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  • Writer's pictureStuart Pearce

Montebello - Aged Rhums Review

Following last week's review of unaged Montebello rums, it'll be no surprise to see me reviewing a wee bundle of aged rums from the Carrère (Montebello) distillery in Guadeloupe.

As I mentioned in my article earlier in the year - the distilleries of Guadeloupe, arriving at Montebello you can't help but notice the giant flywheel - part of a steam engine used to crush the cane (the only distillery in Guadeloupe to use a steam engine).

The next thing you're likely to spot is the giant stack of shipping containers. The large hot metal boxes store most of the aging barrels - sweaty stuff! It would be very interesting to know how much this accelerates the aging. And the angel's share!

A historic, family run distillery located on the eastern coast of Basse Terre. Montebello uses a column still to produce their renowned agricole rhums. Today I will be reviewing 4 aged expressions, two released by the distillery and two by independent bottlers. (I know, I know... Velier prefer the title ‘dependent’ given their close working relationship with the distilleries.)

Left to right as per the lead photo.

20ml of each, left to open up for 15 mins. Nosed first, then tasted, in increasing abv order.

Reviewing today at another stop in our period of wandering - a townhouse in Battersea, London. Assisted by a few throwbacks from Average White Band.

The first Guadeloupe rhum released from the premium Polish bottler. Column stilled pure cane juice.

Continentally aged (in an ex-rum cask) for a serious 23 years. Just 155 bottles were released back in 2022 with an equally serious price tag.

Nose: Packs a surprising punch for a well aged, 'light' 43%. Very floral. Elderflower and a musky floral perfume. Not particularly rich or complex, and lacking in fruit, but not a 'bad' nose.

Mouth: Oh dear. This absolutely dies between nose and mouth. Very thin. Floral. A little grape and pear juice. No depth. Slight bitterness and a touch of furniture polish. Very disappointing. [75pts]

Estate Bottled Brut de Fut, 10yr, 45.3%, 2000 bottles

Distilled in October 2010, bottled in July 2021. Pure cane juice rhum aged for just over 10 years in the tropical Guadeloupe climate. The first 7 years in ex-bourbon casks, followed by 3 years in ex-cognac.

Nose: Big rich and fruity. I'm particularly picking out pineapple. Decent vanilla oak. Loads of gluey, chewy cognac notes. A little spice (cinnamon & pepper) and a splash of estery polish. Very inviting.

Mouth: A step change from the '98, this has thick texture and good rich flavours. Sweet caramel pastry quickly leads into tart coffee. Balanced out by light tropical fruit. A touch thin and short on the menthol, spicy milk chocolate caramel finish. [81+pts]

Estate Bottled Brut de Fut, 14yr, 50.6%, 1250 bottles

Distilled back in 2000, bottled in 2015. Pure cane juice rhum aged for a massive 14 years in the tropical Guadeloupe climate. 1250 bottles filled from a blend of 4 ex-bourbon casks.

Nose: A decent spicy, caramel nose. Recently varnished old oak furniture. And some candied, toasted nuts. Lacking the exciting sweet shop notes on the nose of the 10yr.

Mouth: Who stole the rhum? :-( The flavours promised on the nose have washed away. A little bitter toasted spice, some sweet caramel, then a dull finish of wet wood and cardboard. [77pts]

Velier Basseterre Vieux 1995, 58.2%

A barrel pick from Velier. Aged for 12yrs in Guadeloupe (although this was made up of 10 years in oak and 2 years in 'resting vats', so I feel more comfortable saying 10 years aging).

Unusually this rhum was made from a combination of molasses and cane juice!

Nose: Lots going on. The most complex nose of the line-up. A heady dose of glue and varnish starts proceedings. Followed by lashings of chewy dark fruit - cherries and blackberries. It's quite a saline nose. I'm getting olives and sharp crisp white wine. Finally a grassy, leathery spice. Alcohol is pretty punchy on this one - heady stuff.

Mouth: whoop whoop! We have a winner. Thankfully this delivers. Spicy ginger, boozy mouth tingling peaches, creamy richness (maybe yoghurt), honey, toasted nuts. No bad notes. Not quite the wow factor to hit 90 but lovely stuff. [88+pts]

An easy win for the Velier 1995. The rest being a little underwhelming.

For further reading I recommend excellent reviews by Lone Caner and Single Cask Rum.

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