Rum Review : Habitation Velier Mhoba 2017

Mhoba, a name that doesn’t ring a bell to most casual drinkers, but one that sounds like Big Ben to rumlovers all over the world. What is Mhoba you may ask, and where does the name come from?

Mhoba means ‘sugarcane’ in SiSwati, the language of the Native Swazi people from the rum’s country of origin, South Africa. Mhoba is the creation of Robert Greaves, a former mechanical engineering student from the Stellenbosch University (They have some great wines in Stellenbosch as well) turned distiller.

So here we have a rum made from sugarcane juice in distilled in pot stills. This is starting to yell clairin or providence… and wait what? The stills are self-built, okay it’s screaming now.

These self-built stills are said to be high reflux, which means more contact with the still -> more condensation -> “lighter” and “fruitier” rum. We’ll see. With everything I’ve already listed up here, this should be a blaster of a rum. I mean, vegetal and fresh grass from the juice, character from the pot still and a subtler palate from the high amount of reflux. Good god man! For a country with basically no significant rum-history this sure looks pretty good.

Let’s round of with a quick spec runover: This rum has been distilled in 2017 from the Nkomazi sugarcane juice in 100% Pot Stills. It was then aged for four years in ex-bourbon casks and then bottled at a full proof of 64.6% ABV and 571.3Gr/HLAA congeners of which 246.1gr/HLAA are those beloved esters.

Colour:

Straw with a light green hue around the edge

Nose:

A dirty, oily and fat vegetable patch. That’s the first thing that pops into my mind. Some maltiness when nosed from afar. After some nosing the fruity qualities come through. Plums, burnt banana and a very Hampden-like ester (including varnish).

The nose is also quite pepper-y and oak-y which adds a nice extra layer.

Taste:

This hits with the full 64.6%; spice, warmth and alcohol galore on the first sip. On the palate you’d hardly say this is sugarcane juice based, as it’s really warm and full. After the first couple of tear-inducing seconds the palate opens up to reveal the grass in contrast to the Agricole style this grass is summer-y warm, hot grass summer is a thing (sorry I had to do it). The grass mixes with a very dry type of vanilla, caramel and oak. I’m finding an abundance of spice as well.

I’m also getting raisins and nougat here alongside a whole bunch of spice. There’s a real nice bite to this full rum without being overly viscous.  Awesome glass of rum

Finish:

The spice lingers on for quite a while. The more subtler flavours leave soon and leave spice, wood some of that dry caramel.

This is a pretty stunning rum, especially for such a young distillery in a country that has very little to do with rum and is focused more on wine. A very good balance between esters, fruit and wood. There was a bit much of mouth-numbing spice at times but the moment this faded away, an array of complexity stood waiting for me. I’ll definitely be looking out for more releases of these. (perhaps at a bit lower ABV).

9.5/10

Review #23: Nectar of the Daily Dram 2007 Foursquare 13y

I’m back with another 2 rums selected by The Nectar (BE). What can I say? They’re just really good at what they do, and that’s selecting spirits. This time it’s from a self-owned company Daily Drams. Here’s a link to the other one

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.

This year’s rum selection consists of a 13 year old Foursquare, aged in an ex-bourbon cask and bottled at 50%. The second bottle originates from Le Galion Distillery in Martinique, and has been aged on an ex-PX sherry ex-DOK cask. Yes, you read that correct. The gorgeously juxta positioned (this is my word of the day… am I using it correctly?) Pedro Ximenes and DOK-rum filled this cask before the current Le Galion was laid to rest in there for 6 months.

The selection appears to be geared towards 2 kind of consumers. This one is the old reliable. Foursquare never disappoints and the only discussion is about the degree of awesomeness This rum is targeted towards the loyal army of foursquare fanatics for one. Also for your whisky-turned-rum drinker, people who’re looking to go into more premium rum and people who like something smooth to drink in their lounge chair after a long week, and for everyone who has working tastebuds.


Colour:

Golden orange.

Nose:

Classic Foursquare: vanilla, woody bourbon, a tiny bit of nail polisher and some citrus . All very light and almost fresh. From the nose alone I wouldn’t expect this to be 63%. Which for a Foursquare I like very much.

Taste:

Chocolate and vanilla goodness. Wow, I think I’m in Madagascar picking fresh vanilla beans. With the first sip, the delightful rum fills my mouth with excellence. This is exactly what I want from a Foursquare. Deep dark and (dare I say) smooth tones. The vanilla, chocolate and orange really dominate; which for this rum is perfect. There’s also just the right amount of spice to make it that extra bit more interesting. Though it’s not overly spicy and this makes it very easily drinkable. The 13 years on bourbon barrels have done their work incredibly well, even better than some of the similarly aged bottlings released by Foursquare themselves. The rum again has the right amount of acidity from the barrel without being meek or disruptive.

