Dec 012022
 
Engenhos do Norte Rum Agrícola Beneficiado 980 Madeira - Review

Every year, especially as the Madeira rumfest comes around, there is a flurry of posts and interest about rums from the islands of that Portuguese Autonomous Region (it’s one of two such regions – the other is the Azores). The better known rums originating there are from the distilleries of O Reizinho, Engenho Novo (which makes William Hinton Rums) and Engenhos do Norte, and these three rub shoulders with yet others like Abel Fernandes, Vinha Alta and Engenhos da Calheta. Not surprisingly, there are occasional independent releases as well, such as those from Rum Nation and That Boutique-y Rum Co. [Click here for the full review…]


Nov 272022
 
L'Esprit "A Jamaican Distillery" 2019 "Still Strength" White Rum - Review

I view L’Esprit’s unaged still-strength white rums the way I regard Mrs. Caner – with besotted love not unmixed with a little dread.  Treat her right and there’s no end of the amazing wonders and complexities that will be provided; drink carelessly and you’ll be belted into next week.  Seeing the stats, is clear to see why: the rum is distilled in 2019 in Jamaica, and taken at 85.6% as it dripped and smoked and frothed off the still, then released without any ageing into the wild, unfiltered and unadded-to, and completely, fiercely, joyously untamed. You get the nervous feeling [Click here for the full review…]


Nov 232022
 
Tuthilltown Distillery Roggen's Rum (2012)

Rumaniacs Review #141 | 0953 For a distillery whose founder had a not inconsiderable impact on craft distilling in the state of New York, it’s a shame they stuck with a product that has no end of local competition and is at best reviewed with occasional praise, mostly indifference and sometimes outright disdain: whiskey.  And yet they produced a rum or two at one time; and one of them, this rum, while no great shakes, suggested that they had potential and to spare had they stuck with it.  Maybe. This is a pot still, blackstrap molasses based rum (for what [Click here for the full review…]


Nov 212022
 
Captain Morgan Black Label Blended Rum (Early 1980s)

Rumaniacs Review #140 | 0952 Captain Morgan, of course, requires no introduction, yet its history presented us with some interestingly convoluted pathways (R-139); it showed that although in its modern 2020s iteration it’s a throwaway piece of cheap spiced dreck, made with indifference and sold wholesale with what I can only conclude is contempt for its core audience, the fact is that once, not too far back, it had aspirations to being something quite a bit more interesting.  More genuine. Almost a real rum. We can date this one more accurately because the 70º on the label had been replaced [Click here for the full review…]


Nov 172022
 
Velier Saint James 2006 15 YO Rum "Magnum No.1 - Elliot Erwitt" Series - Review

Whatever my personal opinions on the need for the four Magnum rums to exist as a separate collection as opposed to being folding into other series, they are there, they’re a fact of life and we move on. In any case, we’ve learnt a bit about the legendary photo agency (even if we’re not into current history) and read up about the style and importance of Elliot Erwitt (even if we’re not photographers or understand the connection), and have tasted four new rums from old and proud houses, so it’s by no means a waste. Moreover, for all their variations [Click here for the full review…]


Nov 142022
 
Velier Hampden 2016 5 YO Rum "Magnum No.1 - Elliot Erwitt" Series - Review

There was a time not too long ago when anything you got from Hampden was some bulk rum export that got bottled by an indie in Europe. Berry Bros. & Rudd, Murray McDavid, Renegade, Samaroli, Compagnie des Indes, Rum Nation…these companies and more were the ones who kept the name alive and vibrant in people’s memories. And to be fair, the rums they picked were usually quite good – the Samaroli 1992 for example, was really kind of spectacular and even the Murray McDavid edition that was half as old, was no slouch. All that changed after the launch of [Click here for the full review…]


Nov 102022
 
Velier Foursquare 2005 16 YO Rum "Magnum No.1 - Elliot Erwitt" Series - Review

The new rums of Velier’s first edition of the Magnum Elliot Erwitt series of rums are only four in number, and it’s too early to tell whether future editions will materialise. Honestly, I don’t see any need to create a new series at all: both the Hampden and Foursquare rums already have well established collaborative series of their own, Saint James could have been folded into the 25th AOC Anniversary bottling and I’m sure a home could have been found for Mount Gay somewhere. The Magnum photographic connection — to rum, Velier or the distilleries — is tenuous at best [Click here for the full review…]


