Mezan Jamaica 2000 (Long Pond)

What is it? Single cask pot still rum from Jamaica, by ways of molasses, and distilled at the Long Pond distillery in 2000 in the Wedderburn style (high ester baby). There isn’t an age statement on this but from the bottling code on the neck of the bottle it looks like it was bottled in 2014, making it around 14 years old. From the colour of the rum (all natural by the way) it looks to be mainly European aged. As this rum is made in the Wedderburn style it’s produced using plenty of dunder and long formation times to give a very high ester rum.

Natural colour, not chill filtered and bottled at 40% abv (boo-hoo).

Sugar? Get out of town.

Nose: Oh….dear…..God. Stunning. Massive estery funk, and pretty much every tropical fruit you care to name; mushy and black bananas that have been sat in the sun, masses of fresh pineapple, fresh mangos, fresh papayas, fresh guavas. Some stuff from close to home too with green apple skin, conference pears and Seville oranges. There is some new leather creeping in, black pepper and a small handful of those lime Jelly Babies. Right at the back there is a little aniseed and the smell of new tyres. Bear with me here, it sounds strange to describe a texture you can smell, but there is an almost creamy, buttery feel to the nose…..if you smell it you’ll know what I mean.

Palate: Medium mouth feel, helped by the pot still and the lack of filtering rather than the abv, I must say (damn you Mezan!). Well, if the nose didn’t wake you up the palate will; it’s all about the rubber and aniseed at first, some smoky tobacco, new leather, black pepper again and a spiced toffee like note which is the only thing that gives you indication of cask. Sitting next to it the fruits play their hand but this time it’s really only the banana and pineapple that I notice – freshly cut and running with juices. That creaminess from the nose is there all the way through with a thick whipped cream/butter like feeling as it coats your mouth.

Finish: Medium. Salty, rubbery (bicycle inner tubes), spicy; a little cinnamon and ginger to play with the anise. A surprise showing of some sweetness when things calm down with runny honey and a little toffee sauce (only a little), and a sprinkle of brown sugar.

Thoughts? Thoughts indeed. Absolute cracker. Love it. If you like your high ester rums, or want to try some real hardcore Jamaicans and don’t want to break the bank, then get one of these, if you can still find it; I think it only cost be about £40!! The nose is to die for, the palate is outstanding but the finish does let it down a little, and I know it’s a lazy thing to say but abv would really help here. This is a massive rum at 40% but at 50% it’d be a monster and that extra abv would light the finish up.

………I always know I’m going to get a good rum experience when my wife walks into the room and the first thing out of her mouth is “It stinks in here, the whole downstairs stinks of whatever you’re drinking”. So judge it by that; “Mezan Jamaica 2000 – a nose that fills a house.”

 

Rum Sixty Six Family Reserve

What is it? Bajan rum, distilled, matured and bottled at the Foursquare distillery using molasses via a combination of column (Coffey) and pot stills. No details on the blend ratio is provided, as I suspect it changes with each batch based on taste profile. This is small batch rum, usually made up of around 112 casks per batch, which are 100% white American oak ex-bourbon casks (mainly from Jack Daniels). The rum is a minimum of 12 years old, all of which is tropically done; the casks are aged for around 8 years in the first maturation phase, where the spirit used is at 65% abv*. Once the first phase is done, casks are selected based on merit and potential, the spirit brought down to near bottling strength and casks refilled and matured for a further 4 years – this reduction in abv slows cask interaction and is a nice trick to stop tropically aged spirits from becoming wood soup.

Coloured, filtered and bottled at 40% abv.

 

*this is around the same abv that Scotch is filled at and it’s believed to be the most efficient abv for cask interaction – below 60% you get more water soluble compounds extracted from the cask, such as sugars in the form of hemicellulose (a spirit at 55% abv will extract twice the sugars of a spirit casked at 70% abv). Above 65% abv and you get more ethanol soluble compounds extracted from the cask, such as lignin (wood notes).

 

Sugar? Nope. No additives at all.

Nose: Caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, almonds and quite a lot of coconut; very big bourbon influence. Charred oak, burnt fruit toast (or teacake), smoke….or maybe the smoking of distant tobacco, old sun-baked leather. There is a little WD40 and black boot polish which makes it a big grubby (that’s good by the way!). Faintest suggestion of flowers, maybe an English hedgerow in summer.

