Chairman's Reserve 13 Year Master's Selection Cask Strength Rum
Like many rum producing islands in the Caribbean, St. Lucia has only one distillery, St. Lucia Distillers, most known for their Chairman's Reserve line, a blend of column and pot distillate, and Admiral Rodney, an all column still line. But for years the real jewels of their stock, the uncut pot still rums, were only available through independent bottlers. When it was announced that they were no longer selling stock to bottlers, it seemed like disappointing news, a unique and wonderful style of rum no longer available.
That disappointment quickly turned to excitement when it became clear that Chairman's Reserve was actually paying attention to the voices of the rum dork community and would be releasing their myriad of fantastic single cask rums under their own label, through special releases and private single barrel selections. When we tasted through some samples in selecting a private barrel to select for our rum club, it became clear that they have been sitting on some of their most stellar barrels for some time, and had gotten them out for this debut extension of their own label. We finally selected a 13 year old, 100% pot still, molasses based rum from their Vendome still. It reminded us of some of the things we loved most about the old independent releases, but more lush, older, deeper, and better.
The nose is surprisingly inviting for a pot still rum of this strength, 56% ABV, with barely any ethanol present, yet it's assertively powerful. Popping the cork top out the aromas immediately permeate the room and stick to your nose: grilled pineapple, grapefruit, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, all cooking on a crude homemade gas grill. This element of gas, a kind of threatening but super seductive industrial note, is essential, and ties it all together. And that's just the nose!
On the palate, spice hits you first with allspice, black pepper, and nutmeg again. Those 13 years of tropical aging come through immediately. The body is velvety and full, and a hint of bourbon like caramel and vanilla sweetness are ever present, although the rum remains dry and funky throughout. That funk is really spectacular, like a heavenly marriage of fruity Jamaican funk and Demerara smoky, meaty funk, tied together by that rubbery, gasoline fueled industrial note, a flavor reminiscent of Trinidad's legendary Caroni distillery. The molasses ménage a trois of our dreams! Tropical fruit comes back on the finish, with the pineapple reappearing alongside nectarines, dark, raisin-like elements and bright, tart grapefruit.