Nov 072022
 
Velier Mount Gay 2007 14 YO Rum "Magnum No.1 - Elliot Erwitt" Series - Review

By now it’s almost like an annual event at the beginning of each new rum-release season: Velier makes an announcement about a co-bottling or a new rum, or a whole new series, and the rumiverse goes politely batsh*t for a while. To be honest, I kind of look forward to see what they come up with myself, because you really can’t fault their originality, or their style. And the rums themselves are usually interesting, with an occasional gem popping up here and there. Now, most independents go with the standard big Caribbean distilleries, keep the labels consistent, and stay within [Click here for the full review…]


Nov 032022
 
Tanduay Silver "Asian" (Philippine) Rum - Review

Tanduay, in spite of being a behemoth of rum making in Asia (it sold nearly 23 million cases in 2021) with more than a 150-year history, has a spotty recognition in the west, largely because until relatively recently it sold most of its wares in Asia, and wasn’t all that common, or available anywhere else. What knowledge or reviews of the brand as existed, came from people who had friends in the Philippines who could bring a bottle over, or sip there on a sunny beach and write about the experience. And other Philippine brands like Limtuaco or Don Papa [Click here for the full review…]


Oct 312022
 
Captain Morgan Black Label Jamaican Rum (1970s)

Rumaniacs Review R-139 | 0946 Captain Morgan was not always the dismissed and derided global rum-killer which has been its lot since it nose-dived into a vat of overspiced and insipid distillate where Diageo put it. But the original spiced-rum recipe — which Samuel Bronfman of Seagram’s bought from the local Jamaican pharmacy of the Levy brothers in 1944 when he had bought the Long Pond Distillery — long predated Diageo’s acquisition. It’s just that Seagram never made it the centrepiece of the brand the way Diageo did.  For a long time Seagram’s used rums from around the Caribbean to [Click here for the full review…]


Oct 262022
 
Amrut Distilleries

There are many Indian spirits combines on the subcontinent which make rum — Radico Khaitan, Mohan Meakin and United Spirits, are some examples — not all of which are well known by rum folks elsewhere because of their predilection for selling domestically, or only in Asia. Still others concentrate on beer, whisky or various other industrial manufacturing enterprises, and the rum component of their sales is so minor that it is not widely exported. And yet rum is one of the oldest distilled spirits made in India, and it is this which founded the fortunes of Amrut Distilleries way before [Click here for the full review…]


Oct 242022
 
3S Nagakumo Ichiban Bashi Kokuto Shochu (Yamada Distillery) - Review

A kokuto shochu, one of the oldest spirits made in Japan, derives from unrefined sugar (kokuto) and in that sense it straddles an uneasy and somewhat undefined territory between agricole-style and molasses-based rums. Nosing the clear spirit demonstrates that: it opens with a lovely crisp agricole type brine and sweet alcohol, channelling sweet soda pop – Fanta, 7-Up, a bit of funk, a bit of citrus; and then adds a pot still kind of funkiness to the mix, like the aroma of fresh glue on a newly installed carpet, paint, varnish, and a lot — a lot — of fresh, [Click here for the full review…]


Oct 192022
 
Yet Another 21 Great White Rums

Nothing demonstrates the fast-moving development of the rumworld more clearly than the emergence of, and appreciation for, white rums, whether called aguardientes, blancs, whites, silvers, platinos, clairins, grogues, charandas, cane spirits or blancos. So no, I am not referring to the anonymous 40% lightly aged and filtered whites of the American cocktail circuit, where the objective is to hide the rum in the mix (Lamb’s, Bacardi and various forgettable blancos are examples of the type) as if embarrassed to even mention its presence. No, I refer to high proofed, often unaged belters that have enormous taste chops and can wake [Click here for the full review…]