Palate: Thick, coating and quite a sweet delivery actually. Rinse and repeat of the nose; vanilla, caramel, coconut and a bit of honey creeping in. After the delivery and initial taste it dries up fast and gets quite oaky, charred and spicy with ginger, cloves and nutmeg.

Finish: Mid to long and spiced. It gets very dry and quite hot on the finish. The mouth remains coated from the palate and the spice is cut by an intriguing smoked maple syrup like sweetness (can you smoke maple syrup?). There is a little oil or tar that I found on the nose too as it ends, just keeping it interesting.

Thoughts? To me, I find this “better” than Doorly’s 12 year old but not as “good” as the Exceptional Cask bottles that have been put out. It’s got a lovely mouth-feel, it’s not all sweet as the savoury notes balance it out well. Now this is the problem I have, and keep having with Foursquare core bottles; They put out incredible bottles in their Exceptional Cask range, these are not far from the same price as the core bottles but are vastly superior rums. Why would I buy a core bottling when I can grab a Port, or Zinfandel cask for the same price, or even a full proof 2004 for £5 more?! The rum is there, just put it in bottles please.

……saying that, the Exceptional Casks are limited run bottles, so if they all went then I’d buy this again for what I paid, which is anywhere between £35 and £40. I find it above average, but not at the level of greatness. I’d say a very good rum for someone who is into their bourbon.

 

 

Travellers (Belize) 11 year old (2005) – WhiskyBroker

What is it? Column still rum, from molasses, distilled at the Travellers distillery in Belize. This is a single cask rum (cask number 33) with the mark SFBT and filled in November 2005, it was then matured for 11 years and bottled by Whisky Broker on 9th February 2017. My bottle is number 12 of 262 produced.

There are no details on aging but going off the colour, abv, nose and taste I’d say this has spent a lot of it’s 11 years maturing in the tropics.

Not chill filtered, not coloured (at bottling) and bottled at full proof of 66.1% (!).

Sugar? No

For the purposes of tasting, and my nose hairs, I’ve watered this. I’ll be honest; it’s dangerously drinkable at full whack but I want to get a bit more out of it and 66% is really going to masacre my nose and palate. I’ve taken it down to about 57-60%, as through experimenting I’ve found that it totally falls apart once you get below 55% (ish). It’s a tough one to balance right, so be warned.

Nose: Heh, give this to someone and tell them that it was a 12 year old, full proof, bourbon and they’d not question you. We’re so deep in Kentucky it’s scary; massive oak, pencil shavings, fresh sawn planks and coconut. Gingerbread, ginger, clove, nutmeg and loads of dry roasted peanuts. Honey glazed meat being cooked in a smoker, BBQ sauce and some vanilla under it all. It’s pretty big and in your face, but there is some fresh complexity that under cuts it; fragrant flowers (lilac, lilly, that sort of thing), some warm hay and even a tiny bit of tar.

Palate: Medium to full mouth feel. Ok, it’s hot, lets not beat about the bush here, but there is loads of flavour too, it’s not just all about the booze. Sweetish delivery, low cocoa dark chocolate (60% stuff like Bourneville), freshly brewed Columbian coffee, honey cake, gingerbread – no, Lebkuchen actually (more honey, more spices), some sweet cane and some banana flavoured candy. Vanilla turns up and then leaves coconut as it moves to the finish.

Finish: Long. I mean, it’s a big abv and that really sits on your tongue. I am sure that this is not a barrel proof bourbon? I’d swear it was! Big coconut, vanilla, hot ginger root, raw oak and quite tannic – the sweetness from the palate goes and leaves your mouth dry and hot. There is a lingering taste of smoky BBQ brisket and walnuts as it tails off.

Thoughts? It’s a sledgehammer. There is very little subtlety to this, it’s a glass of massive flavours delivered with a cannon. Do I like it? Hell yeah. There is a time for fruity high ester rum, there is a time for subtle and flowery rum, there is even a time for sugar topped stuff….variety is the spice of life and sometimes you just want your mouth detonated. This was about £46, and a cracking purchase. Oh, and they still have this in stock at Whisky Broker if you fancy having your head taken off.