Rum Review : Renegade Pre-cask series

Yet another long interval splits two of my reviews. I’m sensing a theme here.

This time, to make up lost time and reviews, I’ll be tasting the range of THE hottest new thing in rum. Renegade rum’s pre-casks. Well… when I say, the hottest new thing I basically mean; a new brand, new distillery but one with massive respect for older practices.

Renegade is the new venture of Mark Reynier, the man who brought Bruichladdich back to what it is today and who created the Irish Whisky distillery of Waterford. A whisky mirroring the world of wine in many senses. From its single farm expressions to the Organically and Biodynamically grown barley for their respective whiskies and eventually the Cuvées and Micro-Cuvées. Selecting the best fields, barley, and maturation that give -supposedly- the best whisky.

But this is not about whisky. we’re talking rum here. Renegade has the same general idea as Waterford. Creating a spirit that differs noticeably from terroir to terroir. Terroir is a principle mainly connected with wine and its grapes. The idea is that the environment is very important for the characteristics in the grapes that are grown in certain regions, this entails: soil, temperature, sunlight, water, moisture,… It’s a very significant part of wine-making as the end result (wine) lies very close to its raw material (grapes). In distillates, the idea of terroir has always been seen as mumbo-jumbo, something for the marketeers.

This is what Mr. Reynier is trying to disprove. He’s made it his mission to prove terroir makes an actual difference. I won’t judge on his endeavors in whisky here. But let’s see what these principles bring to rum. And he’s doing it in Grenada, the home of River Antoine. A location chosen by the wide variety of landscapes that should let the Terroir shine through.

I’ll be trying 5 rums, all of which are completely unaged and at 50% ABV:

Old Bacolet: Here we have a terroir which lies on the Southern cost of the Island. It’s a flat flood plain between two rivers. The high availability of water and clay combine for a luscious growth of cane. Here they use a cane variety they call CAIN. Distillation was done by pot still.

New Bacolet: A south-facing, steep-sided, sunbaked bowl. A location with more slopes and a rougher growing location than Old Bacolet. Here they use the Lacalome Red cane variety and distil using pot stills.

Dunfermline: Dunfermline also lies on a slope, on the north-eastern coast of the Island. Here we have two expressions, both from the same field, same cane, but different distillation. One pot still, the other column still.

Pearls: On a coastal plain, with an Iron-rich Volcanic underground, the cane used here is called Yellow Lady and the distillation is also through pot still.

 Old Bacolet (comparative tasting with New Bacolet)

Colour:

White

Nose:

Fat and sweet grass. It almost has fruity qualities, I’m getting apples, pears and even a beginning of raspberries and other red fruits. Nail polish and cleaning supplies too.

Taste:

Vey different than the nose. Here the I have some nettles, mint, and hay. The cleaning supplies turned to metal. A mix of sweet and salt. Very punchy.

Finish:

Long finish with little development. The freshness lasts for quite a while without revealing a lot of new flavours

New Bacolet (comparative tasting with Old Bacolet)

Colour:

See-through

Nose:

Much more “classic” Agricole nose. Fresher and minty with a considerable amount of minerals. Scallops, dill, and seaweed.

Taste:

Still has a very dry taste. Very fresh with lots of citrus. Grass in a glass. This reminds me of a good Marie-Galante rum. Also some olive brine after a bit.

Finish:

Also quite long with much of the same characteristics hanging on. These Bacolets are similar in flavour development, yet they do have very different “base flavours”

Dunfermline: Colum still (comparative tasting with Pot Still)

Colour:

Never saw a cask in its life

Nose:

Smells like the fruits & vegetable department of my local supermarket. Fresh salads mixed with a hint of summer-y fruits and some low-fat Greek yogurt.

Taste:

Fresh , pointy. White peppers combined disinfected grass. A bit harsh and extremely aggressive on the palate. It tastes as though it’ll be extremely proficient against Covid.

Finish:

Due to the intensity and sharpness of the rum, this lingers for a while. Perhaps a bit too long. Let’s quickly get to the Pot Still.

Dunfermline: Pot Still (comparative tasting with Collumn Still)

Colour:

Water-like

Nose:

Much fuller than its columned companion. This reminds me of the Providence First drops. Meat, olives, grass that’s been lying in the sun for a couple of days.

Taste:

Much better and well-balanced as well. It’s rather fat and really sticks to the palate. The meat takes a step back to expose the fresher elements more, but it still provides a nice coating for a gentle experience. Though it still has some peppers, it’s a benefit here as it complements the complexity instead of adding aggressiveness like with the column distilled sibling.

