2020: A Challenging Year
The wine and spirits industry has faced one of its most challenging years in 2020. Let’s be honest, 2020 started well enough, but Covid19 managed to well and truly screw things up for just about everyone in one form or another, culminating in just three pubs open in the entire UK on New Year’s Eve.
Whilst not wanting to dwell too much on the negative aspects of the year, anyone associated with hospitality deserves our utmost love and thanks for carrying on during traumatic times. Especially when we have had rules imposed on us that have done everything possible to stop the hospitality sector from turning an honest profit. Any government would have had tough decisions to make in 2020, so I am not being political in my criticism as any administration – right, left or centre, would have had tough decisions to take. But the way the hospitality sector has been treated seems unfair and disproportionate and so I really do feel for those involved with pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels etc.
And for those still managing to turn out and market some fine rums, well done, and despite the aforementioned circumstances, 2020 has yielded some cracking rums.
Favourite Rums From 2020
Foursquare is always a contender for every award going. 2020 was another vintage year with several new releases. We have had Plenipotenziario in collaboration with Velier, Nobiliary, 2008, the Private Cask Selections from V and B and The Whisky Exchange’s “Diadem” plus my favourite Foursquare rum of the year: Exceptional Cask Selection XIV “Détente”. The Doorly’s range has also been upgraded ABV-wise too.
Mount Gay have not been outdone in the Barbados rum stakes either. They issued new versions of their Black Barrel and XO (2020 Edition) rums as well as a superb Port Cask edition (review coming in 2021).
My other favourite rum producing nation, Jamaica, has also turned out some stunners in 2020. We have Appleton Hearts Collection in collaboration with Velier (review to follow in 2021), as well as rebranding of the Signature, Reserve and 12 year old rums. Worthy Park have released a cracking rum in their Single Estate 12 Year Old and Hampden continue to turn out some amazing rums (I love their Great House 2020 Edition).
Elsewhere, one of my favourite Caribbean holiday destinations, Saint Lucia, the home of Chairman’s Reserve have had a fantastic year. Several single cask editions have highlighted the power of their pot stills, and Admiral Rodney Port Finish really hit the spot for me. But right at the end of 2020, Chairman’s Reserve “Legacy” has been released. Whilst I have not had chance to review it yet (coming in 2021), I can confirm that it is superb stuff.
Rums from Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad have been blended together to produce another top tipple – The Black Tot 50th Anniversary Rum. Although it is quite pricey at circa. £110 / bottle, it is one of the better blends I have tried.
Outside of the Caribbean, Madeira has continued to impress. One of my top rums of 2020 has to be the William Hinton: Lisbon Fortified Wine Cask. Beg, steal or borrow to get hold of a bottle, lol. Madeira has also seen some excellent releases from Engenhos Do Norte, notably, the Rum 970: 15yo Cask Strength, which highlights the amazing flavours and quality coming out of Madeira.
From the beautiful island of Madeira to other Agricole rhums, 2020 has seen lots of great releases. A1710: Nuée Ardente was one of my favourite tipples this year. I also picked up Damoiseau Rhum Vieux 2009 – at 66.9%, it is a great rhum, unusual to see an agricole bottled at such a high ABV.
Top 5 Rums
And so here are my favourite five rums of 2020.
5 BLACK TOT 50th Anniversary Rum
3 CHAIRMAN’S RESERVE “Legacy”
I thought long and hard about this. I absolutely loved Foursquare Détente and for me there is a gnat’s hair between this and 2008. Ultimately though, I felt the strength, power and longevity of Foursquare 2008 edged it over Détente.
It has been a strange year, but there is something familiar about choosing a Foursquare rum as my favourite of the year – I could easily have named five Foursquare rums as my favourites of the year.
After issues in my personal life prevented me from writing in 2019, it was a relief to be back to normal (ish) this year. One of the benefits of the lockdown here in the UK, was it gave me time to get back into something about which I am very passionate and I have very much enjoyed being back on the scene and look forward to more reviews and writing in 2021.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone all the very best for 2021.
Let’s hope have the old “normal” back again very soon.