depot, shows its head in the taste too. This beer starts well, refreshing, hints of sweet banana and heavy on the alcohol. Aged alcohol, although there is no such thing. The middle is deeper due to the murky yeast and the finish has candied yellow fruits, combined with a little bit of bitterness.

First of all, before tasting this beer I didn’t think I should score it. Usually Blonde Beers that are aged too long are usually destroyed or undrinkable. This one however seems to have survived due to sheer quality? Still it has a depth to it I can’t imagine is there from the start. I can only compare this to a fresh bottle when the opportunity presents itself. For the time being, this Piraat is still a nice Beer, and therefore I’ll give it a score (but don’t take this score too seriously), since I feel a freshly bought Piraat will perform differently.

Conclusion, would I advise you to age this Beer? Most definitely not. This Beer was never intended for ageing. It probably didn’t get better after ageing, nor is it a style of beer that should be aged to boot. But, the Beer didn’t fold, it’s still drinkable and nice, where fellow Beers had to be poured down the drain, and that’s an accomplishment.

Points: 80

Ogier Caves des Papes Les Caprices d’Antoine Côtes du Rhône 2010

And here is already the last one of our trio of Ogiers. This time a more modern blended Côtes-du-Rhône made as a tribute to Antoine Ogier, the founder of the Ogier Caves des Papes Winery, located in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Les Caprices d’Antoine is made of classic Southern Rhone varieties like Grenache and Syrah, supplemented with smaller amounts of Carignan and Mourvèdre, making this a Southern Rhône blend (GSCM). Funny enough these are all to be found in a Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine except for Carignan, which isn’t allowed! Carignan is mostly found in Rioja-wines (in Spain it is called: Mazuelo). Carignan is mostly used to give extra body and a deep color to wines. The wine was aged somewhere between 6 to 8 months in French and American oak barrels. The wine has 14,5% ABV.

Color: Dark ruby-red with a purple and / or violet edge.

Nose: Recognizable nose of a Rhône-wine. Immediate balance and young. Again at first not very heavy. Typical of Ogier. It has vanilla from the American oak, and even a slight sourness like yoghurt. Warm earth, licorice (also from Carignan), spicy wood and lots of red fruits. Red apple skin, with raspberry and hints of strawberry. (I said it was modern didn’t I?)

Taste: Fruity and acidic. Soft tannins that hardly dry the palate. Again a light style Ogier. Licorice stays a wee bit longer on the palate. Medium finish that is quite simple. Definitely a simpler wine than the two I reviewed earlier. Very typical for this wine is the thick licorice note it has, and a slight hint of bitterness that gives the finish some character, but I would have preferred some more fruitiness.

Recommended with meat and cheese, well which red wine isn’t these days. For me it is more a sort of daily drinker type of wine that doesn’t need your attention all the time. It’s good, but nothing extraordinary. I hope Antoine wasn’t like this, although the wine is not bad.

Points: 80

Backsberg Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Lets start the summer month of July with a nice and Sunny white wine from South Africa. This Backsberg is made with the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety. Sauvignon Blanc is right behind Chardonnay for the title of most popular white grape variety, and therefore can be found all across the globe. Like the Chardonnay originates from Burgundy France, Sauvignon Blanc originates from Bordeaux France. Thus we have a derby on our hands. Sauvignon Blanc is known to be dry, crisp, elegant and refreshing, but also is used to make the sweet wines from Sauternes. The terroir is, especially with Sauvignon Blanc, very important in how the wine will eventually taste. A very versatile and popular grape variety. Meant to be drank when young, most Sauvignon Blancs are not for (extensive) ageing, unless aged in oak.

Backsberg comes from Paarl. Paarl being the second largest city in the cape region. You just get one guess what is the biggest city in the South-African Cape region. Grandpa Back was a refugee from Lithuania, who eventually got the chance to buy a farm. Part of the farm were wine grapes which more or less started the wine business for Grandpa C. Back. His son S. Back first worked alongside Grandpa C. and concentrated more and more on the wine business of the farm. S. Sold the stock, equipment and the name: Back’s wines (to pay off some debts) and started fresh with the name Backsberg. The first 10 years selling peaches off the farm! Remember that, because the peaches will return! Next in line was M. Back, he made the wine business big again, to the point it is today. The fourth generation of Back is already knocking at the gate: S.

Color: White wine, light.

Nose: Peaches in yoghurt and more peaches in (sweet and creamy) yoghurt. Behind that a mineral note is noticeable, but it is hard to get past the peaches in yoghurt. I somehow have to reset my mind. Second time around, I guess the peaches in yoghurt come forward when the wine is a little bit warmer than it should, now it is colder and it’s more, clean and mineral and with a nice lemony acidity to it. The peaches in yoghurt are still there.