Finish:

The finish here is medium-long and adds some subtle smoky notes. I’m very curious what a cask will do with this.

Pearls

Colour:

Glass, but liquid (I’ve run out of ways to say it looks clear)

Nose:

Very funky, overripe everything. Some Jamaican funk. Marinated meat and olives overwhelm me with the first sniff. After a while, the nose opens up nicely to reveal some red fruits; raspberry’s, blueberry’s and even some strawberry’s

Taste:

Same funky qualities, this could easily compete with the Jamaican heavy-hitters. Lots of minerality as well. At first, there’s a lot of full flavours, the meat and mineral rocks are very prevalent at the start. only towards the end do the vegetal qualities start coming through.

Finish:

Here I’m getting that transition from full and fat to grassy and fresh. It never fully changes but this gives it a nicely complex and lasting finish. I guess this tasting was really building up to a climax.

Conclusion :

Overall, the tasting notes here are almost identical with every rum. This is of course normal as they’re so closely related and all unaged. It was mainly the balance and depth of those similar flavours that sets them apart and makes some great and others not so much. Let’s give out some points. Old and New Bacolet were decent enough but will have to develop with ageing to stand out. Dunfermline column was sharp and aggressive, not my thing. Things really got good at the Dunfermline Pot still and the Pearls. Both rums with something special going on. Full-bodied and with a varying degree of funkiness.

Old Bacolet: 7/10

New Bacolet: 7/10

Dunfermline Column: 5/10

Dunfermline Pot: 7.5/10

Pearls: 8/10

Rum Review : Habitation Velier Mhoba 2017

Mhoba, a name that doesn’t ring a bell to most casual drinkers, but one that sounds like Big Ben to rumlovers all over the world. What is Mhoba you may ask, and where does the name come from?

Mhoba means ‘sugarcane’ in SiSwati, the language of the Native Swazi people from the rum’s country of origin, South Africa. Mhoba is the creation of Robert Greaves, a former mechanical engineering student from the Stellenbosch University (They have some great wines in Stellenbosch as well) turned distiller.

So here we have a rum made from sugarcane juice in distilled in pot stills. This is starting to yell clairin or providence… and wait what? The stills are self-built, okay it’s screaming now.

These self-built stills are said to be high reflux, which means more contact with the still -> more condensation -> “lighter” and “fruitier” rum. We’ll see. With everything I’ve already listed up here, this should be a blaster of a rum. I mean, vegetal and fresh grass from the juice, character from the pot still and a subtler palate from the high amount of reflux. Good god man! For a country with basically no significant rum-history this sure looks pretty good.

Let’s round of with a quick spec runover: This rum has been distilled in 2017 from the Nkomazi sugarcane juice in 100% Pot Stills. It was then aged for four years in ex-bourbon casks and then bottled at a full proof of 64.6% ABV and 571.3Gr/HLAA congeners of which 246.1gr/HLAA are those beloved esters.

Colour:

Straw with a light green hue around the edge

Nose:

A dirty, oily and fat vegetable patch. That’s the first thing that pops into my mind. Some maltiness when nosed from afar. After some nosing the fruity qualities come through. Plums, burnt banana and a very Hampden-like ester (including varnish).

The nose is also quite pepper-y and oak-y which adds a nice extra layer.

Taste:

This hits with the full 64.6%; spice, warmth and alcohol galore on the first sip. On the palate you’d hardly say this is sugarcane juice based, as it’s really warm and full. After the first couple of tear-inducing seconds the palate opens up to reveal the grass in contrast to the Agricole style this grass is summer-y warm, hot grass summer is a thing (sorry I had to do it). The grass mixes with a very dry type of vanilla, caramel and oak. I’m finding an abundance of spice as well.

I’m also getting raisins and nougat here alongside a whole bunch of spice. There’s a real nice bite to this full rum without being overly viscous.  Awesome glass of rum

Finish:

The spice lingers on for quite a while. The more subtler flavours leave soon and leave spice, wood some of that dry caramel.

This is a pretty stunning rum, especially for such a young distillery in a country that has very little to do with rum and is focused more on wine. A very good balance between esters, fruit and wood. There was a bit much of mouth-numbing spice at times but the moment this faded away, an array of complexity stood waiting for me. I’ll definitely be looking out for more releases of these. (perhaps at a bit lower ABV).

9.5/10

Rum Review : Macnair’s Exploration Rum Series

After yet another incredibly long intermezzo I’m back. Yes I’m a very inconsistent poster and unbelievably lazy at times (extended times at that). BUT! I just received some samples to review, so here we go again.

