First posted 12 March 2011 on Liquorature
Simple, rough, surprisingly tasty….good value, I think. You are going to get hit with a molasses club at the inception, and if you stick with it, it’ll reward your patience. I’d say mix it, but a brave soul may take it as is.
Like most average folks I grew up watching bartenders mix drinks with Angostura Bitters; and one of the enduring memories of my first years in Georgetown was pouring a couple of drops into a cream soda to make a “rockshandy”. It was years before I realized that the Angostura company also made a whole lotta rums, one of which, the Premium 5 year old, I’m taking a look at here. I selected it as one of the three official rums for Liquorature’s February 2011 Gathering, but it was eclipsed in most people’s minds by the Favell’s London Dock, and the Renegade Grenada 1996. Oh well.
Appearance wise, I’d have to say what I liked most about it was the bottle itself, and the colour: a deep copper bronze. It suggested that here was a rum done more in the demerara style than anything else. Against that, there was the cheap tinfoil cap which did less than enthuse me, as such things usually do, but these days I sort of sigh and move on…it’s ot as if my sniffy opinions are going to change a large company’s capping policy.
I noted above that this was a rum which seemed to have its origins in the Demerara style: this suggests right off the mark that what we would expect is a dark, heavy bodied rum of some sweetness, crammed with molasses and dark sugar flavour. The initial nose upon breaking the seal confirmed the idea. Soft. Rich. Molasses like “fuss time,” front and center. It reminded me of nothing so much as Young’s Old Sam’s Demerara rum, just not quite so overpoweringly single minded: I mean, the Premium 5 actually had a few extra notes to it, once it deigned to open up…slightly overripe bananas, and the hint of some fleshy kind of soft fruit – peaches or apricots, perhaps. Was there some sweet behind all that, like a grape? Not sure. But yummy nevertheless. And to confirm this was not some old fuddy-duddy overaged grandfather of rum with hoarfrost in its scraggly whiskers, you could definitely sense its boisterous youth – a sharp, slightly uncouth bite to the shnozz.
Do we ever even remember what it was like to be fifteen? When the world was young and ripe and came every day with an apple in its mouth? When we burst with energy and felt everything with a zeal and passion that made all experiences black or white with no subtleties or variations? When we wore shades all the time because we were so cool that the sun shone twenty four hours a day? When our bodies ran so smoothly, so well, that we could eat all day long and still come out lean and mean, and we could digest a golf bag with no problems and nary the loss of a single bowel movement? We paid for that fierce level of energy and blazing radiance of youth by not having much intellectual power, just about zero points of experience, and by pissing people off by making brash and brutal statements without even thinking about it. This rum was something like that.
That edge of youth, that exuberance and cheerful spring, carried over to the taste and feel on the palate. And while the legs of the rum on the sides of my glass were the slow, fat and voluptuous gams of a “Biggest Loser” contestant, the arrival of the spirit on the tongue came with a blaring tantarra of molasses trumpets, and a dark and medium-heavy body rescued from liqueur-ishness by having a lack of sugar that was just enough to compensate. A spicy, heated, entrance betrayed its lack of years (or could be argued to emerge from the oak barrels in which it is matured); it was all mixed in with vanilla, chocolate, butterscotch, bananas, and a faint citrus fork that neatly skewered the sweeter, muskier tastes (while staying firmly in the background).
The fade was a little less…well, shall we say exuberant. Here the lack of years of the Premium Five was the most apparent, because to be honest, it was a rather crabby finish, a bit rough and ungentle, like the words we said to the first girl we so cruelly dumped in our teenage years. The burn was sharp and scratchy, yet I still gained some burnt sugar flavour in the final exhalation of fumes at that back end, which rescued it from being just a malicious product, out to do you harm and cause you pain.
In summary, I fondly regard the Angostura Premium Dark Five year Old as a canecutter’s rum: it’s hot and hairy, of strong character and not overly blessed with a plethora of sophistication…yet, it’s a rum you’d be glad to have around after a physical day’s work when all you want to do is kick back, have a curry gilbacker with dhal and rice and something to go with it. Something like this rum, which you can uncork, mix it or not, drink, feel its warm burn, and never have to worry about how to spell “plethora”.