Together with a friend I had a small rum tasting session, we tried four different rums. It was the Quorhum 23 Solera, Opthimus 15, 1931 and Rum Nation Peruano 8yo. Oliver & Oliver from the Dominican Republic, are producing Opthimus, Cubaney, Guantanamera, Cubanacán, Samaná, Unhiq, Quorhum, Punta Cana Club and also third party brands as Vizcaya, Oliver & Oliver Atlantic. St. Lucia Distillers makes the Chairmans Reserve, Admiral Rodney and 1931. Rum Nation sells limited editions of rum from single casks bought from various distillers. My expectations were pretty high for all except the Rum Nation. All the bottles except the Rum Nation comes in very stylish bottles so the Peruano didn't leave much of a visual impression.
We started out with the Quorhum 23 Solera from Oliver & Oliver that is sold here in half litre bottles that after the recent price cut is sold at a very decent price. The bottle is a very nice decanter shaped almost like a cube. The colour is almost black, seen from a distance. The label says "SPECIAL BLACK RHUM" which I guess means extra caramel colouring added. Also funny that they spell it in the french way on the label when it's from a spanish talking island. It's very sweet but retains a slight alcoholic bite that in a way saves it from being too liqueur like, it's bottled at 42%. I like it and think it's a good rum if compared to the other Soleras out there. If there is something negative to be said about it it might be a bit too sweet and lack a bit of character. Definitely above average but not a truly great rum. Both me and my friend rated this at 4/5 on a scale where 5 is best.
The next one we tried was the Opthimus 15 also from Oliver & Oliver which felt like a step up from the Quorhum. It has a more balanced sweetness and less of alcholic bite. This is also a Solera so what the point is in having numbered bottles are beyond my understanding. I am a bit sceptical about most soleras since you have no clue of the final composition of the rum in the bottle. Soleras are usually sweet smooth nice rums. There is strangely enough never any specifications of their solera system on most bottles or makers sites specifying how many stages there are in their system so you get a sense for what the final product is composed of. I have never really understood solera age statements either, when I see age statements on anything I expect it to be the age of the youngest component and consider anything else as fraud committed against the consumer. Maybe the "Limited and Numbered" is a way of hinting at running a honest solera system with limited annual production. I have read that the solera system is superior for keeping a uniform product since the mixing of vintages in the solera always keeps a large portion of the rum stored in the casks so the newly added rum will not dilute or affect the product negatively. It might be a good idea for limited production but what happens when you increase production? Anyway, back to the Opthimus, it's a nice golden brown compared to the dark brown of the Quorhum. It comes in a very stylish round bottle with a wood topped cork delivered in a simple cardboard frame with a rope handle that displays the elegant beauty of the bottle in a nice way. It smells slightly sweet which is not very surprising since most rums do, hints of butterscotch but no alcohol. The taste was nice with a balanced sweetness, not a lot of alcohol. The alcohol content is only 38% which might be part of the reason... Something in the taste made me think of Marzipan. Very nice rum but as with the Quorhum it might lack a bit of character but it sure is a nice smooth sipper. We had a bit of argument over the rating of this one. My friend wanted to give it 5/5 and while agreeing that it's better than the Quorhum I think that for me to give a rum full points it needs to be more than easy to drink. I want the quality of a smooth rum but there should a bit character to it too. We agreed to disagree in the end
Then we started on the 1931. With the 1824, 1888 and 1919 already in the market I guess we need another rum named after a year that has nothing at all to do with the age of the rum in the bottle. What the hell we still have a few years not taken so bring them on... Apart from the stupid name this is a really nice rum that impressed me a lot. It comes in a cheapish cardboard box that actually carries information of value on the outside for a change. Describing the composition and ageing of the rum in a clear way without too much marketing crap to ruin the experience. "1931 is a blend of nine casks containing distillates from three pot stills and a coffey still. The casks selected were judged to contain our finest rums and ranged from casks laid down in 2004 to older distillates laid down in 1999. Of the nine casks used for ageing were seven were American white oak barrels while two were port casks. The blend was assembled and then placed back into American white oak casks for a period of three months for a final marriage before being bottled. We have preserved the integrity of 1931 by using light filtration techniques which does not include chill filtration techniques. As a result the rum may throw a harmless sediment that is perfectly natural." I was shocked about the amount of useful information in these sentences, I really wish more rums followed this example. It's so nice to know what it is you are buying. I guess the common lack of information is information in itself... They plan on making one batch of 6000 bottles per year. The bottle we tried was from batch 1 bottle 3568 bottled May 17th 2011. The bottle is similar to the Plantation 20th Anniversary with a nice wooden cork. This was a rum that had everything the others had lacked, nice and smooth but a lot of character. It smells a bit oaky and some over ripe fruits or raisins no alcohol. The taste reminded me a bit of rum raisin ice cream, it's very well balanced between sweetness and strength. Long aftertaste. This one we both agreed on withouth further discussion was worth a 5/5.
Finally we opened the Rum Nation Peruano 8yo. After tasting one of the best rums I have ever tried both me and my friend got ready for the disappointment of the Peruano in it's common anonymous bottle. Maybe we should have started with this one so we could have finished with the 1931 on a high note? The smell was promising, some oak and raisins or over ripe fruit. The taste blew me away. We just looked at each other in amazement. This one was well fit to give the 1931 a fight for the money. Smooth and nice with a lot of character, oak and raisins in the taste just as in the smell. I will start keeping an eye open for Rum Nation since I have read that some of their other bottlings are very good. I thought I had bought their cheapo volume offering and was completely surprised by the quality of the content. My friend had another disagreement here, while I was considering maybe giving it a 5/5 he settled for 4/5.
It was a very interesting evening with some great rums. I will need to test each of them alone and against each other before I really make up my mind. They are all good, some great even. My friend chose to go back to the 1931 for the rest of the evening and I picked the Peruano.
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