Guess who’s back, back again. John is back. Tell a friend.
It’s nice to be back writing reviews after being away from Malt since October. So, I hope you’ll let me rumble on for a bit as I try to shake off the mental cobwebs and sensory rust. Having a bit more time on my hands was nice. It allowed me to focus on other aspects of my life and see which of those needs working on.
A bit of an explanation on my absence. One of the reasons I went on a break was due to my having a booth in Whisky Live Manila 2022. It was my first time to attend an event being on the other side. I’ve mentioned before that I work with the team that imports La Maison Velier’s products to the Philippines. This is why I’m not able to review products like the Velier’s (more popular) Clairins, distillery bottlings of Foursquare, Transcontinental Rum Line, and Habitation Velier anymore.
My involvement with this – while already having a day job plus regularly contributing here – took a toll. Add that I haven’t had a proper break since February of 2020. Ever since I took a break from reviewing, I tried to create more headspace by being less of a booze geek, which meant avoiding that part of YouTube, reading blogs, and participating in Facebook groups. Because of my involvement in the industry, of course I had to do educational tastings with the brands we carried. But, due to rum and mezcal being newer and more complicated topics to discuss, I couldn’t instantly overload the attendees with the technical stuff I rumble on about here. So, I stuck to the basic information.
I think that taking a break from being in full geek mode all the time made Whisky Live Manila 2022easier for me. Aside from the regulars we’ve accumulated over time, most attendees went to Whisky Live for whisky. So, being in a less geeky mindset allowed me to just simplify the sales pitch to the curious folks who gave rum a chance. Participating in my first live event from the other side also gave me a different perspective. It was only then that I experienced how hard it was to switch from speaking about booze in simpler terms to going full geek mode when the occasional curious enthusiast visited the booth. With that, I have a new level of respect for brand ambassadors.
Paraphrasing an exchange between Brad Pitt’s and George Clooney’s characters in one of the Ocean’s movies: there comes a point when one can’t get sharper. So, one can only try to stay as sharp as they can, or else one becomes duller. Over time, I realized that not reviewing has made me duller in some aspects of my life. This reminded me of the fact that life is about giving and taking; equivalent exchange, as the anime/manga Full Metal Alchemist emphasized. But it’s also allowed me to just take things in as they are, instead of analyzing them, and to be open to new things.
I initially started reviewing for the sake of catharsis, and as a way to improve my eloquence, and being articulate. Being an introvert who prefers to spend free time in my mind palace, it’s not easy to translate one’s thoughts into words. Despite speaking a similar language, not everyone can easily connect the dots other people make. Safe to say that taking a better look at other parts of my life has made me want to improve on them. Hopefully, these improvements trickled down and will contribute to making myself a better and more interesting person, kind of like how wax on and wax off helps with Miyagi-do defense. But one has to wonder if improving oneself necessarily makes one different?
What I mean to say is even though I’m at this again, there’s a sense of uncertainty regarding whether the frequency and quality of my contribution will be the same. This is largely due to me putting focus on other things and gaining new responsibilities. There’s also me doubting whether my style of writing will be the same or not, mostly because I’m not sure if I’m the same person. I’ve never been one to subscribe to the meme of “new year, new me.” But, since it’s still early in the new year, I may be rejoining Malt as a new person despite my goals still being the same.
I’m reviewing this Demerara rum from Rum Nation because it reminds me of the early days of my collecting. I was more carefree with my spending then. My main reason for buying this rum was because it might be the first bottle I’ve encountered that was distilled in 1990, my birth year. The other reasons were that I was still into wood-forward spirits then; this was aged in ex-sherry casks. Also, it’s a 20+ year old spirit. Part of the sales pitch of this rum was that it was also aged in various parts of Europe.
Rum Nation Sherry Wood Finish Demerara 1990 23 Years Old – Review
45% ABV. USD $160 (in 2015 or 2016 in Tokyo).
On the nose: I get bold and long aromas of cherries, strawberries, yogurt, leather, chocolate-coated cherries, and dark roast coffee beans. After are lighter and shorter aromas of walnuts, licorice, and blood orange.
In the mouth: Not so expressive in the mouth. I still mostly get that yogurt and leather taste. But the sherry notes like the cherries, chocolates, and coffee are muddled. Somewhere in there I get a delicate and lasting taste of strawberries mixed with adzuki beans. More yogurt and bits of sulfur come out at the end.
A rum that’s more elegant and expressive on the nose than in the mouth. The online consensus is this Port Morant distillate. Which is something I agree with due to the bold flavors of leather and licorice. Being able to taste yogurt is something I recently developed after drinking more acidic sakes. And yogurt is a common flavor description used by people around me.
I used to be enamored with this rum, largely because of the age and the sherry cask finish. But this just tastes more like a better-than-average rum for me now. Revisiting this was good as it shows me how far I’ve gone from my rum starting points.