Monday, 21 November 2016

Review 97 - L'Esprit Diamond Cask Strength 2005 11 year old

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
Massive proofage, but ends up just short of being great.
Another independent bottler? Yes sir.

L’Esprit is a relatively new one hailing from France, and it has been very hard finding any information about them.

Apparently they are ”just” a web shop dealing in typical brand name products, which has branched into indie bottler territory.

So, for my first (and so far only) encounter with this bottler, I have chosen something familiar, but also utterly insane.

The L’Esprit Diamond Cask Strength 2005 11 year old.

A single cask rum bottled in 2016, without any apparent tampering. No chill filtering, no colour, no additives. The cask only yielded 166 bottles, with a mind blowing 71,4% ABV.

This will be the strongest rum I’ve tried so far. And I’m looking very much forward to it. But first a few more details.

Flimsy, black cardboard box with gold lettering.

On the back is a short background to the whole L’Esprit philosophy, which is pretty much the only information you can find about the company, as their webpage is set up more like a webshop.

Inside the box is a typical bar room bottle, with a golden shrink wrap on top, with a natural cork with plastic stopper underneath.

The label is in line with most recent indie bottling, and displays all relevant information about the rum, and nothing more.

Dark, mahogany colour. In my mind is seems strange if this is the natural colour or an 11 year old rum. I have a hard time believing that it hasn’t been influenced in some way. It’s just too damned dark.

It only creates a very thin layer of residue on the inside of the glass, and it leaves countless little droplets, which seems to never move.

At first it is very familiar with its dark, thick, molasses and syrup. But then I noticed that it seems rather thin bodied. Strange.

Quickly it made my mind focus on other things. Like thick liquorice, juice raisins and prunes along with lots of wet, brown sugar.

Then comes a mild layer of smoked oak, with some soft, red, whine tannins.

Very typical Demerara nose, but I’m quite surprised that there was absolutely no evidence of the massive ABV anywhere. Not a single sting or mild unpleasantry, or even just a little hint of destruction to come.

With a little water more liquorice comes out and becomes the dominant scent.

Here goes nothing. 71,4% ABV. Get ready to get me a new throat.

Woah! Lots of heat at first. But nowhere near as lethal as I had anticipated.

Plenty, rich molasses up front but also a sharp underlying, concentrated oak.

The oak note feels weird and not very tasty – like something has gone wrong. Thankfully there is a lot of other nice things in there as well.

Juicy prunes and raisins along with blackberry and apricot jam.

Quite interesting, but I can’t seem to ignore that weird oaky sharpness. And even though it presents it self with quite a lot of richness, it doesn’t appear as rich or full bodied as the usual Demerara beast.

After some sips the oaken off-note starts to go soapy and even herbal, which feels even more weird.

Adding a little water it mellows out just a little bit, and it takes the top off the off note. It feels more like very concentrated liquorice than spoiled oak now. Still, it feels a little weird.

It stays around for quite a while, repeating the strange oaken stab and the juice dates and molasses. 

But that is it. For a while it feels like it’ll stay forever, but suddenly it goes thin and vanishes without further spectacle.

Rating and final thoughts
Personally, I think it is quite a disappointment considering the heritage and the massive strength.
I’ve had substantially lower proof Demeraras which packed more of a punch and delivered a richer experience.

Sure it has concentrated, typical Demerara goodness in there. But not enough of it.

And mixed together with that weird oaky thing, I’m left wanting something more from it.

Perhaps the massive strength just doesn’t do it any favours. It does feel a little better with water in it, but it doesn’t do any real magic.

I’m still a little underwhelmed by it, despite it’s strength being right up my alley.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ld much rather be sipping this than the many other rums. But it does have its flaws.

The price was alright at around €120. Given that this will go a long way, when taking into consideration that it needs to be watered down a bit to be at its most enjoyable.

Still, I think I would try to find something else if I had the choice. Perhaps you’ll be able to find an older Silver Seal bottling at similar age, or perhaps even one of the newer Rum Nation single casks.

I had very high hopes for this bottle. Primarily, because I love big, bad cask strengths and Demeraras. But also because it seemed like a logical progression of the indie bottlers to go beyond 70% - just because it was possible.

It is a super interesting rum and I’m glad I tried it, but it ended up just short of something great, and only manages to scrape together a …

Rating: 75/100



  1. My experience with the rum was very different (better). Could it be that the bottle was cork tainted? Does this fault exist in spirits?

    1. I believe that is possible. But still, the experience could easily be different between us anyway.