Worthy Park 8yo 2006/2015 (50%, Rum Nation, Pot Still, Oloroso Sherry Finish, Release 2015, L-15-020, Jamaica)

I just finished both bottles from Foursquare, Doorly’s 12yo and Foursquare 9yo Port Finish. Both close connected and although the latter is an exceptional cask selection, I did not really prefer it over the 12yo. Both were (too) easy drinkers @ 40% ABV. After trying whole bottles of both, I have to admit, I also got a bit bored with them, lacking in strength and development in the glass. For me it was clear, both suffered from too much reduction, since the potential was there. Sure, hot, cask strength Rums aren’t for everyone, but for a (sipping) Rum to carry its aroma’s well and excite, I would say 46% (to 50%) ABV is better, if you want to reduce it. Forget about 43%, just skip it and go straight for 46%. Both were enjoyable nevertheless because the Foursquare spirit is a good one, with lots of potential, so I will definitely seek out other expressions of Foursquare in the near future. Preferably cask strength ones, like the official 2004 vintage or one from an independent bottler, because Foursquare is hot these days.

Well, empty bottles call for replacements, so one of the new ones I picked from my stash is this Rum Nation Jamaica Pot Still Rum 8yo, which has already been replaced by a 5yo expression, again with a Oloroso Sherry finish. Look, here we have a reduced Rum bottled at 50% ABV. I expect a better aroma transport system. since this seems to me to be the ideal drinking strength for a sipping Rum. With Jamaican Rum being a favourite (style) of mine and this one is seemingly not reduced to death, I expect quite a lot actually. Not sure about the Oloroso finish just yet. It works for Whisky, but we’ll see if that works for this Rum as well.

Color: Copper orange.

Nose: Big Jamaican funk shooting out of my glass, bold and eager. Nice dry woody notes and overall it doesn’t come across as very sweet and creamy. Dark chocolate and sandal wood. Images of sand and pan flute music. That’s a good start. Medium cream then and also a bit dusty and yes, a bit alcoholic as well, but that’s what we wanted, right? Hints of a well-integrated acidic wine-note on top. Nutty. It seems to me the Oloroso was matured in European oak. Licorice, toasted cask, black coal and hot asphalt. Wow, I love that! Lots of toffee combined with hidden vegetal notes. Dry leaves and even some burning leaves. Indian spices. Love how this smells. There is and indescribable and extremely appetizing note I recognize from a Cadenheads bottling of Enmore I have. This strikes a chord with me, because that was the first real Rum I bought based on its nose alone. Amazing nose on this Jamaican, where many different aroma’s just switch on and off, all the time.

Taste: Initially quite hot and funky, but that is only a short burst. Vegetal right from the start. Nice beginning with vanilla, toffee, honey and caramel, with the leafy bit in here as well. Cigarette ashes and cinnamon. Not as funky and big as the nose promised though, which is a bit of a shame really, especially after a few seconds. Turns quite dry with a paper-like quality. Less balanced as well. Medium sweet, or even less than that, since the dryness (wood) starts to dominate. Definitely less boring than both Foursquare bottlings mentioned above. Hints of wood sap, soap and blue ink with an additional bitter edge. The body dries out, and the finish is quite short, with hardly anything staying behind in the aftertaste, amazingly. If anything, I would say a small sour note from the Sherry. Character building stuff though. 50% ABV really helps this Rum forward. A shame though, the Jamaican funk got lost in the body and finish of this Rum. Take small sips in short succession to deal with this “problem”.

I understand this got replaced with a similar 5yo. Worthy Park again, as well as the Oloroso finish. It is said that the younger Rum is even more funky, which should be able to deal with the Oloroso finish better. It should also be more typically Jamaican on the palate. I guess this will help the taste reach a better balance, but we’ll have to see how the nose worked out. For me the Oloroso finish on this 8yo worked wonders on the nose, but was maybe a step too far on the taste. Probably the reason to repeat the experiment with a younger, bolder, Rum from the same distillery. Maybe they also tweaked the amount of time of finishing.

