Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Review 75 - Cadenhead's Classic Rum

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
May this set the standard of many more rums in the future!

More commonly just called Cadenhead’s, I’m about to get into trouble with another indie bottler. One that I haven’t been writing about before, and one which has been around for a very long time.

WM Cadenhead’s pride themselves with being the oldest independent bottler in Scotland.
For their full history, check out their webpage. It is dense with interesting things.

They are of course huge in whisky, but they also have a decent range of rums, starting with blends and reaching all the way to single cask full proofs.

The rum under review to day it their Classic Rum. Mind you that there is two Classic Rums from Cadenheads. A green label version, and a very much not green label version.

I have no idea what the difference is, but green label rums are typically bottled at 40-something percent ABV. The non green label is bottled at a very exciting 50% ABV.

Personally I have been screaming for rums like this for a very long time. Today I will finally find out if such rums are actually worth drinking.

The rum is a blend of guyanese rums typically around 5-7 years old, but as it is a blended product, they will sometimes go outside this age range to get a consistent blend.

According to Cadenhead’s it hasn’t been tampered with at all – except for watering it down to an easy drinking strength of 50%. No additives, no colouring and no filtering.

My hydrometer concurs. Nothing suspicious added to the blend.

Holding the copper coloured card board tube, I was wondering if I paid too much for packaging.

Good quality tube with metal lids. On the front you get a label which turns out to be identical to the one on the bottle it self.

Inside the tube you find a very nice, stubby bottle for that pirate feeling.

The now well known label on the front says nothing much. The name, the company and the abv. And that’s it. On the top we find a natural cork with plastic stopper.

On the back there is yet another label, which is a statement about what you find inside. No information about origin, but a promise that you will be enjoying an unadulterated spirit.

Inside we find a liquid with a vibrant copper colour.

A twirl quickly reveals a fat ring, which instantly starts shooting equally fat legs down the glass.

Comes off rather shortly, with soft notes of maple syrup, burnt oak and anise.

After a little air it opens up more, and displays another layer of caramel, cinnamon and a stab of tannic unpleasantries

Over all a much to stabby nose. It does have a lot of great scents, but they succumb to the massive stabbing from the high ABV, which doesn’t feel very well integrated at this point.

Entering the mouth much of the stabbing stops, as it tries to present it self in the best possible way.
Lots of controlled syrup, spicy cinnamon, cloves and peppers and even a little brine.

But also some fat whine notes and dried fruit extravaganza which makes the connection with the mudlands of Guyana very obvious.

When given time to air, it softens up a lot, and becomes even more pleasant.

A lot better on the palate than on the nose. The flavours are full and rich, and the higher ABV helps kick everything into gear. It suddenly feels a lot better integrated.

Good stuff.

Much shorter than I anticipated.

After the initial swelling of the sweetness and the spice, it quickly fades to a whispering trio of black pepper, cloves and brine.

It stays warm for quite some time, and when it finally dies, it has cleaned it self up very nicely.

In some strange way, I also forgot it very fast. Shortly after the fade had died off, I had almost forgotten what I had been drinking. I don’t know if that is a good or a bad property.

However for each sip, it got harder and harder to forget it. And by the time my glass was empty I knew very well what had been going on, and which rum I would be reaching for the next time I could sneak my way into the basement.

Rating and final thoughts
A bit hard on the edges. Not perfectly integrated. I am a huge fan of this rum.

Even though it starts out a little aggressively on the nose, it more than makes up for it on the palate.
The short finish could have been done better, but it doesn’t do any harm during the exit.

I love that they went to 50% on this, instead of the boring middle of the road 40%.
There is no doubt in my mind, that the higher ABV does bring something better to the table and makes it that much more interesting. Sure it isn’t as welcoming and easy going, but it gives you much more bang for your buck and demands that you stay concentrated while sipping.

It’s not perfect. It’s not premium. It doesn’t sport a million awards. It doesn’t have an unbelievable background story. It’s not a single barrel cask strength Demerara or Caroni. I love it.

But it is proper, honest, edgy rum. Rum with personality. Which is exactly what the rum world needs. More rums which doesn’t follow the typical recipe.

Setting me back a mere €40 it is a complete steal. This is territory of many, many sugar bombs, some Foursquares, the Appleton 12 and so on. But at a much higher ABV.

Some of it’s closest competitors are the CdI Caraïbes, the English Harbour 5 and perhaps even a Flor de Caña 12.

But it would be fair game for almost everybody. No matter what you preference is, you might get a kick out of this. I sure as hell did. Now I just need a properly aged 15 or 20 year old version of it…

The many little unpolished details does however count against it and the flaws are the reason, why we won't be reaching for a new high score. It simply can’t go beyond a…

Rating: 76/100


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