Wednesday 17 December 2014

Review 11 - Secret Treasures Old Demerara Rum 1989

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
Interesting and old demerara rum from independant bottler Fassbind.

Curious little thing on the menu today: The Secret Treasures Single Cask Old Demerara Rum 1989 14 year old Enmore Distillery.

A while back I coined a Plantation rum as the rum with the longest name in the world. Perhaps that title just changed hands.

Secret Treasures have their own website which tells almost nothing about the company behind these bottlings. And as far as their line up goes they haven't bottled a single rum since 2003.

Besides bottling rum they also work with whisky, gin, bitter and fruit distillates – none of which has been bottled later than 2007.

So as far as my research goes Secret Treasures are either ghosts or in hiatus.

Examining the bottle more closely reveals a company name of Fassbind AG from Switzerland. However when visiting their homepage there is absolutely no reference to the Secret Treasure lineups.

Fassbind AG has a long heritage of making eau-de-vie and bitters. The website also tells the long background story about the company but I’m not going to elaborate on that. This post is about the rum.

So all in all Secret Treasure actually are somewhat secret and illusive. But yet here I am, holding a bottle of their rum.

My particular bottle is number 517 of 897 produced from a single cask of Enmore rum from 1989 and it was bottled at 42% ABV.

A few of their bottlings can still be found in German webshops in particular. But I haven’t seen the Demerara 1989 anywhere since I bought the bottle that now sits on my shelf.

A quite exciting product to be honest. I am looking forward to see if there is something nice under the hood.

Plastic sleeves have never been my thing. So the first thing I did was to get the bottle out of the transparent plastic tube, and throw the tube away. Ugly thing…

But then it all went pretty.

A tall, sleek bar room bottle with a thick, thick reinforced bottom part.

A decorative label around the top of the neck conceals a cork with a faux wood stopper (at least I think it’s faux).

The back label tells a great and semi-romantic story designed to lure you into buying. Thinking back on the price I paid for it, that shouldn't really be necessary.

The real treat here is the front of the bottle.

Of course there is the label. An oldish style label with serrated edges, old fonts and a watermark of what I suspect is a plantation estate. Pretty nice. 

All the way down just above the heavy base of the bottle there is another small label that displays the bottling information.

All in all the two front labels almost tells us every single available detail on the rum.

And last but not least there is a beautifully etched golden logo directly on the bottle.

The whole thing kind of makes you want to be a pirate several hundred years ago. It is that stylish and powerful looking.

Dark ruby colours flow into the glass followed by twirl induced ring that seems to keep its slow moving, slender legs and slow, slow droplets hidden forever. I am expecting an oily mouth feel.

But first let us take a whiff and see what this baby smells like.

Pungent! Heavy! Violent! At first at least.

Given a few minutes of air some of the pungency drifts away and leaves room for some of the pleasantries inside. But there is no doubt that this bad boy is looking for a fight. And that at only 42%.

Let me paint you a picture of a skinny, quiet kid. Nobody ever took notice of until he suddenly got fed up with being bullied around and took down a kid three times his size? How? He grew up on a farm and moved straw bales around by muscle power every day.

This rum is that skinny farmers boy. Seriously understated, but strong as an ox. Enough metaphors for now.

Aaaah yes. This is indeed an Enmore. Quite heavy on the oak. Influenced by the wooden Coffey still I suspect. Strong notes of of full bodied red wine and lots of prunes are next. Then follows plenty of leather and tobacco.

A subtly sweetness lingers beneath. Not from sugar, caramel or toffee, but from dried fruits.

It is actually quite impressive how balanced and complex it is. The oak, the red wine, the prunes, the leather and tobacco seems to fuse seamlessly together into one united scent.

As mentioned in my first abbreviated impression, it is quite heavy and almost violent on most notes and not as smooth – and by smooth I do NOT mean sweet and syrupy - as I would usually prefer.

Even after 20 minutes of air it kept coming at my nostrils like a freight train out of control. Scary and intimidating.

With the thought of an aggressive farmers kid and a freight train in mind I was a little reluctant to take the first sip. Would it floor me instantly? Or perhaps be more gently once it got to know me better?

The tannins comes out knuckles first leaving my palate dry and winey. But it only leaves me very little time to breathe and/or think before my mouth is pummelled by massive oak and leather. As the assault fades a bit, tiny notes of marzipan and dried fruits appears.

After coping with the onslaught I noticed that it wasn't anywhere near as heavy bodied as I would have expected. It was very medium and not even the tiniest bit sticky. Despite being reluctant to show legs when twirled.

The finish is long, warm, very leathery and actually quite pleasant the previous brawl in mind. The dryness and the wine keeps lingering but is joined by a mild fruity sweetness. The heat stays on for a very long time but never grows coarse in the throat. Nice.

I guess that it actually did soften up on me once it got to know me.

Rating and final thoughts
What a fight! I have never tried a rum that demanded so much from me. But putting in the effort also yielded a tiny aspiring marvel.

I do like a good rum that demands a lot, but I actually think that this one demanded too much the outcome taken into consideration. After seeing the fight to the end I think I deserved more than it could deliver.

At no point did I catch a break. I had to keep it at arms length all the way through to keep it from eating my face. And that is too bad.

Had it just been a little more mellow or smooth – remember not sweet, just smooth – then it would 
have been priceless.

I insist that one recognises the quality of this rum. It is a good, solid product and it delivers an adventure that I have yet to get from any other rum. And even though is has its flaws it is super fun and quite unique.

The fight needed to fully appreciate it is definitely worth it but still leaves you a little disappointed.

I actually tasted this rum on several other occasions where I almost wrote it off as pure hooch. Simply because I didn't take my time with it and gave it enough attention to unlock its potential.

Price wise you will be hard pressed to find better value for money. The bottle cost me less than €40 which is practically a steal for a 14 year old Enmore this interesting and fun.

Even though I do prefer shorter and easier fights and the fact that this isn't anywhere near my favorite rum, I can’t help but be a little sad that it is (probably) all gone and that the only chance you will get to try this is to already own one or to know somebody who owns one.

This is no doubt a Secret Treasure to the rum world, but it could have been even more precious.
That is why it will get a…

Rating: 75/100


No comments:

Post a Comment