After getting off the train from a highly enjoyable session at the Fife Whisky Festival 2022 I thought a night-cap in my hotel bar would be in order.
Having spotted an unknown bottle of rum behind the Windsor Bar when booking in earlier – my curiosity was piqued.
Turned out to be Four Bells Navy Rum.
A tot was ordered amid the sounds of a loud karaoke & merry youngsters downing globes of vividly coloured cocktails.
Four Bells had a soft hint of burnt rubber off the nose.
A rather weak & watery palate – compared to all the wonderful drinks I’d just experienced at the show.
A touch of spice on the rear enlivened this otherwise rather flatly flavoured rum.
Easy drinking indeed – but lacking flair.
Information on Four Bells could only be collated from a number of websites.
It appears to be/was a Whyte & Mackay brand distilled in Guyana, offered at 40%, 42.9% or 100 Proof, has had several bottle designs & brand owners over the years & seems to be fondly remembered by fans.
I’m assuming I enjoyed the 40% version & despite the lack of punch – Four Bells is just the kind of hidden spirit I enjoy encountering when visiting a bar.
A delightful blend of Jamaican, Guyanaian & Barbadian rums modelled on the Royal Navy rum tot proved to be a highly entertaining tipple!
My last few samples were from a selection of independent bottlers who mainly do non chill filtered, natural colour & often single cask, cask strength bottles in limited – not to be repeated – releases from a variety of distilleries.
At Carn Mor I enjoyed a 7yo peated bottling distilled at Highland Park named Whitlaw.
For Scotch Malt Whisky Society -SMWS – I shunned their limited edition single malts & opted for the attractively designed label of Peat Faerie blended malt for yet another sweet peater with a kick.
The Single Cask Staoisha 6yo distilled at Bunnahabhain offered a combination of soft peat & sweet wine cask influence.
Sadly they had no peated bottles on show – so I chose by artwork. Chapter 11 happened to be a Glen Spey & whilst very nice – didn’t wow as much as the art did!
And with that – it was all over!
A generous feed of chips ‘n’ cheese, a packed train of fellow whisky fans back to Kirkcaldy & a short walk to the hotel ended yet another wonderful foray exploring the fine whisky on show at the highly enjoyable Fife Whisky Festival 2022.
I used to have a bottle ceiling price of 100 – euro or sterling – but with escalating costs & criticism of rising bottle prices I’m revising that down to 50.
Rather than simply moan about the situation – I’ll take action.
At first you might think my choices would be limited – but when you begin to look – there’s a surprising amount of highly entertaining & enjoyable spirits to be had.
In the sub €20 white rum category I found surprising variety. Liberté from Lidl won out here. Press on the highlighted links to be diverted to my reviews.
Dunnes do a highly engaging sub €20 whisky by the name of JG Kinsey.
All of Royal Oak Distillery’s output – blend, single grain, single malt & single pot still – is below €50 & thoroughly decent they are too.
However – most of the above attract little attention & appear to be looked down on by the blogging community.
Budget doesn’t mean a lack of taste, flair or character. It might mean a lack of bragging rights & exclusivity and it certainly involves a degree of exploration to find the one that suits your palate – which is part of the fun.
But looking down on such offerings & the folks that drink them is nothing but snobbery – which is never attractive.
To me this is evident in the almost total rejection of Conor McGregor’s Proper Twelve brand within Ireland – despite it becoming the 4th biggest selling Irish Whiskey in the world after only a few years.
It’s also behind the lack of reviews for the correctly labelled Kyasuku World Whisky.
For €30 you get an attractively presented Mizunara casked whisky blended & matured in Japan.
Only fools would turn their noses up at such an opportunity given the clamour over inflated prices for similar product.
The companies – as far as my basic economics goes – are after all doing what they’re meant to – boosting profits for the shareholders.
And no – I won’t be missing out on high end stuff.
There’s been a positive explosion of on-line tastings, bottle swaps & exchanges, clubs & societies as well as good old fashioned pubs & whiskey shows where opportunities arise to taste the delights – or disappointments – beyond reach.
My nearly 120 bottle selection is always open for exchange – Irish based only – so get in touch to try out something new.
For me, tasting & exploring is far more important than owning.
The diversity & quality of rums within the Saison Rum range impressed me very much.
Part of the excellent Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder tasting series. As usual I missed the actual live Zoom event – but tuned in later on YouTube for more information about Saison Rum.
My brief tasting notes – in italics – were gathered catching the last of the summer sun in my back garden before watching the video.
Saison Pale Rum, 40%
Pale straw, lovely fresh pungency, reminiscent of sugar cane rum, grassy. Soft, mellow & mouth coating. Gorgeously warm spiciness on the finish.
Saison Rum, 42%
Golden brown, inviting hint of funk in a rich demerara cake. Sweet, smooth & warming. Dries out on the finish in a lip smacking finalé.
Saison Sherry Cask Rum, 42%
Golden brown, soft, sweet juicy fruity wine gums. Mild & mellow. Quite light on the finish with a lovely dry tingling.
Saison Reserve Rum, 43.5%
Golden brown, soft sweet funk. Richness & depth. Mellow funky finish. A luxurious rum – well balanced & civil.
Saison Barbados 5yo, 46%
Pale brown, sweet fruit cake. Mild. Combination of sweetness & spice with a tingling finish.
One for the sweet tooth!
Saison Trinidad, 7yo, 48%
Pale brown, mild & sweet. Soft palate. Sugar & spice & all things nice.
A very enjoyable tasting indeed!
From a funky start to a dessert finish with extremely well balanced & complex rums inbetween – Saison Rum have a bottle to suit every taste.
Using rum sourced from Barbados, Jamaica & Trinidad, French Cognac House Tessendier have recently branched out into rum blending with this gorgeous Saison Rum range.
The rums are shipped to France in bulk at cask strength for careful blending & further maturation in cognac casks. Presented non chill filtered with no added sugar – the results are full of flavour & joie de vivre that my palate enjoys.
Personally my preference veers towards the younger – more brasher – funkiness of the non age statement offerings.
I found the sweetness of the Sherry Cask & Single Origin bottles a touch too much.
In a close contest Saison Rum won the day with it’s solid dollop of Jamaican dunder.