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 #1: Santa Teresa 1796 (my very first rum)

Falling in love with rum

The first time I ever drank rum with the purpose of actually sitting down; nosing, and tasting said rum was back in 2017. This was my first introduction to the wonderful world of rum.

This rum was the Santa Teresa 1796, yes another Santa Teresa review. The very pretty bottle with the wax seal and the lovely label really caught my eye. (classic first timer, choosing a rum because the bottle looks good).

Tasting it that first time was quite an experience since I’ve only had some very drunk nights on Bacardi and a taste or 2 of whisky (which at the time was way too harsh for me). the smell was so soft and alluring, it made me really want to just keep smelling that glass. Then I put my lips to that glass and took my first sip…

Eye opening! It was like the mist cleared on the road and I could finally see where I was going (and what a road trip it has been so far!). There was a liquor that was actually palatable and easy drinking. It had a nice sweetness to it and enough complexity to intrigue this guy into drinking numerous amounts of rum afterwards.

That was the first time, and like most first times that are amazing in the moment. Looking back, it’s just okay. So let’s see how it holds up now.


This rum is Produced at the Santa Teresa Hacienda in Venezuela and is released at 40% ABV. the 1796 refers to the year the hacienda opened. This rum was first produced in 1996 as a 200 year celebration.

Santa Teresa is currently working together with bacardi. they do all distribution for the rum, which is why it’s a way more common sighting nowadays. I find this a very interesting cooperation since Bacardi is seemingly trying to move into the “premium-ish rum” themselves with their recent rebranding of the ‘ocho’ and the addition of mainly the ‘Diez’.

Santa Teresa claims “Santa Teresa 1796 does not contain any additive that alters or enhances its flavor”. A hydrometer test by the fat rum pirate shows that the rum does have some added sugar, around 12 g/L. which is quite a bit less than some of its competitors in say… Guatemala or even their homecountry of Venezuela. It’s a molasses-based rum that’s been aged in the solera method. for those who don’t know this production method yet, read this page on solera aging.

Colour: brown at its core with orange hues, like so many other rums

Nose: smelling this reveals a light and sweet rum as expected. I start of smelling a very slight glue hint, then a subtle bit of apple and then of course the classic caramel and chocolate as well. after putting a lid on the glass for a while and returning to it I detect some allspice as well, but the scent in general does tend to fade very quickly.

taste: pleasant and full. There’s no harsh alcohol taste which is to be expected for a sweet 40% ABV rum. Immediately I taste some dark chocolate and the caramel from the nose makes it return. some cinnamon and some other light spices also pop up

Finish: the finish is rather short. The rum does leave some spiciness on the tongue and lips, but this disappears after a short while. The dark chocolate from the mouth transforms to milk chocolate. other than that there isn’t a lot of complexity going on.


conclusion:

After re-trying the Santa Teresa 1796 I must say it was almost exactly as I expected it would be. Of course it’s not as good as I remember it to be, but I think that’s the whole point of this rum. It’s an accessible rum for those who are new to the world of ‘real’ rum and those who may be experienced but just like to enjoy a simple rum once in a while. It’s a bit like if a serious movie reviewer would watch some rom-com or a superhero movie, he’s not remotely impressed but it still gives mindless enjoyment.

This rum speaks to the broad public (just as superhero movies) and therefore thrives in its target market. It’s also a great gateway rum to the immensely wide world of rum, as I don’t think anyone will start off with a crazy funky Hampden, or a grassy rhum agricole.

I might be a bit biased towards this rum, as it did start a passion that will run for a lifetime. But this rum does what it’s supposed to be doing and is doing it really good, It’s not that complex or interesting, but it is one of the better ‘industrial style’ rums. therefore I believe it deserves a 6.5/10