“average, yet not averagely Guyanese”
Today we’ll be visiting Guyana. And the only distillery that’s left in the country: The Diamond Distillery. But in an independent way.
We’ll be visiting it through the lens of Compagnie des Indes, an independent bottler from France.
The idea behind the company is to bring back the memory of the East India Company. A bit like rebooting a movie franchise but in rum trade. Let’s hope they don’t adapt the business model of “shafting the colony and absurdly enriching the homeland”. All kidding aside, CDI really wants to bring some of the best rums in the world to Europe and that’s a good thing, because we can never get enough rum, can we?
Compagnie Des Indes sells 3 types of rums.
– Blends “for beginners”, which have added sugar in them to make it more palatable for people who are getting into rum.
– Blends that are not for beginners, these blends will bring out the full flavour of the rums that have been mixed together.
– Single casks, pure expressions of one cask that should be a great representation of what the distillery can do. These single casks are of course limited in production, and are in some cases very sought after.
Today I’ll be going over one of these single casks. The Guyana Diamond distillery 14 year.
But before we go into the tasting, a quick word about the Diamond distillery and Guyanese rum-production.
In the early 1600’s the Dutch “discovered” and settled in what is now Guyana. They settled (amongst other places) near the Demerara river. The cunning Dutch irrigated the banks of the river, thanks to their absolute mastery of water control. This lead to massive plantations perfect for sugar and rum production. In the early 1800’s the British took the Dutch settlements… by force (the British really loved their forceful occupations back in the day), and they took over the production of the sugar and the rum.
After a while the Demerara region was one of the most prolific rum-producing places in the colonies. This lead the rum produced at the banks of the river to be a massive part of the Royal Navy Blend and thus a pretty essential part of the British empire.
Rum production in Guyana thrived until it (together with all of the rum producing countries) got hit with a heap of setbacks. From the increase in sugar beets in Europe, prohibition (kind of), the world wars and various other reasons. These setbacks eventually caused the closure of all distilleries, except for one.
The sole survivor of the (what I shall call it henceforth) “gruesome Guyanese gutting of rum(production)” is the Diamond distillery. A distillery that’s been nationalized after Guyana became independent. Since then it’s been privatized again.
Fortunately we don’t completely have to miss out on what Guyana could have been if it wasn’t for all the closures. Because DDL (Diamond Distillery Limited) has bought the main stills from some of the most iconic Guyanese distilleries throughout the year. And this is the ace up their sleeve. With such an amazing array of legendary stills; column (enmore,) and pot (Versailles, port mourant) there is a lot of fun to be had for both the good folk at Diamond and the thirsty crowd.
This is an extremely short and unprofessional summary of the immense history behind this region and its rum. So again, for people who want to know more about the whole story, I’ll direct you to Mr. Matt Pietrek.
Before we begin tasting, let’s go through the quick spec sheet. The rum has been aged for 14 years, it’s bottled at 43% ABV in France, from barrel GDD46 (for those interested, or with a emotional attachment to the number 46… or something)
Righty then, tasting time
The colour is very light golden with a slight green tint. It very clearly shows continental aging, or carbon filtration (but that would be immensely stupid). The first thing I thought (and I apologize in advance to CDI) is “wow, this looks like how a healthy person’s pee looks like (yeah, I’m really sorry… but this doubles as a friendly reminder to stay hydrated!)
On the nose, this tipple starts of rather fresh, fruity and a bit vegetal. I can really draw a parallel between the smell and the colour: light, fresh, green-ish. Although this is bottled at a mere 43% I can smell a certain alcoholic presence, it is however not disturbing.
After a little while, some creaminess comes floating up. But like a whale that comes up once in a while, it disappears quite soon in a sea of fruity freshness.
Taking that first sip reveals a sugary note which went undetected in the nosing. This accompanies the ever-present note of fresh fruit. The combination of these are delightful for a moment, but get dull quite soon. Luckily this rum has some fresh spiciness, a little barrel-influenced bitterness and the return of the creamy flavour. These added elements make sure that one can enjoy this rum for more than a couple of sips.
After some more sips though, the rum becomes a bit boring. Nosing it again doesn’t reveal anything new and the tasting experience is stuck on a plateau of ‘slightly above average’ flavour.
After swallowing the rum, the spiciness tickles the back of my tongue for some time and the sweet creamy notes linger for a while, but nothing particularly spectacular happens here. The finish is short to medium.
To conclude, this is not your average Guyanese rum, since most rums that come from this historical rum-place are smooth, sweet, liquorice-y goodness. It is however a pretty good rum, but that’s all it is, pretty good. It’s a solid recommendation for someone who’s not a fan of “big flavour” and who wants something else than what they’re used to in Demerara rum.