The samples I received came from Glenallachie, a Scottish whisky distillery. No stress I’m not going to be reviewing whiskies, there are enough whisky reviewers in the world (plenty of rum reviewers too, but I don’t care about that). The samples they’ve sent me are of the new endeavor of Master Blender Bobby Macnair: The Exploration series.

Macnair is trying his hand at masterblending rum with his experience as a whisky man. For his inaugural series Macnair chose to limit himself to one country: Panama. Now, I haven’t been too wild about rum from Panama. I like it okay, it just doesn’t really give me goosebumps or anything of the sort.

Quick rundown on some specs: both the 7 (unpeated) and 15 have been aged in a combination of red wine, virgin oak and ex bourbon casks. The peaed 7 has had an American oak and ex-peated scotch whisky cask treatment.


7Y

Colour:

I’ll use the colours mentioned on the little brochure that was given to me, as they are simply beautiful. This one is ‘Burnished Bronze’

Nose:

Fresh, fruity and a bit sharp in the beginning. A very kind nose with tropical fruits, hints of mango, some coconut and stonefruits. A gentle layer of milk chocolate makes this feel like a summer-y fruit-chocolate pie. In the beginning there is a slight spiciness. This fades away quite quickly, leaving you with a pleasant though very average nose. Very forgettable nose

Taste:

Warmer and sweeter than the nose suggests, there’s more spice and some added fruits. Bananas, mangos and oranges. This combines well with the still-present milk chocolate and some caramel. Hough it’s all a bit flat flavour-wise. I do notice a certain thickness about the rum in the mouth, so perhaps it’s sweetened? Not sure though.

Finish:

There’s a duality about this finish. On the one hand there’s a bit of a spiciness, on the other hand, my lips are kind of sticky… yet another clue for sugar.

All things considered, it’s nice but too kind. If the price is right this can be a pretty little tipple to casually enjoy with friends, you just don’t have to invite the biggest rumheads.


7Y Peated

Colour:

This one they call ‘Sunset Gold’. How romantic

Nose:

This is something weird, the peat is instantly recognizable and has a bit of weird effect on the rum. It feels like a rather sharp and light smoke of a menthol cigarette, instead of a heavier cigar. Any scent from the rum has quite literally gone up in smoke. I’d really think this is a peated Speysider if I didn’t know better.

Taste:

The palate is also overloaded with peat. Some inkling of rum can be found, but one has to dig incredibly deep to find it. This is not really what I’m looking for in rum, nor do I hope anyone is.

Peat works incredibly well in Whisky, it supports the flavours of the Barley and it simply fits. After all, what grows together, goes together. Peat and barley are something for the continent. Peat and sugarcane is just a combination that doesn’t do it for me, at least not in this configuration. Perhaps in a heavier rum with a more characteristic palate the peat would work better. But even then, I wouldn’t like to combine this overdone smokiness with what could be a good rum.

This is not a good match. I like my rums to have character, this however is no doing anything for the name of rum or peat for that matter.

Finish:

The smoke flavours stay for a longer time than I care for. Otherwise there isn’t much to it. I think someone better check the distillery before they burn it all down with peat.


15Y

I kid you not. I had to wait 30 minutes and a pint of water for the flavour of the previous rum to subside enough to be able to taste this one properly.

Colour:

Here they combined both, giving us ‘Golden Bronze’. Whether it’s due to lack of creativity or because they may just have a dart board with sexy words for brown on it and they per chance hit these particular words a couple of times, I wouldn’t know… But it sound good though, like you’d describe someone who’s been sunbathing in California for 2 weeks

Nose:

Fatter and heavier than the 7, which also makes it smell somewhat sweeter and less ethanol-y. The fruitiness made way for more of the milk chocolate and woody vanilla. Some nuttiness is also present. Much more pleasing nose. Some tropical and juicy fruits are detectable on the secondary nose

Taste:

Warm, gentle, light spice. Very similar to the 7 year old, but doubling down on the sugar-y and woody notes. 46% is a good ABV for this one, giving it just enough power to be interesting. It has a bit of a barbadian/ St-Lucia style body. Very nice this one

Finish:

Medium-long with a lovely aftertaste. The Spiciness is gone and I’m left with orange, pastry, chocolate and hints of caramel. All wonderfully balanced.


Conclusion:

The unpeated 7 isn’t bad, its just not something I would buy. It’s a bit too sharp on the nose and forgettable on the palate.

The peated 7 is just wrong. Good for Macnair’s to try and experiment across spirits. But please don’t do it anymore. It’s not because peat works really well in some whiskies it’s guaranteed to work with rum . and definitely with rum from Panama.