Oct 172022
 
Foursquare "Destino" 2003 14 YO Rum (General Release) - Review

Foursquare’s Exceptional Cask Series gets the lion’s share of the attention showered on the distillery these days, and the Doorly’s “standard line” gets most of the remainder, yet many deep diving aficionados reserve the real gold for the Foursquare-Velier collaborations. And while some wags humorously remark that the series’ are only excuses for polysyllabic rodomontade, the truth is that the collaborations are really good, just not as visible: they are released less often and with a more limited outturn than the big guns people froth over on social media. So not unnaturally they attract attention mostly at bidding time on [Click here for the full review…]


Oct 132022
 
Black Tot Finest Caribbean Rum - Review

Do we even need to make mention of what Black Tot Day represents any more, and what the rum is all about? Probably not, but for the sake of new entrants to the field and those who don’t know, it is named after the day in 1970 that the (British) Royal Navy ceased issuing the daily tot of rum to its sailors…a day that to some will live in infamy, given the scandalous break with a centuries-long tradition. However it would be too much to expect that all rums were finished at the same time – and some indeed was [Click here for the full review…]


Oct 112022
 
Key Rums of the World - Ron Zacapa Centenario Gran Reserva 23 "Solera"

“The Zacapa is here to stay” Wes Burgin said rather glumly, in his recent Rumcast interview, reluctantly acknowledging that if ever there was an indictment of purported rum-based meritocracy where only the good stuff rises to the top, it’s the ubiquity, fame and unkillability of this one Guatemalan rum, long an example trotted out in the seething maelstrom of arguments about what a rum is or should be. There’s a lot wrong with it and a lot right with it and it has equal numbers of foes and friends, but whatever one’s opinion is, everyone has an opinion. Nobody is [Click here for the full review…]


Oct 052022
 
Habitation Velier Amrut 2015 7 YO "Jaggery" Indian Rum - Review

Even after the decade I’ve spent writing about Velier’s rums, the company still manages to pull a rabbit out of its hat and surprise me when I least expect it, and the new Habitation Velier Amrut rum from India is this year’s contender for the rum I most wanted to try, the moment I saw Steve Magarry’s post about it on FB in September of 2022 (it popped up at Paris’s WhiskyLive a week later). Because, consider what a singular rum this is, and how many fascinating strands of the rum world it pulls together:   It’s a pot still rum, [Click here for the full review…]


Oct 032022
 
Barikenn "81.6" Rhum Agricole Blanc (Montebello) - Review

The full name of this rum is the “Barikenn ‘81.6’ Brut de Colonne Rhum Agricole Blanc de Guadeloupe (Montebello)”.  I imagine that just trying to say the whole thing in one breath distracts somewhat from the fact that this is one of the most powerful rums of recent memory (yes, I know there are others that eclipse it – I made the list, after all), and if one loses focus and takes it too lightly then one might just find oneself being blasted into next week. Most of us know something about Montebello, but who is Barikenn?  At first I [Click here for the full review…]


Sep 292022
 
Hawaiian Distillers "Spirit of Hawaii" White Rum (1980s)

Rumaniacs Review #138 | 0939 Hawaiian Distillers, Inc. is a Hawaiian corporation that has been in business for more than forty years. Before 1980 it was mainly manufacturing tourist items, including ceramics and specialty Polynesian Liqueurs and you can still find many of its small bottles and knick knacks on various eBay or other auctions. In the more recent era, these are the fine people who “made” the overdosed and overspiced Hana Bay and Whaler’s abominations and give real rum a bad name. For the most part, nowadays the value of their products lies in the ceramics from the 1970s, [Click here for the full review…]


Sep 262022
 
Havana Club 3 Year Old Cuban Rum - Review

The Havana Club 3 Year Old Cuban rum (the one distributed by Pernod Ricard) is a delicately light cream shaded spirit, and one of those workhorses of the bartending circuit, much loved and often referenced by drinkers and mixologists from all points of the compass. That it’s primarily utilised in making mojitos or daiquiris and other such cocktails in no way dampens the enthusiasm of its adherents, with only occasional grumbles about access (by Americans) and how it may or may not compare against the Selvarey or the Veritas (Probitas) or any Jamaican of one’s acquaintance.   It’s been around almost [Click here for the full review…]