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  • Writer's pictureStuart Pearce

Asian Rums Review

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

Interesting tasting today. Been looking forward to this, and I honestly have no idea what to expect.

These unusual rums have recently been popping up in Europe - an exciting addition to the diverse world of rum on offer to us.

I'm a big fan of unaged cane juice rums, so this should be right up my street.

As an added twist I'm doing this tasting out in the sun, sat beside my tent, at the UK's best festival - Red Rooster. Awesome.

As always, 15ml of each, left to open up for 30 mins (ish 😉) nosed first, then tasted, in abv order.

Chalong Bay, Wild Fermentation, 48%, EUR57

An exciting wild fermented offering from this Thai distillery. Made using a single, indigenous, cane varietal. Distilled on a French copper still.

Nose: The lowest abv of the lineup at 49%. Strongly reminiscent of a French agricole rum. Lots of lovely fresh cane, lashings of menthol, a little citrus zest.

Mouth: Fresh and zesty. Really clean. A lovely fresh cane juice rum. A little milk chocolate, chilli and ginger. Very tasty. Maybe a touch thin on the second sip, and lacking the funky excitement of a Clairin. A quality offering. [83pts]

Sampan, Overproof, 54%, £50

The overproof version of this Vietnamese cane juice rum. Made by the long haired Frenchman Antoine Pourcuitte who I assume learned his trade in the French Carribbean.

The cane is all grown organically, slow fermented and then distilled in a copper column still.

Nose: Surprisingly different from the wild fermented Thai rum. Much dirtier with a heavy minerality. Earthy, rich and a little smoke. Vegetal, almost rotten veg. Interesting

Mouth: Some old fashioned sweets. Maybe cola cubes. A touch thin mouth feel, but a complex lingering finish. Lots going on. Fruit (lychee I think), a touch of grappa, some smoke, bitter fruit skin. Some aspects I love, others I'm not so keen on, overall really interesting rum. [84pts]

Chalong Bay, High Proof, 57%, EUR67

Back to Thailand for their high proof offering.

Nose: The same fresh grassy nose, a little cleaner than the wild fermented. And with a bit more depth and body. The higher abv is not firey at all. A little hint of lavender in the nose

Mouth: Really tasty. Lovely thick oily texture. Punchy initial taste - that 57% is not hiding. Good rich profile with milk chocolate and nutmeg in abundance. Those same chilli notes from the wild fermented. Some coffee too and the menthol from the nose. More drinkable than the Sampan overproof but marginally less interesting. [84pts]

Sampan blanc, Full Proof, 65%, £57

Final stop, back to Vietnam, the big boy of this group at a punchy 65%.

Nose: Not as aggressive as I expected. Actually I'd say it's the least interesting nose of the group. A little honeyed cane. Grassy. A touch less earthy than the overproof.

Mouth: A real beefcake this one. Earthy, licorice, spicy, very tasty. The winner of this lineup. Very rich, complex and lingering. [85pts]

Really impressed with my first taste of Asian cane juice rums. Not as interesting as some Clairins, or as beautiful as my beloved Pere Labat & Bielle, but the quality is unmistakable. Definitely well worth a try,and two distilleries to keep an eye on.

Off to listen to some cool bands. Will try these with a little lime and syrup tomorrow. Lucky me 😁

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