New Grove 8 year old

What is it? Molasses based rum, distilled via column still at the Grays distillery in Mauritius. The rum is distilled, rested in oak for an initial period and then transferred to Limousin casks for aging, both new/virgin casks and refill casks are used. This rum carries an age statement of “8 years” and I’ve it on good authority that this is a minimum age, so there may be some older stock in here too. In terms of aging, the Angels Share in Mauritius is somewhere between Europe and the Caribbean, so you don’t get the intensity of tropical aging with this but you do get the smoothness you’d expect from say, a 12 year old, European aged rum.

Filtered, likely coloured and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No details, but I’ve heard from the coalface that it’s not tampered with and I’m certainly not getting any hint of sugar on tasting, so we’ll give them the benefit of doubt and say “no”.

Nose: Hello! Immediately a shopping trolley full of various yellow stone fruit; you’ve got a mass of peaches, apricots, nectarines – they jump straight out of the glass at you and some of it is a little sharp. Mixed in with this there is plenty of tropical fruit too with a fair amount of mango, some fresh papaya and some banana. This certainly is very, very fruity, aromatic and not what I was expecting. Just as you think things are getting one-dimensional along comes some faint tar, a whiff of smoke and some old leather. There is a little prickle of cask spice from the oak at the back with a little fresh ginger and black pepper – but it’s subtle.

Palate: Sharp delivery, and that slightly sour sweetness you get from over-ripe nectarines. Good weight to the mouth feel for 40% too, it’s not oily but you know it’s in your mouth. Follows the nose really; big whack of fresh fruits – mango, papaya, apricot, peach, nectarine and some pineapple too this time with a little zing. Again, just as things are going to start getting away from you it’s pulled back by that leathery smoke, a little brine and a nice savoury leafy note. It gets a bit hot after a while as things move on to the finish.

Finish: Nowhere near as fruity as the nose or palate, it’s quite spicy with ginger, clove and red chilli. There is still a little bit of a salty note from the brine on the palate to keep it in check. Dries towards the end with some pepper and cold tea. Finish isn’t all that long and the way it dies off leads you straight into another mouthful – which is always a promising sign.

Thoughts? I really, really like this rum. I mean, I like the big bruising savoury ones, but this just has something really loveable about it. The best way I could describe it would be “bright”; it really lifts you with the summery, fruity nature and when I drink it I get a feeling of happiness – sounds stupid I know, but the taste does make me feel uplifted. Sure, it’s lacking a bit of balance and depth, and the finish isn’t the longest in the world, but it’s a happy rum. I paid £40 for this in the UK, and I’d happily pay that again for this rum – in fact, I was so happy with it that I went out and bought one of their 2007 single cask bottlings as soon as I could, which was twice the price of this, without a second thought.

Want to try something different? Get one of these.


Brugal 1888

Right. This is a re-review of Brugal 1888. I reviewed a bottle in  February and the bottle was bad; it was corked. Luckily for me the shop I bought this from (Amazon) sent me a new bottle free of charge, and I’ve been drinking this for a few weeks – time to review a good bottle!

What is it? Well, I wont cover old ground. You can read details of the bottling and my previous review here (Brugal 1888 – corked). Essentially, it’s a sherried column distilled rum from the Dominican Republic.

Let’s get down to it then;

Nose: Similar (naturally) to the corked bottle; gooey toffee, Crème Brule topping, golden raisins, sultanas and honey – but it seems “wider” and “rounder” if that makes sense, a lot less narrow and the smells merge and overlap with better integration. This is where things start to pick up; the oak is warmer and the incense is much more intense with plenty of mouth-watering rolling tobacco. The nose is much fruitier than before too, with flamed orange peels and even some grapefruit. There is some faint earthy, mushroomy smell further in which is quite consistent with the rancio notes I’d expect from a sherry matured spirit.

Palate: Still a medium mouth feel, a bit fuller than before (the old bottle seems thin now). No damp cardboard or wet dog! Result. There is still a musty cork note in this, but that’s common with what I’ve had in previous DomRep rums and is just part of the character, it’s not a “flaw”. Here is where the difference in this new bottle is found. Big fruity oranges, that slightly sour grapefruit note and lots of honey. Big fat juicy sultanas, figs, buttercream, milk chocolate and coffee. There is a big handful of roasted mixed nuts, covered with fresh cinnamon and a prickle of oak and it moves to the finish.

Finish: Medium. Juicy, mouth-watering and spicy at the same time. It’s a dry finish, with plenty of vanilla, clove, root ginger and walnuts. There are notes of coffee bean, brown sugar and mint as things fade out.

Thoughts? Well this is seriously better than the first bottle I had. When I did a side by side it’s like they were almost different rums, which I’m very happy about. I’ve looked back through my previous review and I think I was being a little kind when wrote it, it wasn’t until after that I really realised how bad that bottle was. Is it for me? Well, yes. I’m not a massive fan of the DomRep style, it’s fine and has a place but I find it all a bit “magnolia” – you know, you paint your walls magnolia because it’s goes with everything, it’s neutral and doesn’t offend anyone….but it doesn’t really excite, its just “there”. This rum, however, is quite different. It’s easily the best DomRep rum I’ve had so far and the ex-sherry casks have been fantastic by pumping it full of big flavours. One I’d consider getting again.

Long Pond 15 year old (2000) – Kill Devil

What is it? Molasses based rum from Jamaica, distilled at the Long Pond distillery. This rum was distilled in June 2000 and was bottled by independent bottler Hunter Laing after 15 years of aging, going by the colour of this I’d say that almost all the aging was done in Europe. Long Pond have a combination of pot stills and column stills at the distillery and whilst there are no details on which still type this is from I’m pretty certain it’s pot still rum.

This is a single cask and my bottle is one of 292 bottles from that cask.

Natural colour, not chill filtered and bottled at 46% abv.

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Despite the very light appearance there is immediately a lot of sweet oak and vanilla on first nosing, then the Jamaican pot still notes start to come out; light tar, some brine, green olives, capers, and that interesting seaside mix of warm sand and crushed shells – quite coastal. After a while, once my nose has got used to the smell I can start picking up quite a lot of fruity notes – fresh and sharp fruit; peaches, limes (loads of limes!) passion fruit even, and some under-ripe green bananas. There is a grassy background at this point and a slight vegetal, almost agricole type note.

Palate: Medium full mouth feel, dry delivery and on the savoury side at first matching the nose progression; the tarry, briny start and the taste you are left with after blowing up a balloon. A little bit of smoke, char, vanilla, a touch of golden syrup and a mix of strawberry, banana and pineapple keep things interesting.

Finish: Medium length, just about – it’s not a massive finish in length but there are lovely flavours to be had; banana again as it moves from palate to finish, oaky buzz from the cask, a tingle of cooking spices (mild and quite subtle), some salted limes, tar and this rubbery taste similar to the palate that tastes like bicycle inner tubes – sounds weird but it’s actually quite nice.

Thoughts? Gorgeous nose, fair old flavour in the mouth but not massively complex and the finish is a little short. I think this was going for about £60, which is a bit steep for a 15 year old European aged rum, but it’s certainly very tasty and has plenty going on to keep you interested. If you’ve got £60 knocking about and want to try some naturally presented Jamaica pot still then it’s pretty good stuff and I’m sure you’d be happy with the purchase, I know I am.