Yeah! The Nicaraguan expression did eclipse the Panamanian expression, yes it did! Wow! Hopefully this final sample I have from the Plantation Old Reserves maybe even surpasses the last three tasted. One must keep faith. This final sample is from a country somewhat lesser known for its Rums: Grenada. But more about Grenada another time. So without further ado… Wait a minute, wow, that was a short intro. Whyzdat? I’m actually cutting the intro short this time, because there will probably be plenty to say about the whole series at the end of this review…
Color: Full Gold.
Nose: Initially a pretty decent aroma welcomes us. This time less round toffee and caramel notes, yet more nutty, grassy and dry leaves. Coffee candy. Candied sugar. Add some sharpness and wood. Also a pretty heavy floral note as well (sometimes soapy). Some oak, chocolate and toffee. Alcohol comes undone, separates from the whole. Not the first time in this series. Almost like the gas from your deodorant. This marks also the demise of the wonderful initial aroma’s. Yup, there is the Cognac cask again, impairing its wonderful aroma’s, but this can’t hide the loss in balance. Personally I find Cognac casks very interesting for second maturation or finishing. In Whisky, Cognac can be sharp and specific, with Rums not so much. Alas the Cognac, nor the Rum itself, can’t do much against the dosage this Rum must have received, considering the dullness the nose shows us now. The initial aroma’s also get carried away in the wind, and the Rum leaves it at that. Lacking a bit in the complexity department, but that is probably the fault of this dosage.
Taste: Very, very sweet on entry. The syrup sticks to all of the insides of your mouth to never let go again. Fruity as well (as far as the sugar lets me discern it) and slightly prickly. Artificial milk chocolate. Wood bitterness, honey and peach syrup. Boy, this is sweet. Cloaked in sweet, big on toffee and caramel. Truth be told, I’m a bit tired of all this sugar by now, and after tasting this, I’m actually chuffed this is the last sample to taste from the Old Reserve line of bottlings (apart from revisiting the Guyana and Jamaica expressions). Right now eating grass off a field almost seems tempting. Almost, I said. Maybe a Greek salad would be the smarter choice for the ye ol’ stomach. It started out nice, actually underneath this cloak, you can still somehow taste there is some good Rum in here somewhere. However, it turned on me becoming dumb and flat again in the finish, just like, or maybe even more so than, the Trinidad expression. Forget the grass I mentioned above, can I have a super dry, over the top, over-oaked Rum now please? Yes here we have this foul sugary aftertaste again and a total lack of balance. The base Rum must have been considered really bad by someone to add this much sugar. Somehow, I don’t believe it, the initial smells are too good for that to be true (and the only reason this won’t score into the sixties). Maybe someone slipped and made a mistake in the dosage? Personally I would be ashamed to put this out on the market. I stopped belonging to the market this Rum is targeted at a loooooong time ago. Amazing, but this is even sweeter/worse than the Trinidad expression. I really believed that already hit rock bottom, guess not.
The introduction to this review was quite short, let make up for it now. One might feel that all these Plantation Rums are ruined by dosage, yes, in a way even the St. Lucia and the Guyana, which were the highest scoring expressions. It is certainly a good thing Rums from so many different places on the globe are presented next to each other, which makes for nice comparisons. I have definitely no beef with finishing them all off in Cognac casks, au contraire, its making for a unique experience. France has them, and France also has Rhum Agricoles and independent Rum bottlers, so why shouldn’t they use their Cognac casks?
Then there is this practice of dosage. Sure, the market seems to want sweet Rums, the market believes Rums are a sweet drink/distillate, and yes Rum producers and bottlers aren’t in the Rum business to educate people, they are in the business of making money, and sure enough, sugar sells, just like sex. What? You probably have never seen the Dictador promotion train in the flesh? I remember even Abuelo doing something similar. Me being, by now, a more prolific Rum-taster, the beef I have with dosage is that it does not only raise the level of sweetness, but especially what it does with the Rum where the sugar has been added to. It dumbs it down, it flattens it out, it masks aroma’s and very importantly, it ruins the mouthfeel in the finish and the aftertaste. By now I started to really dislike the aftertaste of dosed Rums.
I remarked earlier in some other reviews, that I (still) don’t dislike sweet necessarily. A good PX, or Port, or White dessert Wine can be damn sweet, without leaving this foul aftertaste in your mouth. Sure, Rum hails from sugar production, and rightly so, (some) sweetness belongs to the Rum world. Somehow, if one produces a Rum without tampering with the process in doing so, the Rum might turn out great, sweet(ish) and great, and can stay great when tasting, without adding sugar. Added sugar is the bad guy here. Having said all that, by now, these Plantation expressions are definitely not for me anymore. There are enough differences between the expressions. The Jamaica, the Guyana, the Saint Lucia expressions are ok, The Nicaragua to a lesser extent as well, and so forth, but all of them, yes all, have this cloak of “wrong” which makes these Old Reserve Rums less interesting if you already know your way around Rums.
I mentioned these Rums might be interesting for novices, but in my opinion it is better to stay away from Rums which received these levels of dosage altogether. Top tip! Now go educate yourself.