Review: Plantation Single Barrel Multi-Island XO

Review: Plantation Single Barrel Multi-Island XO

This is another of the new Plantation single-cask offerings. The Plantation web page on this has a lot of information. A blend of both column and pot-still Jamaica and Barbados distilates, then aged in three different barrel types, oak (tropics), Ferrand (continental), and a year in Côteaux du Layon wine casks, bottled at 46.5% ABV. There is much more there as well.. Of course they find much more in the flavor profile than I, but this is still pretty rich and tropical. Indeed, I can taste the tropics in this one. The sort of rum I picture drinking with a little ice (I usually drink neat) at a pool-side bar somewhere, really anywhere, in the Caribbean!

Color: Pale yellow amber with flashes of yellow and a little red.

Legs: Thin, fast legs drop from the bottom of the swirl line.

Aroma: I get vanilla, fruity notes of apricot, banana, some pine apple, nutmeg, and coconut. There is also a little alcohol on the nose. The over-all effect is very rich, and melds later into a deep caramel.

Flavor: Very clean medium creamy body.  A light touch of raw sugar and sweet light fruit, delicate with some fire on a long sugar-sweet aftertaste. The flavors include some raisin, light caramel, and a hint of tobacco too, all very delicately dancing on fruits like apricot, grape, pineapple, and apple. Despite the Jamaican heritage here I don’t detect any funk. The Plantation site linked above gives even the ester content, 176 g/hL, that’s grams per hundred liters, so very low. Very high ester rums can have 1000 g/hl or more. No surprise I don’t sense any funk, but even this low ester content certainly adds to the depth of both aroma and flavor.

So far I have liked every one of these Plantation offerings. The collection can be seen here, and this link will take you to a few comments about the Multi Island on Rum Ratings.

 

Rum Review: Foursquare-Velier SAGACITY 12-year

Rum Review: Foursquare-Velier SAGACITY 12-year

When this rum came across my local B&M’s path I thought $65 is a steal for any Foursquare, and this proves to be the case here. Sagacity is a blend of two different rums. From the back label, both begin with distillate from a double retort copper pot still and a double column [continuous] coffey still (Aeneas Coffey the inventor of this type of still). The mixed distillate is then split into two parts with half aging 12 years in ex-bourbon casks and the other half aged 12 years in ex-madeira casks. The two are then blended and adjusted to 48% ABV. The label also says there are no sweeteners or other additives in this rum.

Color is a beautiful medium copper red with lots of fiery flashes. The label also says the rum is not chill filtered and so may be a little cloudy. No such effect at the start of a bottle though. I have noticed some cloudiness creep into rums toward the end of their bottles though.

Legs are beautifully distinct. Thin to medium dropping at a leisurely pace from the back of the swirled edge.

Aroma, that’s where the real magic begins. Dark fruit, prune, raisin, chocolate, apricot, coffee, coconut, and something warm like cinnamon. There is but a little alcohol on the nose and no young-rum acetone notes anywhere. To put it mildly, the aroma here is amazing!

Flavor, after all… My vendor tells me there is more of the pot still than usual in Foursquare offerings. There is the barest hint of fruity pot still funk to my taste. Not something I like when too strong, the hint of it (like that in El Dorado 15) fits perfectly, enhancing the flavor profile which is otherwise quite sweet. The first taste is creamy, and unexpectedly sweet, There is maple, dark brown sugar, the dark fruits, apricot, a little orange, and that bare hint of over-ripe fruit. Coffee gets a nod, as do oak, and even chocolate. The aftertaste is long, smooth with nice warmth, and tickles of raw sugar sweetness. All of these flavors are very subtle in a smooth clean background with no strong alcoholic notes. The most distinct thing about the flavor is the light dancing sweetness of many sources. Perchance there was some madeira sloshing around in those barrels?

This is a very good cigar pairing rum. There are so many flavors here. The sugar sweetness accentuates some cigars while the oak or coffee do it for others. For $65 I can only highly recommend this one!

Here is a look from the Black Parrot Bar in London, and here another review from my most knowledgeable rum friend the Fat Rum Pirate!

