Sunday, 4 January 2015

Review 18 - Bristol Classic Port Morant 1990 Demerara

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
Great effort from Bristol Classic. But maybe just a tad under developed.
The joy of the day is another demerara rum. The Bristol Classic Port Morant 1990.
Bristol Classic Rum is an independent bottler from Bristol, England with a lot of experience in selecting fine rums from around the world.

Ageing usually takes place in Bristol Classics own location in England, but some of their products have also been left to age for a while in the tropics.

Mr. John Barrett, the owner and director of Bristol Classic, is quite the purist when it comes to his rums. All are subject to minimal filtration and their are all bottled just the way they are, when they leave the barrel. No additives at all. Some might be subject to finishing in other cask types, but that is the only kind of tampering that takes place.

The official webpage does not offer much information, but check it out anyway to see their products.

The product I have on show today is the Port Morant 1990 (which should have been the Port Mourant 1990 - I suspect that Bristol Classic somehow got the name of the still wrong).

A rum from the famous double wooden pot still from Guyana. Distilled in 1990 and bottled in 2007 after being finished 2 years in old port pipes.

The Port Mourant still is one of the most famous in the world and like many other Guyanese stills it produces a very unique type of rum.

For more information on the still please visit one of the great articles by either Barrel Aged Thoughts or Cocktails Old Fashioned. Both can be found in my links page.

The rum is trotted out in a nice, clean bar room bottle with clear glass, a couple of labels and a natural cork with a black plastic stopper.

It doesn't seem like much actually, but it is super clean and very simple. If you read my review on the Velier Diamond 1996, you will know that I love clean and simple expressions.

There is two labels on the front. A black one near the bottom on the bottle with just the company name and a larger red one on the middle of the bottle, which tells us all the relevant details of the rum.

The place of origin, the year of its birth and when it was bottled, the port cask finish, and the 46% ABV.

It thrills me that Bristol Classic has chosen to put a little more oomph into the rum and strayed away from the typical 40% ABV. In that context 46% should be quite something different. I am looking very much forward to that.

On the back there is a rather large label which tells a very informative story about the rum and how John B. suggest that you savour his treasure. No marketing bull, just information. I love it.

Most Bristol bottlings today are sold in a very nice, black, card board tube to protect the bottle inside. 
Unfortunately this is not the case with this one. Too bad, since it looks very good on the shelf with several of these black tubes next to each other.

Inside the bottle is a nice mahogany coloured liquid that looks a lot like rum. Perhaps it is. Due to the minimally filtered nature of the rum there is a small amount of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. 
But nothing too conspicuous.

In the glass it behaves like a nice Port Mourant and leaves a thick ring from where a lot of thick legs start to spread.

Having nosed quite a couple of rums this feels a lot like home. It has a very typical Port Mourant-nose full of oak spice, prunes and anise.

It also brings a natural side dish of molasses and baking spices with some more industrial notes of varnish, tobacco smoke and even a little brine.

The proof is clearly higher than the standard 40% that seems to be the normal. But here we have a more protruding alcohol note without it setting fire to my nose hairs.

At first very heavy oak spices and anise. The spice makes the tip of the tongue tingle and the port finish dries off the entire mouth with its winey nature.

The sweetness is very reticent and almost exclusively bound to some smaller notes of prunes and dried figs. But given time to air the sweetness becomes easier to find.

The composition is very balanced and even though the oak spice and the strength of the alcohol are the main elements, they are firmly kept in check, and it never becomes too much.

In fact it is so close to being over oaked that it just barely avoids it.

The warmth from the alcohol and the oak spice takes a while to burn off. When it finally does you tongue is a little numb and you are left with a fruity after touch.

Rating and final thoughts
A great example of a true, untampered Port Mourant.

In my opinion it is a little under developed and a little too harsh to be fully appreciated.

Perhaps it turns out this way because the ageing has taken place in the cooler English climate.
According to the experts ageing in tropical conditions matures to rum 3-4 times faster than ageing in cooler climates. Therefore the 17 years of ageing of this rum might actually sum up to only 4-5 years under tropical conditions.

And that would explain why the rum feels less developed than its tropical counterparts.
However I have no confirmation of how the ageing took place so for know it will have to be pure speculations.

I am a keen fan of demerara rums but even though the PM 90 does have all the characteristics of a PM, the composition feels wrong and less lovable than I am used to.

I love that Bristol tuned it a bit and bottled it at a bold 46%. It does indeed bring something better to the table and that I definitely applaud.

When talking about value for money, the price of this rum is €110-120 depending on where you find it. And in that price range there are plenty of better options. For instance you can almost get both the El Dorado 15 and 21 for that amount of money. An Abuelo Centuria isn't far away. You could also opt for a 20 year old Caroni and still have €20-30 to spare. Last but not at all least: There are several Velier and Samaroli bottles available for just a couple more euros.

I love the expression that the Bristol rums gives off with their simple bottles and simple label layout which I have only found similar in Velier bottlings. That is definitely great stuff.

When choosing how to score the rums I review, I stated that I wouldn't let presentation and value for money influence my score, and I have to be true to that. So without further ado the sum of all its parts justifies a…

Rating: 76/100



  1. I've a bottle of this on the way. I've also got the 1998 Diamond Distillery release from Bristol.

    Very different to the El Dorado rums

  2. Thank you for your visit. The Bristols are very different indeed and add many interesting things to the diversity of rum. Somehow I feel like the Bristol demeraras are more untouched and more raw, but also less cared for and less nutured than other good demeraras.

  3. I know what you mean there is an agricole note to both the rums I have tried. My Port Morant arrived today and interestingly the rum it reminds me most of is Pussers 15 Year Old (which is supposedly a Trinidadian rum!)

    Puzzling but then again when isn't rum?