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.
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.
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!