Providence Estate 1990/2012 – Bristol Spirits

20170928_140132.jpgWhat is it? Molasses based rum from Trinidad. This was distilled by way of a Patent Still (Coffey still or Column still by any other name) and the bottle states “The Providence Estate” and mentions use of the distilleries low mineral content water. It doesn’t say this was distilled at the Providence Estate distillery but implies it, and I’ve not been able to find any real tangible information around a Providence Estate distillery; basically, this is a column distilled Caroni rum. Now, the website does say that this rum is a heavier style rum, however I’m not 100% sure on tasting. The reason for this is that the rum is finished in Oloroso sherry casks for a period of time and it will become clear later on the impact this has had.

The rum was distilled in 1990 and bottled in 2012 after 22 years of aging in the UK.

Chill filtered, not coloured (as far as I’m aware) and bottled at 46% abv.

Sugar? Yes, unfortunately; 26 grams/litre as tested by Wes at TheFatRumPirate. Now I don’t believe this is added sugar, I believe this is sugars left over from a wet cask fill (where the previous sherry casks were emptied but some residual sherry was still in the cask) – but that’s just what I’m getting on tasting.

Nose: Ok, not what I was expecting at all; masses of raisin, those big fat plump and juicy Californian ones and also a mix of those tiny Corinth ones that a very concentrated. Lots of sherry cask going on. Sweet molasses, some treacle toffee and a little oak – not much for a 22 year old. Under this there is some lovely rolling tobacco, wet leaves, tree sap and a little mushroom’y rancio note. A touch of sulphur on the back end but it doesn’t stray the flow. Lots of sherry, may have mentioned that, not very “rummy”.

Palate: Medium, not as oily as I was expecting, certainly not cloying at all. A bit more rum here than on the nose and I can pick out a few Caroni notes with petrol, tobacco, a little liquorice, very light tar and a touch of clove. Big fat raisins again, maybe even some dates and prunes creeping in, chocolate coated raisins and that mushroom note from the nose. The palate is again dominated by the sherry but you do know you’re drinking a rum here.

Finish: Long, less sweet than the nose and palate. Treacle toffee and tobacco again (lots here), old warehouses, sacks, forest floors and some sour cherry that just lifts it. Sulphur from the nose makes an appearance but again does not derail the finish, but adds a nice meaty edge.

Thoughts? Where do I start? It’s a Caroni but it’s not. I love it, a really enjoyable drink but not something I’d recommend to a person who was after a rummy rum. This isn’t quite a rum, the sherry is too much and the spirit isn’t heavy enough to get through it. I’d imagine there was a lot of sherry left in the casks this was filled into (wet fill), which as I covered up top, and would explain the sugar content. It’s not “sweet” per-se but it does over dominate. I’d be inclined to think I was drinking a Mortlach or 15 year old Glendronach (Scotches) – that’s a big compliment, trust me!

It’s just not….well….rummy enough.

For the price? Well worth it at the £90 I paid for this back at the start of 2016, just for the chance to try something different and have a change or pace. God knows how much these are going for these days.

 

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West Indies Rum and Cane Merchants – Central American XO

What is it? Rum produced in Nicaragua and Guatemala. Crafted from molasses and distilled using column stills then aged in ex bourbon casks. A limited release of 2,000 bottles worldwide. This was bottled by West Indies Rum & Cane Merchants (a brand of Crucial Drinks). I have no idea where the rum came from, I’ve contacted Cruical Drinks about the distillery information and rum ages but I’ve not had a reply.

My bottle is from Batch number 1 and is bottle number 560.

Not chill filtered, not coloured and bottled at 43% abv.

Sugar? No information on this at the moment. The bottle states “natural rum” and I’m not finding any evidence of tampering during tasting, so I don’t think there is any added sugar in here.

Nose: Quite aromatic and almost agricole like with fresh flowers (Lilly of the Valley, Sweet Pea), Lavender, limes and cane juice. There is a little orange rind in there too. Behind the citrus and florals there is a warm oak, actually quite a bit of oak, incense, a little tobacco leaf, spent coffee grounds and menthol. Fairly complex with some lovely mixing of smells.

Palate: Medium mouth feel, quite spicy at first. Some of those cane’y notes from the nose with the flowers and lime but then quite quickly to richer flavours; dark chocolate, choc-chip brioche buns, some cinnamon, vanilla – gets a bit Bourbon’y; a few cashew nuts here and there, honey, coconut and a little mint.

Finish: Short, not it’s best bit I’m afraid. Spearmint, spices (generic heat), some honey and a little bitter coffee. It just kinda falls off a cliff at the end.

Thoughts? Very pleasant and a great surprise; I was expecting trouble given the countries this is from, and whilst it does get a bit flabby near the end of the palate and finish, overall it was interesting. The nose is the best bit, really quite a bit going on. I think it’s a decent rum and worth the price I paid, which was £34.

