Today’s review discusses the Gold Medal winner in the category “Single Cask” of last year’s German Rum fest, the 6th edition of the fair. Although such awards should usually be taken with a grain of salt, this rum really deserves it. I am talking about the “Our Rum & Spirits Guyana 2003 12YO”.
Our Rum & Spirits is a small German independent bottler and the brainchild of Christian Nagel. His restaurant “Gasthaus im Brühl” in Hildesheim offers a selection of over a hundred rums and many other spirits of small distilleries. When approached by his customers whether he is also selling the rums, he always had to disappoint them until he decided to release his first own bottling in 2014. Coming from Guyana’s Diamond Distillery, it was a predecessor of this rum (cask 20) in a very small edition of only 60 bottles. Unfortunately I did not get to try it. The response was so great that he had to release a follow-up edition.
Besides the aforementioned Diamond, Our Rum & Spirits’ other releases so far include a Versaille (Guyana), a Rockley W.I.R.D. (Barbados) as well as a Panamanian and a couple of young Worthy Parks (Jamaica). Let’s hope that Christian Nagel’s rum line gains the attention it deserves.
The history of the Diamond plantation goes back to the mid 18th century. Even though they planted sugar (besides coffee), there is no evidence that they also distilled rum back then. They probably did not even own a sugar mill to process the cane. Diamond seems to have started distilling rum in the early 19th century when they stopped planting coffee, which became increasingly unprofitable. Today, Diamond is the only remaining rum distillery in Guyana and home to Demerara Distillers Limited (short: DDL). DDL is the result of a 1983 merger between the owners of the Diamond-, Enmore- and Uitvlugt distillery. When Enmore and Uitvlugt closed their distilleries for good in 1994 resp. 1999, the remaining useful stills have all been brought to DDL. The name Diamond Distillery thus does not necessarily tell us the style of the rum and therefore we cannot be exactly sure whether this has been produced by the Diamond metal column still. While I do believe that this is a Diamond, some doubts still remain. It seems like DDL just slapped the Diamond tag on all of their shipped 2003 barrels. The vintage produced too many different styles with the Diamond label on them to be 100% sure (take for example Marco’s review of the Duncan Taylor Diamond Distillery 2003 10YO, where he is convinced that it comes from the Port Mourant still).
Guyanese rums, even those distilled in column stills, typically have a heavy profile. I doubt that this one will be any different. My experience with rums from the Diamond still have been mixed so far. I liked some of the Veliers I have tried but have mostly been disappointed by other bottlers. But then again, these mostly only have the Diamond Distillery tag on them and could have been produced by a different still. But enough of that. Let’s carry on with the tasting.
Dégustation “Our Rum & Spirits Guyana 2003 12YO”
Key facts: The rum has been distilled in December 2003 in Guyana (most likely by the Diamond metal column still) and bottled in January 2016. Cask number 90 has been bottled at 62,8%abv and yielded 216 bottles. I got my hands on number 20, not that it’s of any relevance…
Colour and viscosity: Ruby red/ old oak. It has most likely been coloured by DDL. After a quick pivot, a few pearls of different sizes stick to the glass. A thick, non-reflowing streak emerges at the top which gradually dissolves into thick pearls that slowly crawl down the wall of the glass.
Nose: After the initial push of alcohol, the first thing to enter my nostrils is ripe mango, which I have also found in other Diamonds. Other fruits have a hard time to prevail against the mango, but there are some bitter blood oranges as well as a hint of sweet apricots. Next to it I get walnut and maple syrup. The nose is pretty heavy with many of the scents coming from the cask. I detect leather, fir wood and conifers, cloves and cinnamon.
Palate: Measured by the rum’s strength, the first sip is surprisingly smooth. It doesn’t require any dilution with water for me. The mango is still there, but it is nowhere near as dominant as in the nose. There are a lot of dried fruits in the form of cranberries, apricot slices, raisins and perhaps some banana chips. The rum is subtly sweet, again reminding me of maple syrup. As far as the spices go, the cloves are now more prominent than they were in the nose and the cinnamon moves to the background. Instead I get some anise as well. There is a lot of leather and wood. The cask was quite active.
Finish: Dry and bitter. The dried fruits are still there, as are some of the spices. Most notably cloves. The finish is quite long.
The Our Rum & Spirits Guyana 2003 12YO is a very good rum by a very appealing small bottler. It is among the best Diamonds I know and comes at a reasonable price. What is the added value in paying two or three times as much for bottlings of, say, Samaroli or Silver Seal when we can get the same or even better quality from someone who is bottling rum more or less as a hobby? Personally, I prefer to support the smaller and lesser known bottlers if the quality is right.
It is almost hard to believe that this is a cask strength single cask bottling given how balanced and smooth it is. It is clearly not to be mistaken with one of the more polished El Dorados, however. This rum is nowhere near as sweet and more flavourful than DDL’s mass products. If this is what you are looking for in a Demerara rum, please understand this as a recommendation. While I like the rum a lot, it could be a bit more edgy for me. There is at least one Diamond that is currently available which I like just a little bit more than this, even though it is a blend of two barrels. This rum will also be reviewed on this blog.