Highlights from RumFest naturally include the Velier stand which is almost a festival in its own right, much like TBWC is with whisky.
Later in the day, an enlightening masterclass by Luca Gargano himself saw us revisit many of the rums below, albeit in context of his rum mission. I will be posting my impressions of that key masterclass soon. Until then, here are my morning’s impressions from the main arena.
Clairin World Championship  Velier 46% WF88
MdW: To celebrate the Clairin World Championship 2016, a mixology championship during which twelve bartenders competed on Haiti, LMDW and Velier decided to blend the clairins of Fritz Vaval, Faubert Casimir and Michel Sajous’. This is the result.
C: Diluted & appeased new make. Not massively interesting at the time but a lovely blended spirit no doubt.
Scores 75 points
Clairin Le Rocher  Velier 51%
Haitian syrup-based rum made at the Bethel Romelus distillery.
- N: Another alien smell – the beauty & magic of Clairin. Weird buttered/creamy icing and buttery copper are the most tangible notes.
- T: More buttery copper. Water smoothes the edges.
- F: Dry grapey spirit.
- C: Weird & really good spirit, but not a style that suited me today.
Scores 76 points
Rhum Rhum Liberation  Velier, Marie Galante 45% Velier
- N: Mango, banana and putty. Blind, it’s Irish!
- T: More of those nosing notes on the palate with a smoked popadom note.
- F: Rubbery oloroso sherry.
- C: Rum with a whisky cask-centric approach. The finish spoils it but the nose and palate are very good.
Scores 85 points
Rhum Rhum Liberation Integral  Velier, Marie Galante 58.4% Velier
- N: Blatant oloroso here with some fruits and putty later. Water adds some tyre.
- T: Blatant oloroso. Rather soft with water.
- F: Rum parading as an oloroso-finished malt.
- C: Why, why not? If the whisky industry can do it,… The Glenrothes of rum.
Scores 82 points
The early-bird ticket gave us exclusive access to the Velier stand for a while before other wanderers appeared. Then who should turn up but Ralfy, which was a super surprise. Big fan!
Expect some rum reviews in the near future, and exclusive vlogs for us Patreon’s LINK.
Hampden 2010/2016 6yo Velier LROK HLCK 60%
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of La Maison du Whisky, this is a pure single rum that consists of a blend of two different styles of pot still rum from the same distillery.
- N: Sweet lime and fruity cocktail with a desirable spirit character. Other notes include chocolate bourbon biscuits and sweet-dry soapy perfume.
- T: Good,…
- F: … but it feels like an uphill struggle.
- C: Fatigue set in early, very possibly down to my palate.
[Provisionally] scores 85 points
Everything you may need to know about this rum is covered by the Fat Rum Pirate. Amongst other things he says:
‘Last Ward 2007 represents the Ward family who for over 100 years owned and ran the Mount Gay rum distillery in St Lucy, Barbados’. ‘Last Ward 2007 represents the oldest rums available as part of the distillation of Mount Gilboa. Velier bought these casks in 2014. The rum has been tropically aged – Angels Share of 65%’ TFRP
- N: Nice nose.
- T: Bourbon [vanilla] cask driven. Water adds a decent mouth coat.
- F: Good rounded rum with a commendable cask/spirit balance.
- C: A sure straight-ahead modern malternative rum from an industry that is fast gathering inspiration from the whisky industry.
Scores 84 points
Velier Royal Navy ‘Very old rum’  57.18% Velier
From a guy who seems to do everything right, the label of Luca’s Royal Navy blend states: an average weighted age of 17.42 years. And just look at what’s in this blend:
- Caroni: Aged in the tropics for 20 years+
- Guyana: Demerara rum aged [in Europe] for 15 years+
- Jamaica: Pure single rums aged in the tropics for 12 years+
- N: Watch out Pappy [Van Winkle], the rum is coming! This blend offers a luxurious yet controlled mushroom-y oldness.
- T: Pretty dry on paper=wax capacitor dry. Seems a bit stiff.
- F: Waxy dry. Water promotes some vanilla oils.
- C: Doesn’t feel outstanding overall but there’s some amazing stuff in here which deserves more time than a festival atmosphere allows.
[Provisionally] scores 85 points
Caroni 1996/2017 21yo Ob. Velier 57.18%
- N: Mushroom and oaky sweet bitters with strange vegetal acetone and a good dry damp chalk note.
- T: Good open arrival before it closes up.
- F: Tightens up even further with only a few bitter oaky vanilla notes getting out. There is however more sweet dry oaky fungal at the death.
- C: A very decent start but it’s not all plain sailing.
Scores 86 points
Caroni 1994/2017 23yo Ob. Velier ‘Guyana Stock’ 59%
Full proof heavy Trinidad rum. FYI, there are a few 1994 23yo Caroni vintages out there with differing label colours and strengths. This is double matured ’Guyana stock’ Caroni, part aged in Trinidad until 2008 before being moved to Guyana until it’s bottling this year .
- N: A clear family resemblance to the 21yo but this one is significantly different and ‘cooking’ on herbal oak liqueurs bitters. High hopes this is a cracker.
- T: Full-on bitter herbal with more weird sour acetone, petroleum and lighter fluid notes – that’s rum for you and a great example of it too.
- F: Sour valerian root bitter botanicals and curry spices. Good length though very dry.
- C: You probably/definitely have to like oak to like this. Sure it’s unbalanced, but 23 topics-aged years bring other rewards.
Scores 88 points
Richard’s stand is up next.