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  • Writer's pictureStuart Pearce

Belize - rum reviews

A quick review of three well aged rums from the Travellers distillery in Belize...

Situated on the Central American coastline, this tiny country is better known for its white-sand beaches and idyllic island hideaways than for its molasses based rums.

25ml of each, left to open up for 20 mins. Nosed first, then tasted, in increasing abv order. Supported today by the king of Northern Soul himself - Mr Gil Scott-Heron.

Holmes Cay 2005, 15yr, 61% (mine was bottle 279 from cask 6 - unclear of the total)

Another release from the affable independent bottler Eric Kaye. Eric has very quickly built a great reputation for his solid barrel picks, so I have high expectations for this release.

100% tropically aged in ex-bourbon barrels. A incredible amount of aging in a tropical climate!

Eyes: Rich dark amber, thick and unctuous

Nose: Oxidized oaky white wine at first. This softens after a further 5 mins. Very woody. Wet wood. Coffee grounds and pipe tobacco.. Some dark fruit. Less funky or aromatic than the Sample X. A touch of spice. Very dry. Some salty burnt caramel. Piles of damp wood.

Mouth: So much oak. Too much for me. Spice. Wet wood. Very dry and tannic. And bitter. There’s richness and some super dark chocolate orange (90% cocoa stuff). Savoury. More coffee grounds. Very interesting to taste, but a touch over-oaked for me. A long finish of that oxidized oaky white wine. A midge of peppermint. Very tannic. Enjoyable but unfortunately too long in the barrel on this one [84pts]

Sample X, 13yr, 61.8%, 259 bottles

A single cask, bottled under the Sample X brand [a collaboration between Dutch indie bottler and importer Kintra and Rum Mercenary]. I'm not sure where this was aged but I suspect at least the majority was on location in Belize.

Eyes: Light Bronze

Nose: Deep spicy oak. Vanilla. Caramel. Zest. Tobacco. Chocolate. A little floral ester. Cloves. Rich & spicy. Reasonably ‘big’ with a lovely gentle aromatic funk.

Mouth: A solid, spicy, zesty rum. Rich caramel. Good mouth feel. Citrus. Dark chocolate. A little vanilla. Tasty. A long enjoyable finish. A very well balanced rum [86pts]

The Nectar of the Daily Drams, 13yr, 62.6%

I can't find much information about this rum, released back in 2020 by Belgian independent bottler 'The Nectar'. I suspect it's a single barrel. Sadly The Nectar haven' been keeping their daily dram guides up to date as it would be great to find a bit more information.

Eyes: Light Bronze

Nose: Quite muted compared to the others. A little caramel and clove. Spice & zest. Cardboard. Cheap cigars. Hint of soap/detergent.

Mouth: Clean and spicy. Redcurrants. Caramel. Very buttery. Some dark fruit. Not quite a big as the others. Lots of clove. The hint of soapiness isn’t ideal but overall an enjoyable rich rum [83pts]

Travellers, distillery release '1981', 15yr, 64%

A limited edition rum released by the distillery to commemorate 40 years of Belize's independence.

100% tropically aged. 15 years in ex-bourbon barrels, followed by a further 6 months in ex-sherry barrels. Again, an incredible amount of aging in a tropical climate which will have resulted in an eye watering angels share (loss through evaporation)!

Eyes: Very rich dark amber, a really stunning dark colour

Nose: Heavily oaked. Quite buttery. Spicy. Rich sherry currants. More traditional vanilla oak rather than the wet wood of the HC. Huge depth. Christmas cake. Some smoke. And peppermint. Alcohol very well integrated. Layers of flavour

Mouth: Again very oaked but with a little more complexity and vibrancy from the sherry aging. A touch of smoke. Spice. Bitterness. Burnt sugar. A real mouthful. Lots going on – some sweetness, some caramel. And tonnes of deep sherried oak. The cigar smoke is quite unusual but also quite interesting – contrasting with the raisined spice. Long very enjoyable finish. Again I feel it’s over oaked, which has killed a lot of the fruit, but the depth and complexity are enjoyable. [85pts]

The 1981 was a treat to try. A big rich venerable rum. Liquidised Christmas cake with more than a hint of cigar box. Buying-wise … SampleX Travellers is not only my winner, but also comfortably the best value of the lineup - well worth hunting out!

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