Monday, 29 February 2016

Review 80 - Velier Albion 1994 AN 17 year old

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
To come and eat your soul, the Darth Vader of rums has.
At this point you might be just short of a yawn. The thing that will probably push you over the edge is this: ”Welcome to another review of a cask strength Demerara rum from Velier”.

But before you fall a sleep and off the chair over my boring and unvaried review choices, please let me assure you, that this is yet another marvel of the rum world.

Still boring? Well, this comes from the Albion still, and was distilled on a continuous wooden still, which indicates that a wooden coffey still was used. Much like its even more famous brother, the Enmore still. 

In 1994 the rum of the Albion style would have been made at the Uitvlugt distillery according to the massive Demerara essay written by Marco at Barrel Aged Minds. Wether or not Uitvlugt had their own wooden coffey still or they used the original Albion still, will remain unanswered.

Today, the Albion style is instead produced on a French Savalle still according to a matrix made by Stefanie Holt, Brand Ambassador of DDL (used on a Demerara essay on Cocktails Old Fashioned).

This particular style of rum is very interesting, since I have yet to discover an Albion rum, which isn’t from Velier. On the other hand, Velier has issued several expressions from this still: Several from the 80's, and this one from the 90's.

Where as the 80’s Albions are extremely rare and practically impossible to get hold of (Damn you, Gregers!), the 1994 pops up on eBay from time to time. But if you wish to secure a bottle of this unique style, I advice that you act very quickly. And keep your credit card at the ready, and far from maxed.

Especially when you take into consideration, that the Velier days of badass Demerara rums has presumably come to an end, because DDL has chosen to refuse to let Mr. Gargano source these extraordinary rums anymore, and start releasing their own Rare Collection series, which I reviewed recently.

That more the reason to enjoy, savour and document these forces of nature.

This rum look bad. Evil. Pure Evil even. The Darth Vader of rums, perhaps.

Deceptively dressed in a white box, we find a very, very black bottle, with a very, very black label, containing the typical details. Origin, age, ABV and still.

I am still left hoping that other producers would issue equally simple exteriors for their rums, instead of the typical marketing drivel which clutters up most of the precious space on both boxes and bottles

In this case we don’t get any of that. Just facts. And a tiny piece of Italian sweet talking on the back.

Like other Velier bottles, this one keeps its precious cargo in check with a natural cork with a faux wood stopper.

When unleashed, the rum displays a beautiful copper colour with a ruby hue.

Twirled in the glass, you get a thick film on the inside of the glass, with an even thicker ring materialising on top. The ring then slowly evaporates to leave ”millions” of small, slow moving droplets, which in turn create some very nice, fat legs.

Activating the bloodhounds best friend, you are treated with an intensely heavy and fresh profile. If I didn’t know it was a 60% beast underneath, I would never have guessed.

The dominating elements are made up from molasses, marzipan, glue stick, soft oaks, and a good slice of the Dark Side of The Force.

Digging a little deeper, I found a freshly painted room, filed with a large compilation of dried fruits.
Apricots, raisins and prunes were the most obvious, but also a noticeable amount of figs and dates.

Absolutely stunning. I would be more than happy to pour a glass and just smell it for an entire evening, until it was completely dull and flat.

Following up on that beautiful nose, you can enjoy a huge, heavy profile on the palate.

First you are treated with voluminous molasses and sweet oaks, with some very soft tannins thrown in for extra effect.

Then you get spoiled with a rich and juicy melange of apricot jam, marzipan, orange peel and vanilla.

As it evolves, perfectly balanced notes of anise seed and raisins joins the herd.

And last but not least, everything is shrouded in a little smoke.

I don’t know what to say. It is absolutely gorgeous (Sorry, Andy).

The fade that never ends. It is very, very long and dominated by sweet liquorice and big, fat, juicy raisins.

At first it comes off as very warm, but then the fade sets in and seems to last for ever, leaving a sweet tingling on the tongue, palate and throat. 

After a very long time there is still a sweet taste of raisins left.

Simply marvellous.

Rating and final thoughts
Another prodigy by Velier. I am absolutely stunned by their ability to lasso in such a high proof rum and then tame it to the point where it doesn’t kill you straight away. Instead you are treated with a very, very pleasant, but still fun and slightly aggressive ride.

It is like a 1000 bhp supercar, that seems like it is going to tear your face off, but instead it lets you unleash its full potential without ever exposing you to any real danger.

Because of this controlled madness, I decided against trying it with water. It simply wasn't necessary.

As with all other Veliers the value for money is something to be discussed. I was fortunate to get a bottle of this while it was still kind of widely available. Sadly, it is getting increasingly hard to find, and if you find it, it will cost you some serious coin. It will perhaps be possible to find a rum just as good or even better for the price it fetches these days. But being an Albion, a Velier and a full proof, it deserves a place in any collection.

I wish I could be more critical about it, but it is absolutely amazing.

However, when reading through this write up, and trying to evaluate on my experience, I still feel that it could be a wee bit better in some vague and undefined way, which I can’t easily describe. Perhaps I’m being too hard, perhaps my expectations are coloured by the amount of other Velier rums I have tried, perhaps I just demand too much. I don’t know.

So, it will have to "settle" with a very well deserved…

Rating: 93/100


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