Francisco Montero “50th Anniversary” (40%, 7.000 bottles, 2013, Spain)

Francisco Montero Martin was born on April fools day 1929 in Motil, Grenada, Spain. Motil is unsurprisingly also the place Spanish sugar cane came from. For a long time Francisco dreamed about making Rum, or Ron as it is called in Spain. Finally when in his thirties, in 1963, the year of the demise of JFK, Francisco decided that life is short and started his own Rum-distillery called the Azucarera Montero distillery. Quite a bold move since (domestic) Rum was still unknown in Spain. In 2006, Sugar cane cultivation was seized and one year later, Joaquín Martín Montero, nephew of the founder buys the distillery. His daughter Andrea Martín Targa manages the place, so the business remains in the hands of the family.

Although there is a lot of history concerning sugar cane, the Rum is not distilled from sugar cane juice, but rather from the molasses from the locally grown sugar cane. The cultivation of sugar cane seized in 2006, so the distillery imports molasses made from sugar cane, from Brazil, Egypt, India or Mexico. Sometimes nice molasses from other countries can be brought in as well.

The Rum of Francisco Montero is a light style Rum. Fermentation is done for only 24 to 30 hours and the distillery uses four continuous column stills, of which the first operates under vacuum. This allows for distillation at a lower temperature, claiming less flavour is “boiled off”. However, nothing is said about the conditions provided in the other three columns and their effect on flavour of the final product. Ageing is done exclusively in 500 liter, new American oak casks, configured in a Solera system. And last but not least, in the blending process caramel coloring is done.

Francisco Montero 50th AnniversaryColor: Full Gold.

Nose: A breath of fresh air and a nice floral touch. There is a nice elegant woody nose with an edge of scented paper. Fruity black tea with a little bit of sugar in it. Definitely a molasses based Rum, bot nowhere near the thick and syrupy big Rums. No, it smells refined and elegant without being a completely different Rum, like Agricole. Hints of licorice and more fresh air, but also some wood pulp and breakfast cereals. Sweetness becomes more like a warm liquid of diluted refined sugar. Development in the glass stops rather soon, so after a short while WYSIWYG (What you smell is what you get). I like the floral tough that stays throughout.

Taste: Thin toffee and caramel. Aided by some liquid wood in the background. Lots of warming toffee, vanilla and caramel candy notes. Hints of waxy apple skins and a bitter walnut skin note, but these hints are pushed way back. You have to work for them. Quite unexpected, because the very smart and luxury packaging as well as the speciality of a “50th Anniversary” made me expect something very deep, in part old, and special, just like Abuelo Centuria stands out from the rest of the Abuelo range. This comes across as quite young. Initially very appetizing, with the toffee notes. Towards the finish the taste breaks down a bit. The nice toffee note gets weaker and thinner, and isn’t really replaced by something else. The finish is quite short, and you’re left behind with only an echo of a Rum.

Considering the packaging and the occasion, I was quite disappointed really. I expected a lot more. By its own merits I am disappointed as well. Sure, its a lighter style Rum, but just look at the Cuban Rums I reviewed earlier. The same lighter style but way more happening there. It is all right to sip, but if I would place this according to its merits it would sit right next to the most inexpensive of Abuelo’s, the Añejo, making this Montero way to expensive for what you would get. If you like the style, go for a Cuban.

Points: 78

Glenfiddich 32yo 1974/2006 (47.3%, OB, Private Vintage, for La Maison Du Whisky, Cask #10260, 198 bottles)

Let’s continue with Glenfiddich. Known for their big out turn and fairly priced Whiskies. No cheap entry-level Glenfiddich this time, like the 12yo “Special Reserve” I reviewed earlier, but a super-duper premium Glenfiddich that costs a fortune these days. Cask number 10260 was bottled for the 50th anniversary of La Maison du Whisky. Who hasn’t visited one of their fabulous shops in Paris & Saint-Denis (France) or Singapore? There are a few pretty great 1974 Glenfiddich bottled, even one for Playboy (Cask #10245) and H.M. Queen Elizabeth II (of U.K. fame). So not a bad club to belong to. Here Majesty’s Cask was #2336 (not quite a sister cask of the Playboy one, I would say). Or maybe Glenfiddich filled a lot of casks in 1974. Who knows?

Color: Full and dull gold.

Nose: Old bottle. Oceanic and creamy. Wow. Musky and organic, with fatty old wood (not dry wood) mixed with newer plywood. Clay. Absolutely stunning wood smell. Smelling this you know you have something special on your hands. When smelling this for a prolonged time, you get in the territory of cardboard that has been added to the wood that is more upfront. Through the wood and the cardboard is also something clean, fresh and lively like lemongrass, cola, mint and old lemon skins, but also the more heavy shoe polish and clean wax. Great complexity and balance.

Taste: Again old bottle. Spicy toffee with clay. It’s sweet and has hardly any wood at first! Full mouth. Chewy and waxy. Fantastic. Slightly sour, somewhat thin and papery finish, and the wood came in late, but it is there. It’s more the spice from wood, than the wood itself. Clean and elegant.

Well, obviously you can’t really compare the über-standard 12yo to this, can you? Because all the time when I was trying this, you can clearly see where this is coming from, and it does have a big family resemblance. This definitely is the father of the 12yo.

Points: 91