Points: 85

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Monymusk 5yo (46%, Renegade Rum Company, JMA, Tempranillo Finish, Jamaica)

Renegade Rum Company. What might that be? If you are familiar with Single Malt Whiskies, then the name Bruichladdich should mean something to you. In fact it will mean the world, since it is one of the famous Whiskies from the Isle of Islay. Home of the best peated Whiskies in the world, only historically, Bruichladdich is more famous for its unpeated Whiskies than for their peated Whiskies. To put an end to that, master distiller Jim McEwan started to make Port Charlotte, a heavily peated Single Malt Whisky (around 40 ppm phenols) and the astronomically peated Octomore (up to 258 ppm, which is a lot more than 40 ppm). There is no normal way to peat Whisky that high, so in comes the skill of Jim. Bruichladdich is also the home of The Botanist Gin, made up with botanicals from Islay, and also of Renegade Rum. Jim supposedly hand-picked casks of Rum and hand-picked Wine casks to finish those Rums in. Expect relatively young Rums, all finished in some sort of Wine cask. All reduced to 46% ABV, in my book better than the usual 40% ABV. Anything below 40% I don’t even consider buying if I have to be honest. In everything Jim does he pushes the envelope, so prepare yourself, as will I, for an unusual Rum experience…

monymusk-5yo-42-renegade-rum-company-jma-temperanillo-finish-jamaicaColor: Light gold.

Nose: Yep, funky Jamaican style. I love the high ester quality it has to it. Easy to recognize. Fresh cookie dough. Extremely creamy. Already the promise of a cloying syrupy Rum. Wait a minute… A drier note emerges. Old raisins and some wood. There is a note here I struggled for a while to identify, so common, but what is it? Its Grappa! The Temperanillo cask infused a Grappa note to this Rum. Grassy, hay-like. Clay, butter candy and a more vegetal note. If you have ever sticked your nose in the hole of an empty Red Wine cask, you’ll recognize its strong spicy notes in this Rum as well. Nice and quite unusual for a Rum. Amazing how the finish is taking over the Rum when you let it breathe for a while. When nosing this the high ester Jamaican smell is retreating quickly (move it around a bit so it gets some more air, and it briefly returns). With the Grappa nota also a more nutty aroma emerges as well as some warm butter. So it starts big, funky and creamy but after a while it has this well-balanced dryness combined with a nice warm butter note. This is the most two-faced Rum I have smelled untill now. A bit unusual, but I like it. Pushing the envelope a bit. If you love Grappa, you’ll love this nose.

Taste: Here the funky part is even shorter. Upon entering your mouth, for a brief moment, you think you are drinking a typical and clean and simple example of a Jamaican Rum, but it turns around rather quickly. Lots of wood and heaps of acidic woody notes followed by strange red fruit acidity from stale Wine. It doesn’t have the taste of wood itself though. It also lacks the bitterness of clean wood. No, its different. What it also lacks is the Grappa I found on the nose, for some that is a good thing, but it also makes for a somewhat unbalanced Rum. Well it’s not really a Rum either, especially a Jamaican Rum. What it does have is some nice exotic spices, dare I say Indian again? Also slightly soapy and floral, and it has some notes of Foursquare as well, which is a Rum, although not Jamaican. A long time after swallowing, a very discrepant winey, acidic and fruity note re-appears, combined with toasted cask, well hidden into the background. Can’t really say that the finish is well-balanced. It’s like a race where all the competitors cross the finish well apart from each other, running different distances as well. So unbalanced it is, and definitely the weakest part of the whole experience.

This bottle is clearly an experiment. Where for me it works wonders on the nose, it doesn’t actually work that well when tasting it. Somehow the finish overpowers the young Jamaican Rum. Maybe this experiment would have worked better if the Jamaican Rum was older, bigger, more of a match to the Tempranillo?