The 15 however is very nice. Warm and chocolate-y nose. Very accessible yet still interesting palate and a well-timed and pleasant finish. A nice daily sipper.

Overall this was an interesting experience, mainly because I’ve now tried a peated rum… unfortunately. The other 2 rums were nice, but not something I’ll be giving a lot of attention to or give a very high rating. They’re not bad but also nothing that’ll make your eyes pop and astonish you.

Macnair’s 7 (unpeated): 5/10

Macnair’s 7 (peated): 2/10

Macnair’s 15: 6.5/10

Rum Review : Rasta Morris Bielle 2009 10y

Yes, the last Rasta Morris for this time being. I hope you had as much fun with these as I did (if you’re not drinking one, you’re probably not). Today I’m reviewing his latest release: Bielle 10y, aged from 2009-2019 and bottled at 49.4%, with a release of 226 bottles

As you might notice the rum was bottled 2 years ago. The rum has thus been “aging” in the bottle for these years. Not that this does anything for the rum, but I’m just filling in the gaps.

Bielle is one of Bert Bruyneel’s favourite rum distilleries, which can be seen in his portfolio. Bert has been relying heavily on Bielle for 2 of the 3 years he’s been in rum. With my previous encounter with Bielle, I can understand this sentiment as it’s a truly qualitative rum. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the style, qualitative rum should always be acknowledged as it is: gorgeous and good for the industry.

As always with Bielle, this rum was made with sugar cane juice as its base, this being openly fermented and then distilled in the Savalle Column setup. Ageing was mostly tropical as it was tropically aged from April 2009 to July 2019, after which it was shipped to Europe for bottling in November 2019, done at a very manageable 49.4% (consider the Venezuela and Trinidad).  The bottles were then kept in the warehouse for over a year before finally releasing in May of 2021.

Let’s dive in!

Colour:

Orange with a golden hue

Nose:

On the nose this is very classical aged Bielle; the freshness and vegetal qualities of the Sugar cane juice, darkened and given extra complexity by the cask. I’m getting a healthy dose of vanilla and a greenery which alternates nicely and provides an ever-interesting smelling experience.

Some dark chocolate and tropical fruits are also to be found after jamming my nose in the glass.

Taste:

The palate lives up to the nose as the exact same grassiness and woody complexity return. Some green spices add a bit of power to this otherwise very manageable rum at 49.4% ABV.

Glue, vanilla, slight woody tannin and a bit of 3-day old bananas are some of the flavours I’m getting here. Very solid and complex rum.

Finish:

The finish sticks around for a considerable amount of time. Mainly the greener, vegetal and glue flavours last the longest. The darker notes fade away rather quickly, this gives the rum a very refreshing ending.

Aged Sugarcane juice-based rum is a real hit or miss for me. The Vieux Sajous was not what I was looking for. On the other hand the first Bielle I reviewed was pretty darn good. As this is of the same distillery, it’s hard to imagine this rum being a disappointment. Which evidently it absolutely isn’t, Bert knows his stuff and this again is a very good cask. A very solid and broad-flavoured Bielle.

8.5/10

Rum Review : Rasta Morris Jamaica 2010 9y

We’re almost there with this slew of Rasta Morris reviews. Now we’re onto my most anticipated rum, the Jamaica 2010. The next one will be Bert Bruyneel’s favourite: the Bielle 2009. 

But for now, let’s go to Jamaica. More specifically to a distillery near the Lluidas Vale. What mysterious distillery could this be? Who knows? Could it be the one that rhymes with Timothy Clark? Which is absolutely not a person I just made up… 

Obviously, we’re talking about Worthy Park. A distillery which over the last couple of months has become my favourite. Why? Well, They’re funky without shouting in your face. The rum is incredibly well-balanced between the cream, chocolate and the fruity funkiness. Hence the distillery’s become one of my main sippers. 

This one certainly won’t, at 64.4% ABV, I won’t drink this regularly. No, I’ll drink it occasionally and cautiously… But I’ll definitely enjoy the hell out of it. I hope. This WP was distilled in 2010, tropically aged until 2015 and then shipped to Europe for further ageing and eventually, the rum was bottled in 2019.

Let’s see what this’ll bring.

Colour:

Light golden

Nose:

The initial nose has the components previously mentioned. The majority of the nose is funk though, with an underlying bed of milk chocolate and a tiny amount of cream. The fruitiness pops here. I almost recognize some Hampden Here if I’m really focusing on the specific Pineapple and Banana notes. Luckily this rum is set apart by its aforementioned “thicker” scents and some more fresh fruits, such as peaches and some more fresh tropical fruits.

