A rum bottle share

A little while ago I decided I wanted to do a rum bottle share. I kept reading about rums on Whiskyfun’s Malternative Sundays and wanted to get some more ‘knowledge’ about these Caribbean spirits too.

I rounded up a couple of fellow sharers, and bought a few bottles of rum. I picked in a semi random way, with a few criteria:

  • Both from bottlers and distilleries
  • No two from the same country
  • No two from the same bottler
  • A variety of ages

I ended up with a rum from Haiti, Cuba, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados and St. Lucia. After a few weekends I’ve written tasting notes for all of them and I thought it was high time to send those out into the world.

Barbancourt 8yo, 43% (Haiti)

According to Ian Williams’ “Rum” Barbancourt is the only company in Haiti actually making a profit. Reason enough for me to include this rum in the bottle share for the entry level one.

On the nose it’s sweet and sugary. Some spirit too, with no apparent wood influence. Quite green and grassy (cane-y?). The palate is sweet and quite smooth. Slightly hot, sugar and golden syrup. Ever so slightly bitter and young.

Well, it’s drinkable, but it is definitely not a convincing drink. Boring and too young.

Foursquare 12yo, 45% (Barbados, Compagnie des Indes)
Single cask BD92, 06-2003 / 10-2015

I didn’t have a particular reason to pick this one, except that I really liked the design of the bottle. Sometimes that’s good enough if you have no clue at all.

The nose is sweet with a bit more oak than the Barbancourt. Some fruit, coconut and orange, but also that green cane-like scent. The palate is light, dry and fruity. A slight bitterness again, and a tropical richness.

It’s a tad feinty and therefore a bit heavier. Some overripe fruit, sweetness and dryness. It’s not bad, and MUCH better than the Barbancourt.

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Caroni 1998-2015, 40%, (Trinidad & Tobago, Bristol Classic Rum)

I added this because I heard a lot about Caroni. It’s a closed distillery and that is always an appealing thing for whisky fanatics.

Initially it’s dry on the nose, but also rich. Old fruit, oak, plants and spices. Slightly salty and there’s a heavy spiciness, a bit soupy. The palate is rich, sweet, dry with cinnamon sticks, straw and oak.

Less sweet and more layered than the previous two. However, it does get a bit gluey after a while. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make it sligthly unlikely to have more than one glass on an evening.

Sancti Spiritus 18yo, 46% (Cuba, Ultimatum Rum)
Single cask, 01-1999 / 24-02-2017

I picked this one because a) it’s from a Dutch bottler who has made quite a name for itself in whisky (Ultimate), and b) Sancti Spiritus is just a clever name, which I like.

Bitter caramel on the nose, ever so slightly burnt. Some tobacco and caramac bars (so a tad milky). The palate is quite woody (not too strange after 18 years) and a bit bitter. Not too sweet and ‘older’.

Quite nice, but missing a bit of depth to make it really good.

Undisclosed Distillery 2001, 45% (St. Lucia, Plantation)

Well, I was a bit weary of a St. Lucia rum. I’ve had one before and thought it was utterly foul. I decided I wanted to have another go, and to show there’s quite a bit of diversity to rum too.

Oh this sure is funky and feinty. Much more so than the Caroni. Green and sweet, but also lots of putty. Leather, oak. Very weird but not unenjoyable (at first). Slightly chemical though. Tingling on the palate with some chili pepper. There’s something fresh and crisp in there too, but the putty keeps it back. Dry, spices and some heat. Forest floor, with dirt and leaves and such.

Yup, it’s weird. I started with a ‘oh this isn’t so bad’, but I didn’t finish my glass in the end. It’s just a little bit too weird for me.

Diamond 18yo, 46% (Guyana, Kill Devil)

The most expensive one of the bunch. I read some good reviews of Diamond Distillery’s rums on Whiskyfun. Also, awesome design and an older rum in the share, to go with the Cuban one.

The nose is sweet and crisp, with some oak and plant-like scents. Sugar cane, some wood spices, ferns and forest floor. The palate is smooth and rich, with a creamy texture. Oak, and brown sugar.

It’s not the most interesting or eye-opening rum of the bunch, but it sure is good! Seriously liked this one, and the only one of the bunch of which I regretted to finish my sample.

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My thoughts

Rum has been quite hyped on the internet as the more affordable alternative to whisky. I think, based on these rums and my minor previous experience with it, there is quite some diversity in rum too, but it’s just not as layered and deep as whisk(e)y.

