Long Pond Rum – 2003 + 2007

Jamaica’s Long Pond Estate is in Trelawny parish, not far from Hampden Estate. Both started around 1750 with several ownership changes – including a stint from 1977 to 1993 where the Jamaican government assumed control, before divesting. Then again in 2006, Long Point with Clarendon distillery and Innswood aging facilities were brought together to create National Rums of Jamaica (NRJ), which is owned by National Sugar Company (Jamaican government), Goddard Enterprises (West Indies Rum Distillery, Barbados) and Demerara Distillers (Guyana).

Long Pond TECC 11 year (2007/2018) 62.5%

  • Nose – Complex, ripe fruit, molasses treacle
  • Palate – Very full, rounded, balanced
  • Finish – Beautiful finish

Absolutely gorgeous! Thick, rich, full flavoured and fabulous.

Long Pond TECA 15 year (2003/2018) 63%

  • Nose – Sour mash, overripe fruits, sugary – loads of fermented sugar cane juice – but in a rather odd way, almost like a mad chemistry experiment running amok
  • Palate – Forceful, unbalanced and overwhelming initially, then settled in
  • Finish – Long, strong

Personally, my preference was the 11 year old yet both were powerful, complex, exceptional rums.

At Whisky Live 2018, we also sampled more rums from Luca Gargano:

  • Caroni Dennis “X” Gopaul 20 year (1998/2018) 69.5%
  • Caroni John “D” Eversley 22 year (1996/2018) 66.5%
  • Foursquare Destino 12 year Single Blended Rum ex-Madeira & 2 year ex-Bourbon 61%
  • Hampden LFCH 7 year (2011/2018) 60.5%
  • Habitation Velier Last Ward 9 year (2009/2018) 59%

Curious to know more? One of the best bloggers on such rums I’ve come across so far is The Lone Caner.

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Red Casks – Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask 43%

Our original tasting group was in for a surprise! A special theme of unusual finishes, first sampled completely whisky blind without bias…

Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask 43%

  • Nose – Fruity, floral and distinctly ‘feni’-like, some citrus, distinctly ‘prickly’, syrup, salted cashews… as it settled down, started to reveal a nice oily aroma, a sweet and sour of khoya, strongly reminded us of a gulab jamun, toffee cream chocolate, spice… after the 1st sip, had a nice vanilla biscuit, retaining the gulab jamun chased by salted caramel, rum spiked honey water
  • Palate – Initially greeted us with a spicy ginger, salt then gentle tobacco, something of substance and a bit astringent, yet still heavy oils, chewy, butter biscuit, a good balance… if you the breathed it in were rewarded with khatta meetha  or sour sweet
  • Finish – A bitter pepper spice that sparked a debate – lingering with orange peel and almond or short yet balanced? I was in the camp that found after the initial oomph… the shadow of the finish remained
  • Water – After it initially sharpened the spice, it settled down to make this whisky more pleasant and mellow on the palate however didn’t reveal anything new

Overall we found the aromas quite volatile when freshly open, taking some time to settle down… and interesting.

There was loads of speculation… we didn’t think it was sherry cask but there was definitely something different going on. One member was clear it was rum, others not convinced.

And the reveal?

Well our rum speculator was spot on!

What did we try in our special “red” casks evening?

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Sipsmith’s Sloe Gin Martini

Every once and a while folks move on to different lands, leaving behind a gift or two. In this case, it was a bottle of Sipsmith Sloe gin…

For those not familiar with sloe gin, what makes it distinctive is soaking blackthorn ‘sloe’ drupes and sugar in gin, bringing both colour and flavour to the gin.

sipsmith-soe-gin

I met up with this friend recently in Singapore and so on my return, decided to enjoy a summery Sunday (yes – it is still hot here in Mumbai!) cocktail.

Here is what I made…

Sipsmith’s Sloe Gin Martini

  • 2 generous drams of Sloe Gin
  • 1/4 dram of Vermouth
  • Few dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Shake or stir over ice until cold
  • Garnish with an orange peel
  • Serve in a chilled martini glass

If you want it even lighter, add a splash of sparkling water or soda…

This particular Sipsmith Sloe Gin is from 2013 and has a juicy sweet plummy flavour which becomes more refreshing chilled and diluted with ice.

Other cocktail adventures include:

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Columbian Rums – Dictador Esencia 25 year 40%

Our last rum for the evening was a Dictador… one you won’t find to easily… available only in Columbia.

Dictador Esencia 25 year 40%, Batch 243-8

  • Colour – Dark copper
  • Nose – Very woody, wet dish rag, light varnish, dry, caramel custard
  • Palate – Loads of wood, balsa, heavy character, depth, dry, complex
  • Finish – A zing that get deeper, fruity spice then sweet

There was no doubt this was a robust, complex, rich rum. A real treat!

Here are the Columbian and The Seychelles rums we enjoyed that same evening:

It was fun to digress into a rummy evening. However, truth be told, as fabulous as these rums were… I still remain first and foremost a Whisky Lady!

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Columbia Rums – Gobernador 12 year 35%

Back to Columbia, our next rum was from Gobernador, with the oldest rum matured for 12 years. Now this rum was a real treat!

Ron Gobernador 12 year 35%

  • Nose – Prunes, dates and plums! Christmas pudding, very rich, lots of candied dry fruits, simply gorgeous
  • Palate – Wow! Rich and complex without being overly sweet, just superb
  • Finish – Very dry finish, slightly salty at the end

For most of this, this was a clear winner. It also went beautifully with a cigar.

