2018 was a superb year for us at RumCask. We decided to focus on talking to and sipping with the rum community and leave the blogging to those we enjoy reading the most (all of whom are a part of this list).
Alongside hosting 11 rum events from Brentford to Borough Market and from London’s Mayfair to Leighton Buzzard, RumCask spent 2018 travelling the world to find some unique cane spirits. From independent bottlers like 1423 and CDI to manufacturers like O Reizinho & Engenho Porto da Cruz from Madeira, as well as a bucket load of US & European based Rumfests, RumCask have been sampling some of the most unique products in the Rum category. We spoke to hundreds of rum lovers, new and old, and had an incredible time being part of everyone’s rum journey. It’s been a fantastic year for the rum category as a whole and let’s hope 2019 pushes that even further!
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The below 3 are in the order of selection by Chet, Jaz and then Indy:
This rum for me is a perfect blend of culture, history, funk and flavour. Clarendon, Hampden, Worthy Park, New Yarmouth and Angostura. Yum. A great deal of thought has gone into everything from the shape of the bottle to the compass pointing to true North. Yes, I enjoy clever marketing but the point is that everything is on this bottle for a reason – a great heritage for grandfathers William and George.
I enjoy it neat and rarely stop at one pour. It is incredibly smooth and yet the dry, estery Jamaican bite is evident. All of the colour has been taken out too so when you are making a killer daiquiri, you get that crystal clear holy trinity of rum, lime and sugar but elevated by a delicious over-ripe bananas at 43% ABV.
Martin Cate Masters Selection Chairman’s Reserve
Whilst we have had a mammoth year for rum through the multiple superb Velier bottlings (Destino, Antigua, Long Pond, Hampden, Vale Royale), I tend to use my vote to highlight delicious rum from under the mainstream current. As everyone has seen this year, Mhoba is a fantastic Rum with their high ester rums pushing Jamican funk!
Its hard to decide a single winner, so my shortlist included O Reiziniho (Madeira), Vale Royale & S.B.S. Guyana 1998. My winner for 2018 is… Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection from St. Lucia.
This is the first release under the new Chairman’s Reserve Master’s selection and was specifically selected by Martin Cate (of Smuggler’s Cove, San Francisco). The rum was distilled in the legendary John Dore #1 , a small double retort pot still based at St. Lucia distillers. Tropically aged for six years in ex bourbon barrels, this expression is bottled at cask strength (57.4% ABV) with no added flavours, colour or chill filtration.
This rum exemplifies both traditional distillation methods and careful fermentation techniques practiced at SLD. A truly wonderful expression of a delicious true rum! Get your hands on it while you can.
Velier ‘The Antigua Distillery’ 2012
An extremely well priced Velier release at around £60 is quite a rarity these days. Even more so to find it in stock. However, when I found it, I instantly purchased two bottles, such is the reputation of the bottler. I’m glad I took that leap!
The nose was actually outstanding to me. The notes of salt and brine were wrapped in vanilla and then some spices such as clove and cinnamon. There was also a sweetness which I took as caramelised sugar. Delicious.
Although bottled at 66% ABV, this is very sippable and I have found actually reveals a wide variety of flavours at this level. When I tried watering it down, it seemed to lack something, which is rare for a high ABV which i usually find opens up more with the addition of a little water. The notes on the nose were complimented with hints of nuts and toffee. The finish was long and showed off most of the aforementioned flavours alongside some tobacco and leathery notes. What a journey!