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  • Writer's pictureStuart Pearce

Boutique-Y Rums Review

Updated: Dec 11, 2022

Big review today. 9 different rums from the solid range of 'That Boutique-Y Rum Company' (TBRC).

TBRC is a UK based bottler specialising in artisan, generally unusual, always 'honest' rums from around the globe. By 'honest' they're referring to the the 'no-BS' approach to rum making - ie: no added sugar, flavourings or other funny business.

Their limited release offerings come in squat 500ml bottles with vibrant cartoonesque artwork that aims to capture the story of each bottling.

Today's rums are bottles with limited reduction - between 52% and 59& abv. Ideal sipping strength for me, they should all be bold and full flavoured.

Plenty of water to hand, no interruptions expected for the next few hours, let's get stuck in...

As always, 15ml of each, left to open up for 30mins, nosed first and then tasted in increasing abv order.

Today, I'm assisted by the poet himself. The sculptor of song, the builder of ballads - Mr Bob Dylan.

Greensand Ridge Distillery, England, Batch 1, 444 btls, 52.6%

A pot stilled, molasses based rum from a distillery that has already gained a solid reputation for it's gins and brandies. Matured for 18 months in a cask that previously contained the distillery's apple brandy. As you would expect, after just a short period of aging in the UK this is quite light straw coloured.

Nose: Bit of a weird nose. One minute it's mint and herbal, then fruity, then cakey. The fruity part reminds me more of cheap fruit sweets rather than fresh fruit. A good dose of resin and varnish. And tart apple - sort of too old apple pie. Overall a bit light. The apple brandy has clearly had an influence although not wow-ing me.

Mouth: Lots of apple on the palette. And baking spice. I'm certainly getting the apple brandy influence, which is dominating the rum. A slight soapiness. Some mint and floral notes. An interesting first effort. Decent but needs more rum spine to balance the apple brandy for me. [81pts]

Flying Dutchman Rum, The Netherlands, Batch 1, 223 btls, 53%

A pretty unique offering from the Zuidam Distillery in Holland. As with all these rums from cooler climates, there is no option to use fresh cane juice as it only grows in the tropics and doesn't last more than a few days - so they are molasses based. After a long fermentation with multiple strains of yeast, this one was distilled in a small pot still and then aged in ex-Pedro Ximénez casks for 4 years. Even in the temperate Dutch climate - four years in a sherry cask has resulted in a lovely dark gold coloured juice.

Nose: Wowzer - a complete step change from tart light apple of the Greensand to massive old sherry here. Too much sherry for me. Super raisined. After a while the heavy raisin is becoming more rum and raisin ice cream. And some mint. And tannic vanilla oak. It's growing on me, interested to see how it tastes.

Mouth: The taste is quite different to what I expected. Starts with sweet honey caramel, quickly followed by a strong punch of delicious coconut, then plum and ginger. Only after a while does the sherry start to creep up. And wham! tannic oaky raisins take your mouth by storm and every other flavour is gone. The whole experience is really great and I'm quickly back for another sip.

My first taste of Dutch rum and I'm impressed. Possibly a touch over sherried for me but enjoyable and I'll be keeping an eye on what Zuidam put out in future. [82pts]

Engenho Novo Da Madeira, Madeira Island, Batch 1, 238 btls, 53.5%

The Portuguese island of Madeira, more commonly known for it's iconic fortified wine, is also home to a small but flourishing rum industry. [I have a Madeira specific rum tasting in the pipeline for later in the year]

Thanks to Madeira's year round warmth they are able to grow cane!

This fresh cane juice rum was produced at the William Hinton distillery on a traditional small column still before being aged for 3 years in an ex-Amarone wine cask.

Nose: A much better balance here. Delicate nutty rumminess. Sweet liquorice. Dried fruit. Cherries. Softly spiced vanilla oak. A quality cane juice rum. The wine cask works very well. Not massive but very well balanced and inviting.

Mouth: Exactly as promised on the nose. A layer of marzipan greets you and is quickly joined by cherries and other summer berries. And a little menthol. It's delicate but well made and very enjoyable. [update - after being open for a while this rum is really growing on me. Score revised, Stunning quality stuff] [87pts]

Foursquare Distillery, Barbados, Batch 4, 450 btls, 53.5%

No introduction needed for the iconic Foursquare distillery. This rather special bottling of their traditional pot & column blend, was aged at the distillery in ex-bourbon casks for 5 years before being transported to the UK where it was aged for a further 5 years in ex-Sauternes cask. The casks from these legendary French sweet wine producers are almost as sought after as the wines themselves - rare and exciting stuff.

A stunning deep colour - even darker than the aging would suggest, the Sauternes casks have clearly had a powerful effect. (This could be related to their size, prior use aging the sweet wines or type of oak...)

Nose: Yum yum - a tasty Bajan rum. The Sauternes cask is immediately obvious, pulling us away from signature Foursquare. Tasted blind I would guess this was much older. Amazing rich caramelised fruit. A little blackcurrant. Definite hints of anise. Pencil shavings. Really deep, lovely and super inviting.

