El Dorado Rare Collection - The Finale!
Exciting doesn't come near ... it's time for my champion to be decided!
Following last weekend's comprehensive run down of the full Rare Collection (here), today I will be blind-tasting the winner of each category to determine an overall champion.
The format is quite straightforward - Mrs SecretRumBar has poured me 15ml of each and added a coloured sticker on the glass, with the same colour discreetly affixed to each bottle (or sample bottle) [although these were kept out of sight until after the tasting]
5 rums, poured 30+ mins prior to nosing and tasting. All nosed first, then tasted. I nosed for a good hour before tasting and switched up the order with each nosing and tasting.
4 blenders glasses and one lovely WhiskyLive glass (I wasn't planning on 5 finalists!). Assisted this afternoon by the sublime jokers - Smoove & Turrell
Rum 1 (orange) -
Nose: Golden citrus, good alcohol integration, wonderful background of vanilla oak.
A fresh spritely rum at first, over time developing deep heavier, varnish notes and more oaky tannins. Actually risks being too much oak, we'll see on the palate.
Mouth: A really lovely surprise. Waves of bright caramel fruit. Positively sparkles in the mouth. A long quite sweet finish, I'm hoping for a smidge of bitter oak in the second sip, delicious.
As I hoped, it delivers more oak and a touch of decent focusing acid on the second and subsequent sips. Really beautiful [91+pts]
Rum 2 (green) -
Nose: Early on this was deeper & richer richer than 'orange'. Touch of menthol. Earthy. Again some tannin but not over oaked.
Later in the nosing this remained very zesty, minty and gluey. Amazing stuff but possibly a bit too zesty & minty for me, lets see how it tastes.
Mouth: A massive wave of quince followed by lots of menthol and a good smack of acetone. A wonderful rum although the powerful menthol might rank it below some others for my personal taste. The finish is clean, fruity and lingers for ages. Amazing, unique stuff - the oak interaction is awesome, it could have been aged even longer! [90-pts]
Rum 3 (yellow) -
Nose: Quite aggressive alcohol on first smell. Initially a touch musty. Some glue & acetone coming through but pretty closed up still.
After time a wave of menthol joins the acetone.
Later again this is still evolving and gains a mahogany like depth with a rich squishy fruit-like funk (Mt Gilboa on crack). Lovely.
Mouth: A properly mouth filling dram. The zesty, polish-like, rotten fruit is powerful. Not as minty as 'green' but still very fresh and powerful. Exiting stuff. Again with a long long finish. [91pts]
Rum 4 (red) -
Nose: Leathery, lots of varnish. More oak presence here. In time a good level of dry currants join the party. That varnish just gets deeper and richer in time.
Mouth: A really beautiful mix of creamy, tannic oak and deep rich fruit. A very different profile to the last two. The finish is long and quite dry. Big oaky stuff, but with vibrant fruit and a touch of acid. Super well balance [91pts].
Rum 5 (blue) -
Nose: Sweet and nutty. Lovely acetone. Good complexity and balance. A really rich, deep, approachable, yet complex and inviting nose. Possibly the most going on here. Yummy dark fruit. Drier with more acetone as time goes on!
Mouth: Bright. Very fresh. Tiny bit of menthol. Not sweet but very fresh. A touch of dry, almost cologne notes mid palate gives a pleasantly bitter moreish finish. [90+pts]
So, very small margins, all delicious and all surprisingly unique. The top 3 are very different but equally delicious 'orange', closely followed by 'yellow' and 'red'
The Big Reveal
Rum 1 (orange) - Skeldon - previous score 91, now 91+
Rum 2 (green) - Versailles - previous score 91+, now 90-
Rum 3 (yellow) - PM97 - previous score 92, now 91
Rum 4 (red) - Enmore96 - previous score 90+, now 91.
Rum 5 (blue) - Diamond98CBH - previous score 90+, now 90+
Great fun and really interesting re-tasting these blind. The Versailles and PM were easily identifiable with their distinct profiles - on blind tasting, the powerful menthol notes of the Versailles were too dominant when compared against the other styles. An outstanding rum but a point or so lower than my initial impression. Similarly, the PM is awesome but I preferred the Skeldon when tasted side-by-side.
I also revisited some of the non-finalists over the last week resulting in a couple getting a point or so downgraded due to slight unnatural cloying sweetness become more apparent and annoying.
Skeldon is my champion of the series! Followed closely by PM97 & Enmore96. Such distinct and different profiles but all great. Exceptional rums that hope to enjoy, picking out the nuances and flavours over long evening, for decades to come.
What an amazing two-part series, the Rare Collection range is awesome and I've loved researching and sampling them all. It's a huge surprise that these rums are, in the most part, still reasonably available, For the quality and heritage the prices are very reasonable.
What's next ... more Guyana!! I'm now moving on to a couple of [mostly] continentally-aged Demerara tastings, followed by a super finale where I put shoulder-to-shoulder the best of all these tastings, alongside a rare Velier Demerara!
**the + & - in my scoring indicates a direction of travel, ie: the way I feel the spirit has the potential to move after further tastings