New Grove single cask – 2007

What is it? Molasses based rum, distilled via column still at the Grays distillery in Mauritius. This rum was distilled in 2007 and bottled in 2015, making it 8 years old or there abouts. The maturation of this rum was done solely in Limousin oak (French oak), cask number 174-15 and my bottle is number 410 of 526 bottles (Limousin casks are much bigger than bourbon casks). The casks are the same type of casks that Cognac is matured in and provides a tight grain and spicy resulting spirit.

Natural colour, no chill filtration has been done and it’s been bottled at cask strength of 49.9% abv.

The label is a generic label but it looks like the specifics to this vintage have been hand written, a nice touch.

I don’t normally mention colour of a rum, as a lot of rums have added colourant so it’s irrelevant, and even where a rum is naturally coloured it doesn’t give any indication of the coming profile, however I will note that this rum seems to have a distinct red/brown hue – I’m not sure what the previous content of the casks were but that may well be colouring it.

Sugar? I’ve had it from the horses mouth that there are no additives. This hasn’t been independently verified for this rum but I’m not finding anything suspicious on tasting.

Nose: Barbequed peaches, rolling tobacco, charred wood, barbequed pineapple. My local delicatessen does a hand made pineapple glazed smoked ham – it smells like that. A beautiful incense smell that is really quite prominent, sandalwood, cedar, old wooden boxes and hot leather that’s been sitting in the sun. There is a little marine fuel, oil and a touch of briney sea side. Under all this I can still find the fresh stone fruit that was all so present in the standard 8 year old bottling but it’s not as sharp – it’s more orange forward and smoky.

Palate: Medium to full. Sweet, tangy, zippy fruits at first – very much of the standard 8 year old with apricots, nectarines, mangoes and yellow plums. Heat from the abv but just enough. Spices from the cask as it goes on with white pepper and ginger root. Lovely smoky notes roll in your mouth like a good cigar or pipe. A slight hint of tar as it moves to the finish.

Finish: Medium, could be longer really. Tarry, brine, WD40, thick smoke and fruity again but this time the burnt and charred stuff from the nose comes back with caramilzed smoked pineapple that lingers in amongst that thick silky smoke, but it remains fresh and not overbearing.

Thoughts? I loved the 8 year old and I had high expectations of this – boy did it deliver! Everything I hoped it’d be over and above the 8 year old; just thicker, bigger, smokier and more intense in every way. This is so balanced, complex and deep that I really struggle to believe this is a single cask. One of my favourite rums so far, stunning.

Normal retail for this at the time I bought it was around £70, which is a lot for an 8 year old. I picked mine up during an offer at £55…..get me a case of the stuff!

West Indies Rum and Cane Merchants – Asia Pacific XO

What is it? West Indies Rum and Cane Merchants are a brand owned by Crucial Drinks and their single cask rum brand. The website says this about the Asia XO: “A limited release blend of rum produced in Indonesia & Fiji, crafted from molasses and distilled using column stills then aged in ex bourbon casks. A very limited release of 2,000 bottles worldwide.”

I couldn’t put it much better myself, so I haven’t.

I have emailed Crucial Drinks for some information about the rums included in the blend, sugaring and barrel numbers etc but I’ve not heard back from them. There is only 1 distillery on Fiji currently operating (South Pacific Distillery, under the name of Fiji Rum Co.), so we know where the Fijian bit comes from. They use both pot stills and a three column continuous still to produce their rums and as this is a column still blend we know it’s going to be on the lighter side using that 3-column. As for the Indonesia bit, I can’t say.

My bottle is from Batch number 2 and I have bottle number 698.

Not chill filtered, natural colour and bottled at 43%.

Sugar? No information on this at the moment. The bottle states “natural rum” and I’m not finding any evidence of tampering during tasting, so I don’t think there is any added sugar in here.

Nose: A very shy start, it really doesn’t want to give much up – I have to get my nose deep in the glass to start finding smells; it’s young, very raw and naked this rum.  After  some time in the glass we get to finally have some olfactory input, we find wet sacks, soil, a little brine, green olives, faint boot polish, coal smoke, Vaseline and maybe a touch of camphor. There is a little heat from white pepper and maybe even some horseradish – it’s all quite salty and phenolic.

Palate: A reasonably oily mouth, medium I’d say. Definitely phenolic again, less hard work than the nose though. Olive oil, green olives, olive brine, some tar and very light liquorice. The taste of the smell of quick light BBQ briquettes and seawater. The more it sits in the mouth and you get used to the savoury side there is a little hint of some fruit, but it’s the worlds smallest banana and a piece of papaya, with a token strawberry. This is quite the opposite of a fruity rum.

Finish: Short. Well, that was that. Falls apart all over the place, simply too young. Damn shame really as there’s some good stuff in here. You’re left with just the remains of something salty and a little bit of rubber.

Thoughts? Too young, too shy, too raw and too “naked”. The core spirit is really good stuff and fabulously characterful – something that is missing in a lot of generic rums these days – it just lacks the oomph and deeper complexity you get with aging. At 10 years old and upped in abv this would be great but as it stands it’s too much like hard work and certainly wont be everyone’s cup of tea (or glass of grog).