Mouth: What a huge, luscious mouth feel. A chewy rum if ever there was. And a long long taste. It doesn't quite reach the quality level of the Exceptional Cask Series but it's not far off! And the Sauternes cask aging adds a lot. Really lovely. Blackcurrants, cherries, dried fruit, spicy oak, anise. A tasty drop - highly recommended. [86pts]

Diamond Distillery, Guyana, Batch 3, 2207 btls, 55.6%

Molasses based rum produced on the truly legendary wooden Versailles still at DDL in Guyana.

I reviewed two very special old 'tropically aged' Demerara rums last year which I really enjoyed (link here), so I'm interested to try this version that was 'continentally aged' in Europe for 14 years. Colour: Light white wine

Nose: Familiar deep malty, ginger caramel of Demerara rums. Buttery. Slight medicinal edge. Hazelnuts. Minimal oak on this one. Perhaps a touch of spice and anise but not really enough for me. A light sort of citrus, gingery Demerara.

Mouth: Spicy and dry. More oak on the palette than the nose. Buttery, slightly malted taste. The medicinal, iodine notes are there. Complex and interesting, just not flavours that do it for me. [81+pts]

O Reizinho Distillery, Madeira Island, Batch 2, 484 btls, 57%

Another pure cane juice rum from the beautiful island of Madeira. This time pot stilled and completely unaged.

The label, capturing King Olive sat on his thrown surrounded by a scattering of bananas, is more than a hint as to what flavour profile we're in for.

[TBRC also offer an aged O Reizinho]

Nose: I love having an unaged cane juice rum mid way through these tastings. It's like a gentle slap round the face. Really brings a smile.

This is fun, lively, packed with brine and zest. Olives are there without doubt - the ones with little bits of chilli in. Some green banana too. And a touch of pine oil. I love these dry, salty, olive forward cane juice rums. Very different, interesting and inviting.

Mouth: Yep. Dry, briney, pimento olives. Chillies and salt. A little flicker of cane fruit. A smidge of grassiness. Lovely. Reminds me of Paranubes with a touch less pine oil. Not a rum you want every day but an important and delicious colour on the rum rainbow. I'm wondering about a cocktail using this and dry white vermouth - there must be something amazing down that road. [revised up a point after further tastings] [84+pts]

J Gow Distillery, Orkney, Scotland, Batch 1, 220 btls, 57.2%

Up to Scotland for one the finalist in 'Secret Rum Bar - Rum of the year 2021'.

I previously reviewed this alongside a couple of other new UK rums (here).

Included it again here for completeness - and an excuse for another drop of this amazing juice :-)

Pot stilled and aged in a combination of virgin oak and chestnut barrels!

Nose: Such an impressive nose. The complexity and profile belie it's short Scottish aging. Sweet ester content that works beautifully with the clean crisp biscuit and summer berry flavours. A balance and core of spice, orange zest and rich oak.

Mouth: Perfect thick mouth feel. Tropical fruit, caramel, pastry, a touch of vinegar and a splash of sweet ester all working in harmony. A touch of smoke. Great stuff. [88pts]

Casa Santana, Columbia, Batch 1, 3766 btls, 58.4%

A multi column blended rum. The produce of multiple distilleries in Columbia.

Aged for 12 years resulting in a very dark spirit.

Nose: Very rummy. Dark rich caramel and molasses. A little ginger and baking spice. Alcohol not particularly well integrated. Some sharpness and tannic bitterness. Not overly complex.

Mouth: Butter and salted caramel. It's big and rich. Some dried currants. Plenty of spicy vanilla oak. Bitter and sweet.

Overall a fairly one-dimensional rum that I'm not wild about sipping. That said this bottle was a bargain at only around £35 and will work perfectly as the big dark element in many cocktails. [78pts]

Ninefold Distillery, Scotland, Batch 1, 165, 59.4%

Another offering from bonny Scotland.

With Scotland's strong distilling heritage, it's great news for rum drinkers to see these artisan rum distillers popping up.

3-4 day fermentation preceded pot distillation and 17 months maturation in a virgin oak cask. This has a bright light gold colour.

Both the smallest release of today's tasting at just 165 bottles, and the highest abv.

Nose: Biggest surprise of the lineup. A massive face smash of cola cubes, candyfloss and cream soda. Loads and loads of cream soda. [checks bottle for potential mix-up with kids party drinks]

Papaya. Baclava. Baking spices. Woodwork class - sawdust and wood glue! So much I didn't expect. Loving this nose.

Mouth: Strawberries, cream soda. Dr Pepper. Bitter cherry stones that don't quite fit with the overall sweet profile. Vanilla, caramel, black tea. Some cake or biscuits. A little spice. Really excellent. [84pts]

What an enjoyable tasting. I absolutely love what boutique-y are doing. Such a wide range of interesting and unusual - yet stunning quality rums!

Strong buy recommendations for the Foursquare, Ninefold and Gow!

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