El Dorado Rare Collection – Versailles 2002

El Dorado Versailles Rare Collection rum review by the fat rum pirateEariler this year Demerara Distillers Limited announced some new rums in their El Dorado range.  Limited edition releases of rums from single stills. This one is from the Versailles (VSG) still.

It seems that Demerara Distillers have set out a very different direction for their US and European bottlings.  Last year the US were treated to a range of wine finished expressions of their flagship 15 Year Old rum.  The European market was treated instead to three Rare Collection rums.  This Versailles 2002 is one of them.

The news that Velier would no longer be bottling Demerara rums from DDL was met with great despair by many rum enthusiasts.  Concerns were that DDL might release rare or limited edition rums but they might well be heavily sugared like their El Dorado range – unlike the Velier bottlings.

Interestingly Velier owner Luca Gargano does have a financial interest in DDL, so whilst these rums might not be released under the Velier brand I would imagine that he has had some kind of influence over these releases.

Although no numbers have been given it is though that around 3000 bottles of each of the 3 Rare Collection rums are available.  Online retail prices vary but this rum averages at £160.

Bottled at a whopping 63% ABV and aged for 12 years.  Its perhaps coincidental that the El Dorado 12 Year old is heavily reliant on the Versailles still in its blend.  The Versailles or VSG is a single wooden pot still.

The rum is presented in a sturdy cardboard cut out style box (similar to Rum Nation).

EL DORADO VERSAILLES 2002 Rum review by the fat rum pirate rare collectionTo the rear of the box there is a story about the three stills used (the box used is the same for each release).  The bottle is a stubby style, very expensive looking and like the Velier releases it is opaque.  The familiar El Dorado ship is embossed into the glass.

It’s all very classy but to be fair that should be expected at this price point.

I enjoy the El Dorado 12 Year Old and to my knowledge, I have yet to try a rum from the Versailles still.  I am a little disappointed to find that (unless there is a proofing error on the bottle) that it appears some sugar or additives are in this rum.  Shame and I could say it never happened in Veliers time BUT Drecon.dk shows different………a Velier LBI 1985 is listed with 16 g/L.  Following a Hydrometer Test I found that this rum came in with an ABV of slightly over 61% so the added sugar (or additives) g/L is around 8 g/L.  Above the accepted tolerance of 0-5.

One of the reasons Velier’s own Demerara rums got such a good name was that they benefitted from tropical ageing.  Most if not all other Independent Demerara bottlers see their rums spend some (if not most) of their time maturing in colder European climates.  Tropical ageing produces much richer rum and whilst the possibility of being over oaked increases with such ageing – this rarely seemed an issue with Velier’s output.  It also cranks up the “Angels Share”.

Like the Velier rums before them these Rare Collection rums benefit from full tropical ageing at DDL.

This Versailles still rum is a 12 year old bottled in 2014.  It is curious to note that the three rums in the Rare Collection mirror the age of El Dorado’s exisiting premium rums – 12,15 and 21 years old.

Anyway enough waffling, lets get down to how this rum appears, smells and tastes.

First up the rum is quite a surprise when poured as its pretty light in colour considering 12 years Tropical ageing.  The rum presents itself in the glass as a rich golden brown with a lovely reddish hue running right through it.

The nose immediately reminds me of Enmore rums I have tried in the past and the El Dorado line up.  Classic Demerara notes of raisins and chocolate.  At 63% ABV I was expecting a nose with more alcohol.  There is little by way of fumes and whilst it is in no way “soft” it certainly doesn’t carry the nose you find with most cask strength or overproof rums.

The rum in this bottle I would probably describe as a lighter style – I’m reminded of the excellent Uitvlugt 1996 Modified GS from Velier.  That is not to say it isn’t big on flavour.  It is a very rich almost treacly rum.  Rich plump raisins and dried prunes with a very nice molasses/liquorice undertone.  It’s just not a very fiery rum even with the ABV of 63%.  At least not on the nose anyway.

Moving onto the tasting and the ABV really begins to come through.  Whilst not undrinkable at 63% ABV, I personally find too much burn to really appreciate the rum.  I would always advise at least trying once, a little added water with rums over 50% ABV.  It really can open up the rum and make the sipping experience much more rewarding.

Without added water I find this sprit to be too spicy and the liquorice notes become overpowering, making for a very bitter tasting spirit.  I few drops of water certainly decrease the spicy notes.  It also dulls the liquorice/molassess notes (think Myers’s Original Dark) down to more manageable levels.

Disappointingly though the lovely classic Demerara notes that were so present on the nose don’t translate once you start sipping.  The raisins and chocolate have went AWOL and have been replaced with oak and the bitter liquorice/molasses notes remain the dominant player in the rum.EL DORADO RARE COLLECTION VSG POT STILL rum review by the fat rum pirate

In all honest this rum tastes slightly over oaked and it isn’t as sweet as I expected.  The liquorice notes are not the only ones making themselves known, there are also some very heavy red wine notes -which are a little vinegary.

As you can probably tell from the tasting notes – this isn’t one of the best Demerara rums I have had.  It certainly suggests also to me why Velier didn’t bottle too many rums from the Versailles still.  The rum does have some redeeming qualities. It is by no stretch of the imagination an awful rum. I can see how rums from this still may benefit from being blending with others.

I don’t even think that the possible added sugar has really impacted this rum. If it had come up clean on the Hydrometer Test I wouldn’t have been at all surprised.

It’s just not complex enough and overall it is just too bitter to be a classic.

3 stars

 

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