Taste:

At 64.4% this is a beast. This rum is giving me shivers down my spine, in a very good slightly arousing way. There’s the initial heat of alcohol and spice, which kindly gets replaced by a bit of chocolate (now darker) and a very intense baked fruit-fest. 

The fruitiness takes a back-seat for most of the tasting experience, with the darker and spicier flavours taking the wheel. Lots of toasted nuts, wood and leather and cigars. Some baked fruits can be found when looked for, but they’re much less present than in the nose. 

Finish: 

The Finish is long, thanks to its intensity and spiciness. A small bit of the regular funk lingers but is overshadowed by these spicy, woody and leathery notes. 

This is a unique bit of Worthy Pa… Uhm sorry, secret Lluidas Vale Jamaican Rum. It’s much less fresh and fruity than what I’m normally used to. Which shouldn’t be a surprise as this is a 9-year-old Jamaican rum. This means that the tropical hit of the unaged rum will subside and mellow down by the cask and the flavours will be replaced in no small part by said cask. The high ABV also makes it that much more intense. So, as a single cask from an independent bottler, I’d say this is a successful one and it’s clear that a whisky-focused person chose this. Giving the customer a broader palate of their beloved distillery. I find it slightly better than the Single Estate because the added complexity, spices and ABV just outweigh the slight loss of funk.

9/10

Rum Review: Rasta Morris Foursquare 2005 14y

Rasta Morris review #3. And this one should be no surprise… Yes! It’s a Foursquare. Because every Indy rum bottler should at least attempt to get a Foursquare in their portfolio.

In the short time, I’ve had this blog, I’ve written about Foursquare quite frequently. With the distillery being the golden standard for non-Jamaican rum (as this is a whole different category to me) it’s more a question about picking a favourite kid at the moment. It’s hard, some of the crazier (think Sassafras) or the more accessible expressions (think Détente) really make me happy. These are the kid’s that are either great athletes or are on their way to becoming doctors or something.

However, it must be said that the other -meaning ex-bourbon- Foursquare rums are all very similar on some levels. Which of course is understandable… as they’re all from the same distillery, with the same finish. The only variable is the ABV. So there’s little that sets them apart sometimes.

All these consistent and consistently good rums that I’ve tried were official bottlings. OB’s will always have a certain amount of homogeneity about them, this counts for rum as much as it does for whisky. Independent bottlings, however, have the opportunity to show a different part of the much-loved distilleries. I do hope this bottling will have that. As I love Foursquare, but I’m curious about some new Foursquare aspects. Let’s see if this is a wacky and varied Indy or bottling of a palate we all know and love.

For the specs: this is a 14-year-old Foursquare, distilled in 2005, aged in the tropics for 11 years and bottled in 2019 at a cask strength of 63.6%. Only 273 bottles were released.

Colour:

Somewhere between gold and copper. Nice orange hue

Nose:

Ah yes, typically Foursquare. Be it with a slight twist, it smells a bit fresher and vegetal than what I’m used to. The slight glue/polish scents from the other high ABV Foursquare releases are present, along with a certain minerality. This minerality helps give the fruitiness of the rum a new definition. Making it more juicy and fresher. Mango, guava and fresh pineapple are the notes I’m getting. The longer the rum breathes the more the fruit fades away for the dark tea, caramel and leather notes we’re more familiar with when it comes to Foursquare. Anyhow, nice complexity on the nose.

Taste:

The taste leans more towards the classical, browner vanilla, caramel and spice Foursquare palate. The warm spice of Foursquare along with its trademark glue/polish and the ever-inviting fruit-caramel combo should be the stuff of hymns.

This bottling does have something extra though. It’s hard to describe, but it’s almost something dirty. A bit of rubber and lots of leather and tobacco. This makes the palate increasingly heavy, along with the spice this is becoming a hefty fellow.

Finish:

The finish is very extended. With the heavier flavours remaining, the leather, caramel, tobacco, and glue are present from start to finish (apart from the nose).

It should be no surprise that a Foursquare release is good. It’s become a familiar and continually satisfying palate. The nose gave the initial indication of a very fresh palate, this seemed not to be the case. The palate instead was heavier and darker than any Foursquare I’ve had so far. This gave the rum a very dynamic and complex experience from the fresh start to the dark finish. much of the same goodness with some elongated pleasures on both side of the spectrum. so yeah, pretty good.

9/10

Rum Review : Rasta Morris Trinidad 2007

The second Rasta Morris, This time we’re traveling to Trinidad and Tobago. An island we all know for the legendary caroni and some (mostly locals and rum-geeks) know for Fernandes. Today Trinidad is home to only one distillery. TDL (Trinidad Distillers Limited), these are the kind people who make Angustora rum, the world famous bitters and some other products.

