Depaz Rum – Official UK launch

As a blogger, I occasionally get asked to post Press Releases for various things, from new rums to festivals. As this blog is a personal blog, purely based on my own opinions and reviews (almost exclusively from rums I buy, swap or get samples from friends), I don’t publish a lot of them. Sometimes though, there are certain festivals (RumFest being one) and certain rums that I feel should be publicised. This is one of those times.

Depaz is a rum brand from Martinique and carries the AOC (appellation d’origine controlee) classification. For those that don’t know, this is a very strict set of rules around production and bottling methods that must be adhered to – the same way that Cognac does and Scotch Whisky, very (very!) basically it; indicates a rum made from sugar cane cultivated in strictly authorised areas on the island, with limited yields and agricultural practices that protect the land and the quality of the crops. 100 per cent sugar cane juice must be used in production, distillation is made through columns or continuous stills, alcohol levels must not be lower than 40% ABV and colouring must be natural from ageing only in oak casks. There are only seven AOC accredited distilleries on Martinique. Just 3 per cent of the world’s rum holds the AOC Agricole Rum mark. It goes on and on to include the brix level (sugar content) of the juice, fermentation times allowed, level of organic volatiles for each grade, minimum maturation periods etc…..

Now we don’t tend to see a lot of Agricole rum in the UK and even less with AOC classification, so the fact that an official UK launch is being done by such a brand is exciting news. Agricole rums are an area that I’ve not had much chance to venture into so far and something that I’m planning to change – if only I could get the bottles I want at the right price! One of the main reasons I’m publishing this is that the regulations in the UK on what can be sold as rum are a farce, and the likes of AOC is a perfect example of the type of thing we need more exposure to. As a consumer, knowing how my rum is made and to what standards would give me far more confidence in my purchases.

For transparency purposes, I’ve been sent a sample kit by Depaz which contains the 4 rums mentioned in the Press Release. I was hoping they would be good, as I wouldn’t be prepared to post this for rum that I didn’t like. I’ve tried them, and will be reviewing them separately with my own notes – and as such won’t publish their “official” notes, but they are very good.

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Depaz, one of the world’s oldest and most exceptional rums, has announced its official launch in the UK this autumn, bringing a taste of its lush Martinique home in the French West Indies to British drinkers.

One of the few rums to hold ‘AOC Rum Agricole’ status (‘appellation d’origine controlee’) – a mark exclusive to Martinique, denoting production in a small designated geographical area – Depaz is one of the island’s finest terroir spirits; a traditionally crafted rum of exquisite quality and flavour, the perfect embodiment of its place and the perseverance of its people over 350 years.

The Depaz team will launch a portfolio of four 700ml expressions in the UK market, all perfect for sipping and savouring: Depaz Plantation Rum, Depaz VSOP Reserve Speciale, Depaz Grand Reserve XO and Depaz Port Cask Finish. Launch events and tastings are planned for Rumfest on 20th and 21st October and The Spirit Show 22nd and 23rd November (both in London), with limited stocks then available at specialist spirits retailers and bars around the UK. The range will have an RRP of £35 – £55.

From cane to cask, every drop of Depaz Rum is produced at the Depaz Estate and Distillery on Martinique’s rugged north west coast, nestled in the shadow of the island’s highest mountain, volcanic Mont Peleé.

This terroir is at the heart of the rum. The rich volcanic soil surrounding Mont Peleé, and the shelter it provides from rain clouds brought to Martinique on the eastern trade winds, cultivate the estate’s high quality blue sugar cane. Harvested each spring amid celebrations, its juices result in a rum of unique character and superb depth of flavour.

Depaz is also defined by its history, which stretches back to 1651 when ‘Chateau Depaz Estate’ was founded; and the resilience of the Depaz family in the face of enormous tragedy. A catastrophic eruption of Mount Peleé in 1902 claimed the lives of 30,000 islanders and destroyed the entire Depaz Distillery. Just one member of the Depaz family survived, with a resolve to rebuild the estate and restart rum production for future generations.

Unlike standard rums which are made with syrups and molasses, Depaz is crafted using only the pressed juice of freshly cut sugar cane. Each expression is smooth, flavourful and perfectly balanced, with different styles and finishes to suit different tastes.

Commenting on the launch, Ruaridh Paterson, Key Account Manager for Depaz Rum said: ‘We are very much looking forward to bringing Depaz to the UK, and to sharing the extraordinary taste of our rums and the fascinating story of our Martinique heritage with British drinkers. We are seeing a growing interest in spirits that are more premium and crafted, offering interesting new flavours, distinctive provenance and an authentic story. As an agricole rum with centuries of island heritage, Depaz is rich in all of these areas and is already highly acclaimed and sought after in our existing markets. We look forward to sharing these exceptional rums with drinkers over the coming months.’

www.depazrhum.com

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Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve

What is it? Jamaican Pure Single Rum, so 100% pot still rum, from Molasses, and produced at the Worthy Park distillery in Jamaica. The rums that go into this blend are aged tropically for between 6 and 10 years before being blended for the final rum, and all of that ageing takes place in first fill ex-bourbon casks (only previously held bourbon, nothing else).

