St. Nicholas Abbey 18yo
Single Blended Rum – a blend of only pot still and traditional column still
ABV Hydrometer Test: 40% ABV @ 20°
Since my first visit to RumFest in 2010, I have adored St. Nicholas Abbey (SNA) rums. The way they are made, aged, produced and packaged is everything you want from a luxury rum. Artisinal, traditional methods of distillation, barrel ageing in ex-Tennessee/Bourbon casks, bottled by hand from single casks and then sold in stunning decanter-style bottles. Nothing added to the rums, genuine age statements and marketing that lets the rum do all of the talking. Add in the fact that their initial supplies of rum all came from Foursquare Distilleries and you truly have rums crafted in heaven.
Each subsequent visit to RumFest has yielded additional tastings of new works-of-art from SNA. As the company grows older and matures, so too do their fine rums, with their own estate-produced 5 Year old expression being launched this year.
Click HERE to see my review, which also includes some background info on SNA, which I won’t repeat here.
There have been white, 5, 8, 10, 12, 15 and 18yo rums so far. Maybe we can look forward to a 20 or 21yo rum in the future.
Having purchased the 18 year old SNA, it went to the top of my list to review. In anticipation of this, I contacted SNA directly to request some information and received some very helpful assistance from Larry Warren.
Prior to 2010, SNA’s rum was all supplied by Richard Seale at Foursquare Distillery. This includes the rums used in SNA’s 18 year old, which are created from a combination of 74 Foursquare rum barrels purchased in 2006 as an 8 year old rum and a further 160 barrels purchased in 2010 of a 7 year old rum. Reading between the lines, I am assuming that the 2010 7yo is for the future or different expressions as that rum would now be 13 years old (2016). These rums have been aged at approximately 43% ABV, racked on the side in American Jack Daniels barrels and are from a mixture of pot and column stills.
Whilst in discussion with Larry, I asked him about what is coming next for SNA and was very excited to be told that in January 2017, they will be releasing a cask strength version of their 5 year old rum (Click for my review). Having tasted this at the Boutique RumFest, I know we are in for a treat. Larry told me that the release is as a result of such favourable feedback at the Boutique RumFest. Glad to be of assistance and delighted that rum producers of this calibre listen to their consumers in this way. Well done SNA!
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Single Blended Rum” – a blend of only pot still and traditional column still.
I almost feel guilty for doing this, given that SNA do not add anything to their rums. But I have carried out my own hydrometer test, if only just to reinforce the fact that SNA is a pure rum. I am happy to report that my hydrometer tests showed this rum at 40%, which is exactly what it says on the label and precisely what I would have expected.
Presented in an elegant crystal decanter etched with an image of the St. Nicholas Abbey Great House, topped with a mahogany cork enclosure and housed in a cardboard outerbox with a label displaying which bottling is contained within. Maintaining the artisinal production of their rums, everything is bottled by hand including etching onto the bottle the bottling date (10th March 2016) and the bottle number (386). The artisinal nature and stunning design of the bottle along with the fact that St. Nicholas Abbey are known to only produce pure rum, makes me inclined to give it full marks here.
Beautifully light golden colour. It has delicate legs slowly sliding down the sides of the glass. The initial aroma is toffee, but further nosings reveal fruits such as banana, peach and orange peel. There are also molasses and leather with a subtle hint of oak and even citrus. Another inhalation and I can also detect some spice – nutmeg I think.
The alcohol is delicate and in the background, which ensures it does not detract from the main aromas. I could spend a whole evening just enjoying the aromas of this rum, such is the amount being offered up by it.
Taste, Initial-middle 38/40
Delicate, creamy and soft with the toffee pleasing on entry. Vanilla is the next flavour, balanced with some dry oak. There is a hint of nutmeg accompanied by some dried fruits and orange. Additional tastings lead to some burnt brown sugar and caramel notes, but not sticky or overly sweet as the aforementioned dry oak balances this superbly. Some banana and raisins are also present, here.
Taste, Middle/Throat 40/40
At this point the rum explodes into a multitude of flavours with the pot still influence dominating slightly here. There is a tropical fruit salad of mango, pineapple and peach. Developing in the background is more spice – nutmeg and cinnamon most notably but also a faint hint of black pepper. At this point the rum has a really nice little kick of fire in it – not at all rough, but just enough to warm your palate and allow those fruit flavours to develop further, leading to hints of orange and a touch of citrus. As the rum touches your throat, it has a creamy dryness to it, which yields some more oak and a touch of leather along with lovely sumptuous tannins coating your mouth.
Every additional sip makes you appreciate this rum more and more…it is magnificent!
The oak and toffee are perfectly balanced as you swallow this rum. It continues to set your taste buds alight long after swallowing it. The creamy oak lingers for an eternity – it is delightful.
Morning After Aroma
Strong woodiness, hints of orange and a little vanilla. There is also some lingering toffee, too.
The SNA 18 year old is an IWSC Gold Medal winner. Having tasted and reviewed it, I can see why. This rum offers so much in every taste. The abundance of fruity flavours, spicy notes, oak, toffee, smoothness and a long creamy dry finish lifts it above most rums. It has a nice little bit of fire but at no point is there any roughness.
This is sublime stuff, simply stunning, an absolutely awesome rum!
I should not be surprised though…Foursquare and St. Nicholas Abbey combining – a match made in rum heaven!
P Denotes the rum contains POT still distillate.
C Denotes the rum contains traditional/Coffey COLUMN still distillate.
B Denotes the rum contains a BLEND of POT and COLUMN still distillate.
M Denotes the rum contains MULTI-COLUMN still distillate or is a MODERN rum.
A Denotes the rum is an AGRICOLE i.e. from Cane Juice.
S Denotes the rum is presented in a SWEETENED style.
Bottle/Presentation Out of 3
Glass/Aroma Out of 10
Taste, Initial-middle Out of 40
Taste, Middle/Throat Out of 40
Afterburn Out of 7