Friday, 23 January 2015

Review 25 - Velier Diamond 1999 S 15 year old

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
Yet another smash hit from Velier.

For my quarter centennial I have got another Velier on the review block today.

Yeah, I know. I have been taken a liking to products from this extraordinary Italian company lately. And that for good reason. So far their cask strength single rums have been unmatched in my opinion, and therefore it seems logical to keep exploring their range of products.

Today I have another Diamond in my scope. The Diamond 1999 – a 15 year old gem from the 2014 lineup.

Sporting a <S> marking, it is made on the Diamond metal Coffey still, and according to the back label it has been aged in new charred barrels.. If it is indeed new barrels I suspect that the oak infusion is quite heavy on this one, with the danger of being over oaked after a massive 15 years of tropical aging.

The long tropical ageing also results in a large evaporation from the barrels and less than 28% of the contents were left at the time of the bottling.
Like all other Velier bottlings this comes in a simple and subtle packaging.

The cardboard box is made of thick materials and is plain with yellow info boxes on it, detailing what 
is inside. It tells you the make and model without trying to sell it to you, which is so refreshing in a world where almost every single product has a need to claim the throne even before being let out of the box.

The bottle is the same black, wide shouldered monolith as Velier always uses for these bottlings and they leave no way to peak at what is inside. You can barely make out the liquid.

The info box from the box also serves as the label, repeating the crucial information. I like how Velier utilizes the smaller front label to inform you about the rarity of their products.

New to the 2014 realeses is the label on the back.
It used to house a piece of italian poetry (or perhaps just a little story about the rum. One of these days I will have to run it through google translate to make sure), but now it contains more hard facts.

On the Diamond 1999 it tells you about the type of still and barrels used, along with the mentioning of the angels share.

Everything signed by the Gandalf of the rum world: Luca Gargano.

So when it comes to the vessel, nothing is new. It’s Velier. It's awesome.

Pouring a glass of the treasures inside immediately hints what you are about to revel in. A thick, dark,VERY dark mahogany liquid that gives of a lot of scents that I can’t wait to examine closer.

Twirling it around confirms the heavy profile as it leaves a thick ring around the glass, which takes its time to begin releasing droplets, which in turn slowly inches towards the surface.
The nose is dominated by a lot of concentrated prunes and molasses.

However there is also a very evident aroma of heavily smoked, dried and salty meats. Wait, what?
Nosing it a couple more times makes it obvious. Heavy smoke, brine and meat. Yep, that’s intensely aromatic jerky for you. That was definately a first for me in a rum.

I am going out on a limb here, but perhaps even the maltsters would enjoy this.

Beneath the meat lingers more typical flavours, like dried figs and apricots enveloped in a vanilla cloud, licorice spices and an ever so light oaky sting. Perhaps it is more a kiss on the forehead, than an actual sting.

Last but not least is a sour sweet touch of pineapple.

Absolutely spectacular! I could keep nosing this for hours and the ”mild” proofage doesn’t require me to take caution before sniffing.
It hits the palate like the slow moving flow of lava. Heavy, tarry and full bodied.

The first things that come into mind is plenty of oak, some leather, massive smoke and intense liquorice. It is all delivered with a lot of heat, and some kind of vegetable or flowery note I couldn’t identify properly. 

15 minutes later:

Profile opened up a lot. The prunes and molasses gains more weight and evens out the entire spectrum of the rum. It has increased in complexity and balance, and leaves you guessing what might be next.

Feeling like it got better and better with each sip, the different components seemed to switch places and take turns being the most dominant. 

Insanely interesting tastes and a rum that I could keep sipping for hours - if only my brain could cope with the high proof for that long.

Expecting it to stay around literally forever (or until I chose to eat something or brush my teeth), I was a little disappointed. It rather slowly subsided and didn't linger in the mouth as long as its 1996 sibling.
While it was around, there was the pleasure of warm woods with remnants of pure and raw liquorice, well cured leather, stinging peppers and a lot of sweet prunes.

In the end only a whisper of liquorice, prunes and that pesky veggie/flower-note I can’t seem to identify, seemed to want to stay a little longer. But eventually they also faded away.

Rating and final thoughts:
It is no secret that I like the simpler, underplayed physical representations more than the gaudy monstrosities. And that is part of why I have fallen in love with the rums of Velier.

They seem so simple on the outside with the lack of a cornucopia of superlatives to describe their own excellences. No extravagant decanters to make them seem like limited luxuries only meant for the few. Even though that their prices might scare a lot of people off.

They are diamonds (no pun intended) in the rough, kept inside a chunk of coal.

And that goes for all of them. Not just the Diamonds, but also the Enmores, the Port Mourants, the Uitvlugts, the Albions, the Blairmonts, the Versailles, the La Bonne Intentions, the Skeldons and the Caronis).

Back to the rum on review.

I love it! It has got a much different profile from the Diamond ’96 and almost as awesome.

Tasting them side by side, the ’99 isn’t quite the same sort of monster because of the lower proof, but it makes up for some of it with some very different and interesting flavour components instead.
Despite being a slightly younger rum it has a heavier profile and a more voluptuous nose.
It does fall a bit behind when it hits the palate, because it doesn’t display the flavours with the same force and intensity as the ’96 which I believe is also related to the proof.

I have no idea if it would have gained from another 5-10% ABV.  Perhaps it would have been the greatest thing known to man, perhaps it would have killed me.

Edit: Recent news from the Velier-camp suggests that in due time there will be a Diamond 1999 at 64,7% ABV, but with a different mark - SVW instead of <S>. I can't wait to try it!

When push comes to shove, it doesn’t really matter.

It is a very good piece of rum. It is only the last few centimeters away from total harmony and the top of the rum world. The minor inconsistancies does however remove some of the sparkling. Therefore I feel that it will suffice with a...

Rating: 85/100

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