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.



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’


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


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.


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


This one they call ‘Sunset Gold’. How romantic


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.


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 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


Light Copper-orange


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.


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).


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.


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%)


Golden orange


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


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


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%)


Golden yellow


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.


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 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%)


Panama 14y (55.3%)


Review #15: Bar Ran’s funky juice

The first of many?

Here we are with a very special bottle (to me anyways). Today’s review will be the funkiest juice bottled by the funkiest man I know. Bar Ran’s funky juice.

Okay, so for anyone who’s not really into the cocktail scene or Belgian bar scene; let me explain.

Ran Van Ongevalle is one of the best (if not the best bartenders) in Belgium, Europe and the world. In 2017 he won Bacardi Legacy with his cocktail Clarita. He was co-owner of The Pharmacy Knokke and worked in The Artesian in London; after which he opened his own summer pop-up ‘Palo Cortado’ in 2019, which was so successful it was extended into the winter. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic he opened his permanent Bar: Bar Ran. I do wonder how he got the inspiration for the name.

Full disclosure, I worked with or for him for a couple of years, but since I’m not on his payroll anymore, I can say whatever the hell I want.

The summer of 2020 was a hot one, which means it was perfect to make buttloads of daiquiris. With rums ranging from Rum Fire and Savannah HERR (of which we sold out one whole bottle in 2 hours) to foursquare Sagacity and even Velier Royal Navy Tiger Shark and so much more, it’s safe to say we made a LOT of daiquiris.

After a summer full of daiquiris, during the second Covid-wave and the lockdown, Ran decided to bottle his own rum. So people could take a bit of Bar Ran’s identity home with them.

The rum chosen for this special bottling hails from the Lluidas Vale and it possesses the WPE marque… now that we all know what distillery the rum is from, we can all set our expectations astronomically high. The juice is unaged and bottled at 63% and it clocks in at an ester count of 393.11g/HLPA . The bottling is a collaboration between (Denmark), The Nectar (Belgium) and Bar Ran (Belgium). And only 132 bottles have been produced.

All bottles have already sold out, so you won’t be able to grab one. Though visiting the bar might enable you to try it, the way you should. With a crazy show by the man himself.

Enough talking, let’s see if the rum is any good. I’m going to try it neat and in a daiquiri (because wintertime and 2°c is a great time to drink daiquiri’s, shut up Karen)


As transparent as the Black Tot 50th anniversary back label.


Nail polisher and paint remover, the first nosing will burn those pesky nosehairs straight off. Forget a nose trimmer, this’ll do the trick. It’s so outrageously in your face and revolting. I think I’m in love.

But all kidding aside. The first nosing is pretty hefty. The chemical top notes are overly present at first. they do settle down and make way for a more buttery nose which is much more pleasant


The aggressive fucker comes in swinging with its full 63% 393.11g/HLPA bodyweight.  But he subsides pretty fast to make place for a somewhat more complex (yet still not docile) palate. I get a bit of dark chocolate with some chili. This chili transforms into hot wings (I guess this’ll be great with Jamaican Jerk chicken). The meatiness extends in a fairly thick and chewy texture.

Another flavour I get is one of distilling malt whisky or Poitín, the malty qualities add another interesting and unexpected layer.


The finish is medium-long . And it does a proper good job at warming my insides. Boy oh boy, I know what I’m going to add a smidge of in my egg nog this Christmas.

A warm pure chocolate taste stays a bit. Accompanied by a longer lasting peppery note.

As a sipping rum, I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. don’t get me wrong, its a cool experience to get to know the more extreme sides of our totally unknown Lluidas Vale distillery. But it’s not something to be drunk on a weekday after a long day at work, think more of a pre-drink before a techno rave to get those freak-juices flowing.

As a daiquiri (60ml Funky Juice, 30ml lime, 2 barspoons crystallized sugar) it does not disappoint. The aggressiveness is toned down by the lime and sugar to a nice balance of punch and freshness. This transports you to a summery beach in Jamaica. As a whole it still packs a punch, but it’s less disruptive and more fun as a cocktail. I do have to admit, the Veritas is still better

As a drinking rum


As a Daiquiri




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.


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