TDL is a pretty modern institution when you look at their production method, the distillery has these huge column stills which make rum a very light, approachable rum. Think Bacardi or Havana Club, but better quality and taste. Angustora has a very wide portfolio ranging from a 3 year old white rum (charcoal filtered) to special blends with significant dates for the company as names such as: 1919, 1824, 1787.

Overall I’m not to crazy about this type of more commercially focused “light” rum. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a very tasty tipple and more people should be drinking this than Don Papa or Kraken or whatever is in a new skull-shaped bottle. I just don’t really get as much pleasure from drinking this type of rum. So, I’m very curios what Mr Bruyneel has done with this distillery.

The rum is 13 years old, having spent 8 years in Trinidad & Tobago and then another 5 years in Europe. And -here’s the real put-your-mouth-on-the-curb-kicker- bottled at 67.5% ABV, yes, sixty-seven point five. We’ll see how it goes, I’m intrigued.

Colour:

Light golden with a subtle brown hue.

Nose:

On par with its baffling 67.5% ABV, very prickly and rather sharp at first. Some coconut shavings and dried plums are closely behind this initial sharpness, this sharpness also translates to some glue-ish nose. All this is being coated by honey, or at least a floral sweetness. The nose isn’t bad, nothing too mindblowing either.

Taste:

The taste is much better than the nose lets on. My first impressions are that the rum is warm, with a pleasant alcoholic spice. Not like the sharp nose. I do feel the alcohol going down my throat, though it’s way more Hot Toddy than shot-of-vodka.

The light floral theme does carry over to the palate, behind the ever-present heated spice of 67.5% there is a very subtle rum full of fresh honey, coconuts and orange blossoms. The combinations of both extremes (the ABV and subtle flavours) gives a whole range of flavours. As the honey sometimes transforms itself into dark slightly bitter caramel and the coconuts get roasted a bit.

Finish:

The finish is medium-long. The main notes remaining are those of roasted coconuts, the bitter caramel and a tiny amount of the floral orange blossom. The finish gets darker the longer it goes on, eventually leading to a distant hint of tobacco.

I didn’t expect this rum to work as well as it does. The ABV is something you’ll probably won’t get used to, and that seems to be the point here. Trinidadian rum in general is nice, in both meanings of the word. it’s pleasant tasting, but it has no real presence, no fist slamming on the table and demanding your attention.

This kind of does have that. 67.5% is a pretty big fist of course. It also makes the lighter, “nicer/kinder” flavours heavier and more interesting while still preserving them somewhat. I also really do love that it’s still such a drinkable rum, even at this ABV. This one works way better than the lower ABV Venezuela from Rasta Morris. Good one Bert!

8/10

Rum Review: Rasta Morris Venezuela 2008

Another Belgian bottler on the docket today. This one bottles under the name of Rasta Morris, the man behind the label is Bert Bruyneel. A whisky-lover who’s been involved with whisky in one way or another -be it starting a whisky-club or bottling his own- for about 20 years now and who has recently set his sight on rum

Many moons ago, Bert thought -like most people still do- that rum was a sweet, repulsive drink that belonged in college dorms or on resort beaches buried in Pina Coladas. Until he started drinking real rum, the rum we all know and love. After this revelation he started to bottle rum under his slighty renewed label “Rasta Morris”.

First I want to go over the name of the label. It’s derived from his whisky-label “Asta Morris” which to many an international whisky drinker may sound very abstract and highly thought over. To the West-Flemish however (I’m proud to say I’m one of those) the name basically says “is that all?”. A rather funny take on the sarcastically underwhelming reaction we give to some of the best products in the world: “what? Caroni 1974 at 69%? Pffff Asta Morris/Is that all?”  

When Bert visited the shop I work at a couple of weeks ago, we had a pretty great time and I can’t wait for the bars to open up here and go paint the town red with the man. I also received a couple of samples from him which I’ll be reviewing throughout the following weeks. Thank you for the samples Bert! I’ll give them an unbiased review though.

Okay, enough blowing smoke up dark cavities for now. Review time!

Today’s rum is the Rasta Morris Venezuela 2008 11y bottled at a cask strength of 63.1% ABV. Now, I’ve only seen a couple of independent bottlers enter the Diplomatico and pamper infested wilderness which is Venezuelan rum, and I haven’t tried those yet. This will thus be my first venture in proper high ABV Venezuela. I of course did my first review about Santa Teresa, but I hope this will be an experience on another level, as I haven’t touched my bottle of 1796 in a while… since it’s started reeking of caramel and additives. Let’s hope this Venezuelan doesn’t do that and gives me more than I anticipate from this Multi-column country.