Review: Plantation Single Cask Guyana 2008 Rum

Review: Plantation Single Cask Guyana 2008 Rum

So here is another, so far the last I have, of the special series of Plantation single cask (cask and bottle numbers on the label) rums. This one, labeled “Guyana 2008”, is on the expensive side at $85/750ml bottle. The other two, the Barbados XO ($50), and Peru 2004 ($85), I have also also reviewed. There are many more rums in this “single cask collection”. I’m sure I will never get to try them all.

What we’ve got here is 47.1% ABV aged 9+ tropical years in ex bourbon casks, and 1 year in France in Ferrand (the label says chestnut and accacia wood) casks. The label says “pot still”. The color is a medium amber, a nice cross between copper and brass colors. Legs are sort of thin medium and fall medium fast down the glass.

The aromas here are heady. I love taking deep droughts from the glass. Alcohol in the background smells sweet with no acetone or varnish notes. I get hints of brown sugar, prune, tobacco, and a deep chocolate-coffee mix that reminds me of Kahlua. These are very rich aromas.

Flavors like the aromas, but almost not there at all. This rum is dry, barely sweet at first, yet sweetness is there at the same time. What a contrast from the Barbados XO that tasted so much like it smelled (see review linked above). This by contrast has rich sweet aromas and only a hint of the same sorts of sweetness in the flavors but yet they are all there somewhere. It is creamy, moderately, from the first sip, and has a nice long barely there but sweet aftertaste. There is only the slightest bit of heat in this one when first swallowed, but it hangs around for a while. Good for a cold afternoon.

Remember this claims to be a pure pot-still rum, fermented for a week (from the label) which I think is pretty long for a rum, and yet there is no funk here what-so-ever. This sort of subtlety is where my rum taste seems to be going. This Plantation Guyana is absolutely marvelous like some of the Foursquare’s I’ve reviewed in the past. I notice that most are in the $80+ range. Maybe if I drink slowly I won’t notice!

I have not in any of these reviews said anything about the bottle labels. They are beautiful (particularly the front — pictures in all the reviews) and have a lot of information (both front and back). They don’t say everything you might want to know, but much more than most. Definitely collectibles if you are into such things.

So wow! If you can afford it, try it. A standard setter for rich aromas and subtle flavors!

Review: Plantation Barbados XO Single Cask Rum

Review: Plantation Barbados XO Single Cask Rum

 

One of three Plantation limited production (single cask) rums I’ve purchased in the last few months. I reviewed the PERU here, and now it’s the Barbados’ turn.

At 48% ABV this is a nicely balanced rum, and the least expensive of these new offerings at $50/750ml bottle. It is first a blend of pot-still and double-column distillates. Tropically aged for “several years” (that from the front label) in ex bourbon barrels, this rum then gets 1 more year in “Amburana casks”, a South (and perhaps also central) American wood. There is not much to be found about Amburana on wikipedia. There is more confusion to be had here. The front label says “Amburana” (and numbers the cask and bottle) while the back label says the rum spends its last six months aging in “Ferrand oak” which is not a kind of wood that I can find, but rather a person famous for his cognac.

With this confusion not cleared up much, lets get to the rum itself.

Color: Not pale but not yet even medium dark I’d say the color is medium-pale, less red copper than more yellow brass, but somewhere in between.

Legs: Thin and medium fast.

Aroma: When I first opened this rum the scent of cinnamon was overwhelming. As it evolved in the bottle a bit the cinnamon joined with baked apple. Yes this smells like a rich home-made apple pie! I also sense raisin, prune, white grape, nutmeg, faint brown sugar, and only lastly the alcohol. I discern no acetone notes nor particularly any oak. The fruitiness, especially apple are front and center.

Flavor: I have not yet tasted a rum where the dominant aroma notes translated to well to the taste. Baked apple and cinnamon are the dominant notes. The first time I tried this it was mostly cinnamon, but the apple came along after a few days and the mix of both along with other dark fruits has stayed with it now through about a quarter of the bottle. The rum is sweeter than most that I like now, but I have learned to stay in touch with sweeter rums (mostly via El Dorado 15) but this is another I like very much. Distinctly sweet compared to the Plantation Peru or any of the Foursquare rums I’ve come to love, but not over-much so.

