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: 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

Review #16: Hampden 2020 single casks, selected by The Nectar.

something kind and something wild

By now, Hampden doesn’t really need an extended introduction anymore. So let’s dive right in.

Since last year (2019), Hampden has been releasing single casks. Last year there was one for some of the major rum/whisky festivals and one for LMDW and a one off (the HLCF/DOK). Tastings can be found here.

This year, La Maison & Velier decided for a broader approach. They’re releasing a couple of single casks exclusively for some European countries: 4 in France, 2 in Belgium, and many more in other countries.

Some of the biggest and best importers/liquor stores get to select their barrels. These are then given a nice presentation showcasing birds endemic to the Trelawny Parish, where Hampden is located.

These country exclusive bottlings (much like the previous one, and probably the following ones) will no doubt make the prices of these bottles skyrocket on the secondary market or make people trade some of theirs for bottlings from different countries, because who doesn’t want to know all of the endemic birds in Trelawny?

The 2 bottles for Belgium are selected by The Nectar; the very well respected importer and bottler. The casks they selected are: #487, an 8 year old OWH bottled 250 times at 60% ABV and #498, a 10 year old LROK bottled 260 times at 62.5% ABV. Each with its respective bird (The Yellow Shouldered Grossquit and The Rufous Tailed Flycatcher respectively)

I’m not going to dick around much this time and get straight to the tasting


Cask #487: OWH 8y

Colour:

Light golden, basically identical as the standard release Hampden 8.

Nose:

The familiar Hampden notes, but tempered down. Pretty much what one would expect of their lowest ester marque. A deep fruitiness with your familiar banana-pineapple combo but all very mellow. A bit of orange and mango. All of this is combined with hints of cake. On the nose this is a pleasant summer fruitcake.

Compared to the LROK, this feels cleaner and more well behaved. Something newcomers will probably enjoy more than the heavier and somewhat “dirtier” notes that can be found in the LROK

Taste:

Pretty darn good. As the glass touches my lips and this golden fluid slowly drips in, I immediately become happy and melancholic again. The initial shot of chocolate followed by a steady flow of fruit is a welcome start to actually tasting it. There a small tingly spice, nothing overpowering though. The timidity of the nose is continued throughout the palate. All good things, in gentle amounts. Quite a bit of vanilla as well, more than what I’m used to in other Hampdens. It is a vanilla with a certain fraîcheur, kindly assimilated with the trademark Hampden flavours.

Again, a lovely little thing, mellow and kind. A bit of an underrated wallflower.

Finish:

The finish is not very long. Which was to be expected of a lower-ester rum. There is a woody quality that remains. Most of the fruit disappears after a couple of seconds. And you’re left wanting for more, ready for the next sip.


Cask #498 LROK 10y

Colour:

No real difference here either.

Nose:

The nose is immediately more pungent than the OWH. It’s definitely not up to par with your HLCF C<>H or god forbid the paint stripping goodness of DOK. Instead there’s a present fruity scent that gently fills the room, like being hugged just a bit tightly by a fruit basket. It’s very nice to smell the evolution from OWH to LROK. The particular scents are very much the same, only more pronounced and rougher around the edges. The extra 2 years does add a touch more vanilla.

Taste:

Wow, I didn’t expect this. A very different experience than what I’m used to. The first thing I notice is pepper, there’s some pepper and bread in there. The heavier notes really are more present here. The vanilla pops up again. After a while the fruitiness does start to break through. And how… spiced mango, banana and papaya. The Varnish that we all know and love also makes a fleeting appearance. These 2 sides alternate, with each one stealing the limelight from one another a couple of times.

A very interesting if at times somewhat un-Hampden like. I tasted this at the Spirits In The Skies zoom call and was blown away, and from what I remember it tasted a bit differently (then again, I did have a regular 8y, Rum fire, and the OWH before this at the time… so yeah). Its not my favourite Hampden (that spot still is reserved for the 2019 Hampden Great House), but it is an interesting showcase of the diversity that Hampden can bring.

Finish:

The finish is slightly longer than the OWH, bringing more spice and depending on the time either the fruity or the woody notes. Hardly both.


First of all, the fine folks at The Nectar did a good job at picking 2 solid casks from the Hampden warehouse. Though it might actually be harder to pick a bad one than a good one when it concerns Hampden-type casks.

I think the OWH is a great beginner’s guide to Hampden. All the necessary notes are present, but you get a nice introduction. Nothing is overpowering and all is pleasant. There’s no extremities that take getting used to, overall a good rum. It is a shame that this is a single cask, since most Hamdpen collectors or drinkers will probably enjoy the heavier stuff more. Also most beginner’s won’t have access or motivation to buy a single cask bottling.

