Rum Review : Rasta Morris Bielle 2009 10y

Yes, the last Rasta Morris for this time being. I hope you had as much fun with these as I did (if you’re not drinking one, you’re probably not). Today I’m reviewing his latest release: Bielle 10y, aged from 2009-2019 and bottled at 49.4%, with a release of 226 bottles

As you might notice the rum was bottled 2 years ago. The rum has thus been “aging” in the bottle for these years. Not that this does anything for the rum, but I’m just filling in the gaps.

Bielle is one of Bert Bruyneel’s favourite rum distilleries, which can be seen in his portfolio. Bert has been relying heavily on Bielle for 2 of the 3 years he’s been in rum. With my previous encounter with Bielle, I can understand this sentiment as it’s a truly qualitative rum. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the style, qualitative rum should always be acknowledged as it is: gorgeous and good for the industry.

As always with Bielle, this rum was made with sugar cane juice as its base, this being openly fermented and then distilled in the Savalle Column setup. Ageing was mostly tropical as it was tropically aged from April 2009 to July 2019, after which it was shipped to Europe for bottling in November 2019, done at a very manageable 49.4% (consider the Venezuela and Trinidad).  The bottles were then kept in the warehouse for over a year before finally releasing in May of 2021.

Let’s dive in!


Orange with a golden hue


On the nose this is very classical aged Bielle; the freshness and vegetal qualities of the Sugar cane juice, darkened and given extra complexity by the cask. I’m getting a healthy dose of vanilla and a greenery which alternates nicely and provides an ever-interesting smelling experience.

Some dark chocolate and tropical fruits are also to be found after jamming my nose in the glass.


The palate lives up to the nose as the exact same grassiness and woody complexity return. Some green spices add a bit of power to this otherwise very manageable rum at 49.4% ABV.

Glue, vanilla, slight woody tannin and a bit of 3-day old bananas are some of the flavours I’m getting here. Very solid and complex rum.


The finish sticks around for a considerable amount of time. Mainly the greener, vegetal and glue flavours last the longest. The darker notes fade away rather quickly, this gives the rum a very refreshing ending.

Aged Sugarcane juice-based rum is a real hit or miss for me. The Vieux Sajous was not what I was looking for. On the other hand the first Bielle I reviewed was pretty darn good. As this is of the same distillery, it’s hard to imagine this rum being a disappointment. Which evidently it absolutely isn’t, Bert knows his stuff and this again is a very good cask. A very solid and broad-flavoured Bielle.



Review #19: Foursquare 2008

I’m a little late on this one… only about 6 months and almost 2 new releases late; so overall, not too shabby. So, with a bit of a delay, I’ll be reviewing the Foursquare ECS (Exceptional Cask Selection) #13, the 2008 vintage. Due to my tardiness, there has already been some writing on it, which you can find here and here.

The 2008 is the 13th installment of the Exceptional cask series and the 5th vintage (after 1998, 2004, 2005, and 2007). The ECS-series releases have quickly become essential grabs for everyone even a bit interested in rum; with Foursquare being the golden standard for general rum quality and Richard Seale being the professor of and preacher for transparency, pure production, and rum GI.

This will no doubt be a solid rum, the recent history of Foursquare shows no reason to think otherwise. Definitely for the price at which the bottles are sold primarily. At release, the 2008 will set you back about €70-80, and from previous experience I’ve never felt that a Doorly’s or Foursquare has been overpriced, more often than not it’s the exact opposite. With the primary price being rather under their worth and then picking up on the secondary market by an immense margin, as is the case for much of the Foursquare ECS rums

Now, the 2008 as a rum. Let’s quickly run over the specs; The rum has been produced by a Pot and Column blend (single blended rum) and aged for 12 years on ex-bourbon casks, it was then bottled in April of 2020 at an ABV of 60%.


Dark orange, mahogany, copper


The initial impression is a bit underwhelming. Some vanilla and glue are present but it’s not the full and gentle nose, it’s more sharp and alcoholic which sort of makes sense at 60%. Further notes of citrus is added in the form of tangerines. Lots of spice closes of the initial nosing.

