The wonders of the internet and high street phenomenon Black Friday led me to finally putting a bottle of VAT 19 into my shopping basket. UK based online retailer http://www.drinksupermarket.com had 20% off everything on sale. Drink Supermarket tend to stock less higher end products than most online booze merchants. So I was able to pick up a good few entry and lower level rums. They seem to focus on rum’s they can actually sell…….I’ve had a good few rums with a lot of dust on them from other retailers!
My experience of Trinidadian rums (I’ll shorten that to Trini from now on!) begins and ends at present with Angostura 1919. I do however have two Caroni rum’s (a now defunct Trinidad distillery) a 16 and 12 year old which I will shortly by trying. I wouldn’t say I was off put by the 1919 but other than the 1824 I have seen little by way of Trini rum’s that I have taken a fancy for. To be honest there isn’t a great deal of Trini rum available.
Vat 19 is produced by Fernandes Distillery and is imported by H&A Prestige Packing Co Ltd from Chorley (Lancashire). So bearing that in mind it is quite ironic that the rum is labelled as “Liquid Sunshine”. If ever a county needed sunshine instead of rain Lancashire is it!
I was slightly puzzled that the distillery was noted as Fernandes Distillery as I was fairly sure from my research that Angostura bought the distillery back in 1973. The distillery was/is situated next door. There is no mention of Angostura on the bottle. It is also interesting that the importer of this rum is a different one to the 1919 importer (CL World Brands, Glasgow, Scotland). The best conclusion I can come from this is that both Angostura and importers are keeping the brands separate (for the good of both I suspect).
The appearance of the rum suggests this is an entry level mixing rum. In both the Fernandes and Angostura distillery this rum is indeed the cheapest and thus their entry level offering. Its the usual bar style bottle with a slightly bulbous head leading to the standard screw cap. The overall presentation of the rum is so-so. Both the rear and front label do however give some information regarding the rum held within.
As mentioned already VAT 19 is labelled “Liquid Sunshine” and that is the image on the front label. The back gives a bit of detail regarding the rum. Which was first produced in 1919. Coincidence……….well it doesn’t end there to be honest as we’ll see later in the review.
The rear label reveals the story behind the rum’s heritage at the Fernandes Distillery. I quite like rear labels used for these stories (as long as they are actually true). The rum is aged before blending for 3 years. It is bottled at 37.5% (a lot of entry level rum’s are to make them slightly more afforadable). I doubt 2.5% ABV makes much difference at these levels.
VAT 19 is very definitely in the mixing rum territory, in terms of ageing. It’s price (less than £20 for 1 litre) suggests this is a rum to be mixed. It’s own label suggests this is its primary use.
Nosing VAT 19 immediately reminds me of Angostura 1919. Once poured the rum is a straw like colour. It is very light, it’s just about Golden at a push. It has that soft buttery slightly floral note. I find both this and 1919 very difficult to explain. Much like some of the Havana Club range there is a an overall smell which I cannot quite explain. In the case of the VAT 19 the smell is very pleasant. It is very similar to 1919. There is less complexity – oak and a little cocoa seem to be missing but overall you could easily get confused.
So on with the tasting and how does this Liquid Sunshine taste? Well as a sipper you immediately notice the difference between this and 1919. It is after all 5 years younger and exhibits the rough burn of a 3 year old rum. 1919 is ridiculously smooth and is set out as sipping rum. VAT 19 has no illusions of this.
When mixed as suggested on the label the rum really does begin to live up to the tag Liquid Sunshine. It has a sweet vanilla flavour. It isn’t complex. It’s very clean and inoffensive. It mixes nicely with cola or lemonade (or anything else to be honest). Despite it’s easy mixing nature it isn’t a rum which gets completely lost in the mix. That buttery/vanilla, florally taste is still present. It’s smooth and very easy going.
This is an easy drinking, easy going, golden mixing rum. It is nicely made and clearly care has went into making this rum. Angostura 1919 carries the ACR mark and I feel this rum really should as well.