The rum as a whole is incredibly approachable, yet complex. A combination of easy-going and very interesting hints.

Absolutely stunning rum this.

Finish:

The finish is medium long and keeps up the theme of the rum. Full, warm chocolate hug; like spooning with a moelleux and vanilla ice cream.


The Foursquare is unbelievably good. For me this is one of the best foursquares I’ve had. It’s full, inviting, with the right amount of interesting quirks and extra’s to make it thoroughly enjoyable for foursquare fanatics and the general public alike.

I always envisioned Foursquare as being the stately, reputable and nearly perfect rum comparable to some of the great names in Scotch Whisky. And throughout my travels (read: sitting at home and drinking Foursquare) I’ve found this to be true. Soon whisky will have to start comparing itself to Foursquare.

I’d easily order this in a dark moody jazz-club with a velvet evening jacket and smoking a bit fat cigar, because this is that type of rum. Easily drinkable and even easier to enjoy. Or even introduce this to a tough rum- or whisky-tasting crowd, because it’ll hold up regardless. I’ll definitely be picking up a bottle (or two).

9.5/10

With this year’s Daily Drams, The Nectar has released a bottle for both the main market segments: the casual drinker, and the nerd. Both are done well and succeed in their respective purpose. I expect/hope to see the Foursquare in a lot of bars and the Galion in a lot of rum tastings.

Here you can find the link to buy the bottle. The webshop only works for Belgian customers or for people who have “Bancontact” at the moment.

If you aren’t from Belgium and are still interested in this bottle. Send me an email on robin@crombewines.com

We only have 10 more bottles of this rum at the moment of writing, so be quick!

Disclaimer: I work at the store of which I included the link. I do not however receive any money or incentives to sell these rums. I just like them, put them in the store and share them with you all.

Review #21: Rum Fire Overproof Jamaican Rum

Ah, Rum Fire. Originally released by Hampden Estate for the domestic Jamaican market with a cheap looking bottle, amazingly tacky 80’s vibe and MS paint-looking label and a name that doesn’t exactly scream drink me to the general public outside of the Jamaican scene. It has since then grown to (as almost everything form the Hampden Estate) cult status. And rightly so

Rum Fire is the last of the Big Three of Jamaican unaged overproof rums (Here’s a great overview of all three), and it seems to be fitting that this is the one to round of the trio. First we had the J. Wray and Nephews with its pot and column blended overproof, this began as a fringe rum only to be used if you want to set something on fire in a tiki bar. Luckily it became recognized as the quality rum it really is and it is now unmissable in any bar which takes its rum selection somewhat seriously.

Later on came the Rum Bar overproof from Worthy Park. Purely Pot still and funkier than Uncle Wray, this rum is still approachable to most people but it gets the Ester-geeks going a bit more. With its buttery and fruity taste it is a great rum for daiquiris, snaquiris and straight drinking alike.

Now we FINALLY have the ultimate evolution of Jamaican Unaged Overproof rum, the Charizard of the three. Evolved from the relatively low-heat Charmander of Wray and Nephews, to the medium-heat Charmeleon of Rum Bar and finally to the intense Rum Fire Charizard (this one’s for all you Pokémon lovers)

Rum Fire is produced at Hampden Estate Distillery and is a continuation of the tradition of siphoning unaged rum of questionable strength for own use. Since in the past most of the rum produced by Hampden and most Jamaican distilleries was used for export and blending, this illegal white rum was used on the island to fuel parties, make rum cake, fight illness and many more purposes.

It’s made in much the same way as the other Hampden releases, with a 10-14 day open air, wild yeast fermentation, dunder and muck added for extra bacterial and acidic supercharging. Pot still distillation and reduced to the standardized 63% before bottling.

Okay, enough build-up, let’s get into this bad boy


Colour:

So see-through, it may look so uninteresting and gentle to the untrained eye. But we rum-nerds know better, proper unaged rums are beasts.

Nose:

Well, my room will be smelling like Rum Fire for the next couple of hours… and I love it! Honestly if someone were to be able to make a candle or fragrance that smells like this, hit me up!

The smell is truly room-filling. Even as I’m writing, the glass is a bit away from me and the smell still tickles my nose. Apart from making my spidey-senses tingle, let’s get some actual tasting notes. The first hit is fat and buttery, very much like the Rum Bar on steroids. It’s very pungent, the alcoholic sensation you normally get from nosing a spirit from closeby is now almost constantly present, but it’s more ‘freshly baked cartoon pie on the windowsill dragging me in through my nose’ vibes. The alcohol isn’t sharp or disruptive, it’s full and drawing me in.

