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

Rum Review : Foursquare Sassafras

Today’s rums in one many of us eagerly await every year. It’s the Foursquare Velier weird name collaboration!

Yes! The absurdity has diminished somewhat from last year’s Plenipotenziario. I didn’t review that expression because there were already plen(t)i out there. But since I’m only behind the incomparable Fat Rum Pirate, I’m pretty happy to post this.

So, the rum of the day is Foursquare Sassafras. First off, let’s get the name out of the way; Sassafras is a plant of some kind with a certain aromatic property. Apparently, it was used for medicinal reasons and it was also used in root beer as flavouring. This vague explanation goes together with the apparent lack of any connection I’ve found with the rum… after a five-minute search.

Anyhoo, the name doesn’t really matter though, does it? As long as the rum itself is good. Let’s see what’s supposed to make this a blasting rum which goes for about €170-€200.

The rum is a blend of the classic Foursquare Twin column Coffey still and copper double retort pot still. It was then matured for 3 years in ex-bourbon casks, followed by an astonishing 11 years in ex-cognac casks. This should result in a pretty impressive double maturation in terms of tropical ageing and cask influence, much more so than that other rum brand that mainly does double maturation. Finally, the rum was bottled after a total of 14 years (still a very impressive feat for tropical ageing) at a barrel proof strength of 61%.

Let’s dive in


Colour:

Deep orange, dark copper

Nose:

A very classic foursquare nose in the beginning. Dried fruits and oak, raisins, and some dried plums. Along with this comes a very present cognac influence. Some pungent old grapes that remind me of an older powerful cognac. This is very well supported by another layer of vanilla, and the slightest hint of glue. The nose has a grandpa-in-a-cardigan-who’s-telling-old-war-stories kind of vibe.

Taste:

Ooh, Grandpa’s a badass, and delicious… I mean the rum, not grandpa. Great rum, from the first sip. An intense palate combined with a certain grape-y crispness really makes this an interesting rum. All the scents come back in the palate but more refined and with a bigger punch. At 61% it’s certainly powerful, but once again it’s for the better. The ABV gives the liquid that extra bit of bravado.

There’s an amazing combination of the dark and heavy flavours with lighter fruitier ones. The good amount of tannins and tiny bit of bitterness from the wood, the deep vanilla, leather and tobacco are perfectly complemented by the crispness of grapes, raisins and maybe even a bit of apple and pear.  Stunning rum.

Finish:

Even the finish inches as close to perfection as possible. An extremely long finish slowly releases all the flavours like the second half of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Great Gig In The Sky’. Slowing down and leaving you to linger with a masterpiece with the occasional yelp of greatness.

The last flavours I get are those of the classic foursquare palate and an exuberant cognac.


Incredible rum. I previously gave the Détente a 5-star review (and it’s definitely worth that), but this is on a whole other level (it’s a different cask combination too but still). It appears that the solely ex-bourbon cask don’t particularly do it for me with Foursquare, but these 11 years in ex-Cognac really do something for me. An amazingly complex, deep and multi-faceted rum. Seale truly showed the world how to double mature on ex-cognac casks. The rum is a proper statement piece and even at the retail price point it’s more than worth the money.

10/10

Rum Review: Berry Bros Caroni 1997 22y

Today is an independent bottling of a Trinidad rum, more specifically Caroni, quite the legend. 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 Caroni was distilled back in 1997, and bottled 22 years later. A significant part of the aging was in continental conditions and it was bottled at 60.3%.

Since this is the first Caroni that I’ll review, I’ll give a small introduction. The Caroni story started in 1918 like so many others, with a sugar plantation. Actual rum distilling started in 1923 and this lasted up until 2002 when the distillery was closed by the government. The distillery produced a “Heavy” rum, a flavour profile with notes such as tar, rubber and petroleum. This all may not sound attractive, but for most experienced rum drinkers, it’s an eye-opening experience. Unexperienced drinkers on the other hand may believe something is very wrong with it, to each their own.

Because of this intense and expressive profile, the rum wasn’t all that popular when the distillery was open, especially since most of the worlds tastebuds were more prone toward lighter rum and rum cocktails.

In 2004 Luca Gargano re-discovered this now-closed distillery and found a massive amount of resting barrels in an abandoned warehouse. Gargano continuously released single casks and blend of the rum which went from the fringes to wide recognition and now legendary status. Gargano made Caroni great and a lot of independent bottlers are trying to share some of the profits with him.

Among which is today’s bottler. With their 1997 vintage, they’ve brought a (hopefully) memorable Caroni identity.


Colour:

Amber, orange with deep golden hues.

Nose:

There they are: petroleum, tar, rubber. These heavy notes are also complimented by tropical fruits (passionfruit and bananas). The heavy elements serve as a solid base on which the fruit can float. Chocolate and molasses join the party as well but these get lost in the heavier notes.

The intensity of the nose and its ABV of 60.3% makes my eye water sporadically when diving in deep. Nothing I can’t handle though. (yes, I’m a badass)

Taste:

Molasses, orange, tar, petroleum, banana, chocolate and tobacco. In that order. Just a very warm and intense rum. It’s like sitting at an open fireplace in a cabin and smoking a fat cigar and eating tangerines… near a petroleum factory. I’ve been told this is one of the “more approachable” and lighter caroni’s still out there. Since this is my first review of a Caroni I can not confirm nor deny this statement. I’ll just have to see as the years come along where this one ranks.

The ABV is filling and not sharp at all. Also some spice is present on the tongue, but very light. A light saffron hint.

Finish:

The finish is almost infinite and woody, the tar and rubber linger. A thin layer of caramel covering a cask remains as a last lingering note.

This being the first caroni I’ve reviewed, I don’t really have a standard with which to compete. But as a rum on its own, it is of course an immensely good rum. I must admit I like the tar, rubber and petroleum notes, though I don’t love them. Meaning that this is a solid rum to try occasionally; not daily or weekly. Perhaps monthly or even less frequent than that. With the status this distillery has and its intense flavour it only seems normal to keep this type of rum for special occasions or tasting sessions.


Overall, good rum, powerful and expressive. Wouldn’t recommend it for the weaker hearted, but for the ones that are open to trying it. It’s a great piece of history to try it.

This Caroni now stands at a price of €520. Which is a lot. The question is, is it worth it? There are 2 sides to the answer.

-As a collector’s item? yes! as a collector’s item this is definitely worth it, since Caroni is a closed distillery, prices will only go up. So the best time to buy Caroni is yesterday.

-As a drinker? not at the moment. There are cheaper Caroni’s available on the market, both full and partial tropical ageing. Over the next couple of years this could become worth it though. As the already limited stock sells out, this type of pricing will be normal for Caroni (as it is now for the more limited bottles, that run at multitudes of this price already).

In the end it’s really up to you if you’re willing to pay this kind of money for this kind of rum.

And for this money you can be that annoying and pretentious person that has drunk Caroni and can’t stop talking about it… Like I will be from now on. You may from now on address me as ‘Sir RumRobin, Knight who says (Caro)NI‘. all I need now is a crown, a cupbearer to bring me rum at a moment’s notice and a shrubbery.

9/10

Here you can find the link to buy the bottle. The webshop only works for Belgian customers or for people who have “Bancontact” at the moment.

If you aren’t from Belgium and are still interested in this bottle. Send me an email on robin@crombewines.com

Disclaimer: I work at the store of which I included the link. I do not however receive any money or incentives to sell these rums. I just like them, put them in the store and share them with you all.