Also, while there are some affordable rums out there, the really good ones are still a hundred bucks, and for that money I can think of a whisky to buy every day of the week.

In short, I really liked the Kill Devil and I didn’t mind the Sancti Spiritus and Caroni. I am, however, not convinced. Of all the non-whisky bottle shares I’ve done over the last couple of years I think this one is the least convincing (albeit more diverse than the Armagnac one).

Of course, I realize there is some awesome stuff out there and I should keep trying every now and again. That’s why I got a bottle of Dictador’s Best of 1976, a 40 year old rum, in another bottle share. I’ve had a sip of that, and I doubt I can find a better whisky at that price. That stuff is stunning!

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Three sherry casks for The Netherlands

A couple of months ago, Whisky Import Nederland, released three new whiskies from their First Cask series. Whisky Import Nederland (WIN) is known for importing a lot of bottlers and brands, BOX whisky, Hunter Laing, Adelphi, Armorik, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Blackadder, Creative Whisky Company and others.

They released these three new single casks under a new label and new bottles for their First Cask series and I decided to do a bottle share with them. In the release was a 14 year old Bruichladdich, a 24 year old Speyside (distillery, not region) and a 26 year old Strathmill.

While labeling the samples I did it wrong, obviously. The region is printed in a large font on the label and I put the Speyside labels on the one which said Speyside. Their Speyside was the region, while the distillery (which I thought I was labeling) is in the Highlands. Of course. To keep things simple.

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Strathmill Distillery, 26 years old, distilled 1990, 53.6%

ABV wise this is the low end. Age wise, it’s the high. The nose of this whisky is heavy and fruity. Lots of sherry and old oak with leather and dried plums and dates. All on a solid malty background. The palate is dry with lots of oak (lots lots) and not as smooth as I expected (this is not necessarily a bad thing). Sweet sherry, dried plums and dates. Some bitter almonds, lots of malt and treacle. The finish is long and sweet, with lots of fruit, malt and oak.

A whisky that combines oak, malt and sherry very well. As in, the cask, the materials and the cask’s previous contents are all quite noticeable. But, I can’t say I have an inkling of an idea what Strathmill tastes like now. Still, good whisky!

Speyside Distillery, 24 years old, distilled 1991, 62%

Yes, this one has the second lowest ABV… After twenty-four years it is still at 62%. That either means this was one of the most dense casks ever, or they put it in the cask at a ways above the normal 63.5% Either way, old whisky, high ABV.

The nose is thick with sherry with lots of overripe fruit. Slightly waxy with resin and barley. Some notes of ethanol and some chili peppers. The palate is sharp and fiery with oak and fruit. Some peach, apricot. Also some almonds and stewed black cherries. On the finish it’s surprisingly spirity. Dry with old wood and sweet. Slightly spicy, and quite long.

I read that someone thought this was a totally forgettable Speysider. I think that’s a bit harsh, mostly because of the lovely resin-y notes on the nose. I love that stuff. However, I didn’t find these notes on the palate or finish.

Bruichladdich Distillery, 14 years old, distilled 2002, 64.6%

I have recently rediscovered my love for Bruichladdich’s whiskies, although I have to say that is based mostly on bottlings a bit older than this one. However, it was the one that made me decide to do this bottle-share.

This is different from the get go. The nose gives quite salty sherry. Some dried fruits like dried mango and pineapple. Rather tropical, but also ‘northernly’ with the dry malt, oak and salinity. In a way it has a bit of a tar like scent too. Slightly dirty. The palate is dry, and very sharp (no shit, at almost 65% abv!). Dry with oak, some fruits and a slight bitterness. Almonds, cherry stones, tree bark. A lot of heat from the alcohol but also some chili pepper. Big flavors! The finish gives a lot more fruit. Dry mango and other fruits. Peaches, apricots, the yellow/orange stuff! Very dry, with lots of old, moldy wood. An almond like bitterness again.
I’m not sure what I expected from this one going in, but I sure as hell liked it. My favorite of the three, although they are all rather enjoyable. It might handle some water since the ABV is ridiculously high. I had it neat because it wasn’t my first dram and I was, let’s say, warmed up. Still, the salt, sherry and even the note of tar worked very well for me. Kudos!
So, three enjoyable whiskies, with one standing a bit above the others. I think the Speyside and Strathmill are on par with each other.
My scores would be
Strathmill: 87 points
Speyside: 87 points
Bruichladdich: 89 points.
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Diageo Special Releases 2017

Weird. I’ve already been planning a whisky tasting and a trip to Scotland for 2018. Because of that, when I saw someone post the ‘Diageo Special Releases 2017’ I was mainly confused to why someone would post last year’s list.

