Once in a while, it is good to break away from whisky and all it entails. Now and again here at Malt you’re going to see the odd rum review, as this spirit is of particular interest to Mark and myself. We’d like to give it more coverage – nothing to do with its dramatic rise in popularity – as we enjoy the stuff and it offers a wealth of history and variety from across the globe. Until the right rum writer appears you’ll have to make do with either of us – any interested applicants please get in touch!
We’re talking about rum and in particular Mezan who recently organised a Twitter tasting event online with the Whisky Wire. I tend to be selective in what events I put my name forward for these days as there’s far too much whisky and Malt is a busy destination. The attraction of Mezan was apparent and only recently I almost purchased a bottle of theirs in Glasgow, but found myself in the Pot Still drinking whisky again, sorry.
Mezan is a company that sources various styles of rum. They don’t limit themselves to a particular distillery, style or country. They’re guided by the promise of quality and the end result that appears in a bottle.
Their Cellar Master must have a terrible job travelling across continents and finding these casks, before putting them aside for further maturation. What’s promising is that Mezan leaves the rum alone. They don’t throw in artificial colouring or sweeteners that so many rums nowadays harbour – you can tell from the images these are not hugely saturated in colour. The range is reduced to a borderline 40% strength for bottling which is a shame but still not as low as sum rums we’re seeing that drop down to a ridiculous 37.5% level.
The benefit of the tasting format means you can sit down with several rums from the current range and form an appreciation of rum styles. Whilst we could ask for more details around the releases below, there are snippets of information present and these give you some idea of what’s within.
X.O. Jamaica rum review
An edition of 5000 bottles this features rums from several Jamaican distilleries including Hampden and blended by the Mezan master blender before undergoing further maturation. This is more the entry level example and you can buy a bottle for £29.95.
On the nose: very light and fragrant almost reminds me of rice wine to some degree. Sugary but also a citrus base with grapefruit and lime followed by sunflower oil. Green olives, white chocolate and a very dark green banana.
In the mouth: the delicate subtle characteristics form on the palate with more lime juice, coconut and a hint of mango towards the finish. Far from sweet it offers more fruity features with wine gums, sliced apple and pineapple topped with icing sugar.
A very approachable rum that can stand on its own without being thrown into some overpriced cocktail. Light and sun-seeking it has a refreshing quality and a delicate nature. A solid evening session rum or one for beside the pool, but not in Scotland.
Jamaica 2005 Rum Review
Distilled from molasses and double distilled in a Forsyth copper pot still at the Worthy Park distillery, which was resurrected in 2005 as a newly built facility. This is the oldest distillery in Jamaica and able to trace its roots back to around 1670 before it stopped making rum in the 1960’s due to overproduction. You can buy a bottle for £36.95.
Colour: a light caramel.
On the nose: apple cider! This dissipates giving way to sugar cubes, coconut flakes and banana leaf. A twist of lemon, mango, papaya and a noticeable amount of waxiness moving into white chocolate. A touch of paraffin that reminds me of a Girvan grain whisky with its lightness and floral elements as well.
In the mouth: interesting would be my initial thought, with a huge amount of what I’ll say is rugged greenness before a sour-ish aspect moving into the finish. Pears, Kiwi fruit and apples but all requiring time to become ripe and edible.
More direct than the previous Jamaican rum and lacking the layers that a blend can deliver. This one didn’t sit well with me feeling a little unbalanced on the palate and distinctive – but not in a good way.
Trinidad 2007 Rum Review
Distilled via the Trinidad & Tobago Limited stainless steel multi-column stills following a fermentation of 48 hours and a daily propagated own-recipe yeast strain. The resulting spirit is almost 95% strength before being blended with lighter distillates, then matured in 1st fill ex-bourbon barrels. These remain in the Caribbean before being shipped to the UK for vatting into new barrels that previously held older Trinidad rums. Bottled at around 10 years of age this will set you back £45 a bottle.
Colour: a light syrup.
On the nose: initially this is quite close and constrained. Returning this does have a citrus Caribbean thrust with limes, mangos and papaya. Coconut milk, pineapples and almonds follow, there’s an oily aspect as well and honey menthol.
In the mouth: quite a journey on the palate with the initial burst being sweetness, followed by citrus flavours and then a slight sourness before these all mingle for the finish. Pineapple cubes from an old sweetie shop, lemon peel, vanilla essence and a touch of cherry.
My favourite of the bunch so far, there’s a pleasant array of flavours and a refreshing aspect that is very endearing upon drinking. Of all the samples from the tasting, this was the first to be finished, which says it all really.
Panama 2004 Rum Review
Heralding from the Don José distillery that was rebuilt in 1976, this producer is widely known for its Ron Abuelo range of rums and utilises a stainless-steel column still. This was bottled at around 13 years of age and you can buy a bottle for £40.75.
Colour: a rich honey.
On the nose: interesting from the perspective that this one feels more whisky-like on its arrival possibly due to its period of maturation in wood. There’s a sprinkling of cinnamon and a light brown sugar cascading throughout the nosing. Yet its far from sickly sweet with the vanilla orange influence restraining any excess with honey roasted peanuts, peaches, syrup and a touch of beef stock, or at least I felt so.
In the mouth: very mellow and restrained. A touch of ginger, more vanilla and a sweet caramel all come forth. Pineapple chunks with diced coconut form the main body with a little mango and towards the finish some treacle.
A more dense style of rum which is slowly becoming my own favourite stomping ground. However its far from an oily heavy Caroni, but still displays a great deal of presence and flavour. More of a serious undertaking compared to the lighter Jamaican offerings during this tasting.
Bottle pictures from The Whisky Exchange.