Blends, love ’em or hate ’em

Let me be honest with you. The name of this blog suggests it already but we aren’t very fond of blends at Single Cask Rum. We like distinct, characteristic and unique rums. Nevertheless, I’ve found a few blended, multi-country or at least multi-distillery rums in my sample box. Maybe we can find a hidden gem among them. Who knows…

samablendSamaroli Caribbean Rum 2005 (45%): I have actually no clue what is included in this one and to be honest, I didn’t really bother to find out. In the nose, I get a very Spanish/ many-plates column still profile with a dose of column still Sixsteen. But that’s not much more than wild guessing. The rum needs some time to fully develop. It all starts out very briny only to turn more promising and fruity after a while. Once you are able to look past the tobacco and caramel, you’ll find aromas of citrus, pineapple and oranges. Let’s see what the palate holds for us. Well, still mostly your typical Spaniard but with interesting additional flavors of citrus and oranges, which definitely upgrade the rum. However, there’s also something in the rum which downgrades it again: Coriander and cardamom. I don’t (always) mind these flavours per se but here they feel misplaced. The finish combines all the previous associations and actually works quite well. All in all it’s an easy sipping rum that I don’t mind all that much. It’s different enough from its competitors in this segment to warrant its existence, which is a huge plus in my eyes. Nevertheless, this disturbing note mentioned above means that I cannot enjoy it. But perhaps that’s just me. Anyways, it’s way too expensive for what it is and wants to be.

12bajaTwelve Jamaica & Barbados (65%): Twelve is a new French bottler that is releasing mostly multi-country blends. The Jamaican share of this rum of this one stems from Clarendon (Monymusk) and the Bajan distillery Sixteen. And you can easily find that in the nose. This reminds me quite a bit of the Our Rum & Spirits “Our Blend”, which, next to Martinique, also contains Jamaica and Barbados. The nose is quite alcoholic but also full and heavy, with medical aromas and notes of coconut and exotic fruits. Then plenty of quince and vanilla. It’s a rather nice combination that is actually a bit more than just the sum of their parts. Taking a sip, the rum is full of pears, quince and kiwi. The Sixteen character is either quite scaled down or completely dominated by the Jamaican flavours. On the other hand, this is not Monymusk as you know it – the enhanced body helps a lot here! Finish: Medium long with bitter quince and oak. As a small anecdote: I got my sample from Roger and he told me that I am going to like this. At first I found that hard to believe but after all, my Belgian Companion was right. This rum is quite good.

papaVelier Papalin (Cuba & Trinidad, 42%): This is a Cuban rum with a teaspoon of Caroni. Depending on whom to trust, the Caroni share should be about 3-10%, the rest probably comes from the Paraiso distillery which you might know under the name Sancti Spiritus.
By the way, this is ultra oily for a heavily diluted rum. Judged by the nose alone, this might also be a Light Style Caroni. I get vanilla, lots of mineral and earthy elements as well as apples and citrus nuances in the background. At the palate we get a different animal. This is not even remotely close to the Sancti Spiritus rums I know (e.g. this one or these two). Hence, either the base rum has a different origin or the addition of Caroni drastically changed the profile of the rum. My primary associations are wax, candles, vanilla and definitely soap. It’s really weird. The more I sip and think about it, the stronger the soapy note becomes. The mineral elements are still there but are clearly dominated by the aforementioned flavours. The finish has more candles and soap and is a seamless transition to the next sip. When I tasted the rum for the first time I absolutely hated it. Now I am starting to get the idea behind it but still do not think that the experiment was successful. The nose is okay, the taste is absolutely beyond me. The 42% aren’t a problem here, it’s rather that the mix doesn’t work at all for me.

navybVelier Royal Navy Blend (Trinidad, Guyana & Jamaica, 57,18%): “The oldest blend of British Caribbean Rums of the 21st century”, whatever that is supposed to mean. Think about it, really, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But whatever. We have a mix of at least 20YO Caronis, 15YO Demerara (Versailles I believe) and 12YO Jamaican rums (pretty sure it is (mostly) Worthy Park). Together these are supposed to have a weighted average age of 17,42 years. The marketing department has spoken. But who cares if the product delivers what it promises. Nose: Plenty of Caroni at first with roadworks and lamp oil, followed by roasting notes (cocoa, peanuts) and faint, fruity esters (overripe banana). Now notes of fuel, flambeed oranges and some earthy, even mineral aspects. It’s rather complex. Palate: Now my first impressions are the overripe banana from the nose, accompanied by flambeed banana and milk chocolate. I can tell which way the wind is blowing (Worthy Park fyi). Then the typical Versailles notes such as pencil shavings, prunes and herb, more milk chocolate and bananas and not too much Caroni. It was the most prominent rum in the nose but at the palate we are missing the characteristic notes, demonstrating again that Jamaica usually dominates in these blends. However, we can find some nuances here and there. Finish: Medium long with bananas and Caroni, accompanied by nice woody notes. Wow, this was a pleasant surprise. I was afraid that only the bad left over barrels have been used for this blend but even if this were the case we got a very nice and tasty product. While I think the price is a bit too ambitious for such a blend, that doesn’t take away from its quality. Nicely done!

navyNavy Island Navy Strength Jamaica Rum (Jamaica, 57%): This is a blend of only Jamaican Pot Still rums. Don’t ask me which distilleries are included here but does it really matter? Nose: a slightly alcoholic cloud of vapour, some esters and plenty of banana enter my nostrils. Then exotic fruits such as papayas and guava paired with lots of vanilla. Not too bad. With the first sip, the alcohol feels a bit hot and it isn’t particularly well-integrated. Next I get the exotic fruits from the nose together with spices such as vanilla and cinnamon. With the third sip I also get more herbal notes as well as sulphate towards the end. The finish has more of the herbs and is decently long. It’s a solid rum but absolutely nothing to get excited about. Flavour-wise it is fine but the alcohol is a bit too present for my liking.

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