This year has once again been very strong for rum, both on independent releases, as usual, but more importantly, on rums released by various distilleries under their own name and label, giving additional provenance to the discerning drinker, as well as the benefits of products made the way they are best meant to be. In my top 3 rums of 2018, I run the gamut of a continental aged indy rum, a distillery’s own label, and something in between. On to the rums themselves now!
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Berry Bros & Rudd 11 year old Fijian
In third place we have the excellent Berry Bros & Rudd 11 year old Fijian. Bottled by the UK’s oldest wine merchants who dabble in some excellent spirits (such as No.3 gin, as well as a lineup of great rums from all over the world), it really shows off why rums out of this South Pacific location are catching the eye of more and more enthusiasts. Packed full of sour tropical fruit notes, it reads very similar to Euro aged Hampdens, but adds on a slightly different dimension, with a dry, biscuit-like note, as well as some toffee and stone fruit. Truly an excellent introduction to rums outside of the Caribbean.
Foursquare Exceptional Cask Series 2005
In second place, a rum that has won everything this year, be it official awards, hearts of independent reviewers, or the complete adoration of my boss (seriously, we kept ordering new bottles without selling all that much). Most of you reading this will already know the rum in question is the Foursquare Exceptional Cask Series 2005. As Brand Ambassador for the Real McCoy rum, as well as an avid fan of all things great, I have worked my way through a very large amount of Richard Seale’s various releases, and I’m confident in saying that (so far) this is the best release to come out of his distillery. It shows off everything that you could possibly desire from a rum, utilizing the powerful distillate off the traditional, double retort pot, softened and rounded by the column still rum. Released at cask strength, it’s deceptively easy to drink, showing off every classic Bajan flavour in the book (chocolate, vanilla, caramel, pepper, baking spice of all kinds), as well as a leathery, sweet tobacco-like note that makes it an excellent companion for cigars.
Velier TECC Long Pond 2007
On to the what I consider to be the best rum of 2018, edging out the 2005 by a hair. Those of you who know me are well aware of my love for high ester, fruity, pot distilled rums above all else, and it is the Velier TECC Long Pond 2007 that takes my crown for best rum of this past year. A so-called “continental flavoured” rum, meaning rum originally meant for blending in small amounts to give exceptional flavour and character, it comes in at an insane 1500/1700 ester count, meaning your tongue will slowly, but surely melt off as you slosh it around in your mouth, trying to acclimatize your palate to the serious, 62.5% ABV. We all know the work Luca Gargano has put in to show off the best or Caribbean rum to the world as it’s meant to be, and this is another masterpiece, where you can spend several minutes just nosing the product, before ever getting into it. Like all high strength Long Pond releases, it has an incredibly honeyed, buttery palate, gliding down your throat. The fruit aromas associated with Jamaican rums are of course there, but instead of the usual pineapple and banana, you get tangerine, papaya and passion fruit. It’s an incredible sip.