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Rum Reviews

Habitation Velier Amrut India Pure Sugar Cane Juice Rum 2022, 62.8% ABV

 

Every year Velier gives us a whole haul of new rum goodies to be excited about - it's always a mix of the good ol' stuff you can't go wrong with and exotic new things that have no reference point; there really is something for everyone. And while that is a treat for rum lovers, it does also mean an extremely competitive showing for rum producers. 

They'll never admit it but I do get some late night texts that indicate otherwise. 

 

Jokes aside, it ain't easy to stand out! And yet one of the highly underrated gems was Amrut's Jaggery rum - not only was it a stunner taste wise, but it was also entirely unique, having been made with a local favourite natural sweetener that's coarsely unrefined and made of cooked sugarcane juice - a real world premier if there ever was one. Up till then there's been no rum that explicitly stated the use of jaggery. Also it embodied the local culture and terroir, what more could you ask for in a rum!

 

Dan Biondi, a rum lover for rum lovers. (Image Source: @weixiang_liu)

 

And just when you think Amrut had topped the charts, boom! We've got a neat little surprise from the man himself, Dan Biondi, LM&V's Export Manager (got a great interview from the man himself here). When I got to Whisky Live Singapore 2023, the first thing I knew I had to do was to head over to Velier's booth. It was nice to see Dan again, and after exchanging some pleasantries, he casually but deftly picked out a bottle and handed it to me "you've got to try this" he said - bear in mind this was amidst a real buffet of a booth of a rum lover's galore of new expressions.

I hadn't seen this expression before, to which he told me it's not out yet and this would be the first instance it was showcased. 

This was a sugar cane juice white rum made with 100% Indian sugar cane juice that was then distilled in a pot still - again a real localised and unique showing from Amrut which had once again never put out something like this.

 

Luca Gargano, Velier's chief and ever the pioneer.

 

But more than that, as I would later learn from Velier's chief Luca Gargano, this expression represented a real conundrum for rum classification for there was no category that fitted sugarcane juice rum distilled in a pot still. It would be neither rhum agricole which applies column distillation to sugarcane juice, nor would it be a traditional molasses based rum that would use pot distillation.

It would just fall under a rather amorphous category of pure single rum which relates more to its single distillery origin rather than the material and distillation equipment used which of course had a significant impact on the final flavour profile.

To that end, Luca had talked about creating a new category known as Extra Virgin Rum that would hold rums made of sugarcane juice and distilled with a pot still - we'll hear more about this next year I believe.

Rather fortunate I got to try at Whisky Live Singapore 2023, so definitely a great event to get first dibs on the latest hauls - keep a look out for Whisky Live Singapore 2024 which I'm told will be at the Singapore Flyer once again to be held on the 23/24 November 2024.

And so with that, let's get into this!

Habitation Velier Amrut India Pure Sugar Cane Juice Rum 2022, 62.8% ABV - Review

 

Tasting Notes

Aroma: Bright, creamy dense and heavy on the vanilla, there’s also a layer of aromatic vegetal crushed cane, bagasse and vanilla syrup. It’s a cohesive inseparable mix of syrupy sweet and also vegetal green and raw. No hints of diesel here, but there’s a whole lot of depth.

Taste: Really punchy, lots of spiciness and tingling sensation but also really smooth - quite the textural sensation. There’s mellow but bold agricultural notes of crushed cane and lychee syrup, back up by lots of umami flavours of black olives, baked mozarella, rather savoury and also briny of clam juice. A hit of cracked black peppercorns atop a creamy dense texture.

Finish: Lots of umami notes of miso and black olives, a quick wash of lychee syrup and white dragonfruit flesh, ending off with some more sea spray.

  

My Thoughts

This was a fascinating white rum - it was rounded and creamy in texture, with a solid layer of vanilla cream, that’s topped with raw vegetal notes of crushed cane, and also more savoury notes on the palate of black olives and baked cheese, before turning more umami into the finish with more on miso paste. Whilst it contends with multiple intense and seemingly impossible to wrangle flavour dimensions, it somehow is able to mellow them out and bond them together cohesively. That allowed the complexity to maintain such a level of friendliness that made sure it was enjoyable and could be appreciated for its nuance without a sense of being overwhelmed.

It pushes you in all the directions you might’ve thought not possible to be done simultaneously but yet makes sure it’s never sharp or overly high pitched. Plus shout out to the solid textural sensation on the palate that was also particularly enjoyable.

That said, I must concede that it is not for everyone as is generally the case with white rums not from Spain, this is rather striking and doesn’t keep to simply being sweet. Also I should caveat that while I personally enjoyed it alot, some enthusiasm must be chalked up to its newness and uniqueness in the rum literature vis-a-vis a simple taste test. Giving such a complexity, I’m not certain if someone would be up for a brain teaser daily, but I could see this working well in a daiquiri.

There’s some overlaps with standard column distilled white rhum agricoles in the heavy vanilla and vegetal notes but here it’s also much more creamy and hefty in texture, and much more mellow and rounded in flavour. It’s also seriously reminiscent of Haiti’s Clarins (in particular the Le Rocher) but not nearly as sharp or high pitched, and also much more cohesive.

A solid, solid showing!

 

My Rating: 8/10

 

Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.

  

Kanpai!

 

@111hotpot