El Dorado “Rare” Collection: Port Mourant 1999
Pure Single Rum – 100% Pot Still
ABV Hydrometer Test: 61.5% ABV @ 20°
El Dorado’s foray into the world of unblended, additive-free, single marque rums is in the form of three offerings in their “Rare” Collection:
Versailles 2002, 12yo
Port Mourant 1999, 15yo
Enmore 1993, 21yo
Whether intentionally or not, one notices that the ages of these three bottlings mirror the ages of El Dorado’s “Luxury Cask-Aged Rums” (12, 15 & 21yo). They also form part of ED’s celebration of Guyana’s 50th anniversary of independence from Great Britain. Bottled at cask-strength, the ABV’s are 56.5% (Enmore), 61.4% (Port Mourant) and a hefty hangover-inducing 63% (Versailles).
Each offering is limited to just 3,000 bottles worldwide and they are all unblended and non-chill filtered. With price tags of between £150-£200 depending on where you buy them, they are in a completely different price bracket to El Dorado’s core ranges of rums. I am assuming they should be unadulterated i.e. without additives, but one cannot be too careful in the rum world, so with my newly acquired hydrometer and penchant for investigating rums, I am measuring the ABV also…for some peace of mind.
In this case, I am pleased to report that the ABV in my test is showing on or around 61.5% so that makes this additive-free, as far as I can tell.
It is worth noting that these bottles are described as “single marque” rather than single cask. Obviously, with 3,000 of each being produced, this means they must be from different barrels, but all produced in the same style and from the same still. This opens up the possibility that they are actually blends from different barrels/casks.
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Pure Single Rum” – 100% Pot Still.
El Dorado’s traditional, distinctive and in my opinion, very appealing usual branding has changed for these “Rare Collection” offerings. The regular outerbox is replaced with an open-window version displaying the bottle. Each box is the same, despite there being three different “Rare Collection” bottles. The boxes and bottles explain the history of the stills, but no reference to the number of bottles produced. The bottles are less-stubby than ED’s usual luxury-range type, but do look quite sturdy and impressive and have a nice cork enclosure.
They do convey an image of “premium” and luxury.
Deep golden brown-orange colour.
The first nosing literally took my breath away. After a few moments, I can nose some vanilla and coffee alongside a hint of chocolate and tobacco. There is also some smoke and spice, notably cloves and cinnamon. Eventually, I can also find some plum and apple aromas, too. A few drops of water helps to tame this beast somewhat.
Taste, Initial-middle 15/40
This bursts into your mouth kicking your teeth in with aniseed and bitter fruit. Further tastings and some molasses and oak flavours develop, but this is dominated by the bitterness that becomes peppery, smoky and spicy. Really not very appealing at all. Add a few drops of water and some of the negative bitter notes disappear, replaced with some softer fruity ones.
- Taste, Middle/Throat 30/40
After kicking your teeth in, this rum is not satisfied, it goes after your tongue and mouth with a vengeance. The bitterness continues to dominate and the dryness makes you want to reach for a glass of water. Dry tannins with a hint of a custard cream biscuit appears in an attempt to offset the bitterness, but this is short-lived. This full-bodied rum has a real temper that initially hides any underlying flavours and qualities.
But add a few drops of water and this rum becomes a different proposition. Some of the bitterness dissipates and the raisins, dried fruits and plums come out to play and actually start to shine somewhat.
A second tasting a couple of days later and I can appreciate this rum far more. I have accepted the “kick in the teeth” and tasted the rum underneath the fire and realised that there is something far more enjoyable about it. The fruity profile is more noticeable and although the rum is strong, it is proper rum and that means it should have a bit of fire in its belly.
There is an odd hint of raspberry when I swallow this rum. It does not offset the dry bitterness, but it is there as a lingering flavour. The burn is persistent and fiery, almost rough and quite unappealing. Tempered with water, the burn is softer and more appealing.
Morning After Aroma
The following day reveals that this beastly rum has calmed down sufficiently for me to say something nicer about it. Gone is the dry bitterness that I found quite offensive, replaced by some sweet spicy aromas with a hint of citrus.
This is not a bad rum and it is not necessarily badly made or aged.
What it offers is really not to my liking or palate and at points is quite offensive. I firmly believe that this was not designed to be drunk on its own, it is far better in a blend or at the very least, watered down.
It is at this point where I am questioning the value of this bottle…..£170!!!
To quote a Facebook friend, Ivar “The pm is a slap in the face kind of rum.”
I really think this is a great description. If you are not in the right mood, this rum is awful. But try it again and again and when you are in that right kind of mood this rum does hit the right spot. Add a few drops of water and the flavours come out of their rough shell and give you a pleasant experience.
This rum is one of those tipples that improves with further tastings. Several sips later over a few days and this rum evolves into something far more exciting than my first tasting implied. It is likely to be divisive with some rum-drinkers proclaiming its purity and so therefore quality, and others saying that purity is not a guarantee of a tasty tot of rum. There will be aficionados that think 61% is the right ABV for a rum but others will say it is way too fiery.
This leads me to conclude that reviewing rum can be difficult and contradictory. On the one hand, I want a rum to be pure, free-from additives and at a higher ABV, but sometimes, when one gets what one wants, one discovers it is not what one actually wanted in the first place and that even then, it is something different every day, depending on your own mood. So, does this mean because the rum has an average rating, it should be ignored or disregarded? No! But I think this is a perfect example of where reducing the ABV with some water can enhance a rum tremendously. Or where blending can take individual barrels, rums or expressions and take them to a whole new, higher level whereas the original individual cask offers little or nothing. It also shows me that tasting a rum on multiple occasions yields different results, some good, some bad but overall, a bigger and more informed, holistic picture.
If I am honest, I would not buy another bottle of this, regardless of the price. But for some rum drinkers, this will be their idea of rum-heaven. It is all about different tastes and opinions.
Maybe the next step for DDL with El Dorado would be unsweetened versions of the 15 and 21yo blends. Now there is a thought for DDL.
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