BHAKTA Jamaican Rum Distilled (finished in Armagnac casks) 1990
Above average esters give this a glossy richness on the nose. However, the spices are of an alien kind and almost certainly picked up from the French oak in use. There is also a relaxed fruitiness that steers this away from the standard old Jamaicans, yet all the components to make this aroma are brittle to the point of being about to shatter. Good age, but no sign of tiredness whatsoever. When warmed slightly, the lightest shade of golden syrup stands between this and a degree of austerity.
The serious age on this results in the taste buds being met with as many dry tones as sweeter ones. The various oaks used here have impacted early: none of the usual sweet coating of the mouth and slow tannin build here: whoosh, in come the oak, spices and all. However, there are esters enough to carry some life-saving acacia honey tones. But those spices won’t let go and as the intensity of the tannin increases, become borderline aggressive. Too cool and balance is lost…. slightly warmed and the balance is superb.
The significant tannins are tempted towards a degree of bitterness, but the prevailing delicate honey tones steer it away from that course. There are late vanilla tones which also soften and these move towards sweater butterscotch. The spices have at last met their match…
For this distillery and for that era this represents a relatively high ester style that was treated quite carefully years back. When tasted at normal room temperature the oaks and tannins perhaps don’t do as many favours as they might. So the rum is at its best when slightly warmed and the esters are freed to do their much-needed sweetening job, as well as sooth the palate. A complex rum right on the edge of its age range and I’m glad it was bottled now rather than in, say, two summers’ time.
Note: As it happens, I was trained as a rum blender at Appleton in the 1990s. Owen Tulloch, their long-standing Master Blender, had been frustrated that Wray and Nephew would not allow him to have a trainee work under him. So, instead, I worked with Owen for several years with me staying at his home and he at mine.
Curiously, their current blender never worked under Owen - contrary to some PR claims: she was plucked from their quality control lab if I remember correctly after his sudden death.
Buy 1990 Jamaican Rum: https://my.shopbhakta.com/products/bhakta-1990-rum-1