Yep, you read that correctly. That's 'rum' not 'whisky'.
During lockdown, the Edinburgh Whisky Group has been meeting most Saturday evenings to enjoy a dram or two. Sometimes more. It's a nice way to spend the evening whilst we wait for the pubs to open again.
One member suggested an evening of rum - just for a change - and, because I know very little about this spirit, I asked Peter Holland aka Boutiquey Pete aka The Floating Rum Shack if he could recommend a selection of five rums to start us on our journey. He did and also very kindly offered to join us to talk us through all things rum.
What we thought would be an hour or so of Peter's time turned into four but I reckon we could have talked for way longer. Peter's rum knowledge is encyclopedic and, to be honest, we probably only scratched the surface.
Each of the rums was so different and in this respect there is, of course, a strong parallel with whisky. I'm not going to post full tasting notes for each one here; the main reason being that I didn't actually write that many at the time. I wanted to approach this in a similar way to how I first approached whisky tastings - firstly, simply deciding whether or not I liked what was in my glass and, secondly, whether I'd be prepared to buy a full bottle. That second criterion has gone by the wayside at the moment given the current situation but, when you look at whisky prices, all these rums certainly offer great value for money.
The first tot of the evening was the Casa Santana 12 Years, from Colombia, bottled at 58.4%
This was just soooo easy to sip on and it was probably my favourite of the evening for that sole reason. There were some lovely banoffee notes, hints of ginger and brown sugar. It was sweet but not saccharine which has been my previous experience with rum. This was a good start.
Next up was Foursquare 12 years , from Barbados, bottled at 53.7%.
This reminded me of some sherry bomb whiskies - notes of raisins and figs - but there was something almost ashy in the finish. This was the first batch of Foursquare rum bottled by TBRC and it was limited to just 521 bottles.
Our third rum of the evening was O Reizinho 3 Years from Portugal bottled at 52.6%.
This wasn't actually on Peter's list of recommendations. He had suggested we try Engenhos do Norte but unfortunately there were neither full bottles nor samples of this in stock. So I chose this on the basis that it also came from Portugal and it was a bit weird to say the least. My initial thoughts on this were Pickled Onion Monster Munch meets salted caramel. And if you've ever eaten one after the other you'll know what I mean. Still, we intend to invite Peter back to Rum: Part 2 - The Revenge and we'll make sure Engenhos do Norte is in the lineup.
The penultimate rum was the Diamond Distillery (Unconfirmed Still) 18 Years bottled at 51.3%.
Here Peter features on the label wearing a delightful gold jacket. Unfortunately we couldn't persuade him to wear it for our Zoom tasting but maybe next time. Despite the fact that the still is unconfirmed, Peter thought it might have come from the Versailles still. It was a cracking rum whichever still it came from - probably my second favourite of the line up. A little bit apple pie in some parts, a little bit banoffee pie in others. And the price! OK, I know Boutique-y are 50cl bottles and that annoys some folk but if we do the maths, for a 70cl bottle this would be about 74 quid.
So, at 18 years old and 51.3% together with a release of just 970 bottles (at 50cl), this offers great value for money for the quality of the spirit.
Our final tot of the night was the Blended Rum #1 9 Years bottled at 55%.
Perhaps this is one of the ways that rum works differently to whisky as it's not very often that you finish with a blended expression. This was very complex and I remember thinking pear drops and pineapple cubes but, as this was the fifth cask strength tot, I'm afraid my chicken scratchings of notes don't give much more away than that.
What's certain is that I'm most definitely only in the beginning stages of learning about rum. I often use the phrase that 'I only have the one liver' and it's one that I'd like to keep (healthy) for as long as possible. Rum is definitely an area which I intend to explore further - just all in good time.
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