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 : 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

Rum Review : Rasta Morris Jamaica 2010 9y

We’re almost there with this slew of Rasta Morris reviews. Now we’re onto my most anticipated rum, the Jamaica 2010. The next one will be Bert Bruyneel’s favourite: the Bielle 2009. 

But for now, let’s go to Jamaica. More specifically to a distillery near the Lluidas Vale. What mysterious distillery could this be? Who knows? Could it be the one that rhymes with Timothy Clark? Which is absolutely not a person I just made up… 

Obviously, we’re talking about Worthy Park. A distillery which over the last couple of months has become my favourite. Why? Well, They’re funky without shouting in your face. The rum is incredibly well-balanced between the cream, chocolate and the fruity funkiness. Hence the distillery’s become one of my main sippers. 

This one certainly won’t, at 64.4% ABV, I won’t drink this regularly. No, I’ll drink it occasionally and cautiously… But I’ll definitely enjoy the hell out of it. I hope. This WP was distilled in 2010, tropically aged until 2015 and then shipped to Europe for further ageing and eventually, the rum was bottled in 2019.

Let’s see what this’ll bring.

Colour:

Light golden

Nose:

The initial nose has the components previously mentioned. The majority of the nose is funk though, with an underlying bed of milk chocolate and a tiny amount of cream. The fruitiness pops here. I almost recognize some Hampden Here if I’m really focusing on the specific Pineapple and Banana notes. Luckily this rum is set apart by its aforementioned “thicker” scents and some more fresh fruits, such as peaches and some more fresh tropical fruits.

Taste:

At 64.4% this is a beast. This rum is giving me shivers down my spine, in a very good slightly arousing way. There’s the initial heat of alcohol and spice, which kindly gets replaced by a bit of chocolate (now darker) and a very intense baked fruit-fest. 

The fruitiness takes a back-seat for most of the tasting experience, with the darker and spicier flavours taking the wheel. Lots of toasted nuts, wood and leather and cigars. Some baked fruits can be found when looked for, but they’re much less present than in the nose. 

Finish: 

The Finish is long, thanks to its intensity and spiciness. A small bit of the regular funk lingers but is overshadowed by these spicy, woody and leathery notes. 

This is a unique bit of Worthy Pa… Uhm sorry, secret Lluidas Vale Jamaican Rum. It’s much less fresh and fruity than what I’m normally used to. Which shouldn’t be a surprise as this is a 9-year-old Jamaican rum. This means that the tropical hit of the unaged rum will subside and mellow down by the cask and the flavours will be replaced in no small part by said cask. The high ABV also makes it that much more intense. So, as a single cask from an independent bottler, I’d say this is a successful one and it’s clear that a whisky-focused person chose this. Giving the customer a broader palate of their beloved distillery. I find it slightly better than the Single Estate because the added complexity, spices and ABV just outweigh the slight loss of funk.

9/10

Review #24: nectar of the daily dram le galion ex-dok px-cask

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 a bourbon barrel and bottled at 63%. The second bottle originates from Le Galion Distillery in Martinique. The distillery is the only one on the island that uses molasses instead of cane juice for their rum. This has then 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 Ximenez 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. The rum from Le Galion has more of an experimental function. It’s a crazy fun combination of several interesting and powerful flavour palates. This then should without much surprise be perfect for the “connoisseurs” and nerds among us. People who want to experience as much flavour combinations and weird stuff as possible. This would be the perfect rum for a tasting among a hardcore group of rum drinkers, or perhaps for a Belgian 23-year old who writes about rum for fun.


Colour:

Very light yellow, comparable to the Veritas.

Nose:

Powerful nose this, with the hogo grassy and vegetal notes nicely supported by the chemical-ish notes of the DOK. This is mellowed and filled out by the PX cask. The most prevalent scents are of course the more ester-y and vegetal notes (even though Le Galion is a molasses-distilling based product) alongside with briny olives and some fish which I also noticed in the River Antoine (here in less outspoken and more manageable amounts). But from time to time the tiniest whiff of a sweet PX comes floating to the surface. I’m curious for what the taste will tell.

Taste:

This is ONE experimental rum, I get bombarde by very different palettes. At first it’s all clairin and a good pure vegetal notes. With sweet fresh grass, like a regular Agricole but make it chewing gum. Which is weird since it really isn’t one. Coincidentally the rum is rather chewy as well. This is a Grand Arôme rhum, so I suppose the second ester and varnish bit of the experience has to do both with the rum itself and the DOK-cask it’s been in for 6 months.

Only after getting used to the initial shock and settling into the rum do I truly begin to appreciate the weirdness and complexity of the rum. Believe me, it’s a weird rum. There’s so much going on, all at once. I can’t seem to quite get over the underlying orange and raisins that I can only assume are brought in by the PX-cask. This keeps me in a sort of purgatory between disliking it and loving it.

Finish:

The finish settles down a bit, with mainly the grass notes and some oranges remaining for quite a while. The weirdness still remains and continues to intrigue me. Really keeping my attention to tasting for a considerable amount of time after finishing my rum.


Le Galion is a very experimental and specific rum. It’s tailor made for Agricole drinkers who like their high-ester flavours. I think the PX part of the equation is make or break, after much trying and contemplation, I’ve grown to like it. The rum is overwhelming at the start, not out of strength or alcohol, but of a complexity that comes from all over. Eventually the Agricole and DOK are a perfect combination. Once again I suggest to go find one for yourself and find out whether you like it or not.

This rum was clearly meant for the more experienced rum fan who wants to try every possible combination out there. And with that The Nectar has obviously succeeded. some people will love its innovation, some won’t. And that’s fine, because differences in preferences is what keeps us discussing rum for hours on end.

7.5/10

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 to see the Foursquare in a lot of bars and the Galion in a lot of rum tastings.

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 #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 #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 1423.dk (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)


Colour:

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

Nose:

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

Taste:

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.

Finish:

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

6/10

As a Daiquiri

7/10

Overall

6.5/10

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