Welcome back dear reader. Next up in our small series on Versailles is the Silver Seal Enmore 1986 21YO.
Silver Seal dates back to 1979, when they were still called Sestante. Back then and still today they, like many other IBs, primarily bottle Whisky. After a ten-year downtime, they resumed operations in 2001. Being one of the more pricy bottlers, we naturally expect them to deliver high quality rums but reality is that their selections of times are not that much better than those of other, comparable bottlers. Nevertheless they have had some true gems, rather rare and even somewhat exclusive bottlings in the past. This rum has to be one of the latter, given that I am not aware of another Versailles distilled in 1986.
According to the label, this one has apparently been distilled in British Guyana. As you might know, British Guiana was the name of contemporary Guyana, which was a British colony in the West Indies until 1966, when it gained independence and called them selves, yes, Guyana. I am not sure whether its ignorance or laziness but someone at Silver Seal did not do his homework. Let’s do ours! Between 1829 and 1845, the Versailles Estate gradually switched from planting coffee to sugar. In 1854 they built a sugar mill, which allowed them to process the sugar cane and distill rum from the resulting by-product, molasses. It is very likely that the distillery also dates back to that time. The first proof of a rum produced at Versailles dates to the Worlds Columbian Exposition in Chicago 1893, where they offered samples just like the neighboring and later merging Schoon-Ord plantation, who already started distilling rum way earlier. Unfortunately not much is known about the Versailles Distillery but they probably produced until around 1967. What seems likely is that they shut down for good by 1971, when several distilleries merged, but another source also mentions 1978 in this context. Anyways, their Single Wooden Pot Still has then been brought to the Enmore Distillery, where it produced this rum, and later, via Uitvlugt, to the Diamond Distillery, where it is still producing today.
Dégustation “Silver Seal Enmore 1986 21YO”
Key Facts: This rum has been distilled by the Versailles Single Wooden Pot Still at Enmore Distillery in Guyana in 1986. After 21 years, Silver Seal bottled it at 55%.
Colour and viscosity: Tawny. Very oily. The rum slowly flows back down in thick streaks.
Nose: I immediately get the characteristic pencil sharpenings and prunes, paired with dried and stone fruits as I often pick them up in sherry finishes. But this is drier, closer to good dark fruit jam. It’s very nice. Then chocolate crusted fruit cake with raisins and cold coffee. I could keep on sniffing this for quite some time!
Palate: The first sip is incredibly mild and reminds me a bit of spice-flavoured coffee. It’s a beautiful melange of cinnamon, anise, cloves and dried fruits. Then the fruit cake again, which nicely pairs with the flavoured coffee. It just works so well together. Oddly, I get a few olives and brinery notes after a while but quite to my surprise I don’t mind it too much. Now also ginger and spice bread as well as salt and seaweed. This might actually just be a nuance of the brine though. It’s still quite good but the taste cannot quite keep up with the great nose.
Finish: The finish is strong on the brine and olives and stays with us for quite some time. If only we were to get more of the lovely spiced coffee – fruit cake combination…
The Silver Seal Enmore 1986 21YO is a great rum with some minor flaws. It’s general character is exactly what I love so much about Versailles but every now and then some slightly unpleasant notes disturb the experience. Without them this might have been a reference rum to compare other Versailles to. As it is, it is just a very good one. No more, no less. It is tough to give this rum a buying recommendation at its current asking price but I don’t regret my purchase at all. I know many people who love this rum but I think it is always best to try getting your hands on a sample if you are contemplating on buying such expensive rums.
Other opinions: Just like me, Lance liked it a lot. He mentions teryaki, which is probably a better description for what I have called olives, brine, salt and seaweed.