So there it is. I love Jamaican Rum to death, I love Jim McEwan and I love a good experiment, and that is what experiments are for. You try something that is usually out-of-the-box. It might work or not. Here it clearly works on the nose, but less so on the taste. So not the best of Rums around, and the score will reflect that, but because of its out-of-the-box-ness I still would buy one, although many of the Renegades are sold out by now…

Points: 81

Plantation Jamaica 2000 (42%, Old Reserve, 2013, Jamaica)

Some two months ago I reviewed the first Plantation Rum bottled in the Old Reserve Series, time for another one. The first one was made in Guyana, an easy choice since I do love Demerara Rum. Same with Jamaica. Jamaican Rums tend to be big and bold, high on esters. Actually Jamaica 2000 (in the old bottle, like the review of the Guyana), was my first Plantation Rum ever. That one was stunning. Here we have probably the first batch, released in the new bottle. There is a laser edged code on the bottle stating this one was bottled on April 18, 2013. I know both batches already, and there is some batch variation. I found the earlier one even bigger than the one I’m about to review here…

Plantation Jamaica 2000 (new bottle)Color: Full gold.

Nose: Extremely buttery start. Lots of caramel and toffee aroma’s. Big, big, big! It smells sweet, candylike and so funky. I love stuff like this. Sugared yellow fruits in alcohol. Buried deep down below, there is a wine-note, so Cognac is noticeable. Ex-Cognac casks were used to finish the Rum in. Leather, chocolate, wood and sawdust. It’s all in here and for you to smell, so the big Rum didn’t even overpower it all, so no heavy thick cloak of toffee lies over this Rum. Next, because these is an evolution going on, a more nutty aroma emerges. Wood, almonds and cold black tea. The whole seems to become drier, which I like. Smells great, as often with Jamaican Rums.

Taste: Not as thick as one would expect, and certainly not as chewy. It is not overly sweet as well, but the sweetness is your typical refined sugar as well as some burnt sugar. Right from the start quite some influence from wood, combined with the defining Jamaican funk from the nose. Toffee, wax and nuts. Vanilla Ice-cream with Rum and raisins, but also I remember from Christmas. No big toffee from the nose as well. Liquid toffee and alcohol. Without smelling it, tasting this blind I would almost call this an Abuelo expression (the 7yo), only less sweet and more powerful. How strange. It has a nice woody backbone, with a slight bitter edge to it. Cask toast, burnt sugar, something like that. Warming. letting this “melt” on your tongue, a more fruity aroma emerges and even some fresh artisanal cola notes, which aren’t so damn sweet. Whatever the aroma, it will always be slightly woody accompanied with a woody and waxy bitterness. I guess in this case the finish did some work on the typical Jamaican profile.

Just try something like this from Jamaica and try to compare it to a Rhum Agricole, I bet you can’t do that in the same tasting without losing something that both Rums offer. That far apart are both distillates, and so broad is the scope of Rum.

Since I still have it around, I compared it directly to the Guyanan offering I reviewed earlier: The Guyana seems more organic. More smells from the earth in that one. Flora and fauna and a wee hay-like Grappa note. Both share the same waxy notes though. In the taste the Guyana is a bit sharper and hotter. Similarly dry and influenced by wood. In fact, both are similarly good, and if you have one of them, you don’t really need the other as well.

Points: 84

Appleton Estate 21yo (43%, Jamaica)

A long time ago I reviewed a 12yo from Appleton Estate and liked that very much. Not so hard since I love the Jamaican style of Rum making. Time now to try out the super premium 21yo. Besides the 12yo and the 21yo there are several other expressions in the Appleton Portfolio. In fact the 21yo is the super premium Rum from the portfolio and it doesn’t come cheap, ok, not really expensive either, but I see huge differences between one market and the other. On top of the 21yo comes a 50yo “Independence Reserve”, well that costs as much as a small car, but for that amount of money you do get one of the best Rums money can buy. The 12yo I reviewed earlier is the best of the rest and before that one comes a 8yo and an entry-level Rum called “VX”. Apart from that there are a special gold and special white colored Rums for ya cocktails.

Appleton Estate 21yoColor: orange Brown.