It is not creamy but rather glassy-sharp from the first sip on and has a long distinctly sweet aftertaste where the brown sugar note comes forward. I usually find after-tastes to be less sweet, even a little bitter as oaky flavors come forward, but this rum is an exception. The apple-cinnamon combination dials back as the glass finishes and one has a hint of hard apple cider. All throughout there is a nice bit of fire in the swallow, but it never gets harsh. Despite the pot-still component there is no funk in this rum either of the rotten fruit or vegetal sorts.

In conclusion medium expensive and just a little sweet for my taste now, but I think worth keeping around to try again later. Highly recommended, especially if you are wanting to migrate from sweeter to less-sweet rums.

Here a little marketing blurb from Plantation on these single barrel rums

Rum Review: Plantation 2004 Peru Rum

Rum Review: Plantation 2004 Peru Rum

I am finding a lot of nice rums lately. This one new to me, a 16 year-aged rum from Plantation. Pretty bottle, pretty and very tasty Rum. The particulars..

43.5 ABV $62 U.S.

 

Nice back label too…

Color: medium amber, not at all dark, light copper-brass colored, as much yellow than red.

Legs: many slow but thin legs come from the top of the swirl line.

Aroma: mild, nice mix of light and dark fruit, raisin, orange, apple, maple sugar, warm spice (nutmeg?), little alcohol on the aroma, no young acetone notes.

Flavor: Strikes me as thin and creamy at the same time. Hint of raw sugar, vanilla, light caramel, very clean, glassy, some tobacco and sugar on the medium finish. Smooth but warm throughout and a tiny bit of raw sugar sweetness suffuses the taste experience throughout.  Not a lot of heat but steady. This is an amazingly light rum for a 14-year aging ending with 2 years in ex cognac casks. Of course the tasters at Master of Malt get a lot more flavors out of this than I do (see below), but there is nothing “spicy” about it that I can sense.

Pairing: A good flavorful cigar is enriched by this rum which doesn’t much interfere with it. So far my stronger and sweeter sticks like the Foundation Tabernacle and Roma Craft HOxD are great additions.

From master of malt: (see link above) Peruvian rum, bottled as part of the rather brilliant Plantation range. This one comes from Destilerias Unidas S.A. de Peru and was distilled in 2004. It was initially matured for 12 years before being moved to France for a finishing period of two years in Cognac casks. Intriguing and spicy stuff.

Here is another review from Flaviar.

Review: English Harbour Madeira Cask Finish Antiguan Rum

Review: English Harbour Madeira Cask Finish Antiguan Rum

I’ve been a fan of the standard production English Harbour for many years. Bottled at 40% ABV, perhaps one of the best rums around for about $28 U.S. This incarnation is a special limited production at about twice (a bit more at $61) that price. Had to try it at least once didn’t I?

From the label and what I can find online, this rum is aged 5 years in ex bourbon casks and then Malmsey Madeira and Bual Madeira casks for 3-6 months finish. This link will take you to a nice article on types of Madeira wines, the Bual and Malmsey types are the sweetest of the Madeira types. So basically, this is English Harbour with some extra aging in Madeira casks and bottled at 46% ABV. Very nice.

Color: Medium pale, reds, copper, amber. Lots of bright color here.

Legs: Long thin legs but slow to coalesce. They don’t so much run down from the top of the swirl line, but appear like magic midway down the glass.

Aroma: Dark and bright fruit, raisin, prune, orange, molasses, caramel, and a little tobacco.

On the tongue it is creamy from the first sip and gradually grows less so as one drinks. I taste coffee, dry chocolate, something like allspice, a tobacco note and perhaps a slight hint of grape. There is a nice warmth on the swallow and a long sweet creamy finish which, again, becomes less sweet and creamy as one finishes the glass, but never goes bitter. This is a nice complex rum exhibiting various flavor transitions as one drinks it. I don’t get all the flavors described in this “Master of Malt” review, but all palates vary.. Interesting in that what they call “opening up” as one drinks seems more like a “thinning out” to me, but the goodness is always there.