Here are the Columbian rums we enjoyed that same evening:

Plus a bonus rum from The Syechelles:

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The Seychelles Rum – Takamaka 8 year 40%

Just as we were settling into our Columbian explorations, one of our tasting companions added to the mix a recent purchase from his trip to The Seychelles with a rum from La Pleine St Andre.

Takamaka 8 year 40%

  • Nose – Juicy oranges, a refreshing fruity floral citrus, sugary caramel chased by burnt sugar, vanilla essence, sour cherry
  • Palate – Sugar, spice and all things nice! Very Christmasy, clove, cinnamon, oranges, oily mouth feel, nice oak
  • Finish – A nice chocolate orange or chilli chocolate, with more clove spice

In our opinion, this was the most “whisky like” – in a good way.

Here are the Columbian rums we enjoyed that same evening:

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Columbian Rums – Baluarte 8 year 35%

We had an evening dedicated to exploring rums… and not your ordinary easily available rums… these were personally sourced by our host from a recent trip to Columbia. His goal? Find something you couldn’t locate anywhere else…

Baluarte 8 year 35% (Dictador)

  • Nose – Citrus lemon, resin, sap, sour wine
  • Palate – Soft, very light flavours, delicate and subtle, a touch of caynne and liquorice, fruit cake
  • Finish – Long light spice, a bit bitter

Clearly this wasn’t an ‘in your face’ kinda rum, it was very light after La Hechicero, welcome for not being too sweet but not a favourite… still interesting to try.

Here is what else we explored in our rum evening:

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Columbian Rums – La Hechicera 40%

We kicked off our Columbian rum explorations with a no age statement rum. None of us had encounter ‘The Enchantress’ La Hechicera before.

La Hechicera Extra Anejo de Solera 40%

  • Nose – Plum, a bit sharp, exceedingly sweet, toffee, vanilla
  • Palate – Pure cane sugar, dry, pineapple, orange peel, a bit of liquorice
  • Finish – Cocoa mocha finish, slightly bitter tobacco with a dash of salt

What a wonderful full-bodied way to begin our evening. No doubt this was no ordinary rum and a great way to kick off our explorations.

What else did we try?

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Colombian Rums – La Hechicera, Baluarte 8, Gobernador 12, Dictador Esencia 25

While our base may be Bombay, we are an aventuresome lot… with one of our merry malters making his way to Cartegena, Columbia in a quest for quality rums.

Here is what he found in Columbia:

Plus another tasting companion simply had to add to the mix with another rum from his recent trip to The Seychelles:

And if this wasn’t enough, from Colombia also came a trio of “Licor de cacao” – Chilli, Passion Fruit and Orange… with narry a drop of alcohol but an experiment that intrigued our travelling man.

Do yourself a favour and stop now. We all concluded we had never come across something quite so foul before. Ever. I guess some experiments simply don’t cross the oceans well…

As for the rums? Read on over the next few days… you won’t be disappointed.

Other rum explorations include:

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Gin gin gin! Gin Mare, Queensborough, Few, Tanqueray

Our gin explorations continued… with gins from a jaunt around a few countries with:

  • From Spain… the Mediterranean Gin Mare
  • From the west coast of Canada,  the classic dry Queensborough
  • From south of the border in Illinois, USA a blind sample from FEW
  • And finally… a step back into familiar territory with the very British Tanqueray Ten

We sampled them on a lazy Sunday sundowner in South Bombay, anchored by a collection of a travelling friend, augmented by a few more offerings!

Here are our tasting impressions…

Gin Mare 42.7%

  • Very dry, olives, has the biggest nose of all sampled so far, yet less rosemary than expected, a bit of cardamon and mint, juniper there but supporting, basil, thyme
  • Green pepper, spice, olive, quite warm

One of our tasting companions has spent time with the Gin Mare team and shared how they distill 12 different gins – one for each element – then blend together. A painstaking and meticulous process. It is a bit different, not for everyone.

A  few remarked on a shift – previously finding it both more olive and rosemary forward yet now sweeter. For more info, check out their website Gin Mare.

Queensborough Small Batch Dry Gin 43% (BC, Canada)

  • Very classic, spruce tree, lots of juniper, nice clean citrus, lightly floral
  • Nice light spices, juniper and pine forest, direct, clean, lightly floral
  • Nice clean citrus after taste

This was my offering to the evening and one brought in by a friend who picked it up after researching the “best classic dry gin” from BC. It is produced by Central City Brewers + Distillers. It uses Juniper from the BC interior and Spruce Tips sourced from Vancouver Island.  (Central City)

Above all it can best be described as “classic and clean” with a nice fresh forest feel. No crazy experiments here just a solid dry gin.

Mystery gin 

  • Initially was surgical spirit, floral perfume, fruits like peaches or apricot?
  • Very anise or fennel on the palate, then finishes with a salty pear
  • Not something very appealing initially then adjusted and began to enjoy

One of tasting companions brought this carefully concealed gin to the party… just to see what we thought. To be honest it wasn’t for everyone but it grew on us too.

And what was it? While I can’t confirm the full details it was a barrel gin from FEW Spirits from Illinois, USA.

Tanqueray Ten 47.3%

  • Lower on the botanicals, spice dry
  • Citrus, sweet
  • An easy one to enjoy in a G&T… which is exactly why it was picked!

Which is exactly when our attentions shifted from comparing different gin profiles to pairing with different tonics. Which will be a topic for another day…

Other gin experiences:

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