Obviously, I’m a douche and I should pay more attention. But here’s a list of what’s coming:

https://fosm.de/diageo-special-releases-2017-spoiler-alarm/

Content from FOSM.de, as linked above

  • BLAIR ATHOL 23 year old
    Distilled 1993 ABV 58.4%
    Region: Highlands
    Cask: Ex-Bodega European Oak Butts
    No of bottles: 5,514
  • BRORA 34 year old
    Distilled: 1982 ABV 51.9%
    Region: Coastal Highlands
    Cask: Refill American Oak Hogsheads
    No of bottles: 3,000
  • CAOL ILA 18 year old
    ABV 59.8%
    Region: Islay
    Cask: Refill American Oak Hogsheads
    Limited quantities available worldwide
  • CONVALMORE 32 year old
    Distilled: 1984 ABV 48.2%
    Region: Speyside
    Cask: Refill American Oak Hogsheads
    No of bottles: 3,972
  • GLEN ELGIN 18 year old
    Distilled: 1998 ABV 54.8%
    Region: Speyside
    Cask: Ex-Bodega European Oak Butts
    No of bottles: 5,352
  • LAGAVULIN 12 year old
    ABV 56.5%
    Region: Islay
    Cask: Refill American Oak Hogsheads
    Limited quantities available worldwide
  • PORT DUNDAS 52 year old
    Distilled: 1964 ABV 44.6%
    Region: Lowlands
    Cask: Refill American Oak Hogsheads
    No of bottles: 752
  • PORT ELLEN 37 year old
    Distilled: 1979 ABV 51%
    Region: Islay
    Cask: Refill American Oak Hogsheads & Refill American Oak Butts
    No of bottles: 2,988
  • TEANINICH 17 year old
    Distilled: 1999 ABV: 55.9%
    Region: Coastal Highlands
    Cask: Refill American Oak Hogsheads & Refill American Oak Barrels
    Limited quantities available worldwide

 

I’m very excited about some of these. Mostly because Diageo generally chooses awesome whiskies, and some of the ones on this list are not ridiculously old. As in, I might even be able to afford them! Glen Elgin, Teaninich, and maybe one that’s not been announced yet!

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Bad-ass Whisky Night #2 at De Whiskykoning

Last year I thought it was a good idea to organize a whisky tasting at Whiskyslijterij De Koning in Den Bosch. We already held an annual ‘winter whisky tasting’ there in November, with a line-up of six peated whiskies, focusing on Islay.

This ‘Bad-ass Whisky Night’ had a more random raison d’être. We just wanted an evening on which Rob Stevens would spoil us with some awesome drams. We gave him free reign on the line-up and just set a price limit.

It resulted in a truly bad-ass whisky night. Reason enough to do that a second time (and a third one is already planned for 2018). The line-up was kept secret until the tasting started, but there were some hints on oldest and youngest, years
of distillation and bottling. Nothing to go by though.

The whiskies then!

17855350_10154967820161210_6519841955574048059_oRedbreast 21yo, 46%

The first one from Ireland, and a great way to kick off the evening. A tremendously flavorful whiskey with sweetness and crispness, more punch than you’d initially expect and without an overload of the chemical winegum sweetness a lot of older Irish whiskeys have. Slightly bitter and more oaky towards the finish.


17917587_10154967846961210_8393480567328508395_oCarsebridge 1982-2017, 48.8%, Signatory Vintage

An older grain whisky, which happened to be a first for many attendees for the distillery. Luckily the ABV isn’t too high, which gives the whisky a bit more room for flavor. Lots of dusty old grains with a touch of crispness on the palate. Even for someone who is generally not a fan of grain whiskies, a pretty good dram!


17855402_10154967881701210_67707880634429074_oSpeymalt 1988-2016, 43%, Gordon & MacPhail (Macallan)

An older sherried Macallan of which you don’t see many anymore. Sweet caramel and some shoe polish. Minor hints of citrus. Richer than I expected from a 43% Macallan with some hints of latté and coffee.


