Antigua Distillery Velier “Heavy” Rum
€55 (€80 including shipping)
Rum: Rum from a traditional column still.
ABV Hydrometer Test: 66% ABV @ 20°
Antigua Distillery Limited (ADL) own the brand English Harbour, who use a triple continuous Savalle column still dating back to 1932 to produce their molasses based rums.
They have a 36 hour fermentation period and use 3,000 ex-Bourbon barrels for ageing.
Following a visit to ADL on 20th June 2017 by the charismatic Luca Gargano to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Velier, the first ever single cask bottling of English Harbour was released. Formed from 27 barrels discovered by Luca at ADL with exceptionally high congener levels of 218g / hlpa, this rum has been bottled at an eye watering (or should that be mouth watering) 66%.
This was distilled in 2012, aged in ex-Bourbon casks, and has an angel share of 44%. There is no official age statement although having been bottled in 2018, one can assume it has had five to six years of ageing in Antigua.
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Rum” – Rum from a traditional column still. Although on this occasion, Luca has gone one further with the categorisation officially being described as “Heavy Rum” owing to the aforementioned unusually high congeners in this rum. When tested for additives, my hydrometer reported 66% as per the label.
Presented in Velier’s familiar packaging, there is an outer cream coloured box featuring the story of Luca’s discovery of this rum as well as the congener levels.
The bottle within is familiar to Velier fans – almost frosted black glass and slightly dumpy in style. The label is similar to the outer box although it also includes the year of distillation (2012) and year of bottling (2018) along with the 66% ABV. It has a natural cork enclosure.
In the glass, the rum is a medium to deep amber – presumably it has caramel colouring added. Swirling the rum around the sides of the glass reveals fine dotted legs that are very slow to descend and has an almost oily appearance.
I love the aroma of this rum – despite being 66% it is not overpowering. Whilst not overly complex, it offers dried fruits, orange peel and light citrus as well as maple dipped bananas.
Taste, Initial-middle 35/40
As with the nosing, the initial entry belies the high ABV of this rum. It is soft and rounded with sweet notes of dried orange peel and some mild peppery spice. It feels sweet if that makes sense although it is neither sticky nor cloying.
Taste, Middle/Throat 38/40
Through the middle of the palate, the rum continues to delight the taste buds. With multiple tastings, the peppery spice becomes more prominent especially when drunk neat. The maple banana nosing features here but it does not become overly sweet. In fact it continues to dip in and out of a sweet and dry balanced profile. A hint of sweet maple syrup and then a touch of bitter oak, offset by spicy pepper and some vanilla.
Although intense, it remains smooth and although many might think that 66% is too strong, having tasted it with various different levels of added water, it really is at its best in its natural form.
This rum lingers and continues to delight long after swallowing. The tingling spicy pepper combines with the maple and oak beautifully.
Wow, what a find this rum is!
Although intense, it remains smooth and very drinkable when poured neat. Many might think that 66% is too strong but having tasted it myself with various different levels of added water, I think it really is at its best in its natural form.
This rum has been an absolute delight to drink. It is a real treat to experience something with such depth of flavour and character produced solely from continuous column still distillation. This rum proves the adage that rum can be sweet, but should never be sweetened (thank you Richard Seale for that one).
This rum would pair very well in an old fashioned style of cocktail where you want the rum’s flavour to shine through.
The price point for a rum of this quality and with such a high ABV is incredible. If you see one of these for sale, buy it. It is one of my favourite rums of 2018!
NOTE: One of the 27 exceptional barrels was bottled at 68.5% as a single cask offering and the other 26 barrels were blended and bottled at 66%.
Review No. 124
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