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DESCRIBING RUMS IN A WAY THAT PAINTS A PICTURE AS WELL AS GIVES THE EVERYDAY READER REFERENCES THAT ARE BOTH FAMILIAR AND RELATABLE

I started in the world of wine tasting around 2006. These tastings were always blinded, so you had to work on finding and building a repertoire of a broad range of descriptors in order to piece together what you had in your glass...So when it comes to smell and flavour description, I’ve been doing it for quite a few years. In 2015, my interest in rum was sparked and since then I have thrown myself deep in to the world of this amazing spirit and wonderful people.


/Kris von Stedingk

 
 
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Black Tot 50th Anniversary 54.5% abv.




Black Tot 50th Anniversary - 54.5% abv.


Today I have been lucky enough to get ahold of a small sample of the new Black Tot 50th Anniversary bottle. Something I have heard lots about over the last few months, and something I have been very much looking forward to getting in to my glass.


So…what is it? This is blended rum paying tribute to 50 years since Black Tot day, the day when the last British Navy ration was served on a navy ship. July 31st 1970. Not only does this rum pay tribute to, but also contains some of the exact rum that was once being consumed on these ships. How is this possible? They have used some of the “world blend” (as they call it) which is rum from the Royal Navy flagons that contain the Navy “infinity blend” that was made between the mid 1880s up to 1970. Although this only accounts for 0.5% of the blend, it will definitely make its mark. On top of this, we also have 4 different Guyanese rums in the blend including 28% 12 year old and 27% 9 year old distillates from the heritage Savalle 4-colum still (famous for marques such as Albion, Skeldon, Blairmont, just to name a few). Then 6% 10 year old and 0.5% 42 year old Port Mourant double wooden pot still. I think you can already see that this is not your run-of-the-mill rum. 15% 11 year pot/column blend from Foursquare on Barbados. Then we move to Trinidad, where we not only have 11% 10 year old TDL column distillate, but also 4% 23 year old Caroni (perhaps you have heard of them?…). Finally, we will follow this up with 8% 9 year old Hampden…Honestly, how much good can you pour in to one bottle?



Before we dive in to the rum, one more incredibly exciting piece of information, that just gets me giddy thinking about, is that they have an excess of this rum that was produced, which they will then use as a base for next years “new blend”, which will then be used as the base for the next year and so on…so this rum, while being an extension on the original Navy “infinity blend”, will now serve as the starting point for another such timeless creation. We are lucky…Now, enough of the jabber, on to the rum!

Nose - How appropriate that this comes out just before Christmas, as this rum just screams Christmas pudding. Raisins, sticky toffee, cloves, apples, oranges, cinnamon, topped with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream…but now I’m getting ahead of myself. That is just one big bang at once, but if you give it a bit of time you can piece this one apart which surely gives more insight in to the underlying blend. Firstly, I am picking up dark chocolate notes, liquorice, molasses/burnt caramel and raisins and prunes. These are all things that I would expect from some of the older Demerara rums that we know are in this blend. Having been luckily enough to have tasted the old 40 year old PM from Black Tot, I recognise hints of that slightly bitter, splintery wet wood coming through - although the 0.5% of the old navy flagon rum is likely also contributing here. The Majority (55%) of this blend however is marques coming off the Savalle (4 column) still, which can range from light to heavy, but one thing’s for sure, with a range from 9-12 years on these components, a lot of this dried red fruit and waterlogged wood is coming from here. It’s deep and rich and truly comes across on the nose with a hit of everything I love about aged Guyana. I then move on to a creamy coconut with a somewhat spicy vanilla characteristic, that is likely coming from the 11 year Barbados component, which to quote Tot’s Mitch Wilson himself “is the pina colada of rums”. These mild and balanced mid-tones are contrasted by a fairly substantial amount of tropical, slightly acidic rotting fruits. Pineapple, banana, mango, hints of green grass and mint…Jamaica is definitely making itself known here. Some other fruits are definitely bouncing around on the nose. Apples, pears, apricots, orange peel…Hard to say exactly where they are coming from, or perhaps they are just coming from the wonderful marriage of the blend….And then as I sit with it a bit longer and dig deeper and deeper, a certain historical Trinidadian rum makes an appearance. There is some burnt diesel/rubber, although ever so slight. But it is there, and it adds something that just makes the rum a little bit more intriguing. For me I can sometimes pick up on some of these petrol-like notes from PM as well, but they are often fruitier and livelier. This is definitely Caroni coming to say hello…And I am happy that they are playing in the mix. Palate - The first taste somewhat matches the noes, while in other ways differs. I start with Demerara molasses-heavy, liquorice and bitter wood. Guyana influence is strong. This is followed quite strong diesel, varnish and slight burnt rubber notes, which I found to be much more subdued on the nose. For me they definitely come in front of the fruitier notes that were more present smelling the glass. The fruit is there, but leaning toward the dried raisin and prunes. I am not getting a lot of the tropical notes here, with the exception of some caramelised bananas. The wood and spice influence is clear. Bitter almonds, roasted coconut, cloves and wet cask. There is also a slight sweetness that seems to come in and balance these bitter tones in a really nice way. Somehow the bitter hits me like I am falling quickly toward something hard and this caramel sweetness just catches me and lays me down on a soft pillow, except all this happening in my mouth…strange, but it is what it is. Dark chocolate, coffee and hints of dusty cardboard. I must say that on the nose I found it much easier to pick up the individual components. On the palate, there is a lot of flavour, but it is balanced and it seems like the components have come together in quite an elegant way. You can taste the age and the history. This is not a young, straight-forward rum. I must be honest, I am at a point that I don’t feel like I want to try to piece it apart any more than I already have. I just want to sit back and enjoy the show. Simply beautiful.

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