No dunder is used at Worthy Park, the esters are produced during fermentation using a propriety yeast strain and control of time for the fermentation. The marque used for this rum is entirely from the WPL marque, which is a lighter Worthy Park and comes in at 60-119g/laa. For reference, the range of marques for Worthy Park and their ester levels are:

  • WPEL: less than 60g/laa
  • WPL: 60-119g/laa
  • WPM: 120-239g/laa
  • WPH: 240-360g/laa
  • WPE: up to 800g/laa

Coloured, but not chill filtered and bottled at 45% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: This smells good. Definite and strong Jamaican pot still, but it’s not big, pungent or funky. A Hampden this is not. Key Lime Pie topped with a banana cream, soft vanillas – vanilla Danish pastry maybe, toasty oak, coconut and a little lemon too. The more I nose this I start to get crushed shells, salty rock-pools and a beach on a hot day. Faint notes of marine fuel and oil in the distance and anchovies marinated in very good olive oil. There is a light marzipan/almond note appearing from time to time too.

Palate: Medium mouth feel. Sharp at first with citrus fruits and yellow stone fruit, quite hot with a little ginger root and white pepper. After the initial heat it’s pretty savoury and salty; brine, green olives, salted fish, shellfish in lemon juice and a big breath of sea breeze when stood on a jetty. Mid-palate and as it moves to the finish the sweeter notes appear with some milk chocolate, vanilla custard, Lady Grey tea and bananas.

Finish: Medium to long. Some salty tang still in there but much sweeter than the palate and more funky; ripe bananas, fresh pineapple, lemon curd, maybe a light butterscotch too and a fudge’y note.

Thoughts? Cracking rum. The nose is a beauty but I’m less keen on the finish if I’m being honest, it’s not “bad” at all, I’d just prefer a bit more intensity and less “safeness”, but that’s just my preference here. Again, a fine example of a Jamaican pot still rum, much more approachable than a Hampden or Long Pond and a good foot in the door if you want to head that way in your rum journey. I’m being a bit spoilt with Jamaicans here at Rumtastic Towers at the moment, they’ve all been very good recently!

I picked this up for £45. That may put people off for a NAS (No Age Statement) rum, but you’ve got to bear in mind it’s 6-10 years old and tropically aged. If you are starting to explore more interesting and complex rum at the moment then it’s one I think worth investing in. Personally, I like the style and I’d buy it again.

 

RumFest 2018 and London Rum Week

So you’re reading this blog because you’re either into rum or you want to know more about rum, in which case you need to know (if you don’t already) about RumFest; this is the biggest rum festival in the world and runs in October each year down in the Big Smoke. This year they have stepped things up a bit for a week long party and celebration of rum with London Rum Week, where there will be loads of good stuff taking place from masterclasses to rum launches.

Unfortunately due to work commitments I won’t be attending this year, but ya know, got a mortgage to pay, kids to feed, rum to buy, and all that. Now I wouldn’t normally promote or endorse such an event that I wasn’t attending, but c’mon, this is RumFest we’re talking about! I’ve been asked if I’d put out a Press Release and because of what this festival is, what it celebrates for rum and does for the industry I’m more than happy to do so – and honoured for even being asked! So here it is:

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LONDON RUM WEEK LAUNCHES THIS OCTOBER

From the makers of RumFest, London Rum Week is a week-long celebration of rum across bars all over the capital, ahead of RumFest 2018

London Rum Week
15th – 21st October

RumFest
Saturday 20th & 21st October 2018
London’s Earl’s Court
ILEC Conference Centre
rumfest.co.uk

RumFest tickets start from £44.55 and can be purchased here.

Bigger and better than ever before, RumFest is launching London Rum Week to prolong the celebrations of one of the nations favourite tipples. With an abundance of events taking place from rum launches and Tiki Thursday to rum masterclasses, rum-lovers from across the capital will have endless opportunities to get involved.

RumFest, the world’s premier festival of rum, will also return to London this autumn to host an abundance of tastings, masterclasses and delicious food all under one roof. Taking place 20th-21st October, over 400 world-class rum brands, mixologists, master blenders and specialists will jet in from around the world, to celebrate their passion for all things rum, taking visitors on a rum pilgrimage to explore the exquisite and unique. For more information on Rum Week and RumFest, visit the website.


