Sunday, 30 August 2015

Review 54 - Rum Nation Demerara 1990 25 year old.

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
Huge box for a huge rum. This is how a casual Demerara should be. 
Full disclosure: This bottle was supplied to my free of charge from Mr. Fabio Rossi himself.

This is it. The end of something of an era. This will be the last ever (possibly) old Demerara rum from Italian indie bottler Rum Nation.

According to Fabio Rossi this is the last of their once very large stock. A very sad message indeed, as this follow the bad trend which started with Velier proclaiming that they were almost at the end of their demerara stock as well.

At the same brown note El Dorado has launched a million different cask finished versions of their 15 year old, which indicates that they have suddenly found a use for the older DDL casks.

This particular rum comes from the legendary Port Mourant still and has been aged for 25 years in total. The last few years has been spent i used oloroso sherry casks.

Note: Mr. Rossi sent me quite a lot of information, and it shows that this rum is actually more of a double aged rum, than a finished rum. 14 years has been spent i oak casks and 11 years has been spent in oloroso sherry casks.
At the end of the quarter century nap only 850 bottles were bottled at 45%.

I am currently awaiting a technical sheet from Mr. Rossi, but a simple hydrometer test shows no concrete evidence of any added sugar.

Note: A full lab analysis of the composition of this rum reveals 2,8 g/L of sugar.

Usually these old Demerara rums from Rum Nation (as well as the Jamaican Supreme Lords) comes in a nice wooden box. But for some reason this final rum of the series, does not.

Instead it comes in huge, thick cardboard box. I’ll have to ask Mr. Rossi about how that decision was made, because, frankly, the cardboard box doesn’t display anywhere near the same level of luxury, as the previous wooden ones did.
It feels a bit cheep and the size of it is just staggering. There is a 2-3 cm. margin around the actual recess which holds the bottle - perhaps to act as a buffering zone if the box should be dropped.

I know my photo skills are lacking a lot, but the box didn’t make it easier for me to create a proper image.
Inside the box we find a typical Rum Nation bottle. The tall bar room bottle used for so many previous editions from the company.
The label is also classic Rum Nation and shows the branding, origin, ABV and the colonial stamp.
On the back we find a smaller label with a short story about the vision behind the rum.
The dark mahogany coloured spirit inside the bottle, leaves a nice coating on the inside of the glass, which transforms into a nice ring before many medium sized legs slowly drifts downwards.

The first impression is a rich and deep palette of scents.
The intensity surprised me a little, considering the modest proof.

Brown sugar and heavy, soft oaks dominate the front.

Immediately after I was treated with wet suede and equally wet tobacco.
Being a Port Mourant it also showed off a substantial amount of anise and fat red wine notes.

After letting it air for 20 minutes it seemed to open up even more with some earthy notes of, wait what, chalk?! Flashback to 1997. I’m standing by the blackboard in my math class, trying to solve some crazy equation, fidgeting with a piece of chalk.

More leathery notes found its way out of the glass and some roasted almonds helped bringing me back to present day again.

Quite complex on the nose, but perhaps not the most balanced one. The wooden and tannic notes felt a bit dominating, and many of the subtler notes were being suppressed. But for some reason the lack of complete balance gives it more of an edge. A pleasant edge which felt like a welcome change.

Hitting the palate, it displays a very dry profile with lots of tannic bite. Well, not actually bite – more like a ferocious nibbling by an infant starting to get his teeth.

Like on the nose, there is a heavy oak influence, but also a lot of soft brown sugar and gentle spices – cinnamon, cloves and black pepper.

Underneath the oak and spices, there is also a clear, ripe fruityness from black grapes, green apples and plums. Delicious.

The more commondried fruits, apricots and figs, are also part of the mix.

On the more subtle side there I found soft notes of mild, sweet liquorice and a touch of marzipan.

Like the nose it felt a bit wood heavy and I think the average casual drinker might be discouraged by this. For people a bit more along their rum journey or people who love a strong barrel influence, this rum is pure bliss.

Despite being heavy on woods and tannins, it never feels sharp, hard or unpleasant. It is actually rather soft and almost reluctant in nature. Clearly shows you what it's got, but doesn't lay it all on you at once. Perhaps the oloroso casks has something to do with this. I don't know. My knowledge of the effects of different types of cask finishing, is almost non existing. I guess that will be a subject for future personal studies.

As it goes down, it displays a medium length finish with some warmth.
It starts out sweet and juicy, and then takes a more spicy and peppery turn.

The sweetness fades faster than the black pepper, and the peppery sting is the only thing surviving the heavy drying effect.

Although quite heavy on the pepper, it never gets hard or coarse. Just spicy and tingling.
A very nice exit from a rum with such a strong wood influence. It could had been splinters and sap all the way down the throat, but again it used its heavy character in a gentle way.

Rating and final thoughts
Feels a little like a "light heavy" Demerara. An elephant in ballerina shoes if you will.
An elegant goliath of a rum.

Nowhere near as heavy or brutal as the Demerara beast of Velier.
Nowhere near as sugary as the El Dorado Demeraras.

This is a very, very good piece of rum.

It doesn’t stray far from the beaten path, but every step it takes along the path, is heavy, confident and determined. And made with good, old sturdy boots.

It doesn’t explode or surprise you very much, and it makes an effort to assure you that that is just fine. It doesn’t require your full attention to be fully enjoyed. It will happily take the back seat and just please you, while you spend your brain waves on other things.

As this has yet to hit the stores. I have no idea how much coin it will cost you, but a guess would be in the €130-150 range. It will have a lot of worthy competitors in this range, and you will be hard pressed choosing the right rum. In this range you can find almost anything – all the indies are represented in this range as well as many other top shelf products from larger brands.

As I mentioned in the taste section: If you like dry, barrel influenced rum with some weight behind it, this will be your pick. Especially if you aren't keen on cask strength rums or just need something a bit more casual to go with your cask strength behemoths.

The Demerara 1990 25 year old is not subtle, it’s not brutal, but it is in fact still casual and very tasty.

Too bad it takes 25 years to create a rum like this. That makes me a little sad. It has been matured in the cooler european climate, so perhaps a tropical ageing could yield similar results faster.

But what saddens me the most it the apparent fact, that stocks like these are disappearing fast, and soon there will probably only the DDL’s own old stocks left. And as they seem to have stopped sellling bulk rum, we might as well prepare for either younger indie bottles or be content with the El Dorado range. I'm crossing my fingers for the former of the two.

Getting close to the conclusion, I believe this is what a casual, regular proof Demerara should be like.

Mind you, it is not the pinnacle of rum creation, but neither does it aspire to be. It just wants to be great, and that it is. For that it racks up a very solid…

Rating: 83/100


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