After letting the rum rest for a while, the deeper notes start coming forward. There’s more chocolate cake and the vanilla is somewhat more pronounced. The nose is overall pretty good, but nothing that blows my mind.


On the palate is where the rum really starts to shine. Initial sweeter notes of vanilla and marzipan are combined with woody spices and the ABV adds a bit of a kick to it, less so than what I expected from the nose. Further on there are some sherry notes by way of oranges and raisins. It also should be no surprise that the rum is as dry as you would expect from a foursquare. The rum also carries some heaviness, a certain boldness and bravado which I do appreciate.


There is a long lingering finish filled with the transition of vanilla and sherry to tobacco and eventually leather with the woodiness and spices continuing on from the beginning and middle palates.

Overall a good Foursquare, it hits all the expectations without going above and beyond. All the purely ex-bourbon Foursquares possess so much of the same qualities (no shit, Sherlock), this of course makes them solid rums, some slightly better than others. But it also makes for a mostly homogeneous and unsurprising(ly good) set of releases. The limited quantities of the bottlings then ramp up interest and eventually prices, which for rum lovers is a damn shame.

Because don’t get me wrong. Every single Foursquare I’ve tasted so far is of the highest quality. So maybe the limited releases of vintages and expressions isn’t all that bad when they produce these sorts of rum. And every Foursquare is an outstanding rum, be it in the Barbadian segment, or worldwide. Seale really knows how to make rum.

I, therefore, look forward to tasting the Détente (the review of which is coming soon), this will be a good time to see what Foursquare does on Port cask (I haven’t tried one yet).

Anyhoo, Foursquare 2008: good, solid Foursquare; great rum. Even though it lacks that eye-widening special je-ne-sais-quoi, which makes you say “oooh Holy Guacamole, this is something”, it’s a bloody good drink.


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


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


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


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.


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


No real difference here either.


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.


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.


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.





Review #10: Foursquare Nobiliary

Richard Seale and his foursquare is having a pretty good 2020 considering everything that’s going on. With the releases of the mindbogglingly ridiculously (but aptly) named Plenipotenziario, the regal Nobiliary (great comparison on these two here) and later in the year the 2008.

It’s safe to say that Foursquare is digging itself in more and more as THE golden standard for rum quality, pureness and straight taste with each bottle new expression. A very passionate following (of which I am becoming one) leads the charge with declarations of love all over, rum reviewers give the tipples from the distillery’s stills a constant stream of good to great reviews. This effort leads to a wider respect and hopefully a further normalization of this rum; meaning that -thanks to the frequent releases of new bottlings surrounded by quite some hype- foursquare will be more available wherever you go. Perhaps even kicking Plantation of the pedestal on which it was placed by the larger mainstream consumer market.

Wow, that last sentence sounded a bit Fox news-y.

Back to the rum at hand, today I’ll be reviewing the Nobiliary. This is the 12th “installment” of the Exceptional Cask Selection and is named for its noble character, hence the name and the royal purple lettering (love that detail). Why royal purple? Well, little history lesson; back in the time of the Great empires (think Persian, Roman, Byzantine) purple was the color of royalty (or nobility), simply because the clothes with this pigment were so exorbitantly expensive. Rulers liked showing of their power and wealth by flaunting purple (in this case the emperor does have clothes, purple ones at that). Now that you know this, you can dazzle all your friends with your knowledge of the letter colouring of the Nobiliary and its meaning. (thank god for The Rum Robin, right?)

After this history lesson, let’s go through the specs: the Nobiliary is aged in Barbados for 14 years, all of which in Ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 62%. The distillate in this bottle is a blend of a continuous twin column still and a double retort pot still and there are absolutely no additives (sweeteners, flavourings, colouring) or take-aways (chill-filtering).

Okay, let the regal tasting start


Dark orange-brown, very apple juice-y


Boy, that is a lovely sniff. The rum first presents itself as quite dry with a lot of interesting and intense smells just around the corner. The nose gives a powerful impression, with a pleasant first oomph and lovely fruitiness. The most notable scents I get are raisins and plums. I also get some funky varnish and a bit of darker leather-y notes. Some sourness also sneaks in, which gives the rum a fresher nose.