The bottom line here is that this tastes like English Harbour with a little extra aging in Madeira casks and bottled at a somewhat higher ABV. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. The rum is delicious. Much more complex than the English Harbour that is its foundation. Not sure if the price is exactly fair by comparison, but it is certainly worth a try if you can afford it, especially for English Harbour fans.

Here’s another review of it from Caribbean Journal.

Review: Pusser’s [new] 15-Year-Aged Rum

Review: Pusser’s [new] 15-Year-Aged Rum

From the back label: The Royal Navy Admiralty-approved blend of Pusser’s Aged 15 Years is heavily influenced by rum from the double wooden pot stills of Port Mourant, Guyana, which have been in production since 1732. The Greenheart staves of these historic stills provide unique tasting notes incomparable to those of modern metal stills, giving way to an unparalleled and authentic drinking experience. Additionally, the blend is aged to perfection in charred oak barrels for 15 years.

So a rum from Demerara sugar and so from Demerara Distillers Limited.

I was told by my vendor there is no sugar or any other additive in this rum but the rum has been tested independently to 8g/l of sugar. That isn’t very much, but it is not strictly sugar free. I include a link below to a review by “the fat rum pirate” who did the testing. Its color comes from the long aging in charred oak. Its smoothness comes from that, but also its bottling at 40% ABV,  a little weak, and cheap, for a 15 year rum costing $85/bottle. Even the base level blue-label Pusser’s is bottled at 42%! Come on guys and gals. I’d like to see what this is like in the 46-54% range… I suppose a bottle would have to be $100+. Too bad…

Color: medium dark and red-brown like old polished copper.
Legs: Fast, thin legs run down when the glass is swirled.
Aroma: Lots of complexity. Some alcohol, dark fruit (over-ripe prune, raisin), lighter pineapple or apricot, heavy into dark caramel, dark-brown sugar and warm spice. The aroma is mostly sweet with some bitterness in tobacco notes.

Flavor/texture: This turns out to be one of those rums that must be tasted to understand where good rums can go. Whether you like it or not is another matter. What strikes me is a glassy texture, not creamy, and definitely not sweet. Smooth, yes, there is only a little warmth going down and a rather bitter tobacco sort of flavor on the medium finish. But there is a funk here, that “old socks” or “moldy forest” sort of funk you also find in the Pusser’s blue label. Here it is less prominent but sharper without any sweetness to back it up. Not a fruity Jamaican funk but something vegetal. The fruits, caramel, and sweetness in the aroma are gone in the flavor. I imagine it is the wooden pot stills and the long aging in ex bourbon barrels that gives it this, maybe strong woody note.

I compared this to another “sugar-free rum” from Guyanese distillate, Hamilton Demerara at 43% ABV, which I took down to 40% with a little water. Both had the same level of non-sweetness, but the Hamilton lacked all the funk and woody bitterness. I think this sort of rum would appeal to a drinker of scotch, rye, or bourbon. One thing I do notice, the funk is at its heaviest when the bottle is first opened. A few glasses and a week of evolution in the bottle have already changed it; the bitter woody or tobacco notes seems better blended into the over-all flavor. Maybe I’m just getting used to it.

Is it worth $85/bottle? Everything is going up! All the Foursquares I see are now in the $75 and up range, even the Hamilton’s have gone up. This trend seems par for the course now. Yes, you can tell this is a high quality rum. But if I’m going to spend $85/bottle I’d rather get something without that bitterness. That’s just me though. There are rum aficionados, especially those I think who like whiskeys, who are going to love this. For me, no. If it was $50 or less I would buy another bottle, but at $85 I think this one bottle will have to do.

Here is a link to a review by The Fat Rum Pirate who has far more experience with rums than I. As is often the case, you will see his aroma and flavor impressions are very different from my own.

The cigar pictured is one of the last of my Foundation Tabernacles, among my best cigars. I’ve paired a few different cigars with this rum. They all work, but I haven’t yet found one that stands out. To my taste, this is an afternoon drink and not for the evening when I seem to much prefer the warmer tones.

Have at it and let me know what you think if you try this rum.