RumFest is the lead event in the newly launched London Rum Week this October. Kicking off on Monday 15th, rum-focused activities will take place across the capital for the first five days, including the launch of Hampden Rum from one of Jamaica’s oldest distilleries at Usain Bolt’s new London bar Tracks & Records, a Q&A with Bailey Pryor, the five-time Emmy Award-Winning Director and Producer, a showcase of rare rums & cigars at La Casa del Habano with award-winning rum maker Richard Seale and much more.

Also part of London Rum week is The 6th Golden Rum Barrel Awards & Dinner, to be held at The Holiday Inn Kensington Forum, on Sunday 21st October. This star studded night will see awards given to best in the rum industry including the Best Rums of 2018, Best Rum Master, Best Rum Bar, Best Rum Brand Ambassador and Rum Influencer of the Year .

Running as the highlight event, RumFest – the worlds finest festival of rum, opens its doors on the Saturday 20th – Sunday 21st October. With over 400 rum brands united together under one roof, guests will be able to enjoy exclusive tastings and pairings, take part in a variety of masterclasses and learn the art of perfecting a rum cocktail from leading mixologists.

New for this year, Ian Burrell, renowned Global Rum Ambassador and RumFest Founder, will be leading a one-off tasting on the Saturday and Sunday, showcasing five rare and expensive rums with a combined retail value of £1500. Tickets for all masterclasses (except those stated) are included within the entry ticket, however, places are limited and must to be booked in advance.

Sponsoring the main stage this year is London’s newest tropical escape bar Laki Kane. Co-founded by award-winning mixologist Georgi Radev, the bar produces innovative cocktails and is the first bar in the world to make all syrups in-house without using refined sugars. Using the finest rums, sugar cane syrups and a hand-picked selection of rare and exotic ingredients, Laki Kane will be showcasing their mixology expertise.

Speaking about this year’s events, founder and Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell;
“RumFest is a fantastic chance to get the inside track on the next big thing in rum as well as try some hidden gems on the market. Last year proved once again that this is THE event for anyone in the business of rum, with the worlds best brands, master blenders, distilleries and aficionados from across the globe. 2018 promises to raise the bar again with a few more surprises!”

A variety of additional masterclass sessions will take place across the course of the weekend. All sessions will involve tutored rum and cocktail tasting by spirit experts. 

Saturday Masterclasses:
–        Angostura
–        La Hechicera
–        Velier Masterclasses with Luca Gargano
–        Canadian Rums
–        Appleton Rum
–        Flor de Caña
Sunday Masterclasses:
–        Real McCoy
–        Foursquare class with Richard Seale
–        Appleton Rum
–        Velier Masterclasses

For rum connoisseurs, the RumFest Golden Tot Tokens will give you the opportunity to taste limited edition and premium rums, retailing from £80-250.

In addition, Saturday guests will be able to place their bids at the Rum Auction, with premium rums priced from £500 – £2000. There will also be a host of chef demos throughout the weekend from Shivi Ramoutar, The Modern Caribbean Chef & Hassan de Four. 

Global Rum Ambassador and RumFest founder Ian Burrell at RumFest 2017

RumFest tickets are now on sale from £44.55 per day, which includes tastings of over 400 rums, complimentary invites to all masterclasses and seminars (except those stated) and rum experience tasting glass. For full information on RumFest and to buy tickets, head to rumfest.co.uk.

A full itinerary for London Rum Week can be found on http://www.londonrumweek.com. Activities across the week include Hampden Rum launch at Usain Bolt’s new London bar, a showcase of rare rums and cigars at La Casa del Habano plus much more to be announced. For more information regarding London Rum Week or to get involved contact info@rumfest.co.uk.

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Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos

What is it? Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos (aged 7 years), is a molasses based rum distilled in a single column still in Cuba, and comes off at around 75% abv – so “Traditional Rum” under the Gargano Classification. The rum is aged for at least 7 years, tropically, in ex-bourbon casks with the additional twist of what Havana Club call “continuous aging”; basically, when casks are ready and selected, some of the aged rum is added back in to casks along with new spirit. They don’t say how they do this but it’s going to be similar to the way a Solera works I imagine, or atleast the principle and intended result is the same. The rum is intended to sit at the top of the standard lineup of Havana Club rums as a basic sipping rum in the light Cuban style.

Please note that this is the European version of this rum. The version that is available in America, as far as I’m aware, is actually from Puerto Rico.

 

Coloured, chill filtered and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Spirity at first, once that blows off it’s really quite good. A lot more decadent than I expected; chocolate praline, lightly roasted coffee beans, fudge, vanilla and toasted coconut. There’s a lovely smoky cigar leaf to this, but it’s not intense. Some cedar, nutmeg and clove in there too. A definite note of cane juice and some warm hay.

