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  • Writer's pictureStuart Pearce

New Grove Rum Review - Mauritius

Bank holiday Monday - ideal opportunity for an afternoon 'trip' to Mauritius :-)

New Grove is a relatively new brand, created by the Mauritian drinks giant Grays in 2003 to draw on, and to showcase, Mauritius’ 200 year rum producing history.

The brand was purposefully set up as distinct entity to differentiate it from the industrial mass produced spirits found elsewhere within the Grays group. And to that end, they have been rather successful. A brief google (or for the more fortunate, a distillery tour) quickly supports the 'field to glass', honest, transparent image that New Grove are looking to demonstrate.

The rums are made from locally produced, high quality molasses. Long (30hr) fermented with local yeast precedes distillation on the large column still at Grays. No sugar or additives are used for their core (non-spiced) rum lines, and the rums are also not chill filtered (avoiding this is process is great for flavour and texture, potentially leaving a slightly cloudy appearance to the finished product).

New Grove have been quite innovative and experimental when it comes to aging and blending rums, making use of unusual barrel sizes, and materials, as we will see later.

4 rums, a maximum of 90 mins before I get an ear bashing for 'more of that rum nonsense', so let's get stuck in. Nosed first and then tasted, in increasing abv order. Assisted today by the chilled blues groove of Christone "Kingfish" Ingram.

Outstanding colour ... and an outstandingly bad photo :-) The 16 year and the Old Brothers blend predictably being richest/darkest.

Estate bottled, Small batch, aged 10 years - 42%, 1500btls

Aged in Limousin Oak. More commonly used to age Cognac, Limousin oak from central & southern France has a uniquely large grain imparting a highly tannic profile to the spirit.

Nose: My first impression is of a striking similarity to St Lucia rum. That unmistakable medicinal, highly spiced profile. Loads of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg. And toasted coconut. Really quite impressed. It's bigger than I expected for 42%. The oak is there in abundance but working well. A little vanilla and some dark fruit. And sticking plasters.

Mouth: Texture is a bit thin but flavour is there. Milk chocolate, the spices from the nose, and some dark berries. Doesn't deliver quite what the nose promised in terms of depth, but still drinks a little above it's abv. The barrel influence is working well - very well integrated flavours resulting a very easy drinker. Lovely flavour, mid length clean finish. At Mauritius retail price I'd buy this in a flash. [82pts]

Estate bottled, Small batch, Royal Rum Blend - 42%, 3000btls

Aged in Oak, Merisier, Acacia and Porto. I believe the rum was aged in these four barrel types for around 10 years before being blended, reduced to 42% and bottled for this royal blend.

Nose: Lots going on. Nothing really standing out. It's a little confused to me. And a touch lighter than the others. Some dark berries, a little coffee, and lots of toffee, some of the spiced medicinal notes from the 10yr, and varnish. A little burnt pastry. Quite dry and a touch sour. Acetone and glue. It's not bad, I'm just not sure what to expect from the taste. Only one way to find out :-)

Mouth: Sour fruity milk to start with. And then it evolves with lots of dark fruit coming through and a punch of vanilla oak. Great length to the taste. Cherry pips. A little sweetness creeping in. Very floral, even perfumed. It's quite big, although not completely to my taste. The sour fruit curds never fully leave and they're not working for me. Interesting but not my cuppa tea. [78pts]

Estate bottled, Ville Bague, Vintage 2004, aged 16 years - 45%, 1989btls

Aged in Limousin Oak. An extra 6 years and a small increase in abv from the small batch 10 year.

Nose: Bigger. Less fruit, more roasted notes. Cigar box. Very high cocoa dark chocolate. The tannins are climbing out the glass, Lovely inviting bitterness. Toasted almost burnt coconut. Leather polish. Interested to try this. Again - offering a lot for a 45% rum.

Mouth: Rich, caramelised dark berries. Roasted coconut. A little mint in the background. Slightly old roasted coffee. Quite meaty. Really like this. Lots of good lingering toasted spices. Burnt caramel. Over cooked buttery berry pie. Toast. A big oaky monster. Very nice [84pts]

Old Brothers - Joey Starr X, New Grove XO, Vintage 2004, aged 8 to 22 years - 53.1%, 1000btls

6 casks, from 5 different vintages (1999-2013), aged in ex-bourbon and ex-cognac casks, selected and blended to produced this limited release collaboration between the rapper & rum fan Joey Starr, and the boutique bottler Old Brothers.

Nose: Clearly higher abv than the others. A lot of nail varnish remover. And camphor. Some dark berries. Almost a very dark red wine edge. Coffee. Salted preserved lemons. Quite impressive depth and roundedness.

Mouth: Those salted preserved lemons immediately show up for a blink, followed quickly by rich nutty toasted coconut. And some salted caramel. Peppermint. Vanilla. Taste doesn't quite live up to the nose but it's very good. The balance of sweet, fruity, toasted and bitter working very well. A very limited and quite expensive bottle, but a tasty one for sure, the best of the lineup [85pts]

Conclusion: A really fun afternoon tasting well made, very interesting rums. They're not quite hitting 'super delicious' for me, but the quality is clear and, for a rum that's a little different with a clean, enjoyable flavour, I'd definitely recommend you try them. The 10yr small batch or the Ville Bague would certainly be my picks when you consider the bargain price these go for in Mauritius.

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