Fair 11 Year Old Rum
“Rum” – from a modern multi column still.
ABV Hydrometer Test: 50.7% ABV @ 20°
Let’s be honest, if you ask someone to name countries that produce rum, Belize is unlikely to make the top ten. Nestled between Mexico and Guatemala with a Caribbean coastline to the East, Belize is home to 368,310 people (Wikipedia).
Fair, who have introduced a range of spirits, including rums, that are ethically produced source their rum from this small nation, roughly the size of Wales. Fair’s web site states that “FAIR is the world’s first and unique Fair Trade Certified spirits brand” and all of the sugar used in creating their rums is certified as being fair trade.
At the Think Rum event in London, January 2017, I met Fair’s European Brand Ambassador, Paul Bungener, who kindly talked me through a tasting of their regular five year old as well as the limited edition ten and 11 year old rums. I was not overly impressed with the 10yo, but I did enjoy the 11yo, so Paul very kindly provided me with a sample to bring home with me to review properly. I think a significant reason for my preference for the 11yo over the 10yo is the ABV. The 10yo tasted a little lacking at just 40%, whereas the 11yo being offered at 50.7% instantly felt like a much better rum.
Paul told me that Fair rum all comes from multi-column stills, is aged in ex-Bourbon casks and contains no additives whatsoever. No additives is music to a rum lover’s ears! I am not one to doubt the word and integrity of a rum professional but I would not be doing my job properly if I did not test the ABV with my hydrometers. I am happy to report that this rum measured between 50.5% and 51% ABV – due to the nature of my hydrometers, I cannot precisely confirm 50.7%.
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Rum” – from a modern multi column still.
This independent producer of rums is relatively young, having been founded in 2009. Given that the rum I am reviewing today is an 11 year old, that means the rum was distilled not later than 2006, but more likely in 2005. Paul kindly told me that rum is the only product in the Fair portfolio that they do not actually produce themselves. Instead their rums come from the Travellers’ distillery, which are then aged in Belize prior to being shipped to France for bottling. I think it is important to note that the ageing takes place entirely in Belize as tropical ageing generally appears to impart more flavour and character to a rum than European ageing of the same duration.
So far so good…..Let’s move on to tasting Fair 11yo Rum.
Fair’s rums are presented in a tapered-shape bottle, similar to Duncan Taylor’s and housed in a box. The gold labelling is distinctive, but simple, showing the age of the rum, ABV and reference to ageing in Bourbon barrels.
I do want to see more on labels to show what the rum is made from and what types of still so as to demonstrate the value of the product.
The rum presents itself as a pale amber colour, like a medium Sherry or white Port. Given that there are no additives, this colouring is entirely derived from the ex-Bourbon barrel ageing. The legs are rich and thick, taking an eternity to fall down the sides of the glass.
My first nosing points towards something Foursquare/Barbados-esque, such are the aromas of toffee, varnish and soft oak. There is an underlying aroma of molasses and a touch of caramel, too.
Taste, Initial-middle 35/40
There is an instant burst of fire when you first taste this, but not a rough fire. This is derived from having a good ABV at 50.7%. There is a touch of oak, some vanilla and toffee too but this is not sweet. Overall, this has made a great start!
Taste, Middle/Throat 35/40
The fire continues through the middle and rear of your throat, but again in a good way and not at all rough. The toffee flavour dominates, balanced by some soft oak and some dry Sherry notes. Some tropical fruits are noticeable…pineapple and mango as well as some soft spices…light pepperyness in particular. There is a background taste or even feel of cocoa or dark chocolate giving a little more body to an otherwise medium-bodied rum.
This rum has an initially delicate burn mixed with some charred oak. It is quite a short finish but not rough. It becomes very dry with oak dominating slightly.
Morning After Aroma
A faint hint of toffee and molasses is detectable but it is not very powerful.
I have tried rums from Travellers Distillery before and never considered them anything particularly impressive. Possibly the multi-column and 40% ABV combination creates very light, average rums. But, this is different…it has the flavours and character to encourage further tastings and the higher ABV of 50.7% makes this well worth drinking.
If I did not know where this rum was from, I would have called it a Bajan rum – such is not only the flavour profile but also the quality. There are enough flavours to keep the taster interested and enough power in the higher ABV to compensate for using a multi-column still.
At £58 for a bottle, this is well worth buying, especially given that there are no additives and that the age statement is genuine i.e. every drop of rum is at least 11 years old.
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