Some weeks ago I discussed my rum adventure by the Rum Scout himself, Rob V. Burr. With some guidance, I had a chance to sample quite a few rums, most I’ve seen and never tried, and a few that I simply didn’t know about. I didn’t go over empty handed as I am not one to simply mooch off of someone’s liquor without at least an attempt at contributing. So what does one bring to the home of a rum connoisseur? Why, my ever-special St. Nicholas Abbey 18-year small batch rum of course!
Rob is quite familiar with the St. Nicholas Abbey rums as they are made in collaboration with Foursquare Distillery’s Master Distiller and Master Blender, Richard Seale. Indeed, we tasted his 12-year rum next to my 18-year. You can read more about the process here but know that both St. Nicholas Abbey as well as the Foursquare Distillery are exceptional contributors to rums from Barbados. St. Nicholas Abbey is a must-see attraction as it is the oldest house in Barbados and the third-oldest Jacobian style home in the Western hemisphere. Foursquare Distillery has made a name for itself in not only having quality rums from Barbados, but in its marketability in having a number of products to suit many rum drinkers’ tastes. When in Barbados, it is not uncommon to take a tipple of Old Brigand (the pirate) or Doorly’s (a nice aged rum). Less common in Barbados, but more visible in rum bars where drinks are sipped and enjoyed include The Real McCoy Rum and Foursquare’s Port Wine Cask Finish Rum.
I received my St. Nicholas Abbey 18-year Rum as a gift early 2016. Meant to be a Christmas gift, I was actually sent a voucher from friends so that I may collect my bottle in Barbados; plane ticket not included. As you can probably tell, getting me to visit Barbados is never an issue, especially when friends and rum are involved. The 18-year rum won’t be found in your local liquor store but as of this post it would seem that a couple websites have it in stock for roughly $200-250.
So the good stuff…tasting! For perspective, we were drinking the same exact rum; just one is older. This made the tasting interesting because one generally would assume the older the better. I can’t say one is better in terms of quality but personal preference definitely makes a difference here. Some of the flavors we tasted in the 12-year became lost in the 18-year which reminds me of something I was told a while ago; one wouldn’t want a 30+ year old rum (unless as part of a blend) because you then take on more than a desired flavor from the barrels that are breaking down. This is especially important when getting rums from places where there you have a tropical climate. Aging in the Caribbean is very different than say Northern United States because the warmer temperatures speed up the process. The St. Nicholas Abbey 12 year rum had very distinct flavors that were easy to identify and enjoy while the 18-year, while good, had a complexity that made identification difficult. I could get the banana, but there was less sweetness. The 18-year was a bit more dry and while still enjoyable, I think as far as drinking neat, I would prefer the 12-year. That said, don’t expect me to share much of this rum with anyone as a cube of ice is all I need to devour the bottle over a few sittings.
My favorite rum of the evening was the Ron Abuelo Centuria. As explained by Rob, this is not a cheap rum by any means. I suppose if you added up all of the rums we sampled throughout the evening, this one would push us near the $1000 mark. It’s a good thing we were only sampling! This rum was extremely smooth and well-balanced. I could get the vanilla and fruit flavors which were very enjoyable. Had I not already tried another 7-8 rums prior, I think I would have stuck with this one all night. It’s one of those that I feel I need to get for my own collection asap.
All in all, a successful evening and I hope there are more to come as work settles down. The holidays present a lot of challenges in keeping up my writing but I’m ready to make this a more eventful year. Cheers to the New Year and here’s to lots of rum drinking (responsibly of course).