Friday, 23 January 2015

Review 24 - Velier Papalin

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
First blended rum from Italian mastermind Velier

Another Velier, you say? Are you favoring certain companies, you ask?

Well yes … kind of … and then again perhaps not. This is not your usual ancient Demerara, Caroni or Agricole kind of Velier.

The is the first ever blended rum from Velier and as such not a all comparable to the Velier rums that I have previously reviewed.

The background story for this rum is actually printed on the back label, so I won’t be telling it from start to finish.

Short version is: Mr. Gargano was waiting for a shipment for Caronis and had some extra time on his hands. He had wanted to make a blended product for a while, and coinsidently he had som old stocks of Trinidadian Caroni, Cuban and Venezuelan rums.

1+1 = 2 and the Papalin was born.

Here is some more math about the composition of the Papalin (link to source is supplied below):

60% is a young Cuban rum from 1988 which had only matured for 3 years before being laid to rest in the Velier warehouses in Genoa, Italy. Because of the embargo on Cuba, he apparantly had trouble finding a use for it. So it went into the Papalin for lightness.

30%  is Venezuelan Solera. I found a source who claimed that it was a 10 year old solera. It was added to give roundness and softness to the blend.

10%  is a Caroni from 1994 with 18 years of maturing behind it. Pure Caroni power and structure.

42% is the ABV

1 year it rested in old Demerara and Caroni barrels after being blended.

All in all that sounds insanely interesting to me. I can’t wait to dive in.

Visually the Papalin is a bit more of a treat than the typical Velier Demeraras which are single coloured and very simple.

The box is still quite simple but instead of a single colour, the box is now characterized by some symbols also found in the official Velier logo.

The cardboard is sufficiently thick to feel sturdy and the overall quality feels very nice.
It doesn’t contain as much information as we are used to with Velier.

We are only given the name of the rum and the name of the company.

The bottle is a typical black Velier bottle, simple, sturdy and stark. It is topped off by a natural cork with what feels like a faux wooden stopper.

The label repeats the symbols from the box and only gives off little information. Name, proof, content and that is is bottled in Scotland in 2013

On the back, we find a short story form Mr. Gargano describing how this rum came to be.

Pouring a glass revels an amber liquid which leaes an oily film on the inside of the glass. A twirl reveals legs of moderate thickness and many fast moving droplets.

Coming off the block, the nose is very heavy. Leading off with obvious notes of caramel and banana peel. Followed by leather in cognito.

As the leaders start to fade off a lot of earthy undertones start to emerge along with a nice amount of liquorice root.

Rubber starts to come out and slowly it rises to become quite an important part of the mix.
For a while all of the above seemed to blend and mingle and correlate.

When given time to air a lot, some of the pungency of the initial scents starts to wear off and very tiny notes oranges becomes noticable.

As I started to appreciate the complex nose I was suddenly caught off guard and bombarded with heavy notes of lavender, as a heavily perfumed ”Thank you very much. Good night”.

Taking my first sip revealed a much lighter profile, than the nose hinted.

On some level it felt very raw, but without ever being coarse and unpleasant. Something seemed to keep the sharpness in check.

At first there wasn’t anything else than a lot of oak, tobacco and leather. Old, smokey leather couch.
Examining more closely brought forth remnants of wet cardboard and olives.

A little further down the road plasticine takes over a lot of the palate with memories of brand new sneakers coming right out of the box. It then transforms into wax candles and stay like that for a while.

Somehow the swan song of this rum is made from lavender, as this is also the last thing to surface on the palate, making me feel that I just took a bite of Grandma’s lavender soap.

Even though  this rum has a lot of notes that I don’t usually enjoy, the weird combiation of flavours and their mutual interaction seems to make sense.

However this particular composition might still be a little too weird and unpleasant for me.

With a mouth full of lavender I experienced a rather short and drying finish, apart from a peppery prickle that seems to stay on the back of the tongue for a little longer.

But way too soon the Papalin is gone.
Rating and final thoughts
A very interesting blended rum.

The Caroni-elements are quite clear in both nose and palate, but they never get to shine properly. Perhaps due to the lighter proof. It does however have a huge impact on the over all expression.
It has some unusual combinations of flavours and challenges you a bit when trying to figure it out.

However for me it is quite raw and unpolished, and not an everyday go-to’er.

It does indeed have a lot to offer, but perhaps it tries to offer too much of everything. It feels like it tries very hard to be something very special, but it ends up being quite nice but also quite strange.

The value for money is quite nice. I got it for a little less than €50 which is quite fine everything taken into consideration. I have plenty rums in that pricerange that seem awfully boring next to this one – but also a bit more welcoming and pleasant.

This is the first Velier product which haven’t blown me away in some way. I would definately like to see more affordable blends from Velier, and therefore I hope that this is just the beginning. An experiment and perhaps a building of new worlds.

For a first try I am actually quite satisfied with rewarding it with a…
Rating: 70/100

… and now I can’t seem to get that lavender soap out of my schnozzle …


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