Extreme rum tasting - wish me luck!
Updated: Dec 28, 2022
... and now for something completely different! These hairbrained rums sit at the very extremes of the global rum spectrum. In fact, they sit at the fringes (or slightly outside the fringes) of what's generally considered 'fit for human consumption'.
No rambling introduction today. Two reviews in two days, so let's just crack on and see if these monsters melt through my glassware!
15ml of each, already stinking the house out. I'll nose them all first, before diving in. Starting with the relative pussycat at 57% and working up to the 86.2% monster. Assisted today, to keep things calm, by a little Marvin Gaye.
left to right - SBS, Plantation, Rom de Luxe
SBS Long Pond STCE, DOK cask finish, 57%, 18mths, 104 bottles
An extremely limited release from the excellent Dunder Store in Poland. Just 104 bottles of this wild child were bottled and sold with the profits going to support the heroic defenders of Ukraine.
Long Pond STCE rum, aged for about 18 months - initially in an oloroso sherry cask and then in an ex-Hampden DOK Jamaican Rum cask.
Following in the spirit of this generous venture - the annual secretrumbar charity samples raffle will include a several samples of this rum (details to come in early December).
The colour of a lightly oaked chardonnay. About what you'd expect after 18 months of continental aging.
Nose: As a big Long Pond fan, I'm excited about this one. The nose starts with solid and delicious STCE flavours. Overripe dark cherries. Lots of acetone. But then quickly lifts her skirt to show a little DOK. The vinegary tropical fruit of Hampden's famed beast. Just when you're thinking this marriage could work - in stomps a heavy splash of sherry which, if I'm honest, rather spoils the party. I'm looking forward to a taste, but at this stage I'd have to say it's a little confused.
Mouth: Starts as an absolute mess, settles into some lovely Long Pond flavours, and to finish - back to the mess. I'm comparing this to unaged HV STCE and the sherry / DOK aging hasn't really worked. Burnt rubber, dried fruit, vinegar, acetone, earthy coffee, some tropical fruit, some rotten veg, so much, and all at the same time. With some really rather unpleasant extras thrown in for bad measure. The discordant harmonies remind me of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring (if you want to hear music to go mad too, this is it!) [77pts]
You really won't want to miss out on the Christmas charity raffle :-)
Plantation Long Pond 1999 HJC, 23yr, 76%, 298 bottles
A single barrel release selected for Salon du Rhum in Belgium. Distilled in 1999 at Long Pond in Jamaica, a low ester mark (for Long Pond) with 120-150 g/hpla of esters. Although these levels generally increase with aging. And boy has this been aged! Initially, in Jamaica, for 19 years in an ex-bourbon barrel, followed by 4 years, in Europe, in an ex-cognac barrel.
Plantation's insistence on 'finishing' every one of their rums in a cognac barrel, along with their reputation for often dosing rums with added sugar, leave me a little sceptical about the brand, but I will put that to one side and judge the juice in front of me on it's merits alone.
It certainly looks spectacular, and lively. That super long aging has resulted in a bright gold / amber rum.
Nose: A lot going on in here. But all working in harmony. I'll be spending quite a while with this one. Immediately apparent is that it is in no way a low ester Long Pond. The super long tropical aging has produced some beautifully integrated solvent, varnish & mid level esters. This are perfectly balanced with the ample dark fruit, salty brine, vanilla caramel oak, anise, eucalyptus, burnt orange and wisps of smoke. A real delight.
It's clearly potent and nosing for a while is a heady experience, but the alcohol is so well integrated that you get no aggression and I would never have placed this as a 76% spirit! My only slight criticism is a tiny scent of unpleasant cleaning agent that comes and goes. It's really tiny - barely noticeable - but is my only flaw (a fresh glass and new dram didn't change things but, as I say, it's almost imperceptible).
Mouth: Well if the first long pond didn't work, this certainly does. Spicy as hell, but balanced. My mouth feels like I just ate a scotch bonnet and simultaneously had the burn kissed better by a wave of crème caramel. Even the cognac fits within the complex harmony. Not faultless, but very enjoyable and the high abv is super well integrated.
It starts with the mid ester, funky long pond. And a big dose of fiery spice. Next comes some caramel vanilla oak, the bourbon influence. Seamlessly we float into the long finish which is dominated by cognac - a trip to an old fashioned sweet shop for a bag of cola cubes, cherry cola cubes if they existed (and they should!). In it's last breath, we're back to Long Pond flavours. Did it need to be this complex? Definitely not. But it works and it's delicious. Would it be better, or worse, without the years in Cognac? I guess we'll never know. [89pts]
Rom De Luxe Wild Series Rum N.17 - Caroni aged, 15 months. 86.2%, 264 bottles
Hampden DOK. A Jamaican molasses based rum with the reputation of being the most full-flavoured rum on the planet. Hitting the legal limit of 1600g/hlpa of esters, you'd think that would be enough, but Rom de Luxe decided to spice things up even more by aging this in an ex-Caroni barrel. Caroni is a (now closed) Trinidadian distillery with a reputation for producing extreme, heavy profile rums with a notes of diesel and engine oil!. This Frankenstein of a rum has been bottled at a befittingly scary 84.2% !!
Nose: Given what's in the glass, the nose is surprisingly 'quiet'. I'm getting a little DOK, a little earthiness, and a lot of burn. It's certainly an inventive way to remove unwanted nose hair!
With patience, dusty, smoky mocha makes an appearance. Underpinned by the swathe of vinegary DOK. And lots of very dry varnish.
The heady alcohol makes nosing this a bit of a fight - and at the moment the rum is winning. Not sure what happened to the Caroni but it's certainly a spicy beast.
Mouth: Not much to say when tasted neat. It's DOK. It's very good DOK. It's 86.2% DOK. With a tiny hint of savoury pastry. Possibly a Cornish pasty. Or possibly I've drunk too much 86.2% DOK.
The barrel influence seems to have quashed some of the sweeter candied notes you get with DOK, which is working for me, but hasn't had much other effect. Don't get me wrong, it's wonderful, it's the best DOK I've tried - it's just not a far cry from unaged DOK. I'd love to see what this was like after a dozen tropical years.
Who needs drugs when you can buy this. Crazy stuff. Every rum lover should try the ultimate in funk. Doking superb [88+pts]