Continental Aged Guyana - Silver Seal & Rum Shark
For my final set of new rums in this Guyana series, we have four more Port Mourants. Three of these were majority (80%+) 'continentally aged' in the cooler European climate. Just the 32 year Silver Seal New Vibrations bottling had a significant period in the tropics - it spent half of those 32 years in Guyana and half in Europe. [*thanks to the charming Massimo for this info]
Today's lineup follows my recent reviews of the full El Dorado Rare Collection tasted side-by-side and a tasting of four Colours of Rum Guyana bottlings.
Silver Seal are right up there in the uber premium bracket, with prices to match. I've only reviewed one Silver Seal bottling before, their 1986 Enmore special reserve that was delicious although maybe not delicious enough to warrant anything near the current auction price.
Today's gems include the New Vibrations 32-year PM available at an eye-watering €1390. And two Silver Seal Demerara from the Cedar Series - a beautiful 6-bottle set (pictured here) released as a collaboration between Velier and Silver Seal that will set you back a hefty €3000.
Extremely limited bottlings, beautifully presented. Today I will find out the most important aspect - how they taste!
Not to forget we also have an entrant in today's lineup from Czech bottler Rum Shark. I've reviewed a few of their barrel picks in the past - I was very impressed by their 1994 New Yarmouth and 2005 Hampden LROK, less so with their 2006 Clarendon. Looking forward to trying this one.
4 rums, 15 ml of each, left to open up for 30 mins (and some), nosed first then tasted in increasing abv order. Assisted today by some appropriately chilled old Jazz from Coleman Hawkins.
Left to right as per the lead photo (32yr, 18yr, 21yr & 31yr). The 32yr - with its 50% tropical aging - is a dark tan. The 18yr, which I'm told was 80% continentally aged, is a surprisingly dark bronze. The 21yr Shark is the colour of a well-oaked chardonnay - very bright too. And finally, the 31yr is a dark white wine colour,
Silver Seal Demerara, Uitvlugt (PM), 1990, 32yrs, 49.2%, 172btls
Produced at Uitvlugt distillery, prior to its closure in 1999, on the Port Mourant double wooden pot still. Aged for the first half of its cask life in Guyana, and the remainder in Europe. A limited edition single cask release from Silver Seal - part of LMDW's 2023 New Vibrations collection. After 32 years, the remaining rum in the cask was only sufficient to fill 172 bottles.
Nose: Heavy and unctuous to swirl in the glass. This has a seriously woody nose - it's taken most of an hour to get past the big toasted tannic oak but there is fruit to find. First up we get a wave of light citrus and menthol, then a slightly metallic grape juice (sounds weird but works). A buttery rum with incredible thickness.
The oak has become chewy and almost resinous. Nice touches of orange oil & anise and plenty of polish, but overall it lacks complexity.
Mouth: Oh dear that's disappointing. Thin and bitter to start, with few raisins and a dribble of prune juice. Tannic coffee grounds with a saving splash of mint and licorice pipe tobacco. A venerable old beast - sadly old is the key word here. If you want to know what an oak tree tastes like, I can think of cheaper ways. [80-pts]
Silver Seal Demerara, Diamond, 2003, 18yrs, 53.5%, 186btls
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 also distilled on the Port Mourant double wooden pot still. Aged for a few years in Guyana before shipping to Europe for over 14 of its 18 years in cask.
A very special selection, this cask was picked as part of the Cedar Series (Serie Cedro) - a beautiful, and eye-wateringly expensive, wooden boxed set released in collaboration with Velier.
Nose: A lot more complexity here. The oak-fruit balance is much more even and interesting. Rich dried berries in abundance. Plus some cherry juice. I could nose this for ages ... it's super complex and very inviting. Dried flowers & toasted spices lead onto an almost tropical background funk. Outstanding.
Mouth: The flavours are stacked - literally tastes like you bit into something with distinct layers. And it's so fresh. Squishy guava and a burst of tropical fruit followed quickly by a bucket of toasted spice and some lovely bitter vanilla oak. The sweet, almost rotten, tropical fruit and bitter oak continue fighting for attention into the long finish and are joined by a splash of vinegar. Impressive stuff - I couldn't hand on heart say it's singing completely in harmony, but it has all the solos I'm after and they are punching it out. [89+pts]
Rum Shark, Uitvlugt Distillery 1999, 21yrs, 56%, 408btls
Produced at Uitvlugt distillery in the final months before its closure in 1999. Distillation took place again on the Port Mourant double wooden pot still. Aged for 2 years in Guyana before shipping to Europe for the remaining 19 years of its cask life.
Nose: Warm, boozy and rather fruity. I want to say chilled-out fruit - it's not fresh and pushy, but at the same time it's not old and dead, the fruit there is just very chilled and very relaxing to nose. A hint of glue (edging to grassy detergent, unfortunately) and a dusting of buttery pastry.
Another 45 minutes and the detergent has significantly reduced.
Mouth: Starts great - a tasty fruit introduction and touches of vanilla pastry but suddenly a bitter grassy almost soapy edge kicks in and kills everything else. The taste left in your mouth is impressively thick, chewy even, but unfortunately, I don't really like the flavour. Bitter fruit skin and citrus pith. Further tasting adds sour fruit sweets that I do like. It takes some work to find the good here but it's arguably worth it. [81+pts]
Silver Seal Demerara, Uitvlugt 1990, 31yrs, 56.2%, 185btls
Another rum produced at the Uitvlugt distillery prior to its closure in 1999. And another rum distilled on the Port Mourant double wooden pot still.
Aged in Europe for 80% of its cask life.
A second Silver Seal selection for the Cedar Series - exorbitantly priced, luxury cedar wood boxed sets released earlier in the year in collaboration with Velier.
Nose: Surprisingly little going on, even after 45 mins. Overall it's like a spice, lemon & orange zest infused cigar box. Plus a bit of wood polish. The 31 years have made this a very balanced and tempered profile, just maybe too tempered. Heavy citrus, light menthol & anise. No bad notes, in fact it's very pleasant, just not wowing me.
Mouth: Biscuits. Lots of raisins and buttery biscuits. Then bitter fruit skin rocks up and I'm worried we're in for a repeat of the shark but it's quickly tempered by a wave of vanilla cream. The finish is very enjoyable - light banana, cider vinegar, lots of buttery vanilla pastry - and raisiny rum, unsurprisingly. Decently made, clean long finish. An enjoyable rum but missing the wow factor [87pts]
Conclusion: The clear winner, and through to the (not very) grand finale, is Silver Seal Serie Cedro Diamond 2003.
A really interesting tasting today. A chance to try some very rare rums, and to raise an eyebrow when it comes to price vs value.
So that's my little finale decided. The winners of the 3 previous rounds plus a sample of a very rare and highly rated Velier Demerara that I was generously gifted from a friend. Coming soon....