Last Wednesday evening I had my first ever rum tasting, this was a tweet tasting hosted by Steve from The Whisky Wire with Marussia beverages for Mezan Rum.
Mezan is a UK based company that source the best rums they can find from the Caribbean, with the Cellar Master selecting the finest rums he can find from distilleries old and new including some that are now closed.
Rum generally comes in four styles, these are White Rum, Golden Rum, Spiced Rum and Dark Rum. The Mezan rums fall into the Dark Rum style, being typically older in age than Golden Rums gaining much of there colour from maturation process. They also tend to have a higher percentage of heavier marks, making them a more intense, complex and full bodied smooth spirit.
We were to try four different releases from Mezan with the first of the night being the Jamaica XO rum bottled at 40% abv, it is a small batch release of 5000 bottles. It is a blend of rums from the Monymusk and Hampden estates distilleries, the latter having Scottish roots and being one of the oldest sugar plantations in the country still in production. The rums used in this blend are aged between 4 and 23 years old, once the blend is done the rum is then re-casked to allow the spirit to age and marry to better enhance the flavours.
Nose: Lots of Banana, apples baked with demerara sugar, soft toffee notes, a little hint of allspice with a touch of oak in the background..
Palate: Banana toffee, treacle, Burnt caramel, soft touch of white pepper, with time a earthy gentle liquorice note comes through..
Finish: Not too long with a gentle warmth with the Liquorice note being present..
The second of the night was the Panama 2004 rum bottled at 40% abv. This spirit comes from a undisclosed estate that produces it’s own sugar cane. They rebuilt the distillery in 1976 and use modern multi column stills, they also grow their own yeast culture making the spirits produced unique to the estate. This particular expression is aged twice in separate American Oak bourbon barrels and uses soft molasses based rums.
Nose: very lively, lots of fruit, apple, pear, banana etc, vanilla toffee, a gentle acidic note almost spicey, with an earthy treacle note coming through..
Palate: Butterscotch toffee, pear drizzled in syrup, soft cinnamon spice, a banana note appears and with more time on the palate some treacle and raisin notes appear..
Finish: the finish is quite short with a sweet spice note, it is very moreish..
Then we moved on to the Trinidad 2007 rum bottled at 46% abv, this is quite a different rum to the previous two. The Spirit is initially fermented for 48 hours using a daily propagated own recipe yeast. The blend itself uses a higher proportion of lighter distililates unlike the heavier ones generally used, made from molasses and distilled to between 80-95% abv in stainless multi column stills. This is then first aged in first fill bourbon barrels, before being shipped to the UK were it is aged again. This time using barrels that have previously held Trinidad rum in them.
Nose: mango, passion fruit, soft citrus note, a dark coco note follows the fruit with a touch of fresh ground coffee, there is a sweetness that reminds of my childhood with Flumps and Kola cubes..
Palate: Soft demerara sugar, the mango from the nose is present, honey, also a touch of anise is there giving a sweet spicey touch with a hint toasted oak..
Finish: Medium in length, an anise spice hint with a touch of the oak last to the end..
The last expression of the night was a Jamaica 2005 Rum, again bottled at 46% abv. This was produced at the Worthy Park distillery in Jamaica, known for producing both light and heavy rum distililates. They use a proprietary yeast for the fermentation, this particular expression was produced from molasses and double distilled in a Forsyth’s copper pot still.
Nose: Banana, fresh cut grass, apples, some hints of oranges and vanilla, with time a biscuity note appears, almost a classic banoffee pie dessert note, underneath is a soft dried fruit note, raisin maybe..
Palate: The palate is completely different to the nose, unripe orchard fruits, caramelized sugars, some hints of stem ginger with the dried fruit and coffee notes in the background..
Finish: Quite long with a dry fruit and ginger undertone to the finish..
This has been a most enjoyable tasting, I’ve tried a few rums before and had always enjoyed most but found them to be a little artificial in taste. I believe this was due to the added caramel that is prominent in most popular brands, with Mezan trying to keep the rum they release as natural as possible. Their statement is Unsweetened, Uncolored and only lightly filtered, this shows in the finished product.
Everyone of these rums I could enjoy as a sipping rum or mixed in a cocktail, the stand out expressions for me were the Panama and Trinidad with the Panama winning on the night by the closest of margins. The weakest was the XO but this was still a very enjoyable rum to drink, for me the pronounced banana notes were just so strong it took a little bit away from the drink.
I would recommend my fellow whisky drinkers to try some of the rums that are available, I think you will be pleasantly surprised by what you taste. I’d also highly suggest you try the Panama and Trinidad from Mezan, they are outstanding examples to savour and enjoy.
I’d like to say a huge thanks to Steve from The Whisky Wire also to Marussia beverages UK and Mezan for the samples. It was a very enjoyable night with some amazing people.