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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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Tamosi Guyana Single Cask Releases - Kanaima (16yr Versailles) & Karaya (22yr Port Mourant)


Disclaimer #1: These rums are bottled by a friend of mine Ben Boothe. 

Disclaimer #2: I like these rums A LOT. I have been waiting for their release for some time, and am very excited to finally have the bottles at home that I can sit with and actually put together some proper tasting notes.

Disclaimer #3: I am not worried about the above 2 disclaimers and look forward to reading other responses to these rums!

A brief intro in to what we are trying today: These are two single cask releases under brand Tamosi (which I have written about previously here). Both of these releases come from Guyana, which today only has one distillery, DDL, who house and make use of all of these historic stills. The first rum today, Kanaima, was produced at DDL in 2004 on their single wooden pot still (Versailles Still) and was aged for 16 years in Europe. This specific rum was aged with caramel in the barrel for the entire 16 years. The second rum that I’m tasting is Karaya, which was distilled in 1998 on the double wooden pot still (Port Mourant) while it was still present at the Uitvugt distillery prior to its relocation to DDL. This rum was initially aged 2 years in Guyana followed by 20 additional years in Europe. 

Tamosi Kanaima - 16 year old Versailles (DDL 2004) - 58.9% abv.

Nose: Dank waterlogged wood. Wet moss and muddy forest floor. Dried porcini mushrooms. Oxidised wine - we’re heading to deep heavy sweet vermouth territory. And of course a solid smack in the face of rich, thick, only ever-so-slightly burnt caramel. LIquorice and molasses. There is a some diesel-y burnt rubber thing going on, although not quite as heavy as I have come across in other Versailles still releases. Prunes, maraschino cherries, candied/stewed red apples. We are dealing with dark rich fruits here, with only slight green minty/eucalyptus notes, which I often find heavier on typical Versailles releases. Light vanilla and cardamon. Burnt butter mixed with wood varnish. It keeps coming in to my head, so I’ll just end the nose with salty liquorice-covered roasted marshmallows. Let’s just say it’s inviting...

Palate: It’s so damn rich. On the palate it's the fruit that jumps out at me first. Very much in line with what I am expecting from the nose - prune juice mixed with very old port wine, sweet cherries and a side of baked apple pie (hold the cinnamon). But now I am also getting huge waves of orange zest with cloves (did anyone else do those studded oranges at Christmas time? Well, imagine chewing on one of those…and then re-imagine that it tastes good). Now top all of this with a heavy serving of burnt butter caramel and melted bitter dark chocolate. Again the burnt rubber notes are there, as picked up on the nose, but not overpowering. It just adds another dimension to this beast of a rum. I keep finding myself thinking that this is what the ultimate Lemon Hart 151 could taste like if the underlying spirit was a, say for example, 16 year old Versailles?! It’s dark. It’s rich. It’s heavy. It’s molasses and burnt caramel. It’s baked fruit pie. This is a rum that I want to pour in to my glass and curl up next to a fire in the dead of winter and just feel the warmth it gives me. And it is quite the nice warmth that comes with the cask strength of the release. It coats my mouth with a wonderful sweet and tingly feeling that I never want to end.

Tamosi Karaya - 22 year old Port Mourant (Uitvlugt 1998) - 61.1% abv.

Nose: Firstly I just have to say, the second this hits my nose, there is NO DOUBT that it is a Port Mourant. Can something be chewy on the nose? The answer is yes! So much fruit. Green tart granny smith apples. Slightly unripe green pears. Ripe bananas. Insane that this is so green and vibrant after 22 years (albeit non-tropical ageing). Lots of grape-y notes going on as well. Reminds me of a slightly aged acidic natural white wine. A bit of oxidation, but not to the point that it’s going towards sherry/Madeira. Perhaps something towards a Sauternes, if a Sauternes could be bone dry. So that’s where I’m at with the fruit…and then comes this rich meatiness. Hints of rusty iron, which definitely linger with the slight burn of the high abv. These slightly sharp notes are nicely balanced with the round nutty notes that come across. Hints of almond, but very heavy on the coconut - which just goes so damn nicely with the fruity aspects of this rum. Vanilla is also there, but quite mild. The woody notes instead come through as a slightly smokey/charcoal character. A fair amount of spiciness as well. White pepper and pimento. Somehow this charred wood entangling with he iron-meatiness make me think of a tangy bbq sauce. Fruit salad, meets dessert wine, meets piña coladas, meets southern bbq. Why the hell not. This is a party and I’m happy I’m a part of it. How did I forget to mention rubber?! which brings us to the palate...

Palate: We’ve got rubber. Proper chewy, pencil eraser, slightly fruity and acidic rubber (I assume everyone has chewed on a pencil eraser?). You feel the high alcohol here, although it comes across more varnish-y than just clean alcohol. Lots of burnt bitter caramel. More vanilla on the palate than on the nose - gives it a slightly softer/sweet edge. The fruit that comes across on the palate is actually quite different than on the nose. Instead of tart green notes, I am getting deeper, sweeter, dare-I-say almost rotten notes. Fermenting overripe pineapple skins is the first thing that comes to mind. Overripe banana peel. Slight bitter citrus peel oils perhaps?…And then there’s the spice drawer that this juice has got going on. It’s taking me all over the map. First I say Szechwan pepper (which also holds true with he slightly tongue numbing effect of the 61.1% abv), and then I am immediately thrown in to a mix of star anise/absinthe and allspice bitters. Slight hints of white and perhaps even green peppercorns. These become more clear the longer the rum lingers (which it does for a veeeeerrrrrrrryyyyyyyy long time). The wood is here. You get it in the vanilla. You get it in the slightly astringent tannins. You get it in the rotting fruit. But it’s not by any means an overly oaky/woody rum. If anything I could describe it as nutty? There is a lot going on, but every time I put the glass down for a moment (which isn’t easy) I am left with this rich unsweetened marzipan-like coating of creamy bitter almonds. One word: DANG.

It’s intense. It’s dry. It’s long as hell. It’s a wild ride. One of, if not the best Port Mourant I’ve had the pleasure of sipping, and that is not easily said. Bravo.

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