Today I am looking at something very special. An artisanal rum from a small independent bottler.
Our Rum & Spirits are the brainchild of Christian Nagel, owner of Gasthaus im Brühl. The Gasthaus is a restaurant in Hildesheim, just south of Hannover, Germany.
After a couple of years in business they have amassed a quite large collection of rums – and now they have started experimenting with bottling their own.
So far they have 3 rums to their name. All extremely limited and all extremely interesting.
The first was an 11 year old Guyana/Diamond at 62,5%. Only 60 bottles made.
The second was a 14 year old Barbados/WIRD at 43%. Only 100 bottles made.
And finally the third and latest is a, hold on to your teeth, 24 year old Guyana/Enmore at 61,2% with just 178 bottles made.
A while ago Christian contacted me and asked me if I was interested in trying some of his rums, and boy was I ever.
So now I have a generous sample of the 24 year old Enmore in front of me. Awesome.
The rum is stated to be an Enmore, but diving deeper into the massive details Christian provided me with, I discover something very interesting. The Enmore only refers to the geographical origin, as this rum was originally made at the now defunct Enmore Estate.
However today ”Enmore” is more typically a label used when the rum has been distilled on the legendary Wooden Coffey Still – typically marked EHP.
This rum is marked MEV and according to Christian this stands for Main Rum Enmore Versailles.
Now you have my full attention Mr. Nagel!
So this rum is from the also legendary Single Wooden Pot Still of Versailles. Please note that MEV isn’t an official DDL mark, but rather a mark used by the English stock buyer.
If you search for independently bottled Guyanese rums, you will find a million different Diamonds, Enmores and Port Mourants – but that is it. You will be incredibly lucky to stumble upon a Blairmont or an Albion. If you find a Skeldon or LBI, consider yourself a winner in the lotteries.
Versailles rums are however becoming quite rare and the word around town has it, that DDL has practically stopped selling Versailles in bulk, as the still is demanding more and more maintenance and DDL needs the Versailles for some of their El Dorado products.
The rum has been aged in England until 2013 when it was moved to Germany
In January 2015 the rum was bottled at cask strength. No additive, no colouring agents and no filtering. Just pure pot still rum. Awesome stuff.
So no matter how this review turns out I am getting a bottle of this rum for future savouring.
The rum comes in a beautiful polished dark green protective tube. On the tube we find what later reveals it self to be also be the label of the rum. A nice beige looking thing with an ancient font making out the name of the rum, the origin, the age, the quantities made, the massive 61,2% ABV and last but not least, contact information on the Gasthaus.
Removing the metal lid gains us access to a tall and slender bottle with a thick and heavy base.
Due to a matte black seal, I am unable to spot any details on the cork and stopper.
On the bottle we find an identical label to the one on the tube. Nice and simple.
The rum it self is rather light coloured despite the age left in the barrels. I guess the colder climate maturation hasn’t allowed the rum to extract that much colour from the barrel.
When poured into your favourite glass it exhibits a very light straw colour with a very light peach glow. Very nice.
A twirl creates nothing … oh wait … there is actually an almost invisible ring there. And as if it has all the time in the world, droplets very slowly starts to form and after several minutes they almost invisibly edge downwards a few nanometers at a time.
It is the first time I have seen a rum behave like this in the glass and I am very anxious to find out what other treats it might have in store for me.
At first it seems very light on the nose. It had me reaching for the documentation since I vaguely recall that it should be wielding a 61,4% ABV. And the documentation and sample bottle confirms this.
The first and most distinct note that comes to mind is pencil shavings.
After that gentle and delicate notes of prunes, oak spices and anise seed also wanted to play a part.
And that seemed to be it. Very light, very gentle. In fact I think it is a little shy and not exactly what I had expected from a seasoned 24 year old, 61,4% beef cake from a single wooden pot still.
But perhaps it turns out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We will see.
With the light nose in mind, I made my first mistake when taking the first sip.
Do not, and I repeat do not make your first sip a large one. It will try to remove all your teeth in one single blow, rip out your tongue and then choke you to death if you are not careful.
Waow! I did not see that coming. At all.
Taking more caution I was treated with an incredible warm pencil shaving soup, spiced with oaks and winey tannins. Smoke is blended in for more semi lethal fun and games.
Out comes just a dash of dried fruits for sweetness and a nice red wine texture to make it all seem less extreme than it really is.
There is some tar and very old leather in there somewhere as well, but it has trouble make it self heard because of the massive pencil shavings.
With each subsequent sip the ride becomes a lot smoother and you no longer feel ambushed.
With the mild nose in mind, the palate come off awesome. It could have wished for a little more sweetness to balance out the woods, but the lack of said sweetness does make it stand out a lot more.
The profile is nowhere near as heavy as the usual old demerara rum and that is quite a relief for once to be honest. Kudos, Mr. Nagel.
The finish is quite long and leaves you with even more pencil shavings.
Is turns more spicy though and a wee bit more sweet than on the palate, and that makes for a very fine and calm goodbye.
Before it is all gone it managed to surprise me yet again with a little bit of cocoa and marzipan. Not much. Just a tiny tease. And then it was all gone.
Rating and final thoughts
To sum it all up in one word: Incredible.
Great quality rum and a rare gem among ”millions” of great demerara rums.
Perhaps it is a bit single minded with its intense overload of pencil shavings, but being my first pencil pusher, I didn’t really mind it. I actually found it quite fun.
I would have like it to be a little sweeter and more complex over all (especially on the nose), if it should really have dazzled me.
The overall experience was very great though. The way the mild nose set up the surprise ambush on the palate was insane and fun at the same time.
It struck me a bit odd how this quite light profiled rum managed to control a 61,4% ABV without becomes lethal, but never the less it did so perfectly.
Coming in at €110 this is a complete steal in my book. A drinkable, continentally matured, 24 year old Versailles at 61,4% seems ridiculous. And at 178 bottles you are going to have to race me to get hold of one.
I have a feeling that we will be seeing a lot more of Mr. Christian Nagels Rum & Spirits in the future. If he can keep making rums like this one, I am looking very much forward to it.
Getting down to business, a score is coming up.
Given the obvious handicraft and passion with which this has been created, and the intense result that has followed, I am going to reach for a…