More than with any other type of distilled spirit, Rum aficionados (have to/feel the need to) protect their tipple. Whisky, for example, is highly regulated, so there is no need for the Whisky aficionado to protect their spirit, and there isn’t a lot of adulteration going on, to boot. Quite the contrary actually, regulation prevents too much openness about the Whisky in the bottle, preventing distillers like Bruichladdich and blenders like John Glaser (Compass Box) to print all the available information on the label. Aficionados like it (we want to know as much as possible), regulations prevent it. For instance, only the last cask is mentioned in detail on the label, but if the whisky was previously matured in a different casks, details of that cask aren’t allowed on the label. Blenders aren’t allowed to print on the label how exactly their blend came to be. Blenders like Compass Box, do publish that information on their website as do distillers, like Bruichladdich, to name but a few.
Rum aficionado’s are very clear about how they prefer their Rum. Pure and unadulterated. No additions of any kind and certainly not of the sugary kind. If possible non or not much reduction. Preferably aged on location, although continental ageing is accepted. So when word comes out, somebody is releasing a popcorn infused/flavoured Rum, well, you’d better hide in your bomb proof cellar for a while, until that travesty blows over and Barry has killed the culprit who had this infamous idea. Sure, pure Rum is the best Rum, and I like them dry and untouched as well.
I myself do draw the line when people essentially produce a sweet liqueur and call it a Rum, examples like Don Papa (you don’t want to know what was added to that and in which quantities!) and The “Rums” of A.H. Riise, again to name but a few. I reviewed this Christmas Edition of A.H. Riise a while back and I did like the taste of Christmas it gave off, hence the score, but in hindsight I don’t feel it is a Rum at all. Its a tasty Liqueur, with Rum used as a base spirit. So as a Rum the score, if reviewed today, should be much, much lower, but I’ll let it stand as a testament to the ignorance of the consumer, me, myself and I, in this case. Since we don’t have a class of Sugared Rums or Rum Liqueur, it may be considered a Spiced Rum, a class of Rum reserved for Rums where anything has been added to it. Un-pure. Yes, Rum is lacking regulation, and some producers obviously will do anything to sell as much Rum as possible. The market for Rum as a mixer is much, much larger, than the market for Rum as a sipper, although the latter is on the rise, as are the prices for sipable Rums. So consumer beware!
So the Rum police doesn’t like people messing with their Rum and here is me reviewing a Rum that has been altered, messed with, and I’ll leave it up to you, the Rum detective from the Rum Homicide department, to decide if this particular case is acceptable or not. As is the type of Botanical Rum. In the Netherlands, I imagine, Ruben Madero got an idea when sipping his traditional Gin & Tonic. Hmmm, he must have thought, Botanicals, interesting, what if I made a Gin, that uses Rum in stead of a clear grain spirit as a base. No, even better, what if I would make a Rum with botanicals! Yes! The industrious guy he is, he started a distillery and started experimenting (Ruben hates sweetened Rums as well). Probably not in that order. Fast forward a bit, since this introduction is already a wee bit too long. Here is Ruben’s first baby available to the public. The Spice and Sea Salt Botanical Rum. I don’t know if it is a secret, but when walking around the distillery, I saw some industrial size containers on site with 5yo Rum from Foursquare (Column and Pot Still). And I have to say, fans of Foursquare are amongst the most fanatical Rum police there is. Foursquare is a wonderful Bajan Rum, so of course there is this hands-off-our-Rum movement. But please read on, not all changes to Rum are done with the wrong idea? Ruben started to make various infusions and distillates of herbs and spices and fruits and so on, I saw many of those in his distillery. Which botanicals did eventually end up in this Botanical Rum? (lets just call it that, since there is this lack of regulation and this type of Rum doesn’t exist officially). First of all:
* Organic Añana Sea Salt (Spain)
* Madagascan Vanilla
* Guatemalan Cardamom
* Peruvian Cacao
No time to waste than to taste this Botanical Rum now. Ruben isn’t really presenting this Rum as a sipper, but to assess this Rum, I will be sipping it to review it. I also had a chance to try this Rum, at the distillery, in their proposed mix with ice and ginger beer, and…well I do have to admit I was shameless enough to ask for another one.
Color: Light Gold, almost White Wine
Nose: Light Rum, sweetish and leafy. A green smell. I already know this has sea salt added, so I don’t know if I’m truly objective, but I do notice an aroma associated with salt. Ginger, nutty, foremost almonds and citrussy notes (it’s the cardamom speaking), young Rum, not really full of vanilla, toffee or caramel notes. If you smell hard, some spicy green notes come forward. Based on the nose alone, and considering this has salt added, which you can’t smell, the other botanicals are present, blended in with taste. They add to the taste of the young Rum, but neither of those botanicals overpower the nose. Actually still recognizable as a Foursquare Rum. A wee bit of parrafin, diluted cola and sea spray are present as well. Give it more time in the glass the appetizing cola note stays and mixes in with a new floral note. Even longer and some ripe and sugared red fruits come forward. The Foursquare base is now even more recognizable. The cloves, by the way, are foremost noticeable in the empty glass afterwards…
Taste: The entry is salty and unique to the world of Rum. The somewhat slower sweet taste follows right after that. In a way also a bit thin, 41% ABV is very close to 40% ABV. Sugared black tea. Salty lips and a mouth full of pretty nice nutty Foursquare notes, with a tiny acidic citrussy top note. Medium sweetness, sugar water and a black tea note. A light bitter note (from spices, not wood), cloves and vanilla, yet, apart from the salt, nothing of the botanicals or additions overpower. I have to admit, the tweaks are done sparsely and with taste, leaving enough room for Foursquare to leave it’s mark as well. Sure the salt is prominent, and a key player, but for me it works well. Cacao in the rather short finish (with light botanicals and young Rum, this was to be expected). The cacao stays around for the (short) aftertaste. The base-Rum is young and still hasn’t got a lot (if any) wood notes impaired to it. The aftertaste may be shortish, but the salty lips are here to stay for a while. Well balanced.
Interesting Botanical Rum. Works for me as a sipper, especially as a starter in a flight of Rums. Equally good with (smoked) ginger beer. Quite by accident after tasting this Spice and Sea Salt Rum I poured a high ABV Pour Mourant into the unrinsed glass, and the salt from this Rum that stayed behind on the inside of the glass, tasted very nice with the Demerara as well, even with only this trace amount of salt.