Kris von Stedingk
Levy Lane Rum Co. - Tamosi 45%
Levy Lane Rum Co. - Tamosi 45%
This is a review that I have been looking forward to writing for quite some time, as I have seen this product evolve over the last couple of years leading up to its release. Amsterdam-based Brit Benjamin Boothe is the man behind the new Levy Lane Rum Co. Although being a new name in the rum world, Ben’s connection to rum is strong, being the son of Jamaican and Guyanese parents. While descending from these parts doesn’t directly link you to rum, how about having a great grandfather who had a stint as the master distiller at Blairmont?!
Family history aside, I first met Ben when he came to a Foursquare stand that I was manning during the Whisky & Rum aan Zee festival a couple years back. Immediately I could tell that I had met someone with a serious interest in and passion for rum. It even turned out that he was working on (together with the people at E&A Scheer) releasing his first product: Tamosi, a blend consisting of predominantly 8 year Barbados rum from Foursquare, followed by 6 year Panama rum from Varela Hermanos and finally unaged Jamaican rum from Hampden, Worthy Park & Clarendon and bottled at an approachable 45%.
Before I dig deep in to Tamosi, let me share a little bit more inside information on why I am excited; while this is the first release from Levy Lane Rum Co., there are LOTS of other releases in the works. A few single barrel releases that may deserve mentioning include:
1998 Uitvlugt Port Mourant, which may just be one of the (if not the) best PMs I have tasted
Privately imported direct from the distillery Bielle 2009 as well as a Pere Labat 2013. Interestingly here, this was supposedly the first time that Pere Labat had sold barrels to a private person with the exception of one Luca Gargano.
2005 Venezuela from C.A.C.D. SA
2006 Panama (undisclosed distillery)
High ester Tamosi (higher proportion of unaged Jamaican than the current blend) casks: 300L in a Cognac barrel and 200L in a Port cast, as well as another 500L that will soon be put into different finishes. All currently at 65% abv. and are planned to be released not much below that.
Furthermore, a series of unaged/white rums are in the works, the first two of which will be an unaged blend of primarily PM (with some other undisclosed DDLs) & Hampden HGML as well as a surprisingly fruity and smokey Long Pond STCE.
So many great things to come, and having tasted quite a few of the above mentioned, I can say that I will need to be clearing some space in my rum cabinet…But for now, we can have a look at release #1: TAMOSI!
On the nose: Right off the bat, I can tell that it's a blend. There are a lot of interesting things going on, and none of them jump out at me as coming from one place. First up I get a hefty amount of banana. Ripe banana, although not as overripe as you get with some super funky Jamaicans. Instead it reminds me of caramelised bananas, perhaps even banana flambé. Also a little bit of stewed apples and pears, and not sure if anyone has every had it, but I get a little bit of papaya milk...Nice butter notes and burnt sugar go along with this. The oak is quite present here, which is not a surprise considering the large component of 8 year Barbados rum in the blend. Vanilla, heavy milk chocolate, hints of coconut, nutmeg and why not throw a few cloves in there while we’re at it. The oak itself is there, although is quite well integrated on the nose and not sharp at all. You can tell that it’s aged oak, with a little bit of dank cellar coming through. This goes for the alcohol as well. It’s there but nothing that jumps out at you or scares you away. Together, everything comes across as creamy and luscious, as if you’re about to eat a rich creme brûlée with a thick burnt sugar crust. For some reason, cream soda and root beer keep popping in to my head, although not in the way that they can come across in “rums” packed full of additives, where it is almost like a soda syrup. Here it’s all natural aromas coming across that together are all quite inviting.
On the palate: Here I find that it is the woody Barbados that takes the front seat. I get ample charred oak with a slight smokiness together with bitter cloves and almonds. The creamy vanilla notes that I got on the nose are more subdued here, although are still present and help round off the heavy spice. Interestingly, I do pick up slight cork flavour, which I always have found myself linking to rums from Panama. As opposed to wine, I find that in this setting the cork is just an additional dimension to the wood-characteristic of the rum, and actually makes it more interesting. Nuts. Lots of nuts. Almonds and walnuts, leaving a slight bitterness. The Jamaican tropical fruits are there as well, although relatively light compared to on the nose. Overripe banana with bruised pears and apples. The same seemingly-sweet/burnt sugar sensation that I associated with root beer comes back again, although there is nothing sweet about this! This rum is dry yet creamy.
The alcohol is well integrated here, leaving you with a warm finish without being too sharp. It’s interesting how this rum lives in your mouth. It starts spicy, with quite a punch. It then evolves into something sweet and creamy topped with stewed fruits. Followed by a dry woodiness before leaving you with mango and banana with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
I do often find myself wishing that the rums I try were bottled at a higher abv., but here I think it works. I am not sure how much it would benefit from more intensity. This is a solid rum as an easy going sipper for those of us who are already, pardon the expression, balls deep in the spirit, but more importantly a fantastic rum for people getting in to the category, especially those coming from the world of whisky. It’s full of “rum” without being obnoxious about it.
Can’t wait to review the next Levy Lane!