17834064_10154967942231210_1741051014235439499_oGlenglassaugh 1986-2015, 46%,Gordon & MacPhail’s Rare Old

Now this one. This whisky. Oh my friggin’ god. This does everything right and with a dram that showcases why older bourbon casks are prize casks, or should be. Old style whisky with quiet wood notes, spices and pastry dough. A shame it’s so expensive, because this is 92/93 point stuff.


17917739_10154967985196210_1525338123749445007_oAmrut Rye, 50%

Maybe the biggest surprise of the evening, and the one that drew the most raised eyebrows when it was revealed. It does the traditional rye trick with a rather sharp spiciness and some spirity youth it shows, and carries, well. Very well balanced, even so much so that my father in law started to doubt whether he liked this more than Sazerac 18.


17966667_10154968014981210_869794756057882270_oCaol Ila 1982-1995, 62.9%, SMWS (53.9)

And, like last year, a younger Caol Ila from around 1980 that was pulled from the shelf for the tasting (and will be used in upcoming tastings in the shop). A belter from the SMWS at 62.9% alcohol. Not unlike the SMWS in current times, there’s some weird description on the label. This one went for briny apricots or sometihng. They were not wrong.

It’s a tremendous whisky with a heavy and old smoke. Quite like you expect from Caol Ila it’s a bit of a machine smoke instead of just clean peat or wood. Diesel, oak, salt and dried apricots. Kaboom!


If, next year, the level of the tasting is going to be anything like it was this time and last time, we’re going to be happy campers, since this is a tasting that is unlikely to be topped before March 2018.

My favorite was the Glenglassaugh, but you know you’re at a next level tasting when the most uninteresting whisky is a twenty-eight year old Macallan from a sherry cask…

Thanks a million, Rob!

Posted in - Grain Whisky, - Rye Whiskey, - World Whisky, Amrut, Caol Ila, Carsebridge, Glenglassaugh, Macallan, Redbreast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On BrewDog

Obviously this is not a post on whisky. Although it might be in a couple of years since BrewDog is building or having a distillery. I’m not sure since there are some planning issues but they do have a vodka and gin available, and some random whisky with a fancy label.

This is about the announcement from the BrewDog AGM last weekend that 22% of the company is sold to some venture capitalist called TSG Group, from San Francisco.

While it is not necessarily a surprise that BrewDog was going corporate, it does strike me as odd, since BrewDog was (is?) a company that is very proud of the punk-ness. Whatever that means.

Only a year and a half ago they slammed Lagunitas for selling out to Heineken. Admittedly, Lagunitas sold a majority share, instead of 22%. And that 22% is, according to Pete Brown’s post on it, still less than the founders have individually.

brewdog_logo_detailHonestly, I don’t even really have an opinion on the fact that they ‘sold out’. I should have seen it coming when they started suing random companies that may or may not have used one of their trademarks. They even tried to ban some booze company from using the work punk, which seems to me as a very non-punk thing to do.

The point that strikes me as most odd in this entire situation is that BrewDog was, in the past, so feverishly against external investors that were not part of their Equity Punk scheme. They were against corporate participation in ‘craft’ breweries. They were against big-beer. By now it seems, though, that they have become big beer themselves, with hundreds of employees, a couple dozen bars all over the world and a second brewery in the USA.

The point is, regarding all this, that it just doesn’t suit the way they market themselves. I understand the reasons behind selling a part of the company. I understand the drive to keep growing and expanding. I do not understand how you can keep claiming to be punk, independent and against a lot of things when you’re part of it.

Especially since a lot of BrewDog fans (like me) liked them initially for their grassroots business and for them to not be part of the establishment (which, admittedly, they have become part of quite some time ago).

Just my two cents.

I won’t be boycotting anything BrewDog now, but I might think twice where to spend my money. Especially since I think a lot of BrewDog’s non-standard beers are a bit too expensive. If I’m buying anything ‘craft’y, I just might spend it on the little guy…

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It’s been quiet

And that’s not without a reason.

Busy

Over the last couple of months I’ve not been blogging as much as before, and the simple reason for that is that I’ve not had the time/priority. A lot of DIY construction has been going on at home, which means the weekends were full (and then some). This also resulted in an abundance of chores and things to do during week nights and that, in turn, resulted in not much time for blogging.