One more quick rundown of the specs. The rum was distilled in Venezuela in 2008 it then aged for 9 years there, after which it was shipped to the UK in 2017 and bottled in 2019 at 63.1% ABV. The rum is un-chill filtered and no additives were added

Colour:

Light Copper-orange

Nose:

A light and familiar kind of smell. The nose gives off the classic kind of scent of which people who are new to actual premium rum think of when they think of rum. An alcoholic tingle is definitely present, but not as much as you’d expect with this ABV.

Vanilla, brown sugar, glue and paint are the main players here.

Taste:

On the taste, the ABV is more noticeable instantly in heat. The rum is pretty hot and may be disruptive to some. for me it’s feasible, but only just. The palate is very accessible and reminds me of a light foursquare but a bit simpler and sweeter. It’s more straightforward and less complex. This leads me to conclude that it is probably (mainly) column still, though not the monstrosities mainly in use in middle- and south-American countries. As it still has plenty of flavour and general character to be happy about.

These are pretty much identical as the nosing reveals. Mainly darker, deeper flavours of vanilla, woody spice, caramel and a bit of coconut. No fruitiness whatsoever, this might have to do with a shorter fermentation (as it gives less flavour).

Finish:

The finish mainly revolves around the ABV hanging around for a considerable amount of time. Flavourwise it’s pretty straight-forward and onesided, the same flavours of the nose and taste transfer over to the finish as well

For a Venezuelan rum this is an outstanding rum. Venezuela unfortunately doesn’t have the highest standards to surpass, and since I haven’t tried any other Venezuelan rums from indy bottlers, this will once again be a benchmark.

The quality and ABV is definitely there, I can taste it’s a very pure and well-produced rum. This being said, it’s a bit one-sided for me and the ABV should be a bit lower for this straight-forward rum to be very enjoyable. Normally I don’t have a problem with high ABV, the rum has to have some more complexity and congeners (flavour giving components) to work in these high ABV instances. This one simply doesn’t do that. It has all the intensity without the necessary complexity and that makes it a bit of a shame. If these two components would be better adapted to each other this could really be a belter of a rum. It reminds me a bit of the Daily Drams Belize.

6.5/10

I am looking forward to the next ones, as I’ve organized them in ascending preference to my palate.

Rum Review : Daily drams 2021 Panama & Belize

Another 2 rums selected by The Nectar. I think by now it’s become abundantly clear that I get most of my latest rums for reviewing from the kind people at The Nectar. Just to be clear, I’m not getting paid by them. The only thing I receive is their samples free of charge.

Here’s a link to the other 2 rums from this year’s selection (here and here). On paper this is the lesser tasting session. With Belize and Panama being not as respected as Barbados and Martinique. This due to the “lighter” and “smoother” flavour types these countries produce. Something which is preferable for novice rum drinkers, but quickly seem to industrial and uninteresting for the more adapt drinker. This may or may not be deserved, I’ll leave it in the middle for the moment. I’ll try to dive deeper in both countries at a later time, for now though I’ll just go purely for taste.

The Nectar was born in 2006. The creation of 2 whisky-lovers Jan Broekmans and Mario Groteklaes, the company was founded as a passion project, especially to bottle great, fun and tasty tipples. Passion projects as companies or independent bottlers are always a good idea, this ensures the first goal of the company is to bottle the best possible product out there; profit often takes a second place and this is something to be applauded.

The Belize 2007 13y was produced at the Travellers distillery, which actually does have a positive reputation for being a solid and stand-up distillery. It was then aged partially in the tropics and continentally for 13 years, after which it was bottled at a firm sturdy 62.6% ABV.

The Panama was distilled in an undisclosed distillery. Since there are (according to Wikipedia) 48 rum producers in the country, I’m not even going to begin guessing which one the liquid originated from. This mysterious rum was then, just like the Belize partly aged tropically and continentally. After 14 years it was finally bottled at 55.3% ABV, which is an ABV that you don’t see often from Panamese rum.

Let’s dive in.


Belize 2007 13y (62.6%)

Colour:

Golden orange

Nose:

Lots of chocolate and orange. Big alcoholic punch. Chocolate pastries and bread. Slight woody tannins, other than that pretty straightforward. the high ABV probably numbs most subtler scents. After a while, some dirtier and heavier notes come through, the slightest bit of tar and petrol. But this is a very fleeting note

Taste:

The alcohol is there, in a very present and spicy way. The first sip hit the ground running, an alcoholic fueled chocolate cake is probably the best way to describe it. As I taste a hot spicy mix of cake, chocolate and orange.

