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  • Writer's pictureStuart Pearce

Takamaka - Single Casks - a world first !!

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

Another visit to the beautiful Seychelles. With rather more trepidation that before...

Back in January you might remember that I reviewed the pair of Habitation Velier Takamaka (link here) released in late 2021. And, let's be honest, I wasn't a massive fan.

Love what they're doing, but the rums - especially the aged version, just didn't completely work for me. So it was with some surprise that I received 4 single barrel samples all the way from the Seychelles to review. [rum is for drinking and sharing - I was lucky enough to be gifted these generous 250ml samples. So if anyone is passing Reigate [UK] and would like to pop in, then I'll very happily pour you a dram of each!]

As you can see, these are beautifully packaged and helpfully provide a brilliant amount of information on the labels.

Takamaka, located on the east coast of the largest Seychelles island (Mahè), has recently become far more available in the UK with no less than 11 different bottles currently available from London's Whiskey Exchange! I went into a little more background on the distillery in my previous article...

Takamaka produce both molasses and cane juice based rums. Today's samples covering both, with a range of different barrel aging. I suspect it was the tight grain French oak cask influence (on their cane juice rum) that didn't work for me when I reviewed the Habitation Velier aged offerings - I can see that two of these rums were aged in fine grain new French oak 🤔 Let's see how these compare ...

As always, 25ml of each, left to open up for 20 mins, nosed first and then tasted, in increasing abv order. Assisted today by the outstanding British blues singer and guitarist Marcus Bonfanti.

Takamaka, 100% Pot stilled Pure Cane Juice, 2017. Aged 3 years in New Czek Oak. Single cask, 60.14%

No sugar added. Tropical Aging. Cask Strength.

The darkest of this lineup, a lovely rich amber.

Nose: A really big rich deep start! A little initial aggression from the alcohol but it's only a gentle, and sensible, warning of the 60% rum to come. The first flavours are of warm, powerful and inviting cane fruit. And a tiny touch of marzipan. This moves over to reveal some pretty funky resin and glue. The oak is there in the background from the start. At first in the form of rich buttery pastry but quickly this shifts to a less appetising wet wood - even wet newspaper.

Dark cane fruit and punchy esters, which at times offers a lot of glue. Almost edging into cologne. A big, complex and heady nose.

Mouth: This one sings. Sweet, fruit forward and creamy. A summer fruit meringue pie, with lots of buttery pastry. And a really lovely long finish.

When compared to the nose, the taste is very unexpected. The heady nose is softened and there's a tonne more buttery sweet fruit. Oceans apart from the aged Habitation Velier Takamaka - I can only assume this is down to the choice of barrel.

The cologne edge on the nose lets things down a tiny smidge, but the taste is beautiful. Light enjoyable esters, sweet buttery caramel, and a hedgerow of summer fruit salad. Hints of strawberry, or actually pear or quince, popping candy. A lovely long finish. Yum. [87pts]

Takamaka, Column stilled molasses, 2018. Aged 2 years in an ex-Buffalo Trace bourbon cask. Single cask, 61.67%

No sugar added. Tropical Aging. Cask Strength.

The lightest of this lineup, a dark Chablis colour.

Nose: A big step change. Unsurprising as we've shifted to molasses, to column still and to ex-bourbon cask aging. My first thought is that the nose is less complex than the pot stilled cane juice. It's also less fiery.

A very fruity sweet cherry jam starts proceedings. And a little Vimto. This is quickly joined by a spray of furniture polish. A good splash of soft, vanilla caramel balance things pretty well. A slightly short 'finish' on the nose with a tiny hint of stale beer at the end. That said, it's very inviting and I can't wait to try this.

In summary, creamy vimto and furniture polish!

Mouth: This one follows the nose very closely. Sweet, chewy caramel. And that Vimto. A soft and delicious rum. Tastes like a Tunnock's caramel bar, dipped in fizzy cherry coke, with just the tiniest hint of polish. The short finish on the nose is also there with the taste. Less complex than the pot stilled cane juice first rum, but I really like it. [86pts]

Takamaka, 100% Pot stilled Pure Cane Juice, 2018. Aged 2 years in fine grain new French oak MT+. Single cask, 61.83%

No sugar added. Tropical Aging. Cask Strength.

A mid-gold amber.

Anyone know what MT+ stands for?

Nose: Wow - at first you're thinking sweet cane fruit but it's dry, really dry, and tannic. All thoughts of sweetness are quickly sucked away. It almost feels like the rum is trying to take the smell back and you have to fight to get a nose!

Rich and heady, boozy with good fruit. Less of the buttery-ness or creaminess I enjoyed in the first two. A slight bitterness that might actually work in the taste - we will see.

A different experience again. Dry, estery and cane forward.

Mouth: Starts well with some pastry, banana and cane sugar, but the slight bitterness from the nose gradually builds in the taste, ending up with a overly dry, slightly acrid finish. The muted aspects in the nose are also reflected in the taste - essentially as flavour gaps around the pallet. A step up from the aged Habitation Velier, but again not doing it for me. [83pts]

Takamaka, 100% Pot stilled Pure Cane Juice, 2018. Aged 2 years in fine grain new French oak MT. Single cask, 64.13%

No sugar added. Tropical Aging. Cask Strength.

Light gold amber.

Nose: As with the previous [new French oak] the nose is not in a sharing mood! In fact, this one's even more of a struggle. It's so tight it's almost closed off. The end result is a surprisingly light nose. A little cane, a little menthol and citrus zest. And a big splash of acetone. What I get is dry, good fruit, punchy alcohol and inviting, but I don't get much!

Mouth: A different barrel but with almost the same factors as the previous sample - so predictably a similar taste. That said, this one, which - from the nose - I expected to be even more closed off, is actually more complete, more complex, and more enjoyable than the other French oak aged sample. The menthol and citrus from the nose are there, Again some gaps, and slightly too much tannin and bitterness for me, but a more enjoyable drop with nicely balancing, and unexpected, candied sweetness [84pts]

A lovely surprise - I enjoyed these a lot. The Czek oak being my pick. All four are young and fiery - they will certainly benefit from another year or two to calm down a touch, after which I hope Takamaka release them as full bottles. At at sensible price I'll be buying the Czek oak!

As above, rum is for drinking and sharing - I was lucky enough to be gifted these generous 250ml samples. So if anyone is passing Reigate [UK] and would like to pop in, then Elvis the monkey (or I) will very happily pour you a dram of each!

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