Ooh, that tickles the tongue in a nice way. The first sip brings along a fair amount of spiciness and fruit. The varnish smell is almost unrecognizable on the palate, instead I get some more bourbon influence. A hint of vanilla, with some acidity which combines in a great dry mouthfeel, but with a full flavour.

It takes a couple of sips to get used to the intense spices, which bring some amazing notes themselves. It’s after these sips that the rum really opens up completely. The vanilla notes are coming to the forefront, together with some dark chocolate. Though the 62% ABV keeps the rum punchy and quite an experience with every sip.


Thanks to the intense flavours of the high ABV and the many years in the Barrel, the finish is really long and almost as complex as some lesser rums in their entirety. After the sip, everything mellows out, the dark chocolate loses some of its cacao and the vanilla combines with yet a new hint, one of caramel. A nice relaxing end to an intense, dry and flavourful rum.

Wow, this is one hell of a dram. From what I’ve read about and have tasted from foursquare before, I always thought Foursquare was a rather composed and quiet sort of rum. Like Speyside or Lowland whiskies, great quality and more missionary than kinky.

But was I wrong, after drinking this truly noble rum it seems that I still have quite a while to go in my rum-journey and a lot to learn.

This is truly a noble rum; and not some weak nobility, but more of an emperor Augustus or King Louis XIV. A Nobility out of this world, which only deserves to be praised. An intense opening palate and a complex, satisfying middle palate and finish make sure of this. Truly a stunning rum.


Review #5: Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve

“the perfect blend between the past and the future”

We’re staying in Jamaica for this one. As I’ll be tasting the Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve. This is the standard rum for the distillery under this name. as with Hampden they already had a range of white overproof rum. The rum-bar range, which I can attest to as being absolutely wonderful and my choice as prevention medicine against the current coronavirus. WP also produces a rum-bar rum cream, which I haven’t tasted yet. I imagine it to be like Baileys but from heaven instead of from Ireland.

This is the first and main rum bottled and exported by the distillery themselves under the “Worthy Park” name. before, again, as with Hampden this could pretty much only be found in expressions by independent bottlers, the most familiar one being Velier.

But in 2017-2018 depending on where you live, you could start enjoying Worthy Park’s very own “Estate Distilled, Aged, Blended & Bottled” rum as the label so classily states.

Now seems like a good time as any to give a short history on the Distillery and the sugar estate that made this rum possible.

The estate can be traced back to 1670; this is the year that’s prominently readable on the label.

However, this is not when rum distillation started, or even when sugar production started. This is the year when (according to the WP website) “It was gifted to Lt. Francis Price for his services to Cromwell during the English capture of the island from the Spanish in 1655.” 50 years later sugar cane production began and after about another 20 years rum production started. All was pretty much sunshine and rainbows.

The 1960’s brought some clouds and rain however, due to an oversupply of Jamaican rum and some other political reasons, Worthy Park stopped distilling rum for a while. This obligatory narrowing of attention may have been a blessing in disguise (though it may be completely unrelated) because since 1968 the sugar estate has been the most efficient of the island every year.

If you’re interested in some of the general numbers check out the WP website again.

However efficient the sugar plantation and high the quality of the sugar may be, it doesn’t quite make up for the loss of rum. Lucky for us, the Clarke family wanted to introduce the world to a rum that’s been made with high-quality molasses. So they decided to start distilling again in 2004. Construction for a brand new distillery that could manage to produce very efficiently and produce a wide array of rum expressions. The main man behind this future- and efficiency focused endeavor is Mr. Gordon Clarke, the managing director and CEO of the estate. Construction of this state-of-the-art distillery started in 2005 and by 2007 distillation started again (hopefully for ever). BACK IN BUSINESS BABY!!!

The background is now set for their first expression under the Worthy Park name. And Mr. Clarke did it right. First in 2015 he hired Alexander ‘Zan’ Kong to be export sales manager, he took this role and turned himself into an absolute rum Rockstar. Oh, if only I could be like Zan…. And later the Single State Reserve was released.