Taste: This is at first pretty sour, but that does not stay, well, it actually does in the sides of your mouth, but right in the middle, a more estery and sweet profile emerges. Perfect balance I would say, but I have to admit that I like my acids in white wine. Not too much, but it is the defining part of the palate. There have to be some good acids to interact with some elegant sweetness to achieve perfect balance. Besides the acids, a light hint of wood and a little bitterness, grapefruit. Finish could have been better, but overall not bad this one!

In fact I liked this one better when it was slightly higher in temperature, so don’t chill this too much. It got more fruity and creamy, and when chilled, it was more clean and…typical. The wine has an ABV of 14%.

Points: 80

Santa Cristina Toscana IGT 2009

This is a widely available inexpensive blended wine from Cortona (an Etruscan settlement) in Tuscany, Italy. The first bottle of Santa Cristina saw the light of day in 1946 right after the second world war. The wine then was made by Marquis Niccolò Antinori. In 2006 a new winery was opened.

The wine is made of 60% Sangiovese, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. 13% ABV. The various grape varieties of the blend are fermented separately and aged partly in oak and partly in stainless steel. Harvesting of the grapes takes place in September and October, Merlot being harvested first. Ageing takes place from the end of winter through spring and by the end of spring the wine was bottled.

Color: Dark ruby-red.

Nose: Creamy, with notes of hot dry earth. Soft notes of raspberries and other ripe red fruits. Ripe because it comes across as soft, and doesn’t have a lot of sourness to it. Lots of strawberry jam.

Taste: Again the strawberry jam and it does have some acidity. Nicely blended to a balance. It’s quite light and lively, but on the other hand nothing really pops out, and it does have a short finish. As I said, easily drinkable, but also easily forgotten. Still I like this, just don’t expect too much. Nicely priced also.

It’s blended to a soft wine, that is very easy drinkable, and will go with anything. Just stay off game. The nose is light and balanced, but very nice, you can imagine the surroundings in summer, where the grapes are grown. It certainly shows where it comes from. The taste however is a bit more anonymous. It’s well made, and it will not repel anyone, as there are no obvious faults. The only thing that disappointed me a little was the finish, it breaks down a little, and is quite short and again anonymous. One to have a lot of fun though and it isn’t going to break the bank. good with food and for carelessly sipping away on the couch.

Points: 80

Lochside 1991/2003 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, JC/FG)

I once tasted the 2007 version of a 1991 Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Lochside and really wasn’t too happy about that. It was very light as opposed to the Lochsides chosen for the Gordon & MacPhail Reserve range. I don’t know if its only reduction that shows the difference, or maybe better casks are chosen for the Reserve range. I said ‘better’ as opposed to ‘different’ since I know that in both ranges Refill Bourbon Barrels were used. If you want to compare this 2003 Connoisseurs Choice bottling with a Gordon & MacPhail Reserve bottling, Please take a look at Cask #15217 I reviewed earlier. There is a difference of almost 17% in ABV between these two!

Lochside 1991/2003 (43%, G&M, CC, New Map Label, JC/FG)Color: Light Gold.

Nose: Fruity and light, maybe slightly sweet. Hints of distant smoke. Slightly waxy and more yellow fruits. Peach, apricots that sort of fruit. Not banana’s! Slightly malty, but its a young Whisky. Besides this, it also has a powdery and dusty side to it. Hardly any wood and very clean and easy. Still I can’t get rid of the image of diluted sugar in the back of my mind. Clay and a little bit of wood after a few minutes in the glass.

Taste: Well this starts with, …wood and some clay! Something I would have never guessed smelling this. It starts with wood and some character building bitterness. Than a quick brake-down and very short finish. This all happens very quickly. Let’s try again and see what else is in this. Very malty and watered down yellow fruit syrup, again in the apricot part of the garden, but not very sweet. Floral again. Do I detect some smoke in the taste of this Lochside? It isn’t a rounded out Whisky. It has some markers and that’s it really. Unbelievably short finish, with more bitterness than expected.

Your un-complex and summer malt this is. Very light and inoffensive. light, clean and fruity and dare I say, feminine? It the Whisky worlds answer to Lemonade (just without the acidity). The sour part is replaced by some fruity sweetness and a floral perfume. On the palate the wood does its magic. Spicy and a bit bitter.

For me this Whisky really did suffer from reduction. When compared to other 1991 bottled by Gordon & MacPhail (at cask strength), this can’t match up to those. Is it the reduction, or the casks chosen for use in the Connoisseurs Choice range and the Gordon & MacPhail Reserve range?

Points: 80