Much like your favorite pair of worn jeans. Holes and all.
We’ve all become very familiar with the many, many (and mostly european) indie bottlers out there. Plantation, the french big brother. Compagnies des Indes, the new french guy. Samaroli, the elder Italian outfit. Velier, the master mind. Bristol Classic, that daft British bloke. EKTE, the crazy nationalized Dane. Rum Nation, the flamboyant Italian playboy. And that’s just to name a few.
There are many more.
And for some reason, there seems to be a lot of tradition for the art of barrel selection and bottling in Italy. There is at least a handful of bottles from there who have been playing the field for at least a decade.
One of them, which I haven’t previously shined a light on, is Silver Seal spear headed by Massimo Righi.
Originally a whiskey bottler starting out in 2000, Massimo also have a knack for picking out barrels of rum, sending them off to his aging facility in Scotland for more maturation, and then either bottling them if they turned out the way he wanted, or selling them on to other merchants.
Their motto, “Excellence cannot be for everyone”, to me sound like a promise that Silver Seal should be at the very top of the heap. So I though it was time to pull one of their bottles though the dirty reviewing machine and see what’s what.
During my most ambitious period of collecting rum, when the Velier Demeraras started to disappear, I was looking for something else to throw my gold at.
And since Demeraras was and still is one of my absolute favorite kinds of rum, it only seemed natural to try and see if some of the other indies could possibly battle the majestic all black Velier monsters.
So when I saw this one, and at a favorable price, I went for it.
Distilled in 2002 we are dealing with a rum from the the wooden Coffey still of Enmore, Guyana.
Shipped to Scotland and then laid to rest until 2014 where it was finally bottled and released to the crowds at the age of 11 years give or take.
I have no idea how long it spent aging in the tropics or how long it spent in Scotland (obviously), but I haven’t seem many (if any) tropically aged Demerara outside of the Velier hemisphere.
Bottled at 55% we are smack in the middle of where my preference usually lies, so yeepee to that.
It also exists in a slightly softer 46% version, but the price difference was negligible, so I opted for the stronger one.
840 bottles were made, I have the 638th, and unfortunately I don’t think you’re going to have much luck digging up any of the remaining 839 bottles by now.
Taking it off the shelf you grab a strong, blue card board box. Quite sturdy and a two piece slide-over-each-other style thing. On the front it says “Special Bottling”, but nothing about why this is special compared to every thing else.
Then we have a sticker, which turns out to be a smaller version of the actual label.
It has a huge ship. With sails. And a flag. I smell pirates! Hence, this is real rum.
We also have a Silver Seal logo on top imprinted in silver. Very nice.
Inside we find a black bottle with slightly more narrow shoulders than the Veliers, and a slighly less opaque black colour, making it easier to actually see the liquid.
The label covers most of the front of the bottle, and is a blown up version of the smaller label on the box.
On the back there is a similarly styles label, with many of the same information along with the bottle count.
Mrs. Corner chipped in and said that this is one of the best looking bottles I have in my collection. And you know what? I’m prone to agree with her.
I’m a sucker for pirates and sail boats.
The liquid is copper coloured and leaves a very thin layer of rum when twirled around. A nice clear ring becomes visible, before it creates some thick and very slow moving droplets.
Already when pulling the cork, you know you are in Demerara country.
Thick molasses, caramel, liquorice seeps from the bottle, and when you pour your glass, the seeping just continues.
Along the way you start picking up some strong oak and a little ammonia.
Pulling the glass closer, the above mentioned elements just grows stronger and blends together into a thick sausage of Guyanese goodness.
Taking a closer sniff, there’s some iodine and brine in there as well, along with some leather.
It hits your palate with quite some force. It feels like it packs a larger punch that the otherwise potent 55%. It starts a little coarse and lashes out at your palate with oak, leather and strong liquorice.
Then comes the syrup with some cinnamon, chives and black pepper.
After that a small blast of tannins along with a dialed down version of the medicinal notes from the nose.
Over all a good taste experience and very similar to the Cadenhead’s Classic Rum albeit slightly more refined on notes and balance.
The over all composition does feel slightly flawed, where it feels like certain flavours part ways when going towards the palate and then stands in different parts of the room, instead of acting like a well bonded unity.
Starts out rather hot but quickly dies down.
The notes doesn’t evolve much but keeps circling around the oak, caramel, liquorice and tannins.
Not much more going on here.
Rating and final thoughts
Good, proper rum.
Not quite as well composed as I would have liked and was hoping for when picking it out.
On most levels it was more or less like I would expect for a 55% Enmore. There wasn’t any surprises along the way. Nothing that set it apart from so many other Demeraras.
It’s just a predictably good rum. Just. It feels wrong to use that word, as it sound so ungrateful or condecending.
It’s much like a good pair of jeans. They’re trousers. They fit. You know how they’re going to feel when on. How they’ll magically shrink and tighten as you get older. Where they’ll get holes when worn a million times. And which closet they’ll eventually end up in waiting for the day when it’s time to paint the whole house and your better half will finally be okay with you wearing them one last time. Holes and all.
Much like a proper good pair of jeans, this bottle set me back around €130 when I got it.
At this price it is decent value for money. There is a lot of other younger two digit demeraras out there in the same price range, and if I were to redo my purchase, I may have though twice before getting this one. It’s not a bad buy by any means, but spending €130 I would like something that shines a little bit more.
Since prices have only gone up since then I think I’ll have to rethink my attitude on rums like this. The current Silver Seal Demerara offering similar to this one goes for around €160 in my location, so you know …
Proper rum is just demanding more and more cash. The Demeraras at least.
Look no further than Barbados or Jamaica and we are actually starting to see larger diversity and non-rampant pricing.
I don’t regret getting the Silver Seal Demerara 2002. In fact I got what I was gunning for. I can’t blame the SSD2002 for not surpassing my expectations.
And that’s why it’s only courteous to reward it a proper score of …