May 212015


When you drink full proof and overproof rums for a long time, many forty percenters can seem, wella shade pusillanimous. No such issue afflicts the 62.7% full proof of Albion 1989, ‘cause that thing looks and feels and samples like it’s about to father a nation.

The Albion 1994 was power and passion and style all wedded together in a remarkable fusion, and my only regret has always been that I couldn’t get more. It was preceded by a version from 1983, 1986, and this one from 1989. These days, the only place you’ll find either is from a collector or on the secondary market. And that wasn’t helped by the paucity of output for the 1989 either.

I’m always whining about craft makers bottling too few rums in their single barrel or cask strength issues, yet this one is bordering on the ridiculousVelier only issued 108 bottles of the Albion 1989. Still, points must go to Luca Gargano, who resisted the temptation to blend this miniscule output with something else, and simply took what he could from the single barrel in 2008, added nothing, took away nothing, diluted nothing, tampered with nothing. And there you are.

When I poured the dark amber rum into my glass in Paris a while back (I was shamelessly pilfering tasting notes on anything in grabbing range, nearly knocking over poor Serge Valentin in my haste to get my grubby paws on this one), it was like coming home. Nosing it, I was struck anew how amazing it was that a rum can be made at that kind of strength and yet still maintain a smoothness of profile that doesn’t do a rabid dog imitation on your senses. The rum’s nose was immenseit smelled thick, creamy, like a melting licorice waterfall; black grapes, anise, caramel, burnt sugar billowed up, being chased by the sweet fresh honey from a cracked comb. I thought I’d get some wax or rubber notes, but nope, none here.

The taste of the 1989 was wired up, juiced up, and electrified like the Tokyo downtown, and you got into it immediately. I remember just shaking my head with admiration, even awe, after the first sip. The palate was full bodied, without equivocation. Thick and creamy, surprisingly sweet, and not dry or brinybut there was tobacco and rubber floating around in the background, some furniture polish and tar (actually quite similar to a Caroni). Dried fruits emerged, mango and papaya, some salt in the back taste. I added some water and it continued providing new, strong notes of vanilla, nuts, aromatic pipe tobacco and smoke, leading to a long, long finish, with rubber, melting tar, more smoke, more caramel, more vanilla. I kept a glass charged with this stuff for literally an hour, always coming back to it, always finding something else and still probably missed something.

Albion 1989

I’ve always enjoyed experiments in the craft like this, where the makers change just a single coordinate in the standard equation of the rum universe just to, I dunno, mess with it and see what’ll happen. Here, that’s a hell of a lot. Even with the overall excellent stable of rums Velier makes (and that’s plenty), there are rums and then there are rums. This, in my opinion, is one of the latter.

See, a rum like, oh, a Bacardi for instance, sells so much that it creates its own weather system in the spirits world. The Albion 1989 is nowhere near that leagueat best it’s an intense, localized twister with a shard of lightning thrown in. Can you see yourself rushing out to experience that? Not likely. But if you’re a person looking at the world through slightly askew lenses, the phenomenal power and quality of something this spectacular cannot be overstated and after you’ve experienced it, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever worry too much, in rum terms, about another cloudy day, threatening rain.

(#215 / 91/100)

Other notes:

  • Like the 1994, it is remarked as being from a wooden continuous still, about which I have my doubts. If true, though, that would make it the famed Enmore Wooden Coffey Still, and I don’t think it was at the Albion estate back in 1989.
  • Distilled 1989, bottled 2008, 108 bottles.

  5 Responses toVelier Albion 1989 Full Proof 19 Year Old RumReview

  1. FinallyI’ve been waiting for this review!!

    Great read Lance.

    I’m actually curious as to which still/s were used as well. Regardless of how it’s made, fact is that it’s not made at the Albion distillery, but an imitated version by Persaud/DDL.

    According to the material I’ve seen, the original still used at Albion was likely a wooden coffee still. They even may have had the Port Mourant still there for a while.

    So has DDL been able to imitate Albion using their Enmore still or is it made on the Savalle still? Guess we’ll never know for certain.

  2. Great to read a review on this one. How does it compare to the 1994? Are they similar enough to be recognised as siblings? Would you choose one over the other?

    Are your doubts regarding the still based on Stephanie Holts chart? (It states that the Albion mark is made on the Savalle still; the chart can be viewed on the rumgallery website)

  3. It’s about the same as the 1994, perhaps a smiddgen better. Yes they are reocgnizable as siblings.

    With respect to surce still, to some extent yes (I also referenced Barrel Aged Thoughts). My doubts centre around the wooden continuous still supposedly making this rum being the PM still (which was confirmed by Luca Gargano), and so the question is, where was the rum made, and where was the still when it was done.

    Carl Kanto says the estate monikers on the wooden stills are meaningless since they moved around over time and cannot be associated with a specific plantation. Still getting some clarification there. I’m wondering whether this was Albion made molasses run through the aforementioend still….that might account for the fruit and licorice flavours.

    • Two posibilities:
      1. It was distilled in Uitvlugt with the French Savalle Still (and Luca was wrong)
      2. It was distilled for a short time at Enmore with the Enmore Coffey Still (for whatever reason)

      GLC owned them all at the time of production (1983-1994). But in the end it is only of historical interest. DDL won’t probably care of such questions. The style is flavourful and tasty, but the original Albion still is long gone. However, the spirit of ‘Albionis still living. Its nice to see that Carl was answering your questions. I highly doubt that after Albion was gone (January 1968) the original Coffey still from there was moved to another distillery. I rather think it has been scrapped. The style was reproduceable.

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