I like it when things are done correctly, thoughtfully, nerdy. Such is the case with the freshly launched rum importer ‚Rum-Exchange‘ run by Andreas Isopp. Our friend Andreas does source real rums and bottles them at cask strength without any additives – all that with full transparency, partly even informing on the place of maturation (tropical > continental). Some of his rums even undergo finishing in Sherry casks. As a side note, the bottles really look cool. Now let’s review their taste, starting from early to latest release date:
#001: Jamaica – Trelawny 5 y.o., 2013 – 2019 Oloroso Finish, 355 btl., 61,5%
Comment: This, of course, is a rum from Hampden Estate. It aged in ex-Bourbon casks for three years, then it was transferred to Oloroso wood for the remaining period of aging. Usually I am sceptical of Sherry finishes in rum, but with a funky and dry ester-monster, it might just add nice dimension. And exactly this happened. The sweet Jerez wine compements and fits like a glove, it polishes not too much of the exotic spiciness and leaves brighter fruitiness alive. Really exciting! One of the finest rums in the last months, I have to admit. I am getting leather, snus tobacco, many spices, very mature tropical fruit, citrusy elements, multi-vitamin-juice that is starting to ferment, resin, tar, and: pressed sour cherries. All these aromas are well-integrated and play with each other peacefully: earthy funk meets sweetness and leaves you craving another sip to grasp this complexity. What a great first release!
#002: Jamaica – St. Catherine 5 y.o., 2013 – 2019, Ruby Port Finish, 350 btl., 59%
Comment: Same idea as above, yet a different sweet wine and distillate from Worthy Park, which I usually adore. However, this one worked out only ok, not great. Port finishing is difficult though. This rum aged four years in tropical climate (Bourbon cask) before it was ‚deported‘ (forgive this pun) – one year Port finish in continental climate left its marks: the distillate is tamed (some mnight love that), for me a tad too much. It is tightly-knit and oozes raisins and various kinds of berries, Jamaica reggaes on in the background only (aromas of an empty leather bag of weed, dark wooden pipes, orange and lemon zests, maybe even Usain Bolt’s rubber running shoes 🙂 On the palate the aromas still battle, tensions can be felt. The wood influence is a bit doctored, but I think this rum has many friends who are into cask-driven whisky and rum. Junkies of typicality might dislike it. Anyway, a very interesting and tasty learning experience (Jamaica vs. Port).
#003: Belize – Traveller’s Distillery 10 y.o., 2019 – 2019, ex-Bourbon (tropical aging), 300 btl., 60,8%
Comment: Traveller’s Distillery struck me as a great source for naturally sweeter rums (Middle American style) with some weight to them, something for the sweet teeth ready to step up a notch on the ladder of quality. And this release lends itself perfectly for converting people to real rum. A very mature nose with ample oak hits the nostrils like a pastry, more in a style of old Domenican Republic releases at first, but then it shows its home Belize in clearer ways: Vanilla, caramel, fat nutty oils (Macadamia, almonds, coconut) and cedar wood rule over lime blossom, honey, cinnamon and cream. Spicy elemenst chime in (chili, resin, kurkuma) to set a counterpart. The palate is more elegant than you would expect from such a baroque nose, this rum is never cloying yet sweet n‘ oily – roasted sugarcoated nut heaven which lingers on quite a while. The wood spices balance the sweetness here. A maelstrom of sheer goodness if this style is yours.
#004: Guyana – Port Mourant 11 y.o., 2008 – 2019, 250 btl., 58,3%
Comment: PM, my favourite mark. And it is a brighter version of demerara juice which gives me great hopes for an excellent spirit-driven experience. YES! So typical of Port Mourant, which I consider as one of the finest distillates around. Sorry, but wow: I succumb to this great complexity and balance in such a powerhouse. Wet humidor, olives, band aids with iodine, grilled Sunmaid raisins, snus and Virginia tobacco, bruised dates, tar … for a start. Then mentholated sweet drops („Eisbonbon“), prunes, warm mulch, polished magogani, Romeo y Julietta cigars (unlit), leather, vanilla, licorice, pine cones, pepper and diesel come to the fore. A carousel of crazy aromas, so wonderfully awkward yet fitting together perfectly. A full-score nose! On the palate it is less wild, sweeter than expected and very balanced. It shows high drinkability and Finesse, an exciting rum. If only it had not been tamed this would be the T-Rex. An absolute recommendation at this price below 90 Euro!
#005: Barbados – Foursquare 2009 – 2020, 59%
Comment: This is a preview, the rum is not released yet (probably at the end of March). Thanks for the advance sample, Andreas! So we Keep this shorter: you can expect a great natural rum again, very balanced and soft for its make. This Foursquare is fresh and displays lemon balm, coconut, vanilla, green tea, herbs, chewing gum, mulch, cedar, soft smoke, olives, licorice, cinnamon, kurkuma and peppers. Something for everyone, also for hotter days. Elegant Barbados.
We would like to wish Andreas Isopp the best of luck in the business and hope to get more of such fine rums! Maybe we even team up for evil elixirs in the future 🙂 Reward his efforts, get ya‘ some!