Union 55 - 41% abv.
Updated: Dec 27, 2018
Rum-Review-A-Day: Day 14 - Union 55 - 41% abv.
This rum is a little different than the typical rum I review, but seeing as it is soon Christmas, why not go for something festive. Union 55 is another rum bottled by an independent bottler in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Its base is sourced from column still Barbados rum that is a blend of primarily charred ex-american (I’m guessing ex-bourbon) barrels as well as a small amount of ex-sherry casks. They then infuse the rum with 5 “botanicals” including cardamom (from Guatemala), cloves (from Madagascar), vanilla (also Madagascar), roasted cocoa beans (from Peru) and almonds (from California). They write that the infusion process takes a total of 55 days. Finally, they finish the rum off with a touch of mineral salt from the Northern shores of Spain, which is to have the same flavour enhancing effect used by top chefs and chocolatiers…quite the story. This rum also should not have any sugar dosing. Let’s see what she’s got to offer!
The nose - Woah!…Yup! The “botanicals”/spices are certainly there! Cardamom, cardamom and more cardamom. Lots of vanilla and slight hints of chocolate. The cloves don’t stand out in my opinion, although there is definitely a peppery spice going on that the cloves likely are contributing to. There is a nuttiness that could be somewhat bitter almond, but it's hard to get past the vanilla and cardamom bomb that gives the rum a quite sweet vibe. I guess we can add the almond to it and call it marzipan. Hints of smokey oak and saffron. It is actually crazy how much this smells like freshly baked saffron & cardamom buns filled with sweet almond paste that we make during the winter season in Sweden every year. And I must confess that I LOVE those buns, so this nose is somewhat comforting, I just don’t know how much I want it in my rum. Fruits - possibly hints of citrus and pear…but I’m not even going to go there.
On the palate - sweet and somewhat artificial vanilla. Cinnamon and cloves. Definitely more fruit going on on the palate, with notes of bruised apples, clementine and bitter grapefruit. The oakiness is also there, yet it is hard to distinguish from the strong vanilla notes coming from the vanilla infusion. Perhaps it's the charred wood that shines through the most. In contrast to the nose, however, where the botanicals exploded, I find the palate is very much dominated by the addition of salt. The goal was to enhance flavours, which this surely does do, however I find that while enhancing all the fruity and spicy notes, it makes all of them taste strongly…wait for it…SALTY. I applaud the lack of adding sugar to rum, as well as the transparency of all the infusions that have been added to the rum. That being said, this rum tastes a little bit like someone was reaching for the sugar and grabbed the salt by mistake…
This is all sounding very harsh, which is not my intention. The rum itself has a very interesting profile and the lack of sweetness in a spiced (and somewhat funky) rum is a refreshing take on the category. In addition, this rum was in no way intended to be a sipping rum, as I am currently doing. Instead, this rum should be considered an interesting addition to any back bar, and definitely provide a unique spin on many the cocktail.
Not my thing. But it is exactly what they say it is - a flavour enhancer, so use it as such.