The fermentation and distillation process in Worthy Park is unlike some of the other well-loved Jamaican rums. For starters, they don’t use muck or dunder for fermentation, they do use a cultivated yeast-strain that makes sure of a consistent product.

As mentioned before their distillery is very modern contrary to most distilleries on the Island. This should make for an interesting look at the difference between a “muck-infested”wild  fermentation and a old time-y distillation like in Hampden or Long Pond and a well-managed and monitored process like in Worthy Park.

There’s no need to fear that WP is too modern. With over 200 years of rum-making heritage and the use of their homegrown sugarcane A-grade molasses, this should be a perfect blend between the past and the future and a staple of Jamaican distilling for years to come.

Finally, to round of the information about this rum. It’s said that it has a WPL (worthy Park Light) marque, which is 60-119 gr/hl AA in esters. It’s a blend of rums from 6-10 years and it’s bottled at 45% ABV

Okay, enough babbling, let’s get tasting


Natural golden colour, quite light and somewhat radiant.


The nose is very light and very fruity. Mostly dry fruits, plums and some not-quite-ripe-yet bananas. After a little while I get some coconut accompanied with some caramel and vanilla. Overall, the smell is quite strong, with a bit of an alcoholic whiff. Very attractive in the beginning, but it doesn’t really evolve much. This is probably due to the lower ester count. It’s a very accessible nose, but not one that evolves throughout hours.


At first the taste is the same as the nose, light and accessible. Very pleasant actually. A real crispy note of tropical fruits overtakes me. It’s like sitting on a Jamaican great house front porch, eating an assortment of freshly picked fruit and suddenly a refreshing breeze passes by and you know… life is good.

A little alcoholic flavour does wriggle its way through the fruit from time to time. After a couple of sips I got used to the fruity bouquet and the darker flavours started popping up. The easiest to discern is an oaky bitterness, not overpowering or disturbing but noticeable and pleasant enough to give the rum some depth. Along with the oak, I get the classic caramel and vanilla.


The finish is something quite interesting. When I swallow the rum some pepper tickles my tongue and a bit of ginger stays in my throat. With other rums this spiciness also presents itself in the mouth with a sip, but with the Worthy Park the spice is saved for the end. This is a nice surprise as I expected the finish to be a bit dull and really short (with it being full of light, fleeting  flavours). However, the finish is medium-long and medium interesting. Again it’s nothing like the high-ester bombs that make Jamaica so famous. Worthy Park doesn’t really strive for this (in this bottling at least) and that is understandable.

To conclude, this is a great stepping stone into Jamaican rum. As it has the fruity notes that we all love in Jamaican rum. It’s a great rum for sitting and just enjoying, without having the fuzz of really putting work into getting every aspect of it.

A (in my opinion) good analogy is this: if Hampden are The Rolling Stones, Worthy Park are The Beatles. Instead of painting it black and having sympathy for the devil, Worthy Park will come together and hold your hand. Either way they’re both amazing in their own right.


Review #2: Velier Royal Navy Very Old Rum

Review 2. Woohoo! I decided to review the other end of the spectrum of rum for my second review. This way I establish a scope in which I’ll be reviewing. From sweeter more “broad public” rums to niche and special flavour bombs like today’s rum.

So today we have the ‘Velier Royal Navy Very Old Rum’. As the very catchy name says, this is a royal navy rum. It’s a blend created by rum demi-god Luca Gargano as an attempt (and a very tasty one at that) to recreate the rum that was given to sailors of the British Royal Navy from as early as 1655 until the rum ration ended on july 31st  1970 (1 minute of silence please).

The original navy blend consisted mainly of (you guessed it) rums made in British colonies. BUT it wasn’t limited to only these colonies. Matt Pietrek from Cocktailwonk also shows that rum from Martinique and Cuba was at one time blended into the rum sailors got as a daily ration. There wasn’t really one singular recipe, it was more like a certain flavour profile.

This is a blend of 3 of the most significant rum producing former colonies that were blended into the original navy rum at one time or another.

