Rum Tastings

I had the opportunity to do two informal rum tastings before Christmas – a St Nicholas Abbey pop-up in Hedonism Wines and the Appleton live, interactive tasting session on Twitter. For some reason, I’ve only just got round to publishing it, though.

Both events were on the same evening, but due to the quirks of my local post service, my Appleton tasting pack didn’t arrive in time. For some reason, the postmen never bring the actual parcels, only the ‘there’s something for you’ card to indicate we should go and pick the package up for ourselves. And they’re pretty open about this policy, too. I’m at the sorting office literally every Saturday collecting parcels to finish off their job. Buy anyway, I digress with my local complaints. Back to rum.

With no Appleton until Saturday, I saw a tweet from St Nicholas Abbey that a UK brand representative was holding a tasting session in Mayfair’s Hedonism Wines. I had tried their unaged white rum a couple of years ago at Rumfest and found it stood out as a sipping rum against its dark, aged competitors, so have been eager since then to try their aged output. I have to say, while the 10-year was a delight, I was slightly disappointed to find out the actual rum is from the Foursquare distillery, also on Barbados, but I assume this is because the Abbey only got licensed a few years ago. We also got a sneaky taste of the rare 15-year, which had been flagged as a ‘must’ many ttimes.

The St Nicholas Abbey distillery is heavily pitched to the boutique side of the market – the side of rum that I like. Each bottle is hand-engraved and is sealed with a mahogany (from the estate) and leather stopper, which makes for impressive presentation. The retail price is high (around £75 for the 10-year rum), but this hovers around the price of other high-end rums from standard brands.

I also have to mention Hedonism Wines, which is an upscale fine wine establishment in the heart of Mayfair. Think exposed brickwork, sections of glass flooring, wine caves, wine glasses suspended from the ceiling, methusalehs of champagne and some ancient vintages (and hefty price tags), not just for wine, but whisky, cognac, rum and gin.

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Having missed out on the Appleton live tasting, this set me up for a cheeky Sunday aperitif tasting session, accompanied by the notes from Floating Rum Shack and the Appleton master blender’s Twitter feed. We had samples of the V/X, Reserve 8 Year, 12 Year and 21 Year, the oldest rum I’ve sampled. My favourite was the 8 Year, because it has a short finish, which is to say you get a hit of caramel, sugar, and vanilla which is not followed by the alcohol ‘afterburn’ that came with the 12 Year and the entry level V/X. The 21 Year blend had dense aromas of muscovado sugar – and a short finish – but if I was purchasing, I wouldn’t be able to justify the price gap between that and the 8-year old specimen.

Although it didn’t work out for me, I think the #RumLive idea was a great one – free tots of rum and interaction with the blender for us punters, widening the scope of potential custom for the drinks company. I hope it catches on with brands…

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