Some sharper ethanol notes are recognizable, but hardly distinguishable. They’re in the background like the CBR (cosmic background radiation), always there, but it’s not disruptive.

Otherwise, this is a very nice rum. A full palate of vanilla, some good woody spice combined with the filling alcoholic spice,  tobacco. This all makes for a filling and hot palate

Finish:

The finish mellows this hot attack on the weaker palates off. A nice bit of oak, tobacco and chocolate finishes this drink of. It hardly burns in the throat and leaves you wondering what happened to that heat from the nose and taste.

Overall, pretty good rum. Nice full palate with all the flavours one would want from a rum. The ABV could stand to be a bit lower on this as it really takes some getting used to and this might put some people off. This being said, if you can handle this type of ABV, and like a nice naturally sweet and oaky rum. This is a good option


Panama 2006 14 y (55.3%)

Colour:

Golden yellow

Nose:

Very light, jenever or Irish Whiskey are probably the closest things comparably. Apple and pear. The nose then evolves to some cloves and star anise.

I really have to dig deep, since the nose is so light.

Taste:

This continues in the Irish whiskey lines. A tiny amount of spiciness from the ABV, and very abscent of big flavours, nothing like the full and sometimes sweet rums most people know. Also not like the bombastic fruit bouquet of Jamaican rums. But light: grapes, apples, pears and a bit of kiwi along with some oaky spices makes this an excellent rum for the European palate, more prone towards the aforementioned spirits.

Finish:

Finish is nothing too special. An average length with mainly the spice and apple stick around. The rum fades away as you’d expect of a rum that is light like this one is.

Not a bad rum, there’s only nothing special that can be said about this rum. It’s very light on the palate without being sharp, the relatively high ABV is hardly noticeable. It’s a pretty forgettable rum.


The Belize obviously had more going for it, simply a better, more interesting rum. A well-balanced rum, with its main problem being the ever-present alcholic sharpness which is detrimental for the general experience. Had this rum been at a somewhat lower ABV, it would’ve been better.

The Panama was rather flat and didn’t have much of anything. It wasn’t a bad rum, it didn’t have enough character to become bad or good. The rum is about as light as I’d dare to go in the rum-world. a big letdown (the rumors about Panama were true in this case).

Belize 13y (62.6%)

6.5/10

Panama 14y (55.3%)

4/10

Rum Review: Berry Bros Guyana 10y

Today is an independent bottling of a Guyana rum, which normally means good times ahead. The bottling is done by Berry Bros & Rudd. A London base wine and spirit merchant that also bottles their own spirits. You can find their history here. This 300+ year old company has a reputation of bottling some great rums, with there being so many independent bottlers around at the moment. These long standing companies are always a beacon of quality.

This is a 2 part review, this Guyana 10y and a Caroni 1997 22y. Two iconic locations. So I’m looking forward to it.

According to my sources (he says feeling like a real journalist) the rum was almost entirely aged continentally. Which should give a noticeable difference in colour and flavour (intensity). There’s no clear indication as to what still it comes from, so I’ll assume it’s a blend of pot and column stills (again, if your read this and have further information, let me know). The rum was bottled at 58.7% ABV and comes from cask #86 (for those keeping track of the casks)

This is the second Guyana rum I’ll review after this. The first was a bit of a letdown, so let’s see what Berry Bros can do with this style.

Colour:

Clear gold, very light. Aged white wine like

Nose:

Not white wine like, that’s for sure. Initial notes I get are honey, hazelnut, chocolate. Followed by some floral hints. Very nice and comforting scent. I smell the ABV, but it’s not overpowering at all.

Some Szechuan pepper spice is also present.

Taste:

It has that honey and Szechuan combination on point here. First an initial sweetness with a spicy kick make this a weird though pleasant experience.

On further tasting, I get some pancakes with a dribble of syrup glazing, the chocolate is less powerful than on the nose. Nice and thick flavour with none of the unpleasant syrup-y sugared mouthfeel. Alongside this sweeter palate is a very interesting spicy hint which combines rather nicely.

Finish:

A tannic and comparatively dry finish shows the purity of the rum. I appreciate the rum having a sweet nose and palate, yet having a dry and woody finish. Another layer of complexity is added in this way.

A very solid dram for the price, which should be about €90-€100 (definitely better priced than the Caroni, which should be a spurprise to absolutely no one). This of course is an immense upgrade from the everyday El Dorado releases or even my previous review as this is bottled at a higher ABV and no additives have been used. A very clean, classic Guyana-palate is presented with some unusual spiciness to make it worth trying.

7/10