Rumaniacs Review 014 | 0414
The idea was to continue along with Velier’s Caroni 1985 and 1982 this week, but then I figured it was close to Christmas, so let’s go with something a little older. Perhaps a rhum from an age before ours, or even that of our fathers.
Issued by the house of Fratelli Branca, which is akin to Rum Nation, Samaroli or even Velier: an old 19th century Milanese spirits maker (they created a liqueur of their own in 1845 which led to the formation of the company) and distributor, that rode the wave of “Fantasy Rhums” which were popular in Italy in the first half of the 20th century. This may be one of them – except I don’t know where it originates, or how truly aged it is. There are several St. Andrews’s parishes dotted around the Caribbean, and Lo Spirito dei Tempi suggested it was more a brand name than a location, since a variation with similar bottle design was issued as ‘Saint Andrew’s Rhum.’ The Sage thought it was Jamaican, but I dunno, the profile doesn’t really go there. We’ll leave it unsettled for the moment – perhaps it’ll remain lost in the mists of history.
Colour – Dark Mahogany. (Maybe this is like the St. James 1885, and got darker with age, even in the bottle; or maybe in those days they dumped more caramel in there).
Strength – 45%
Nose – Slightly overripe darker fruit; prunes, blackberry jam, ripe blueberries. For all that colour, it presents quite light and easy going. Pears, almonds, rye bread and cream cheese develop over time.
Palate – Sharp and a little thin, settles down to a quiet heat after some minutes. Prunes, dark red grapes, chocolate, vanilla, and the sugar is obvious here. Still, not bad, if thin. A little water brings out molasses, chocolate eclairs, nougat, toffee, and more jammy notes. And some musty background, almost undetectable.
Finish – Warm, sweet, firm, a little dry. Prunes and raisins again, with some last brown sugar.
Thoughts – Relatively simple yet elegant, a little weak on nose and finish but mouthfeel and texture and taste can’t be faulted. If it showcases anything, it’s how differently rhums/rums must have been made just two generations ago…I’ve never had a “modern” rum quite like this. We may have gained rules and regs and consistency and safety measures (and a better idea of how rum is made) – maybe we lost a little something too.
Merry Christmas, everyone.