Habitation Velier Privateer 2017

Habitation Velier Privateer 2017 rum review by the fat rum pirateHabitation Velier Privateer 2017. For many Velier will need no introduction. For those that maybe aren’t as quite far on in their rum journey, I’ll give a little background on Velier and the Habitation Velier releases in particular.

Velier SpA was founded in 1947 (it celebrated it’s 70th birthday in 2017) they are primarily a spirits and wine distributor. They also Independently bottle rum in particular for the European market.

Habitation Velier bottles are a hybrid between the Independent bottlings they have become famous for and the distillery bottlings they distribute throughout Europe. They, Luca Gargano (Head of Velier) especially works closely with the rum producer to bottled what he refers to as “dependent” bottlings. Usually when an Independent bottler, bottles a rum they have bought it from a broker. As a result the final sale of the bottling the profit goes directly to the Independent. In this case the profit is shared on a more equal basis between the producer and the bottler with no middle man involved.

So today we have a collaboration between Velier and Privateer. This distillery from Ipswich, Massachusetts, New England in the US of A. Now the rum scene in the US is much different to that in Europe. Many of the more respected Independent bottlers such as Velier, Samaroli, Duncan Taylor rely on storage facilities in Europe and focus distribution there. In the US there is quite a “craft rum” scene with many producers of rum.

Unfortunately, distribution of such rum in Europe is again quite rare. Prior to COVID-19 there was an increasingly more global approach with outfits such as Velier expanding distribution into the US and a few American rum producers getting some distribution in Europe.

Privateer has built up quite a reputation over the past 3 or so years. There is no doubt that having a female Head/Master Distiller has led to a little more “girl power” in the rum scene. It has, much like Appleton Estate before it with Joy Spence being the first Master Blender, added an extra bit of interest and kudos.

Habitation Velier Privateer 2017 is the “dependent bottling” to be released by the label. The rum is made from 100% imported molasses from Guatemala (Privateer hasn’t always used 100% molasses they have used Evaporated Sugar Cane Juice and Brown Sugar in the past).

Privateer ferment te molasses for 6 days. Privateer rum is then double distilled. Firstly in a Vendome Pot Still and secondly through a custom built Batch still from Carl in Germany. Carl is the name of a company established in 1869 not just some guy called Carl.

I’m still trying to find out some more about the aging of the Velier outturn. Will add that when I know. Edit (20/7/20): So, Maggie kindly took the time out to respond to my enquiries – she confirmed the double distillation, first in a Vendome pot still and then in a batch still sourced from CARL in Germany and aged in New American Oak #3 char (about 35 seconds of flame charring the barrel). She also sent me an AMAZING slideshow of the Privateer distillery basic setup and manufacturing process, which I will be putting on the site as part of a long term work-in-progress looking in-depth at several key distilleries worldwide.

This release is a blend of 3 casks distilled in 2016 and 5 casks from 2017. So the youngest rum on the bottle is used.It has been bottled at Cask Strength of 55.6%. Privateer do not use any additives and the rum has been aged in #3 level char (around 35 seconds of flame charring the inside of the barrel) New American Oak Casks. This kind of barrel char is more commonly used in Bourbon. As most rum is aged in used American Oak. All ageing has taken place at the distillery. It has 150.6Habitation Velier Privateer 2017 rum review by the fat rum pirategr/hlpa of congeners – Luca loves his congeners and the Angel’s Share was 11%.

Habitation Velier Privateer 2017 has had distribution here in the UK and was available at Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange. They have both sold out their allocation as of today (02/11/2020) but I would imagine they will get a further supply? Already there are numerous bottles on the secondary market.

Habitation Velier Privateer 2017 retails at around the £100 mark, which admittedly seems quite steep for a 3 year old rum (though some is 4 years old). I remember similar comments to those I have seen on line about the price being attributed to the Foursquare 2013. Which didn’t turn out bad at all.

Presentation wise Habitation Velier Privateer 2017 comes in the standard Habitation Velier flask style bottle and you can keep it all pretty in they very sturdy cardboard sleeve.

Is ther much else to be said about this bottling? I have reviewed a Privateer rum in the past. I also have another couple of samples knocking around. So I’ve an idea of what to expect from this. Lets see if I’m right.

In the glass we have a darker spirit than I was expecting. Barrel char? Yeah must be really unless it’s New England’s tropical climate. Maybe not.

Nosing Habitation Velier Privateer 2017 it is surpisingly sweet and fruity. Chocolate raisins and some tinned peaches. There is also a really nice vanilla ice cream note. It reminds me quite a lot of the Antigua Distillery Heavy Traditional Rum release also from Velier.

These notes are all wrapped up in a rather silky oaky aroma which is really nice and reminds of a few Foursquare rum releases. I know a lot of people will be quick to compare this to bourbon. It does have some obvious similarities but it is clear (to me) that this is just a nicely aged rum. Those who might think otherwise, likely prefer sweetened rums.

So far I’m impressed. The nose is really inviting and very nicely balanced. It’s very Barbados like but at the same time has some of its own identity.

Sipped it is a little more youthful than the nose suggested. Having said that it’s not overly boozy or young in that respect. The oak however is a bit younger and fresher than the nose suggested. This is as likely, as much down to the first fill oak used as it is the age of the rum.

The initial entry is a little sharp – touch of varnish and some quite woody oak. If you are a fan of “Virgin Oak” aged rum – you’ll likely really enjoy this extra woody-ness. I’m still a bit on the fence with it. There’s a nice hit of molasses on the mid palate and some dark chocolate. The varnish and some shoe polish continue giving it quite a “hot” mouthfeel. It’s not spicy or peppery just a bit well “hot”.

A few sips further and you do get some of the milk chocolate and some sweeter notes coming through especially on the mid palate. There is also a good hit of some smoky notes which add a bit more complexity to the rum.Habitation Velier Privateer 2017 rum review by the fat rum pirate

The finish on this one is fairly short and the overall effect is a very drying feeling in the mouth. This disappears quite quickly leaving a gentle oaky tingle but not really a great deal else. It’s not a bad finish but it isn’t as long as you might like.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed this particular rum. That said it is very much a wood driven spirit. I’ve never tasted any Privateer either direct from the still/unaged so I do not really know what the base rum actually tastes like. I think I am getting glimpses of that but curiosity would lead me to want to try Privateer unaged.

This is a solid but unspectacular start to the Habitation Velier Privateer collaboration. I’ve had better from both Velier and Privateer and I am sure something better will come in time.

Good but not quite great.

 

 

 

 

 

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