After leaving the dram breath for a while, the fruit starts coming through. It’s such a smooth transition. First bananas, then pineapple, coconut and other tropical fruits. After a considerable amount of time I’ve forgotten all about the butter and I’m now in Jamaica surrounded by heaps of fruit, the bananas are starting to rot a bit, nice. Also there are a bit of briny olives on the side

Noticeable absences are the notes of varnish and paint-stripper. This makes the rum fuller and fruitier.

Taste:

The first sip as expected is a bomb of atomic proportions. First of all the 63% ABV hits at first, but gives way to a tidal wave of fruit which is then quickly replaced by a buttery blast to then again subside to a lasting fruity flavour. I haven’t taken another sip yet, so it’s safe to say this rum is something else.

Sip 2, here we go. Yep, still good. The alcohol is still present and it’s still warming and filling instead of off-putting and sharp, it translates into a warming pepper-y spice. It’s also dry as hell and even a bit acidic (if I can believe those diagrams which show the flavour receptors on the tongue).

On the palate I do get a bit of varnish, but it’s very fruity and not what I’m used to in Hampden’s it seems like this is the only toned down aspect in this belter of a rum. Other notes are of course the typical fruit bouquet (pineapple, banana, other tropical fruits), and again that fatter butter pops up, but it’s lessening with each sip. The briny olives are almost meaty and my mouth is nearly numbing in a delicious punch.

Finish:

The finish is everlasting and I really don’t want it to end. I kind of don’t want to clean my teeth ever again, like you don’t really want to wash your hand after shaking it with a celebrity.

Tastewise, the finish is spicy, slightly hot, fruity and dry.

I’m taking another sip, let’s do this again.


Rum Fire. Jamaicans know what’s up. Not only with this but also the Rum Bar and Wray and Nephew’s (reviews of these will be coming). The rum fire is an experience, that’s the least you can say about it. It’s a more well-balanced rum than, say a River Antoine. The room-filling aromas and explosive flavours are enough to make you dream about it for weeks.

On the one hand this rum is so special and good, I can’t believe this rum isn’t drunk everywhere. On the other hand, I can believe that only a very select group of people (including Jamaicans, ester-geeks, and experienced rum drinkers) will enjoy this, there is no way a newcomer in rum will like this, even be able to keep it in. 90% of people will think this’ll kill them instantly, and that’s okay for me (that means there’s more for us)

Unsurprisingly this also works amazing in cocktails: Rum Fire & Ting, nuclear daiquiri, or even a supercharged zombie just to name a few.

Rum fire simply is the best unaged(not even solely Jamaican) rum *Jeremy Clarkson voice* in the world.

9.5/10

Review #20: Foursquare Détente

Another Foursquare review? Yes! I’ve got some catching up to do when it concerns this distillery. Today I have another ECS on my plate/glass, the Détente. This is was the last release of 2020 and it’s supposed to be a banger, what did you expect? (no, not a Schweppes commercial)

The Détente has been aged for 10 years in ex-bourbon and ex-port casks. This continues the “tradition” of Foursquare ageing some of its rums on Fortified wine casks, a habit which has worked out for a long time in the world of whisky and its doing pretty fine in the rums of Foursquare and other distilleries.

These ex-port/madeira/sherry casks always seem to be a hit, since the flavours given to the barrels by their respective fortified wines are accessible, full and generally delicious. This will be the first time I’ll try a port-cask Foursquare so I’m psyched *self-five!

This rum (to my completely uninformed megalomaniacally self-inflated guess) is geared more toward people who are newer to rum and haven’t quite visited the fringes of Hampden, River Antoine or even the Foursquare Velier releases. Due to its popular cask selection and its relatively low ABV (51%) this seems to be more approachable than a 60% 2008 or a 63% Nobiliary. This doesn’t mean weathered foursquare fanatics won’t like it, they’ll probably love it just the same… maybe even more.

Once again this rum is the result of a blend between pot and column still, which makes it a single blended rum. These blends were then aged for 10 years in ex-bourbon and ex-port cask. Bottled in August 2020 at 51% ABV


Colour:

Straight up orange/copper

Nose:

The nose is timid, very low profile to begin with. I really have to dig my nose in there to get a good scent. This “effort” reveals a fruity bouquet, some red fruits, grapes, peaches and apricots. Still the nose is very subtle and light. Some vanilla and wood pop up after a couple of nosings. Very approachable to begin with

Taste:

Great first impression, the first sip comes in perfectly. Not to strong, not to light, not to sweet, not to tart, not to spicy, not to mellow. Just right!

The fruit of the nose carries over on to the palate but now combined with more wood and vanilla, a bit of caramel joins the party too. The rum is at once sweet (in the good pure way) of fruit, some chocolate and hazelnut, spicy and dry. A marvelous balance is found here. Raisins appear when breathing out to give yet another layer to this complexity.