Over the last couple of months I’ve also ended my editor-in-chief role for our whisky club’s magazine, which is a huge relief. I didn’t particularly enjoy having that role anymore because I couldn’t give it the time, attention and priority the magazine and the club deserved.

Generally a day of ‘hard labor’ insulating, wallpapering, sanding, painting and floor-laying results in me having a few beers with whoever helped me out that day. The consequence of that was that I have not been drinking much whisky at all. And, on top of that, when I did drink a dram I simply drank a dram. Contrary to properly assessing it and writing tasting notes.

bottles

I prefer these to be fun…

Get in or get out

After coming to the conclusion of me wanting to enjoy whisky more instead of it being a chore or ‘work-like’, I had to make a decision. This happened when the latest ‘De Kiln’ from our whisky club came in. In it the new editor-in-chief wrote a headline which loosely translates to ‘Whisky: get in or get out‘. While I will spare you the explanation of what he meant, it did get me thinking (a rarity, nowadays).

By not continuously writing tasting notes, I’ve actually enjoyed the drams I’ve had more. With the vast amount of samples I’m trying to get through I have to write tasting notes because that’s the purpose of them. Also, after one glass of something, the sample is gone.

This is different for bottle-shares, but these 3cl to 5cl ‘commercial’ samples are legion in my cupboard, and I don’t really enjoy them as much as I should. Some 90-point exceptions are there of course, but as soon as it gets to an 87 point dram, or something equally arbitrary, it’s just another dram and it feels like a chore.

Am I getting out?

No. I like whisky too much and I like (parts of) the whisky ‘world’ too much. I sincerely love discovering new drams and new flavors.

Am I shutting down the blog?

No. Although I won’t be reviewing everything I try anymore. I am going to focus on the outstanding drams. I am not going to spend precious time reviewing a lot of so-so whisky, just to get a review online.

What am I going to do then?

Focus, and slow down. Focus on quality over quantity, both in what I drink and what I write about. Slowing down in frequency and in intake. Drink better but less. Buy less, but not necessarily better since I’m pretty satisfied with the quality of booze I buy.

I also have to steer away from staples like the Talisker 10 I bought recently. It’s an amazing dram for the money, but I’m not likely to ever drink it.

And, with a third kid on the way, I doubt there’s going to be much spare time for whisky tasting anyway…

Sorry. Not Sorry.

Sorry if you read all through this rambling. It’s more of a contemplative post and I’ve not done these in a while. I just needed to get it out there.

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Glenrothes 1989-2016, 26yo, 53.8% – Single Malts of Scotland

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve put anything on this here blog, but there’s going to be more on that in a future post. Hopefully the near future.

This Glenrothes was bottled by the guys at Speciality Drinks Limited, and contrary to most Glenrothes’ you know, it was aged in a bourbon cask. A hogshead in this case. The general consensus among a lot of people I know is that Glenrothes makes some good whisky, but generally they sell those casks to bottlers and only bottle rather shit whisky themselves.

Of course, someone is going to think “But this one I had from the distillery itself was pretty amazing”, but most of their vintages and NAS releases are far below par. Believe me. It’s true.

So, contrary to the rather bland official releases, let’s dive in to this quite amazing dram!

grssdl1989v2Sniff:
On the nose I first got a major hit of malted barley, but there was something fresh too. Some mint, and even chocolate (After Eight, anyone?). Also some cough candy and some salmiac. After that I got oak, an increasing amount of oak.

Sip:
The palate is rather smooth, more smooth than I expected for the ABV. There’s some punch though, it’s not all velvet. Oaky and quite dry with some dried baking spices. Also some white and red pepper. Oak, mint, menthol. A bitter edge too.

Swallow:
The finish is very old fashioned, classical. Quite rich with malt, mint and oak. Quite long too.

Well, I wasn’t too sure about this when I poured it, but boy this is an awesome dram. Maybe my favorite of the bunch so far (I’ve still got two Ledaigs to go). The whisky is quite complex with lots of gorgeous flavors and scents.

Sincerely a highly recommended dram. It’s a shame I’ve been overspending on all ends, and work on the house is taking up every bit of cash I would normally have, or a bottle would have been on its way by now.

90/100

Glenrothes 1989-2016, 26yo, Bourbon Hogshead #8172, 53.8%, bottled by Single Malts of Scotland and available from The Whisky Exchange for £ 115

Thanks to Speciality Drinks Limited for sending a sample!

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