The first is Trinidad & Tobago, well presented by Caroni with a tropical aging of over 20 years. This is a fiery, extremely flavourful rum with notes of tar, rubber and petrol from the legendary closed distillery which bares the same name.

The second part is rum from Guyana that’s been aged in Europe for over 15 years. Rum mostly known for its sweeter taste palette and notes such as raisins, brown sugar and plums.

And the third part of this holy trinity is Jamaican rum aged in the tropics for over 12 years. This is rum is mostly known for its high ester flavour with notes of overripe fruits, pineapple, black tea,…

This is all blended together to form a rum with (as a rum geek I absolutely love this part) a weighted average age of 17.42 years and a very specific ABV of 57.14% which, to be clear, isn’t navy strength but proof strength (for more explanation I’ll refer to cocktailwonk again).

The presentation of this rum is as we’re used to with Velier releases: a stately bottle, the classic informative cardboard box and a simple yet very clear label with everything mentioned one would want to know.

At the time of writing this rum is hard to find, it’s still available at some (online) stores, but mostly it can be found on online auctions. Expect to pay somewhere around €150 and up.

Now onto how it tastes, because all this talking only matters if the rum tastes good.


Lovely orange bronze-ish colour, very natural colour with a golden hue.


The first thing I get from smelling this rum is the warmer, heavier Caroni notes: tar, rubber, and oil. With just the tiniest bit of Jamaican esters/fruitiness. Some lovely pineapple, a smidge of coconut and overripe banana. But these fade quite quickly, to a bit of the Guyanese rum: some raisins and brown sugar mainly. Which plays nice with the heavier Caroni notes. Underneath all this some woody smells and the accompanying tannic bitterness also pop up.

Honestly, I could just sit for hours sniffing this beauty. It keeps on evolving and surprising me. After some time the Jamaican part even returns for a second act.


Oh boy, that’ll kick you in the teeth. As the rum goes into my mouth I feel a little spiciness on my lips. The first sip will warm you up like a roaring fire (somewhat fuelled by petrol and maybe a bike tyre) after you’ve come home from a winter day of throwing snowballs and catching some snow in the back of your neck. You know what I mean? Like REALLY warm you up.

That first sip can and probably will give you a punch in the face. But to be honest… I kind of like that (I found out I’m a bit of a rum masochist). The Caroni notes are very powerful and you can barely taste the otherwise very prominent Jamaican funkiness. There is however some subtle substance given by the Guyana part.

I was a bit disappointed about the lack of funk in the rum. I mean, it’s there but has to be looked for, hard. When I nip the tiniest amount, and swirl it around in my mouth I do get the familiar Jamaican funkiness of pineapple, overripe bananas and just the tiniest bit of varnish (as always in Jamaican rum: I mean varnish in the best possible way)

Due to this last sip and reading some other reviews I decided to add some water in the glass to hopefully open the rum up a bit more.

This made a huge difference. The Caroni takes a step back and Jamaica moves forward. I still get the warmer darker notes of the Caroni, but they are evenly matched with the high ester, fruity notes of Jamaica. Eventually I also get just a miniscule (but noticeable) amount of red fruit.

Due to lightening, this rum the woody flavour also pops up more.

Still, the Guyanese sweetness in the form of raisins and brown sugar with a bit of dark chocolate (thanks to the water) remains as a nice undertone.


With all that happening in the mouth, I’d almost forget what happens after I swallow it. I would have to say the finish is medium-long. It is a bit shorter than I would expect it to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still quite long. But given the rums in this blend I expected the finish to be an hourlong experience. Although it isn’t, the flavours remaining are still good enough to make you want to keep drinking.

So to conclude. If the royal navy would still give out their rum rations and the ration would be this… well, I would enroll immediately. But seriously, this is a great rum. It’s a bit much when drunk neat, but add some water and it’s an amazingly high flavoured yet nicely balanced rum. Mr Gargano, you did one hell of a job on this one.  Can’t wait to try the successor to this one: the “Tiger Shark” (some good work was already done on the catchy name). because of the initial imbalance of the rums I must only give it 8.5/10