Dave's Free Press: Reviews

being why I think things suck and/or rock


Recent posts


Recently commented posts


Journals what I read

books sci-fi alcohol electronics fantasy film geeky music thriller crime tv meta kindle theatre horror whisky baen maths comedy pubs beer rum food software literature clothes review-of-reviews rsnapshot foreign magazines transport opera tequila shorts spam electronics ww2 biography gin religion cooking hotel brandy psephology museum
Wed, 3 Aug 2011

Rum tasting notes

Almost two years ago I went to a rum and chocolate tasting at Vinopolis. Yesterday was another rum tasting, this time to mark the approximate anniversary of Black Tot Day and also to give people a chance to try The Whisky Exchange's Black Tot brand rum. Black Tot normally sells for £600+ a bottle, so obviously it isn't one that you can just try in the shop before deciding if you want to buy.

We had six drams (is that the right word to use for a wee glass of rum? if you think you know better, let me know!), four of which showcased the rum of particular Carribean regions, the fifth being a modern re-creation of "Navy Rum", and the last being Black Tot.

So, on to the boozes ...

  1. Mount Gay Extra Old, 40%, Barbados: on the nose, there was a hint of vanilla, lots of salt, and some burnt toast. The flavour was strongly salty with a little caramel. Not very good at all.
  2. XM Royal 10yo, 40%, Guyana, sherry finish: this is one of the rums we tried last time, and my tasting notes are somewhat different this time! This is to be expected I think though, especially considering that I wasn't also having chocolate this time. The nose had lots of golden syrup, and a dash of something flowery - roses perhaps. The taste was creamy cocoa, and very sweet, with a strong finish. If left to stand for a bit, it gets sweeter and even smoother, with some butter.
  3. TWE's own cask, no details known, 60%, Trinidad: the nose was somewhat apricotty, but overwhelmingly fiery, because of the strength. The taste was hard to nail down without water, and all I got was umami. With water, the nose didn't really change and the flavour got some extra burnt bits. Not particularly nice.
  4. Smith & Cross, 57%, Jamaica: this is a blend made in London from two unknown but probably quite young rums. The nose was like very young whisky or maybe tequila - grassy. The taste had some flowers, raisins and bananas. With water it was less grassy on the nose, and became sweeter with the raisins and bananas coming out even more. I liked this a lot. I'd have given it 4 stars, but at only £30 a bottle it's a bargain so gets 5.

And now on to the two Navy Rums:

  1. Pusser's Navy Rum, 54.5%: this was grassy too on the nose (lots of Jamaican spirit in there?) but a bit "thin" and stony. The taste is quite sweet with some unrecognisable fruit and firey spice. While it is strong, it doesn't really need water, but in the interests of SCIENCE I added some just to see what would happen. The nose gained some toast and ginger, and the fruity flavours resolved to a mixture of summer fruits - raspberry, currants etc. This is a very nice rum and I recommend it. I didn't buy any though, because it's a mass-market brand that you can get anywhere.
  2. Black Tot, 54.5% nominal: having been stored for 40 years, this is actually a couple of tenths of a percentage point weaker than its declared strength, and was the star of the show. The nose is treacle, raisins, cocoa, with a touch of leather and coffee. The flavour treacle and raisins, creamy, with some gentle spiciness, and lovely long finish. I didn't add water, it was quite lovely without. Why only 4 stars? £600 a bottle. It's a really good rum, the best of the lot, but it's not £600 good.
Posted at 22:06 by David Cantrell
keywords: alcohol | rum
Permalink | 2 Comments
Sun, 25 Oct 2009

Rum and chocolate tasting notes

This month's booze tasting was a variety of rums, although it was structured as a rum and chocolate tasting, not just rum. The session was led by Duane Dove of Tobago Cocoa, who also runs a restaurant and bar (warning: music) in Stockholm, with a very large selection of rums.

Again, rum is a spirit I don't really know much about - I've drunk some before, obviously, but only stuff that you can get in any supermarket or pub - so the evening was educational as well as refreshing. And as with the armagnac tasting, I rather lack the vocabulary to truly describe what I was drinking, but I shall do my best ...

  1. Angostura 1919, 8yo: vanilla and banana nose, sour cherries and ginger taste, with perhaps a little pineapple.
  2. Diplomatico reserva exclusivo, 12yo: coffee and chocolate nose with something of the smell of a freshly painted room too, the taste was vanilla essence and very very sweet. Too sweet in my opinion.
  3. Trois Rivieres 1997 vintage: bananas, spices and cherries on the nose, a spicey taste but rather bitter. It went quite well with the chocolate it was paired with, but doesn't stand up well on its own.
  4. XM Royal Demerara, 10yo: vanilla, banana and almond nose, sweet honey taste.
  5. Appleton Estate extra 12yo: perhaps the most whisky-like of all the rums that we tried, this had gentle smoke on the nose, with some resin developing over time and something redolent of an autumn woodland. The taste was berries with some dry mustiness. Very nice.

Now, if I lack the specialist vocabulary to describe rums, I lack that to describe chocolate even more. I'm rather sorry to say that, if you ignore the additives that were in some of the chocolates (such as orange peel) they all just tasted of ... really good chocolate.

The chocs were Pralus Trinidad (apparently available at Monmouth Coffee), Valrhona Trinidadian single estate (who have a crappy website that I can't link to), Amadei Chuao, and a couple of pralines from Dove's restaurant in Stockholm. All were very nice, and if I had to pick a favourite it would be the Pralus.

Posted at 16:32 by David Cantrell
keywords: alcohol | rum
Permalink | 0 Comments