Travellers Liquors is a Belizean distillery that has been founded by their Master Blender Omario Perdomo in 1953. Their name derives from their history in serving travellers along the main route to Belize City. When the house made rum blend started to become insufficient and rum even had to be imported to satisfy local demand, Perdomo decided to start producing himself. Thus, he came to an agreement with Luis Espat, who built a distillery in Belopman to distill rum for Perdomo. Eventually, Perdomo acquired the distillery in 1989. Besides Rum, Travellers also produces a bunch of other products such as Brandy, Gin, Vodka and several liqueurs. In 1992, the company upgraded its facilities and stopped using acids to speed up the fermentation process. It took a while to get their rum shipped outside the country but eventually the first shipment of their brand One Barrel (a one year-old rum) arrived in the United States in 2005, when a single pallet of 75 cases was delivered to Mesa, Arizona. It is now available in over twenty states but, to the best of my knowledge, not in Europe. However, at least one batch from 2005 made it to Scotland and we will taste three bottlings from that batch today.
The company’s ageing rooms have about 7000 barrels waiting for getting bottled. According to Travellers, it is located below sea level, which considerably speeds up the ageing process due to a different pressure ratio. I don’t know whether the following rums have been ageing on Belize but the number of bottles of the Whiskybroker, which is a single cask bottling, suggest an angel’s share which can only be found in continental climates.
Cadenhead’s Travellers Distillery 2005 11YO (63,4%): A pleasant sweetness, sugar, caramel and toffee form a nose that is rather typical for a Spaniard but in a manner that was previously unknown. There’s so much power in this rum, it’s unreal. Now leather, bittersweet chocolate and cacao. Later muscovado sugar and a few herbs. At the palate there’s plenty of alcohol. Even at 63,4% it is rather strong. It’s sweet but not too sweet. Then the caramel-toffee, pine cone, resin and raspberries. With the third sip I also get earthy and herbal flavours. The finish is not very long, quite sweet and with aromas of resin and acacia honey. It’s not bad. I like the rum but it is not very complex. Well, for a Spanish style rum it actually is. The strong alcohol is a minus though.
Whiskybroker Travellers Distillery 2005 11YO (66,1): Plenty of alcohol in the nose, at 66,1% that’s no surprise. Then I smell honeydew melon, burnt caramel, dark berries and perhaps fresh tobacco. The melon is clearly the most dominant scent, there’s no doubt. The first sip reveals plenty of molasses, dark berries, tobacco and caramel. Sadly, the honey dew melon flavours seem to be gone. Then unripe cherries, black currents, cloves and cinnamon. The finish is short, dry and bitter with notes of tobacco. With water it becomes a bit tamer but I lose many of the aromas in the nose. At the palate, the rum is now less complex and reminds me a bit of a Panamanian with a stronger emphasis on the tobacco. It’s a bit of a weirdo. It’s profile is that of an “easy sipper” but the high alcohol volume is quite challenging. If only there was more of that oh so sweet honeydew melon… The Cadenhead’s was definitely easier on me, which I consider a plus this time. I know that this rum has quite a few fans though.
Spirit of Old Man Belize 2005 9YO (66,4%): If you are thinking we cannot go higher in terms of abv you are wrong. Don’t be fooled by the name Bellevue Distillery on the label by the way, it has to be a mistake. Even though this chap is a bit younger than the previous rums, I think that the alcohol is less harsh than in the others. I get cloves, old wood, muscovado sugar and black currants. It is a bit held back, which is weird since I was expecting a more impetuous rum. At the palate, it’s milder than the Cadenhead’s. There are raisins, cherries, black currants, cloves and fresh wood. Then plenty of hazel nut and more black currants. I am definitely not going to dilute this but it might also be the result of having to other alcohol monsters before. The finish is medium long, bitter and slightly fruity. Compared to the Cadenhead’s, the alcohol is not as strong but the flavours are a bit less interesting. The differences are not excessive, however.
An interesting tasting session. I have to admit that I have my prejudices towards Spanish-style rums, mostly founded on disappointing tasting experiences however. I think I will write about one in the near future to give you a better idea of what I am talking about. For my palate, added sugar and Solera age statements aside, many of these rums are simply too similar and interchangeable, not very flavourful due to seemingly endless column stills and just don’t adhere to my personal preferences. I am glad that it is different with Belizean rums! These definitely aren’t boring and offer flavours and nuances that, to the best of my knowledge, cannot be found in other Spaniards. I wouldn’t rate them extremely highly, nowhere close to where I’d put my faves at least but I will keep on getting samples from the distillery whenever I can. If you don’t share my prejudices these might be real gems to you, if you do, I’d say there is nothing wrong about giving them a try. Just be advised though that these rums don’t make for an easy sipping! At the danger of repeating myself, I know a few people who have developed a fondness for Belizean rums and I can certainly understand it.