Nose: Thick and woody and dusty. Right from the start it is showing its age. Over aged old high ester rum. Jamaican and delicious. Hints of tar and dry. Over time becoming even drier. I have to say already, this is an excellent nose. Paint stripped old wood, dusty and worthy of restoration. Red apple skin and latex paint. Fresh creamy butter. Custard. Christmas pudding, without the Christmas. Dried old orange skins. Hints of very old Demerara Rum.

Taste: Quite woody. Mahogany, old furniture. Hints of old dry Demerara. Burn furniture. That slightly burnt note is very typical for Rums that have aged for a long time. I like that, but it may be an acquired taste. Decent sweetness balanced by old dark wood. Chocolate powder and hard coffee flavoured candy. Quite fruity and gives off some dry heat. Despite all this I have to inform you it’s only delicious, but lacks a bit of complexity I would have though and Jamaican Rum of this age would have. Quite a long finish though with some burnt wood and…wait for it…cow manure. Coming with the complexity, maybe even a wee bit too short aftertaste. The whole is utterly delicious though.

I tried this long ago and found it too woody then. Now it and I have aged some more, I truly like it. It’s not overly woody, but it may be a wee bit too simple, soft and a wee bit too easy-going. Nevertheless, lovely stuff, maybe a bit to expensive compared tot the complexity, but very nice and drinkable. Dare I say, again, that it has been reduced too much?

points: 88

Hampden 17yo 1990/2007 (46%, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Jamaica)

Quite nice trying some Rums in a row, something I haven’t done in a while, and I have to admit it, it’s quite a lot of fun. After the white Plantation, and the brown Cockspur 12, let’s try a super premium high ester Rum from Jamaica, bottled by the old Wine and Whisky traders, Berry Brothers & Rudd.

Hampden Distillery from Jamaica is known for heavy pot still Rums a.k.a. high ester Rums. A lot of effort is made in the workings of yeast in the production process using century old fermentors, and of course, they use their own cultured yeasts. Hampden has a reputation to uphold when it comes to this kind of high ester Rum.

Hampden 1990 BBRColor: White wine.

Nose: Highly aromatic. Lots of esters. Extremely funky and dense. I really love Jamaican Rum, and this is exactly why. I recognize the typical Jamaican smell from the Plantation Jamaican Rums. Its thick and chewy. Rum with raisins or raisins full of Rum. It reminds me of a lot of things but I can’t put my finger on it what it exactly is. Christmas cake. Vanilla Ice cream with raisins in it. Reminds me of Napolitanean cassata ice-cream. That’s it. Loads of vanilla and new (bicycle) tires, where do you get that! Great funkiness. After a while a bit dusty. This is reggae in a bottle. Excellent stuff, I need it.

Taste: Sweet (just right for me) and lots of fruity acidity. Which is a great addition that prevents this Rum from becoming too heavy or cloying, what is even worse. So it has a lot of the Jamaican funk, but it is also super fruity. Unbelievable. Heaviness I can deal with, I love it actually, but overly and sugary sweet, nope, not my cup of tea. This Hampden ís my cup of tea. Give me the whole pot! Clean (no, not clean actually) and funky, slightly Industrial. But I like Industrial notes in Rum. You can find it in Caroni from Trinidad, but also in Rum Agricole. Good drinkability at 46% ABV. Lovely stuff. Sipping away at this, the added acidity stand out in the finish, defining it, and sometimes can be too much.

I don’t want to add too much to what I’ve already written above. This is great Rum and I really like this style. For a Jamaican, it could have been dirtier even, and bottled at a higher strength even, but I’m not complaining. this is wonderful stuff, with more than usual fruitiness, and a nice fresh acidity. All that after 17yo! Wow. I can almost cry this isn’t available anymore.

