Even now, years after I acquired one of the 220 bottles of this phenomenal 36 year old rum, it retains its power to amaze and, yes, even awe. It still retails in the UK for over six hundred quid, reviews are rare as sugar in a Velier rum, and to this day it is unclear whether it is a blend — or if not, from which estate or distillery it hails. Whatever the case, it is a great bit of Jamaican rum history and should be tried by any who get the opportunity.
Colour – Amber-orange
Strength – 60.3%
Nose – Pungent, bags of fruits resting on a firm and almost sharp initial aromas. Vanilla, coconut, aromatic tobacco, and – at least at the beginning – very little in the way of true ‘Jamaican-ness’. Where’s the funk? Oak is well handled for something this old – so likely it was aged in the UK. After some minutes coffee, raisins, bitter chocolate, parsley (!!) bananas, cherries, and faint dunder starts to creep out, before developing into something much more aggressive. Definitely a rum that gives more the longer it stays open so don’t rush into this one. There’s also a musty, damp-cellar background to it all that combines well with the wood, and somewhat displaces the fruitiness the esters are trying to provide.
Palate – Whew, hot hot hot. Started slow, worked up a head of steam and then just barreled down the straight looking neither left nor right. Dusty cardboard and cereals, more of that earthy mustiness, plus some brine, avocados, cumin and maybe ginger. Adding water is the key here, and once this is done, ther is caramel and cinnamon, more cumin, hay, tobacco and chocolate, veggies, and yes, rotting bananas and fleshy fruit gone off – so apparently it may not start out Jamaican, but sure finishes like one.
Finish – Long and warm and very very aromatic. Wood shavings, some more citrus (lemons, not oranges), ginger, cumin, those ‘off’ fruits and even (what was this?) some cigarette tar.
Thoughts – Still an excellent, amazing rum. Honestly, I’m helpless to justify 60.3% and 36 years old and near to a four figure price tag. How can anyone? For the average rum drinker, you can’t. You wouldn’t share it with your card-playing buddies, your kids had better not go near it, you wouldn’t give it away as a gift, and there are so few of these bottles around that it might even never be opened because the event to do so would never be special enough. But all that aside, we need s**t like this. Without such rums we would be a lesser people (and cede pride of place to the maltsters). And that’s why it’s a rum to cherish, if you can ever get it.