Today I review my first Jamaican rum. And where to start? Some would suggest something like the Appleton 12 year old, an indie Long Pond or perhaps something completely different.
I chose to turn to the Rum Nation Jamaica 23 year old Supreme Lord VII, the absolute top of the line from the Italians.
Full disclosure: The bottle under review has been supplied to me directly by Fabio Rossi of Rum Nation, free of charge.
The Supreme Lord series from Rum Nation is a series of old Jamaican rums and that is about all that is special to them. I haven’t seen pictures of them all, but at least the last 4 versions has been sold with a nice wooden box. A concept similar to their Old Demerara offerings.
The rum is bottled at a slightly beefed up 45% ABV which makes for some welcoming change in a vast ocean of 40% rums.
It was distilled in 1990 on a pot still at the Hampden estate, before maturing for 12 years in ex-bourbon American white oak barrels in Jamaica, before being shipped to the UK for another 11 year slumber, and effectively becoming a 23 year old.
Only 822 bottles has been made, which makes this a very limited offer. And if you are contemplating a buy, I suggest you act fast as these limited, old Rum Nation bottlings have a way of suddenly disappearing.
When asked directly Mr. Rossi informed me, that absolutely no colouring or flavouring agents has been used in this rum.
As mentioned before the rum comes in a nice, black wooden box with a sliding lit.
On the lit we find some nice decorative grey print mimicking details which are typical for Rum Nation rums.
Inside the box we (thankfully) find the bottle which has been tucking in in a sack cloth upholstery to make the bottle sleep nice and tight.
The backside tells a short version of the Rum Nation story without delivering the typical marketing drivel that so many other rums seem to feel is indispensable. I love when the sales speech isn’t there and that is no secret.
Finally we have a smaller label – a band even – around the widest part of the neck, which simply states the age of the contents.
The rum has a nice copper colour with an orange glow.
In the glass the rum easily creates a nice thick ring inside the glass, which in turn creates a lot of nice fat legs down the side.
All in all a very nice presentation and only fitting for one of the absolute top products from the company.
Whoa! The rums hits your nostrils with a intensely aromatic profile.
The primary impressions are very, very fruity, with a super concentrated cola nut extract bearing the flag as well as intense (almost synthetic) green apples.
Oak spices are also present during the first part of the initial whiffs, but no where near as dominating as I would expect from a 23 year old rum.
As the fruitiness fades a little bit, it leaves room for the typical Jamaican traits. Namely scents of burnt car tires and acetone.
And last but not least, a nice cup of black tea.
Very nice nose. The balance seemed a bit off, with the very heavy fruitiness in the front.
I felt like the scents were all a very talented bunch of individuals standing in line to reveal them selves, instead of blending seamlessly together for a nice complex and well built team.
Once again, more of a journey through different pastures, than a all-in-one-experience.
And a journey which develops very surprisingly, if I might add.
It starts out with super concentrated cola nut extract and freshly pressed apple juice from green apples. The first impression on the palate was insanely fruity and especially the cola nut felt almost too concentrated.
As the fruitiness slowly mellows out, the flavours evolve into freshly brewed black tea with maple syrup, before quickly taking a left turn to transform into hot rubber and acetone.
Finally it reaches its destination of oak, cinnamon and black pepper for a nice spicy ending.
Nice heat from the alcohol from the alcohol through out. There is no doubt in my mind that the decision to bottle this rum at 45% ABV was the right choice. It feels like that the proof hit the head of the nail perfectly. A heated delivery of all flavours which opens up very nicely.
However I’m once again put off by the insane cola nut flavour. It takes so much control on the palate, that I find my self eagerly waiting for them to get lost, so I can enjoy the other flavours in there. But somehow all those other components never get to shine quite as much as they deserve.
All flavours gather on stage for a final farewell and even though the exit takes some time, it never gets boring.
The oaks and spices carry on a first, before the more fruity flavours are back for a last appearance. Thankfully not as brutal as earlier in the process. An finally you are left with a combination of oaky and rubbery notes, as the warmth slowly fades.
It also has a slightly drying effect, and leaves the entire mouth in a tingling, spicy trance, with a lingering sweetness to accompany it all.
The finish just might be the greatest trick this rum has to offer. Yet again shapeshifting its way through several impressions before finally settling on something very nice.
Rating and final thoughts
There is no denying that this is a great rum.
Complex, concentrated aromas, intense and challenging palate and a warm and pleasant finish.
The shapeshifting palate flabbergasted me. The intense fruitiness which then transform into rubber and acetone in a blink of an eye. And at such force. Very surprising and simply great.
The fruitiness is a bit too concentrated for me, and gives me a tropical-fruit-bubble-gum kind of experience. It feels almost artificial, which is a down right shame.
The untamed cola nut leaves me a bit disappointed though, and I truly believe, that Rum Nation are not at their absolute peak performance with this one and that leaves room for improvement.
I can’t help but feel that the great exit somehow makes up for the earlier evoked inconsistencies, and that is what makes this rum a great experience what so ever.
The 45% ABV is a welcome change and it does what it can to balance out the rum, make the flavours grow and evolve and deliver it all with a very nice heat level.
I have made a habit of commenting on value for money, and with this one I am inclined to say that at just below €130 you are going to have other options. I’m not saying that you easily can find something better, but there is definitely some worthy opponents out there. An example would be the Appleton 21, the Abuelo Centuria or perhaps even a Velier Uitvlugt 1997, depending on your personal preferences.
Despite inconsistencies, in my opinion, Mr. Rossi has delivered another example of what separates artisanal rums from mass produced and semi suspicious blurred-information rums.
The Supreme Lord VII is craftsmanship. No doubt. And that is why it deserves a…