Penny Blue VSOP is a rum from the island of Mauritius. The Penny Blue brand so far, have been a range or rather batches of “XO” rums. Each slightly different to the next.
They have also released a more expensive Single Cask Penny Blue and have now produced this VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale – a term used mainly in Cognac marketing) rum. Initially the VSOP was only available in Mauritius, it is now available in the UK for £24.
This is a collaboration between English Wine & Spirit’s Merchant Berry Bros and Rudd and the Medine Distillery in Mauritius.
Penny Blue VSOP is guaranteed to have no additives, is naturally coloured and is non-chill filtered. Penny Blue VSOP is aged for a minimum of 4 years. The rums in the blend come from a variety of scotch whisky (10%), bourbon (15%) and cognac casks (75%). The sugar cane is harvested, fermented and distilled, all at the Medine Distillery.
Due to the price point of this rum. It would appear that it may be intended more as a high end mixer rather than a sipper.
In the glass Penny Blue VSOP is a vibrant gold colour. As the company makes it claim – it doesn’t appear to have any additives, not even caramel colouring.
The nose is very interesting it smells a little like tree sap and it has a savoury note which reminds me of mushrooms. I don’t normally get quite so bizarre with my notes but I’m immediately thinking of muddy fields, trees and pine cones in a forest!
Thankfully there are more familiar aged rum notes – vanilla, some lightly spiced and slightly piney oak. It’s quite pungent – suggesting Pot Still rum but apparently this is a column distilled only product. Like the rums coming from the South Pacific Distillery in Fiji or St Lucia Distillers I find the Penny Blue rums have their own very distinctive and unique aroma.
As a sipper it is a little on the young side or so you may think. It is quite strong on the alcohol notes. Hot and spicy with a pretty sharp and quite bitter oak finish. A dry, but very honest rum definitely not “sweet and smooth”. It seems to get quite a lot of its flavour from the Cognac casks. It reminds me of other rums that have a cognac finish or maturation. This is where the sweetness comes from. A bitter/sweet almost red wine like flavour. Which adds an extra layer of complexity to the sipping experience
There is quite a lot going on with this rum. All the casks used in the blending process show their teeth – so you get an almost malty savoury hit from the whisky casks and a sweet/sour element from the bourbon which leads into the bitter/sweet red wine notes from the cognac casks. Or at least this is how I’m seeing it anyway!
For £24 it is a bit of a bargain as sipper. It has good amount of complexity and once you get used to the slightly “sap” like notes it becomes a nice tot. It’s well balanced though your palate will take a few drinks to adapt. Mauritian rum as mentioned previously is quite distinctive. It’s different.
I did try mixing this but it didn’t work too well especially with sweet mixers such as cola and lemonade. Soda Water was a better fit. The more “vegetal” notes of this rum just didn’t sit right in a Cuba Libre unfortunately.
Whilst Penny Blue rums have their own distinctive flavour I find these rums more in keeping with a Bajan style of rum making. Balance seems to be the key here. The production method – column suggests a lighter rum. This is a lighter style of rum but it does have a few rougher edges which give it a bit extra character.
At £24 it’s very good value. An everyday sipper if you like. I would urge anyone embarking on a “Rum Journey” and trying to save a few coppers to give this a try if they want something different.
At this price definitely worth a punt.