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  • Writer's pictureStuart Pearce

Continental Aged Guyana - Colours Of Rum

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Following my comprehensive El Dorado Rare Collection reviews (here and here), I'm going to stick with Guyana for a few more articles.

Today we're focussing on casks that were (mostly) aged in Europe.

Europian, or continental, ageing is very common. And thanks to dramatically reduced angel's share (loss through evaporation) it's also very cost-effective. Two of the world's largest rum ageing warehouses are located in Holland and Liverpool (UK).

Up until relatively recently, most rum distilleries didn't have the funding, or brand interest, to age and bottle their own rums; so the majority of rum was aged and blended by 3rd party bottlers. Thankfully we are in a golden age for rum and not only are we now able to enjoy rums aged and bottled at & by individual distillers, we can even taste specific marks or styles from some distilleries.

That said, blenders and Independent Botters still form a very important part of the rum matrix and competition to select and bottle the best, tastiest and most interesting rums can only be good news for consumers. Fun times.

Today's bottles were produced in Guyana, aged by a bulk rum buyer in Europe, and finally selected and bottled {in their bold and distinctive style} by the prolific new independent bottler The Colours of Rum.

These 4 were, as far as I can tell, produced on two of the legendary and completely unique wooden pot stills now housed at Diamond Distillery. I covered a lot on the history of these amazing stills in my last article (here) so I won't go back over it.

When tasting the El Dorado Rare Collection, I was most impressed by how the freshness and flavour of Demerara rums held up to (and potentially benefitted from) long tropical ageing. I'm very interested to taste how the (arguably) less impactful continental ageing has influenced these pot-stilled rums.

All 4 rums were bottled at cask strength which is particularly interesting given the wide range of abvs. The Colours of Rum offer consumers a fantastic amount of data about each bottling on their website ... and the lovely team are super helpful with any questions.

4 rums, 15 ml of each, left to open up for 30 mins, nosed first then tasted in increasing abv order. Assisted today by some Northern Soul Classics from Gil Scott Heron.

Left to right as per the lead photo (1988, 1990, 2003 & 1989) - first three being quite light straw colour, especially the 2003, and the 1989 being a dark bronze.

Colours of Rum Guyana Edition No.2, Enmore 1988, 33yrs, 48%, 185btls

Produced at Enmore distillery, prior to its closure in 1994, on the Versailles single wooden pot still. It was aged in Europe, in an ex-rum cask, for 33 years and bottled with a small outturn of just 185 bottles at the relatively low cask strength of 48%.

Nose: What!?! [Rechecks bottle label] This packs an unexpected flavour punch for 48%. Lovely herb and varnish. Oil and a bit of tar. Really good depth, richness and complexity. Fresh cut grass and a little mint but not too much. And that squishy fruit. Pretty impressed so far.

Later we get a tonne of milk chocolate and some engine oil. Very much still punching above its weight (and that's after nosing the 64% rum). Eventually, the Versailles herbal mintiness does creep up and get a bit much but overall a seriously impressive nose.

Mouth: Savoury, almost meaty. Quite saline but with big splashes of dry sour fruit. It tastes old, but well-aged. Mature yet still lively. Wrinkly but can still get about the court!

A little high-quality old Chablis-esque acid lingers into the tarry finish. Much less oak-dominated than comparable tropical ageing (as you would expect) but has enough tannic bitterness for me - and the other flavours have become super complex. I really like this. [87+pts]

Colours of Rum Guyana Edition No.4, Uitvlugt 1990, 31yrs, 48.4%, 161btls

Produced at Uitvlugt distillery, prior to its closure in 1999, on the Port Mourant double wooden pot still. It was aged in Europe, in an ex-rum cask, for 31 years and bottled with a tiny outturn of just 161 bottles again at a relatively low cask strength - this one is 48.4%.

Nose: A lighter profile than the 1988, and more menthol. Some dirty fruit skin (like a bad apple). And marker pen. A few herbs add something but overall it lacks richness. The rotten appleskin aspect isn't working for me, edging towards gone off cider. Quite floral. Lacks oak and depth.

Mouth: More going on with the palate. The apple has become resinous, gluey apple sauce. Good amount of varnish. And bitter apple in the finish. Still could use a bit more depth; a bit more tannic oak - but it's a decent rum with a long chewy resinous bitter finish. [85pts]

Colours of Rum Guyana Edition No.5, Diamond Distillery 2003, 18yrs, 54.2%, 242btls

Produced at Diamond Distillery in 2003 after all the closures and consolidation. By 2003 Diamond (DDL) was the only remaining distillery in Guyana. This rum was distilled on the Versailles single wooden pot still. It was aged in Europe, in an ex-rum cask, for 18 years and bottled with an outturn of 242 bottles at cask strength of 54.2%.

Nose: A completely different profile. Very rich & fruity, I'd initially have picked it for Jamaican. Pineapple! Marzipan, menthol, toasted peanuts, liquorice, sweet syrup, anise, and very fresh vibrant tropical fruit. Plus some briney, rotten. sweet, tropical fruit esters (it really is quite funky).

Unexpected, and very enjoyable.

Mouth: I'm amazed. It tastes fruity and funky, like an old, low-ester Long Pond. A stunning balance of fresh funky fruit, dry spice and acidic rot. Very nice indeed.

Green pepper, spicy peanuts, salty anchovies, metal, marzipan, a little zip of menthol and rotten papaya. Palate not quite living up to the nose but overall it's very tasty and a really fun rum [88pts]

Colours of Rum Guyana Edition No.3, Uitvlugt 1989, 20yrs, 64.1%, 222btls

Produced at Uitvlugt distillery, prior to its closure in 1999, on the Port Mourant double wooden pot still. Fully aged in Europe, 20 years of which were in an ex-whisky barrel.

Bottled last year ... 222 bottles at a punchy 64.1%.

The colour definitely doesn't say full continental ageing! Perhaps the whisky cask has had a big impact...

Nose: A big oaky profile. Piles of lead pencil shavings. Intense roasted spices. Wood polish. Cocoa powder. Lots of stewed black tea. Blackcurrants. Even a whisp of petrol. Very heady, concentrated stuff... this is going to need some time! What a completely different rum to the 2003 - feels mad tasting these side by side!

Mouth: Nom nom nom. A big, well-balanced old demerara. The fruit is very much alive yet tempered and complimented but the old chewy tannins. Dark chocolate. Mocha, almost malted. Dark old blackcurrants. Thick, oily rum. A tiny touch of anise and menthol on the finish. Great balance between the rich oak and complex toasted fruit & nuts. Outstanding. [90+pts]

Conclusion: Really impressive barrel picks from the guys at The Colours of Rum. These are not cheap bottles at around €400 for the 88, 89 & 90! [The 2003 is much more reasonable at €150] But, as single-barrel rums with tiny residual content, they are very rare and very special :-)

The winner today, and taking its place with El Dorado Rare Cask Skeldon in the upcoming finale, is the massive 1989 Port Mourant.

I'm very tempted to pick up a 2003...

Coming soon....

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