St. Lucia Distillers 1931: Sixth Edition
Blended Rum – A blend of only pot still and traditional column still.
ABV Hydrometer Test: 46% ABV @ 20°
Today I am reviewing the sixth and (sadly) final edition of St. Lucia Distillers (SLD) 1931 series of rums, originally created in 1931 to celebrate 80 years of SLD. This edition is celebrating 85 years of SLD.
According to Michael Speakman, Sales and Marketing Director of Saint Lucia Distillers Group of Companies, 1931 is being brought under the same brand umbrella as SLD’s fine series of rums, Chairman’s Reserve, and will be a continuous blend rather than the current annual evolving release. On the one hand, it is exciting to have a new top-end Chairman’s Reserve Rum, but I will be sad to see the 1931 range disappear as each year, the expressions have been well received and excitedly anticipated by the rum community. Expect these to become quite desirable in the future, especially the First Edition, which has long since disappeared for sale from shelves. To me it is a surprise that the edition is not continuing if only from the collectable point of view. Also, to come from SLD will be some tweaking of the Admiral Rodney range – there will be three expressions and a limited release of cask collections.
If you wish to refresh your memories (or tastebuds) regarding the previous five editions of 1931, here are links to my reviews:
- 1931: First Edition
- 1931: Second Edition
- 1931: Third Edition
- 1931: Fourth Edition
- 1931: Fifth Edition
Something I always admire and appreciate with well-made rums is the openness and transparency surrounding how the rums are made and what goes into them. The message here is that if you produce something of quality and without additives, you are proud to shout from the top of the highest mountain about what goes into it. How many producers can and actually do this? These are the rums we should be promoting! Whereas, when a product is shrouded in secrecy or mystery, with talk of pirate tales and the like as opposed to artesanal rum making, I think one should steer clear as there may not be much (if any) actual rum in the product you buy. Or, if there is, it has been tainted to such an extent that it is no longer actually rum. Caveat emptor!
SLD 1931 Sixth Edition contains the following precise list of distillates:
6%: Column Still, Blend No. 101, Aged 11 years, matured in Bourbon Oak.
16%: Column Still, Blend No. 101, Aged 7 years, matured in Bourbon Oak.
35%: Column Still, Blend No. 104, Aged 10 years, matured in Bourbon Oak.
10%: John Dore 2 Pot Still, Aged 11 years, matured in Bourbon Oak.
10%: John Dore 1 Pot Still, Aged 9 years, matured in Bourbon Oak.
10%: John Dore/Column Still blend, Aged 7 years, matured in Bourbon Oak.
3%: Caroni (Trinidad), Aged 9 years, matured in Bourbon Oak.
10%: Sugar Cane Rum/John Dore Pot Still, Aged 8 years, matured in Bourbon Oak (Agricole)
- 60%: Column Still
- 30%: Pot Still
- 10%: Pot/Column Blend
At this point I would like to thank Michael Speakman of SLD for his helpful information.
This is phenomenally detailed and useful information that gives a heads-up indication as to what the rum might taste like. I think the addition of Caroni is an eye-opening addition, albeit only 3% of the blend. I asked Michael about this and was simply told that he “doesn’t think there was any specific reason for the Caroni.” They “have quite a bit of stock of this rum. I think the blender wanted to get rid of some.” Fair enough, but that inevitably leads me to wonder what SLD might do in the future with their stocks of Caroni. Secondary ageing in St. Lucia for single cask releases? Blending in the forthcoming new range of Admiral Rodney rums? Something else linked with Chairman’s Reserve? I will watch with interest.
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Blended Rum” – A blend of only pot still and traditional column still.
When tested with my hydrometer, the rum showed no signs of having any added sugars.
Presented in an outer rectangular box, the Sixth Edition’s colouring is white – is this to signal the surrendering of the brand to the Chairman’s Reserve range? 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 white label and large, bold “1931” written on the front. There is a batch number (06), bottle number (2919) and date of bottling (14 November 2016). There are also the signatures of the Managing Director and Master Blender along with stating this rum is 46% ABV.
The rum presents itself in the glass as a medium amber, almost bronze like colour. It has an orangey shine to it.
When swirled around the glass, medium density legs descend the sides of the glass at a moderate pace.
The initial nose is powerful. If I did not know the proportion of pot/column distillate, I would have said it has more pot than column, but such is the power of pot still aromas that in small proportions it overtakes lighter column still aromas (Caroni aside that is).
Burnt Demerara, tobacco leaves and ripe banana are evident. Add in some tropical fruits and plump raisins and you have an interesting nosing experience.
It does have very tempting aromas that encourage the taster to savour what is to come.
Taste, Initial-middle 34/40
Initially, it is a mellow and dry entry to the mouth and palate with those lighter column still influences being prominent. There is a touch of sweet honey and Sherry-like notes of dried fruits.
Taste, Middle/Throat 36/40
Those dried fruit notes continue to build in power throughout the tasting and are joined by some seriously funky pot still spice in the mid-rear of the palate. Underneath the spice is more fruitiness – ripe bananas, juicy melon, red cherry and stewed summer fruits.
The rum develops a dry astringent feel to it with tannins building up following multiple tastings leading to a surprisingly strong agricole influence, notably that a-typical grassiness and earthy, vegetal taste, synonymous with agricole rums. I think the proportion of agricole here is just right so as to influence, but not dominate, this rum blend.
Long after swallowing, the agricultural influence is there to be enjoyed. As mentioned previously, it is at just the right level so as not to dominate the overall profile and comes through very nicely as one swallows the rum. The dryness persists and the pot still spice builds with multiple sips.
I really enjoyed this rum. It has a lot going on but is an interesting tasting journey and experience. I cannot notice the Caroni influence but given the diesel-like notes of Caroni rums, that is not all bad.
Once again SLD have produced a fantastic quality rum full of interesting flavours. I think this is an improvement on the 1931: Fifth Edition, but is almost as good as the 1931: Second Edition and 1931: Fourth Editions, which are my favourites in the range. Having seen the improvements from last year, this makes it even more disappointing not to have a 1931: Seventh Edition to look forward to. I suppose I will just have to stock up on the Second, Fourth and Sixth Editions.
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