May the 4th be with you!
Another Rockley/ Blackrock style rum from Barbados’ West Indies Rum Distillery (W.I.R.D.). Distilled in June 2000, it comes from the same batch as the Duncan Taylor W.I.R.D. 2000 15YO but got to age for another year. It is the Whiskybroker W.I.R.D. 2000 16YO.
This bottling is part of the second wave of Whiskybroker releases and, contrary to their first release, this time they give us the marks on the barrels. It is laudably worth mentioning that this bottler is actually listening to the comments of the rum community! Generally, it seems that they put all the information on the label that they have. Well done!
The mark on the barrel was BBR and my guess is that it stands for Barbados Black Rock. We already encountered this mark on a Cadenhead’s release from 2012. We now know that it was also a 2000 W.I.R.D. pot still but it had the name “Blackrock Distillery” on its label, adding to the confusion about this rum style. Anyway, either W.I.R.D. recognises this rum style themselves, it just stems from their local origin (Black Rock is the district next to the distillery), or both.
As mentioned in the previous review, Pierre Ferrand, home to Plantation rums, bought W.I.R.D. earlier this year. When the news came out, large parts of the rum scene were shocked and feared that rum-based spirits (e.g. sweetened rums) will become even more prominent than they already are. Moreover, at first glance this move suggests that the not-so active pot still, i.e. the one that is responsible for the Rockley-style rums, will see even less action since W.I.R.D.s other pot still is the one that produces part of what goes into Plantation’s Barbados products. In a nutshell, the consensus was that Ferrand bought W.I.R.D. to secure the production for their Barbados XO and to lower costs. What was less obvious is that the acquisition of W.I.R.D. also came with shares in National Rums of Jamaica (NRJ), which is home to the distilleries of Long Pond and Clarendon (Monymusk) as well as the blending and ageing facility of Innswood. It remains to be seen what the consequences of Ferrand’s purchase are for rum in Jamaica but the country is the second most important source of rum for Plantation. We will see.
In an interview with Rumporter, Alexandre Gabriel addresses some of these concerns. Besides planning to install the “first Caribbean copper column still”, Ferrand also wants to put the old stills that are lying around the distillery’s compound back to use. One of them is even supposed to be the actual Rockley still (called “Rickley” by Mr. Gabriel in the interview). What is more,
“there’s also a completely unique still which was previously known to the entire body of rum specialists only through books. Well there is one at West Indies Rum that is ready to resume service. Plus, two others from the historic Babson distillery that had been bought by West Indies Rum at the end of the 19th century.”
On the one hand, these are exciting news. On the other hand, it now seems less likely that W.I.R.D. will also sell these rums to brokers (and hence other independent bottlers) and Plantation probably won’t stop messing around with their rums. Time will tell.
Dégustation “Whiskybroker W.I.R.D. 2000 16YO”
Key Facts: This single cask rum has been distilled in June 2000 at W.I.R.D. in Barbados. After 16 years of ageing, it has been bottled on 9.2.2017 at 57,6% cask strength. It comes from barrel number 18, which yielded 245 bottles. Whiskybroker further state that it is not chill filtered, does not contain added colouring and may contain small traces of cask sediment. I did not find any. Before I forget: It is not mentioned on the label but it’s a pot still distillate!
Colour and viscosity: Deep copper. Way darker than the only one year younger Duncan Taylor W.I.R.D. 2000 15YO. Thick pearls stick to the rim of the glass and the rum temperately finds its way back to the bottom. The cask was probably very active.
Nose: We can find many familiar aromas. Similarly to the Duncan Taylor, I immediately smell honeycomb and beeswax. Smokiness and medical notes can be found as well. Deeper in the glass I also get the almonds. Besides these “standard” Rockley notes, the rum differs a bit from other 2000 W.I.R.D.s. Not only is it the oldest Rockley we have gotten from that vintage so far, it is probably also the one that aged in the most active cask. Its influence is clearly recognisable in the nose but instead of spices I can mostly smell wood. There is plenty of vanilla, however.
Palate: A small sip surprises me with a pleasant pepperiness. I taste green chilies, peppercorns and stovewood. The smoky character is ever-present and pictures of a barbecue smoker and woodchips pop up in my mind. Behind that we can find the typical notes of honey, beeswax, almond milk and plaster. Now the spices. There are vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, turmeric and much more to be found in this one. Contrary to the Duncan Taylor, which was very herbal towards the end, this rum is strongly leaning towards the spicery-side. This gives it an oriental touch. I like it quite a bit and I am pretty sure that you will be able to find more notes in this rum if you spend more time with it.
Finish: Dry and spicy. Pepper, chillies and many of the spices are still present. Add to that a few medical notes. The finish is very long.
While I said that the Duncan Taylor might be your “every-day” Rockley, the Whiskybroker W.I.R.D. 2000 16YO is the exact opposite. The cask was very active and steered the rum in a slightly different direction. This makes the rum more complex and interesting to me. My guess is that you might find additional flavours after being halfway through your bottle. However, I feel that the rum might have been in the barrel for a bit too long. It isn’t really more mature than its younger brothers by Duncan Taylor and while I enjoy the additional flavours from the cask, they might be a tad too extreme. But that’s complaining about first world problems and it is indeed a pleasing problem to have. If you are into these rums, try to get your hands on a bottle if you can. The quality is great and the price is fair, what more can you ask for? Better be quick, it might be sold out soon though.
My shout-out goes to Thomas G. who made it possible for me to get this bottle thanks to a large collective order. It was very appreciated!