Points: 89

Plantation 3 Stars (41.2%, Jamaica, Barbados & Trinidad)

Although maybe 90% of my reviews are about Whisky, essentially this is a drinks blog. I do prefer Whisky, but not all the time. There is more great stuff around, and mine is a constant journey in finding the best quality stuff to have around and enjoying my life with. I was on quite a roll of mostly nice Whiskies lately, but today I had a real craving for one step beyond the usual realm of Single Malt Whisky. Two days ago we had some guests over for an evening of Wines and Cheese, but already then I had an intermezzo of three Grappa’s. Today I’m getting off the road usually chosen and take a detour with a Rum. Long time since I reviewed Rum, which is also a fantastic and global distillate. This three stars Rum, blended by Cognac Ferrand, is made with Rums from three distinct places. Jamaica (partly an unaged Rum and a small portion of 12yo Rum), Barbados (unaged Rum) and Trinidad (a filtered 3yo Rum). So quite the blend. This may prove to be one of the best White rums around, at least on paper…

Plantation 3 Stars (41.2%, Jamaica, Barbados & Trinidad)Color: Colorless, ever so slightly green.

Nose: A bit alcoholic and vegetal. Very green, with unripe banana, and ripe tangerine skin. It also shows a lot of potential. Initial smell is very appetizing. For a white rum it smells like something to sip and not let go to “waste” in a coke or cocktail. Mind you, I do enjoy them very much, and this Rum is designed for usage in cocktails. Tea and lots of spices and a tiny hint of wood. Sprite or 7-up, so citrus and brown sugar and cane juice, but in a very appealing way. Nosing it more deeply, even some cola seems to have found its way into the blend. Tiny hints of wood related mint. Wonderful stuff.

Taste: Sweet, green tea with too much sugar in it. Citrus again. Lemon and lime with refined sugar. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t make the rum too sweet. Very smooth and seems a lot lower in ABV than it actually is. Definitely good enough to sip, although it is obvious from the start this was meant to be used in another way. Very young and light, and without a real finish.

Nope, I wouldn’t sip this. It’s good, but there are so many golden and brown Rums around, that are way better and much more complex to sip than this three stars Rum. And that’s no shame. This was never meant to be sipped on the beach or around a fire-place. It was meant for cocktails and give you the chance to make the best cocktail you can make with this. Well made stuff and tasty too.

Points: 73

Rum Week – Day 7: Appleton Estate 12yo Extra (40%, Jamaica)

Appleton Estate, of course, is a sugar estate that started to distill their waste, to earn some extra money. It is located on the Island of  Jamaica and makes Rum since 1749. The estate exists since 1655. It is the oldest sugar estate and distillery on the island. Appleton is owned by J. Wray and Nephew Ltd. another name we know from the rum business. The Appleton Estate covers more than 4,500 ha of land. Nice to know is that they still, in part, cut cane by machete! The Appleton Estate makes traditional pot still Rums that are aged in American Bourbon Barrels. Just like their counterparts of El Dorado.

Color: Orange brown.

Nose: yeah! That’s more like it! Sweet, Cane Sugar and molasses. Very fruity. Lots of banana. And some clean wood with tar in the far distance. Thick. Clay and full of esters. I like this very much.

Taste: Syrupy, half-sweet, and has a bit of a bite from the wood. It tastes just a tad too much toward the new-wood spectrum to call it great, but it does seem to be a great rum. Altogether I expected this to be a bit heavier and more complex, than it actually is.

So there you have it. Seven Rums in seven days. Three were pretty good and very close in points. If I would pick a winner I would choose the Barbancourt. It’s the most perfect of the bunch. The El Dorado is as good and who knows maybe even better in complexity, but I have a dislike for the sweetness that is on the edge. Almost too sweet or maybe it is already too sweet. This Appleton is almost as good as the ones I just mentioned, yet the taste is a bit too simple for the nose and maybe a tad too woody. Still I consider this a very good rum. Of the rest the Malecon is too weak to stand out, but the quality is there. The Angostura 1919 is pretty good too. The Diplomatico and the Flor de Caña were, for me at least, disappointing. Not bad, but disappointing. I expected more of both. These were all readily available rums that, compared to Single Malt Whiskies these days, cost next to nothing. To explore this further it will be interesting to look into some single cask Rums. I enjoyed this week thoroughly, but I do feel there is a lot of Sugar in these Rums, I’m not quite accustomed to. LOL.

Points: 83