Sunday, 21 June 2015

Review 49 - Samaroli 1998 Barbados Rum 16 year old

Great Bajan rum from Scotland/Italy with love.
Another first for me. A bottle from renowned Italian indie bottler, Samaroli.

Having operated these waters since 1968, we are dealing with one of the more seasoned veterans on the seven seas of rum. Although Samaroli originally only bottled whiskies, they are also quite proficient in selecting great casks of rum.

Samaroli does have a nice webpage, but unfortunately it does have a massive lack of content. Almost all pages are very much under construction, and the page containing their rums are not up to date and still shows their 2013 line up. Too bad.

Well, that leaves more time to be spent on the rum it self.

As the title says, we are dealing with a 16 year old Bajan rum from Samaroli.
It is a single cask offering distilled on a pot still at West Indies Rum Distillery in 1998.
Matured in Barbados from 1998 to 2002, where it relocated to Scotland and was transferred to new american oak barrels, before finally sleeping for another 12 years before reaching the bottle at 45% ABV.
Only 300 70 cl. bottles and 168 50 cl. bottles was made from the selected cask #21.

Being only a sample, I once again had to trawl the internet for information about the packaging. Thankfully the old interwebs came through once again.

Bright reddish orange coloured cardboard box, which seems a bit flimsy from photographs - but I might be wrong.

The box has a window through which the label on the actual bottle is visible. I have ranted about this before with certain Rum Nation offerings.

For me the box is supposed to protect my bottle from harmful light. So a box missing a side or with a huge window on the front, is just not good enough. In the Samaroli case I will not go as far as to call it useless, but it does leave me with a sort of meh-feeling.

Others have solved this issue by putting an extra label right on the box, and I would strongly have preferred a solution like that.

The bottle is a black monolithic thing. It reminds me a lot of the Veliers. Simple black bottle. You will have to pull the cork to see what is inside. I have had no luck finding pictures of the cork, but I am willing to bet, that we are dealing with a natural cork with a faux wood stopper.

The label feels a lot like pop art with strong nods in the direction of Andy Warhol. Very fresh, very different and very nice. I like it.

You will not find a plethora of information on the label. It simply tells you its name, where and when it was bottled and the fact that it is a single cask rum.

Ranting aside I find the expression of the outsides very fresh and funky. I like the sharp colour which would make the box stand out next to others in my collection (if I only had more than a sample).

In the glass the rum shows off a beautiful golden colour.

Given a twirl it only leaves a very, very thin film on the glass which takes forever before forming any droplets. But eventually the skinniest legs I have every seen in a rum, starts to form.

Introducing my nose to the glass, I find a nice and strong scent profile.
Not pungent, just strong.
It is intense and fruity, which banana split coming to mind. There is a lot of influence from bananas, coconut and vanilla.

The oak is very subtle and in no way in the way. Even a soft touch of menthol comes through.

Everything is wrapped in a very thin layer of caramel and marzipan.

Very delicious and complex on the nose indeed. It feels a lot like dessert.

Reaching the mouth it displays is super light profile with an oily, buttery mouth feel.

Once again dominated by banana peel, coconut and menthol, it is perfectly balanced like three musketeers dancing around ready to fight.

There is a lot more tannic notes that I would have expected from the tiny amount oak on both the nose and the palate. But again it doesn’t feel overwhelming.

Despite the lack of oak, it does however show off a bit of pencil shavings towards the end of it. But nothing like the primary school pencil slaughter of the OR&S Enmore 24.

It has a superb balance – almost like a perfectly crafted katana.

It feel very elegant and dances every so lightly around on your palate, leaving you with a very pleasant tasting experience.

It takes off in a hurry with a short, smooth finish.

There is a huge warmth for such a light profile, but it never turns sharp or unpleasant.

When it is all over, you still get to enjoy a nice little buzz on the tongue for a while.

Rating and final thoughts
One of the absolute best Bajan rum I have had so far in my journey. No question about it.

This is a very, very fine and delicate rum, Ladies and Gentlemen. The entire experience feels so elegant and sophisticated.

The Warhol impression, the beautiful nose, the light and almost teasing palate, and finally a warm, smooth finish. There is no denying that Samaroli has picked a very nice barrel of rum here.

Great work! I am definitely going to see if I can get my hands on more of your products.

Value for Money is a bit hard to judge in this case. My local dealer has the 50 cl. bottles listed at €120, which would translates into €168 for a full 70 cl. bottle. We are talking very limited quantities of bottles – just 420 bottles in total if all were 70 cl.

As ”just” a great product, this price point might be too high. €120 would be okay for a 70 cl. bottle. But I always end up feeling a bit ripped off with 50 cl. bottles.

I reviewed the R.L. Seale’s 10 y.o. a while back, and at just below €40 it seems a much better buy, if you are into Bajan rums. And for most people it will be.

However, if you have already tried the many readily available Bajan rums, have decided that the lighter style is your favourite, and you want to try something extraordinary, this might be the way to go.

If you on the other hand favour heavy demeraras or the super sweet rums, this might be too light bodied for you.

However I have a hard time imagining a regular rum drinker who wouldn’t enjoy this rum to some extent. 

Other than the pricing issue and the flimsy box, I see no real decimating elements and no real off notes. It is just an awesome spirit. It just works, and that is why it gets a…

Rating: 85/100

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