The LROK is weird one, at my first tasting it was mind boggingly good. Today it is has shown an other side, a more experimental side. With notes I haven’t quite linked to Hamdpen at first. I do recommend trying this, even if it is mainly to broaden your perspective of what Hampden has to offer. This, for example would be more what collectors and drinkers alike should enjoy. Something unique and new.

For me the kind nose of the OWH wins me over more, the palate of the LROK intrigues me and the LROK’s finish delivers over the OWH. The LROK does walk away with the win, mainly because of its unexpected turns alongside with the familiar notes appeal me more than the easy-going OWH.

OWH

7/10

LROK

8.5/10

Review #3: Foursquare Hereditas 14y

Review 3 and at the time of writing the rum world is in the middle of a heated discussion about GI. Primarily of Barbados and by extension of Jamaica. I don’t think the world needs yet another opinion on this subject, so I’ll just link to some others who have written about it: The Fat Rum Pirate, Rum Revelations and Rum Diaries Blog have all written about it.

I actually prefer to look at the rums being produced and the quality and taste of these rums.

Of course we need clear rules in the form of GI’s, but as long as we all enjoy what we’re drinking and we actually know what we’re drinking thanks to increased transparency from the rum world. I think we can all live side by side without having an extreme and overly hurtful opinion about each other. Why burn bridges when you can build upon each other’s success

Now onto the thing that matters the most to me. The rum inside this bottle. What is the story behind this rum? What is the purpose of this rum? Does it smell like, taste like, feel like? And so on…

Foursquare Hereditas. That is what I’ll be talking about today. This rum is the result of the first  collaboration between the prolific and highly respected Foursquare distillery owned by Mr. Richard Seale and The Whisky Exchange owned by Mr. Sukhinder Singh

The rum is (according to the new classification system of TWE) a single traditional blended rum. This is in reference to the single distillery and the blended distillation method: a combination of pot and column stills. After distillation this rum has had 2 separate aging processes. One part has been aged for 14 years in ex-bourbon cask, the other part for 10 years in ex-bourbon cask and subsequently 4 years in ex-sherry cask (ex-oloroso to be precise). These 2 parts were then blended into the rum that we now know as Hereditas.

To round of the specs, it’s bottled at 56% ABV and there have been 2520 bottles released.


Colour

Very deep orange- brown colour, lovely sherry influence in the colour already

Nose

The first thing I notice is that there’s no real “alcoholic” smell, you wouldn’t notice it’s a 56% rum. The first notes I get are a considerable amount of vanilla and some zesty citrus, some oranges and a bit of that refreshing lime. Overall it’s quite a sweet smell but with some fun interesting hints here and there, a bit of smoked wood and leather. It’s almost whisky-like. After a while the freshness of the lime transforms to more of an apple aroma. I must admit that I also get a scent that I absolutely didn’t expect, a slight saltiness as though I’m walking on the beach on a cold autumn day and the fresh sea breeze hits my face (to me it’s quite a nostalgic smell and therefore I really appreciate it). The final nosing before I got to tasting also revealed some forest-y fruit qualities.

Taste

The nose was definitely more sweeter than the taste. It’s actually a really dry rum this. The first thing apart from this is the tannic bitterness of the wood (which at the first moment is a bit of putting to me). 14 years of tropical aging will do that to a rum. Further on I also get a tingle of ginger with some other spices, some red fruit and a bit of coconut in the background. Some deeper notes were also present in the form of smoked wood and dark chocolate.

Once again I got caught by surprise by this rum. Some anise reared its head and the saltiness came back again in very small amounts (I don’t know if it’s just me or what).

Finish

The finish on this 14 year old darling of mine wasn’t very long. The high ABV wasn’t apparent here either, it’s always pleasant not having to swallow your rum with one of those terrible “I look like I’ve never drunken alcohol before” faces and a subsequent cough.

Flavourwise I get some lingering woodiness and a bit of dark chocolate remaining.


To conclude. This is indeed a nice rum. I must say I’ve gotten used to very highly flavoured Jamaican rums as of late, so this is a nice change of pace as it’s not as in your face, but more subtle. However personally, Jamaican rum speaks more to me and this is less of an “experience focused” rum and more of like a rum you’d drink on weekdays after a day of work. But taking the rum on it’s own it is indeed a good rum. However the short finish and the instant hit of bitterness do leave more to be desired. A real sherry influence was also hard to find for me personally, apart from the nose it didn’t really live up to my expectation as a sherry-cask aged rum.

7/10