This is a real people pleaser

Finish:

The finish leaves a dry mouthfeel which then again encourages another sip, this combined with more spice and wood leaves a long complex grandfather-clock like feeling. Very interesting rum from start to finish.


Seale does it again, what a man. The Détente is a great everyday sipper, it has the complexity of some of the more expensive and challenging rums without being out there. A very light nose, which evolves in a fuller palate and then finishes woody, spicy and dry. This all creates quite a ride for the good old tastebuds and with the rum being “only” 51% this complexity is made very easy-going and easily drinkable.

I have found previous Foursquare rums to be either a tad one-sided like the 2008 or a bit too “challenging” and “overpowering” like the Hereditas. Even the royal tasting Nobiliary might be a bit much for some. But this is a great rum; complex and interesting, easily-drinkable and just a delight to drink.

9.5/10

Review #13: Providence First Drops

We’re back baby!!!

After months of laziness, procrastination and lack of motivation or time I’m back once again. I know your lives have been empty as a clam without pearl or you know… you guys with an empty rum cabinet (oh the horror) . But hey, at least I’m back now (who knows for how long).

Okay enough narcissism, let’s talk rum. And boy have I got a good one today. Because today I have the first drops of the latest and greatest new rum in the Caribbean: Providence.

The Providence rum is distilled in the recently opened ‘Distillerie de Port-Au-Prince’ in Haiti. The distillery was opened thanks to a collaboration between La Maison & Velier and the Barbancourt-Linge family. Yes, that Barbancourt and yes, that Maison&velier. So, a distillery opened by Europe’s most important rum importer, one of Europe’s most important liquor stores and a Haitian rum dynasty. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, as it appears, absolutely nothing. The distillery opened in 2018 with a Muller still and its first product is spot on. It’s a distillate of both fresh cane juice and syrup of crystalline sugar. The sugar is sourced by Michel Sajous. Yes, that Sajous (boy, a lot of big names here innit?). The juice and syrup are fermented separately and are then also distilled separately in the Muller still which will always distill in Bain-Marie. After the first distillation both parts are mixed and distilled a second time. This whole process produces an unaged discontinued rum like it was made by Barbancourt up until 1992.

The presentation is quite picturesque as well. A nice old-timey label with old-school, calligraphy-type lettering and cute drawing make it look like a bottle of yore.

Some last information: the rum is bottled at 57%, it has a volatile substance count of 538.9mg/HLPA and an ester count (for all you ester geeks out there) of 212.2gr/HLPA. (as per this post)

this version (First Drops) will be limited (no idea how many bottles are available) but Providence will drop a standard rum which should lessen the thirst of many a rum lover for the foreseeable future.

Let’s taste this piece of Haitian history.

Colour:

Have you ever seen bottled or tap water (not the Flint, Michigan type though)? Yeah that colour

Nose:

Have you ever smelled water? Yeah, nothing like that. Absolutely nothing like that. It’s more as though Clairin Sajous and a light, lovely Mezcal did the horizontal naked cha-cha and 9 months later this came out.

It’s got that grassy tone of clairin with a whiff of smoke surrounding it. It’s like one of those grilled burger commercials with all the over the top smoke in the background but with cane instead of burgers.

After a while the smoke fades away and we are left with a tropical (albeitethanol-fueled) fruit bouquet.  Some apricots, a bite of pear and a leaf of orange blossom. It also has a slight creamy nose to it, a bit yoghurt-y-ish-kinda.

Taste:

On the palate the first sip is really refreshing. Almost none of the smoke is transferred to the taste, instead I’m treated to fresh pineapples red fruits. Of course there’s plenty of grass to go around. Everything is coated with a very familiar Clairin-like vibe.

The rum also has something rather meaty and tarry to me. Here the smoke makes the occasional return; it’s almost like I can chew it a bit, it’s a lovely weird umami mouthfeel and something I don’t get often from a rum. This chewy (no not that chewy) side can also sporadically be found in the yoghurt-y flavour.

Finish:

It also has to be noted that there is a very spicy side to it as well. As soon as I swallow it’s spice island all the way: pepper, ginger and a substantial yet not unpleasant alcohol burn. This is complimented by some notes of coffee and dark chocolate.

To conclude, this is a blasting sugarcane juice/syrup rum. More complex than clairin or any Agricole I’ve tried so far, definitely much bolder than the Agricoles. It is quite in your face however so it’s more positioned for the more experienced drinker. To me this is a more daring and more complete Clairin.

It could also be tamed a bit in a ‘Ti Punch or world class Daiquiri made by Ran (shameless plug to Bar Ran in Bruges here and here).

As a first release from a fresh distillery I’m very curious about what’s to come from this collaborative effort. Great job so far.

9.5/10