“Have you ever given any thought to sending him on a trip to Belize?”
This was a line in Breaking Bad, uttered by Saul Goodman in a conversation with Walter White. They were discussing options on how to handle Hank, who might have learned of Walt’s secret. Prior to this, I had never heard of Belize. After the show ended, I wouldn’t hear of it again until the American rum geeks started raving about Holmes Cay’s single cask bottling of Belizean rum.
So just where and what is Belize? It’s a Caribbean country on the northeastern coast of Central America, bordering Mexico and Guatemala. Belize was were colonized by Spain from 1506 to 1862; they became a British colony from 1862 to 1981.
Today’s rum is from Travellers Liquors in Belize. There are three other rum distilleries in the country but, so far, all the Belize rum bottled by indie bottlers are from Travellers. This is due to it being the only distillery that invests in longer-aged rum.
The distillery is currently owned and run by the Perdomo family, but they weren’t always distillers. The Perdomos only acquired the distillery in 1989, as a result of their father’s hard work. The patriarch, Jaime Omario Perdomo Sr., aka “Don Omario,” worked different jobs such as a salesman for an importation company. In 1953, Jaime Sr. opened a bar in Belize City called Travellers. He chose that name because most of his clientele were traveling to and from the city. It was also mentioned in The Rum Cast interview with the Perdomo family that the bar was located at the entrance of the city.
During those days, it was common for the bars to buy rums from different distilleries and blend their own rum. The blends would then be exclusive to those bars. Jaime Sr. eventually created an award winning One Barrel rum. This practice makes me think of the rum shop tradition in the Caribbean; I’m also reminded of the origins of some Scotch blends. They buy, blend and sell whisky under their own brand; brands like Doorly’s and Johnnie Walker come to mind. There was also mention of a lot of Barbados rum being imported into Belize during the 60’s.
As competition grew, sourcing consistent quality of stocks became harder. This made Don Omario look for an exclusive supplier. It led to a partnership with Luis Alberto Espat, who agreed to build a distillery in Belmopan, capital city of Belize.
In the 70’s, Don Omario’s sons, Romel and Mayito came of age and joined the family business. This led to a huge growth in the company. In 1989, Mr. Espat relinquished his shares of the distillery. The Perdomos bought them all in order to gain full control of the distillery.
From what I heard in The Rum Cast podcast, a consultant recommended they use a baker’s yeast from Mexico. They also have a three-column still which they use to double distill their molasses-based rum.
Travellers has a local range of unaged and aged rum ranging from one to three and five years old. The oldest distillery bottling they have is 15 year old. Aside from rum, Travellers makes and sells products like bitters, liqueurs, vodka,brandy and wine.
Sample X, the subject of today’s review, is a collaboration between Dutch indie bottler and importer Kintra and Rum Mercenary. Kintra is more well known in the EU. I haven’t really seen their products in Asia yet. I only have a 30ml sample bottle of this Sample X Travellers.
The Travellers Distillery Sample X Single Cask Rum 13 Years Old – Review
61.8% ABV. €79,98 from Zeewijck.
On the nose: A big punch of alcohol but not as big as the ABV would suggest. I get pronounced aromas of something that’s like a mix between root beer, cherry soda, Coca Cola, dates, and cane syrup. After these are medium aromas of bayleaf, honey, vanilla, candied orange, and coconut sugar syrup.
In the mouth: Hotter in the mouth but quickly dissipates. At some sips, the tastes of orange, coconut sugar and vanilla are more upfront. Other times, the root beer, Coca Cola, dates and cane syrup are more upfront. But they come at the same intensity. Regardless of the order, the medium intense tastes of coconut sugar syrup, vanilla, cherry soda, caramelized orange oils, dates and honey form up the rest of the body and finish.
I like this a lot. I’m pretty sure this is from a refill ex-bourbon cask, which makes it similar to other column-distilled rum from the Spanish speaking parts of the Caribbean. However, I taste more of the distillate here than the cask. I haven’t had much rum from Travellers Liquors, but I’m confident that the distillery DNA is pretty consistent. It’s different, too. That baker’s yeast must do wonders for them.
My main issue is that it lacks complexity. The flavors are solid; there are no dull moments with this rum, but it’s pretty monotonous.
Despite the rising fame and prices of rum, I don’t think this is worth being close to €80. I can get cheaper rum as good or even better than this. I’d score this higher if it were at least €15 cheaper.