Palate: Spirity again, medium mouth feel. Quite zesty and fruity here at the start with limes, grapefruit and a bit of tangerine. It moves on to vanilla, caramel and then thickens to melted milk chocolate, roasted cashews, pecans, coffee and a roll of smoky cigar on your tongue. A touch of tar or oil at the back of the palate too as it moves to the finish with is surprising and adds a nice savoury touch.

Finish: Medium, just about. Milk chocolate again, Cafe Latte, pralines, coconut, toasted oak and a fruit that I can’t quite put my finger on, like a custard apple or lychee. There is a little slightly tart stone fruit and green apple right at the end.

Thoughts? I’ll point out that this isn’t my preferred style of rum, I’m generally not really into the light Cuban style and I wasn’t really expecting a lot from this, but I’m very pleasantly surprised indeed. Sure, it’s a lighter style and it’s certainly got some of the more sweeter notes than I’d normally choose, but it’s balanced, clean, well made and reasonably complex for what it is. Ok, it’s not the best rum I’ve ever had in my life but I’ve got to judge it for what it is and it’s a really solid rum. It can 100% be drunk neat, it can be mixed, and it’ll reward you well if you take a bit of time with it – especially if you manage to pick it up on sale like I did for £19……yes, £19. Very good value for money, I must say and one I’d pick up again for the right price.

Hampden 15 year old (2000) – Adelphi Single cask

What is it? Pure Single Rum (100% pot still, from molasses and a single distillery) from Jamaica. This rum was distilled at the Hampden distillery in Trelawney. It was distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2016 at 15 years old by Independent bottler Adelphi, after undergoing a finishing period (for an undisclosed amount of time) in ex-Sherry casks.

Hampden use dunder in their fermentation process and will ferment the rum from 2 weeks and up to 1 month for esterification to take place, depending on the marque of rum they are aiming to produce. They produce 7 marques of rum and you can read more about them at this link, which has been posted recently by Wes at TheFatRumPirate and was written by Marius Elder at SingleCaskRum; clicky click.

The only indication of cask on this bottle is “JM1” which is not one of the Hampdent marques, and I believe stands for “Jamaica Main”. In terms of esters, that’s not very helpful, but using the information provided by Marius it appears that 2000 vintage export from Hampden was from marque LROK, which is a lower ester level and comes in at 200-400g/hlaa. Now I say “lower”, that’s in terms of Hampdens, in terms of most other rums that’s still pretty damn high; most rums come in at around 50g/hlaa….

This is a single cask rum and only 346 bottles were produced from the cask.

It is not coloured, not chill filtered and bottled at full cask strength of 54.3% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: Hello! It’s a pungent little devil alright! The rum literally jumps out of the glass and punches you in the nose. We’re all bananas at the start, but gooey black ones, baked ones, bananas pan fried in butter and banana & walnut loaf. Very overripe pineapple slices, yellow stone fruits (nectarine mostly) and some fig. Then come deeper notes of raisins, fig jam, warm leather, cloves – all of which I presume are from the sherry cask. Finally, notes of hot sandy beach coves, raw shellfish, charcoal, a touch of beewax and a really interesting meaty note that reminds me a lot of home-made honey glazed ham.

Palate: Thick and full mouth, oily in texture. Hot entry – well, it’s 54.3% – bags of bananas again, crushed walnuts and peanuts, baked banana cream pie, banoffee even maybe, salted butter and a brioche with Creme Anglaise over the top. There’s a smoky note of BBQ pineapple, that meaty glazed ham is here too, or a pulled pork, varnished oak and some rubber tyres. As the palate ends there is a zippy citrus and metallic twang like licking your fingers after holding copper coins…..don’t do that, you don’t know where they’ve been 🙂

Finish:  Long, very long. Still dominated by banana and pineapple baked into a cake, but it’s joined by dry leather, spices from the cask and a slight sweetness of raisin from the nose. A touch of smoked lime zest keeps it lively and rubber bands as it tails off.

Thoughts? I need a sit down after that. Absolutely incredible. Easily one of the best rums I’ve drunk so far. The first and only thing I said to my wife when I drank this for the first time was “wow!”, and that pretty much still sums it up.

I’ve lost count of how many different bottles of spirits I’ve drunk over the years, hundreds easily, but I can tell you now that I’ll remember this one for a very long time indeed.

Now I picked this up for £80 in November 2016, which after tasting it, feels like I’ve nicked it. You’re not going to be able to find a bottle of this now, sadly, unless you’re lucky enough to stumble upon a bottle at auction. Another one where I should have bought a case of the stuff at the time, dammit!