St. Lucia Distillers 1931: Fifth Edition
Single Blended Rum – a blend of only pot still and traditional column still
ABV Hydrometer Test: 45-46% ABV @ 20°
The long awaited and highly anticipated FIFTH Edition from St. Lucia Distillers (SLD) of their annual release of 1931 Rum.
According to St. Lucia Distillers’ web site “the brand celebrates the inauguration of a new distillery in February 1931 in the Mabouya Valley, near Dennery, in St. Lucia. The Distillery was founded by Denis Barnard and produced rum until 1972 when St. Lucia Distillers was formed out of the merging of the Dennery distillery and the Roseau Distillery.” The First Edition from 2011 celebrated 80 years, whereas the Fifth Edition being reviewed today is celebrating 84 years and this is reflected with the updated wording on the box and bottle.
The rums in this blend have been aged 6-12 years and come from SLD’s three pot and one Coffey still. According to info I found on the Global Rum Club Facebook Page, this blend consists of 35% Vendome Pot, 18% John Dore Pot, 20% John Dore/Vendome blend, 18% Column and 9% Rum Agricole (John Dore Pot).
So, 73% pot, 18% column and 9% agricole. The rum has been aged in Bourbon casks and has “undergone a gentle filtration.”
When tested with my hydrometers, one of them measured this at 46% and the other at 45% so there is either no added sugar or at most only a tiny amount.
With each new edition comes a different colour, with this one being presented in bright pink.
It certainly does stand out on my rum shelves!
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.
Presented in an outer rectangular box, the Fifth Edition’s colouring this year is bright pink. The rear of the box contains some very useful information including the history of the brand and info about the rum’s blend itself. The bottle is a decanter-style with the distinctive pink label and large, bold “1931” written on the front. There is a batch number (05), bottle number (0578) and date of bottling (07 December 2015). There are also the signatures of the Managing Director and Master Blender along with stating this rum is 46% ABV.
Interestingly, the outer box has a sticker with the importer’s info as well as “Contains caramel colouring (E150a).” I do not mind a rum being coloured, but it is refreshing to find it clearly being labelled, although I am not sure if the labelling is from SLD themselves or just the European importer. With the added colouring in mind, looking at this rum, it presents itself as a medium to deep amber. As I often say, I do not pay too much attention to a rum’s colour due to the added E150a.
There are thick, heavy legs on the glass when the rum is swirled around.
The first nosing reveals a lot of pot still power. Due to the higher ABV, it comes across as strong and alcoholic. As with lots of rums, give it a little time in the glass and more develops.
There is a little toffee sweetness, almost varnish like and a dose of oak. Further nosings reveal some tropical fruit aromas.
Taste, Initial-middle 34/40
The pot still distillate hits you full on when you sip this. There is a touch of sweetness and a hint of black peppery spice initially, too. There is an underlying vegetal-feel to this – I am not sure if this is just from the pots or if it is the agricole influence though. Unusually (for me) I think that adding a touch of water to this improves it and opens it up a little. This reveals a little caramel and some nutty notes, too.
Taste, Middle/Throat 29/40
The black peppery spice builds up as it reaches the middle-rear of your mouth and leaves a long, lingering spicy sensation after swallowing. As with the initial tasting, the vegetal notes remain and become a little bitter. There is some plum and a very dry woody feel to this, too. It feels like quite a heavy bodied rum and gives the drinker a decent burning feeling.
With the addition of a touch of water, just a few drops, these flavours mellow slightly allowing a little fruit and vanilla to appear. With this slight dilution also comes some honey in the background.
This has a very good burn to it. The rum lingers with dry wood and peppery spice.
I admire SLD’s labelling as well as their transparency and disclosure of what is in their blend. Those that are not interested may simply ignore it, but for those rum aficionados who are interested, it is great to have a company that puts that kind of info into the public domain. I suppose after all, if you have a great product and/or an artesenal technique, then you are happy to talk about it. That is something worth noting with lots of other companies that only share dodgy pirate stories with the public.
I am sure it is a challenge for SLD to re-produce a rum blend of this quality, year-after-year. It is a credit to the blender to continually re-invent the rum with different styles and blends each year. But that challenge also means with the bar set high, each year gets harder and harder to improve and overall, I do not think this year’s offering is an improvement, especially when compared to the exceptional Second Edition. As with lots of rums, this may well become a “grower” with subsequent tastings, but for now, I will return to my favourite Second Edition.
This is excellent quality rum, created and produced in the right way but it is not quite ‘up there’ taste-wise from my point-of-view.
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