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Rum Reviews

Habitation Velier Renegade 2020, 3 Year Old, 55% ABV


Mark Reynier, the man behind Renegade Rum, is likely one of the spirits industry's greatest champions. His is a resume that's incredibly difficult to beat - from starting out in the wine business, he later revived the now highly popular Islay Scotch, Bruichladdich, having also founded independent bottler Murray McDavid, and today is actively operating and promoting Irish whiskey distillery Waterford and Grenada rum distillery, Renegade.

I feel like he's cheating - this guy must have 48 hours in a day, and I need him to show me his secrets, although I probably will just sleep for 24 hours more than I already do.

Despite a career that's spanned such a breadth, he does have one core ethos and that's emphasising the influence of terroir, a concept that's most popular with wines. For Mark, the land on which the agriculture used to make wine and spirit is grown upon is incredibly important and when done right, can be felt by the drinker.

You'll find the concept of terroir all across any of his projects and really is his handprint. 

So what's up with Renegade? While Mark was operating Murray McDavid, the modus operandi initially was to focus on whiskies, but as it became increasingly difficult to source quality casks of whiskies given the spectacular rise of single malts, the team turned towards independently bottling rums under the name Renegade, with an added value of finishing them in some unique, notably wine casks. Nonetheless when Murray McDavid was acquired by Remy Cointreau, Mark was able to keep the Renegade name and this time move one step closer to the source by setting up his own distillery.


Renegade Distillery in Grenada. (Image Source: Velier)


A chance holiday in Grenada made Mark fall in love with the island, and thus he decided to base Renegade Distillery on the Caribbean island. Its ethos? Terroir! Taking a look at Renegade's distillery bottlings you'll see that each bottling is segmented by the single estate from which its cane is harvested from. Subsequently all manners of fermentation, distillation (they're all done rhum agricole style using sugarcane juice) and ageing is done at the distillery on the island itself. While Renegade remains young, some of its early white rums have already garnered praise, such as the Single Farm Origin Pearls and Single Farm Origin Bacolet.


Velier's chief Luca and Renegade's Mark.


But what about what we have today? We're at Whisky Live Singapore 2023, and we've a 3 Year Old Renegade Rum distilled in 2020, bottled under the banner of Habitation Velier. Habitation Velier is rum bottling powerhouse Velier's umbrella for the most diverse array of pot still distilled rums from around the world - which makes this Renegade Rum of 100% pot still distillation.

Given the great friendship between Mark and Velier's chief Luca, Mark, whom we had the fortune of meeting at several Whisky Live festivals, had told us that it was Luca who first recognised Renegade as a full fledged rum distillery, the newest and largest in the Caribbeans in over a decade. And thus he had wanted Velier to have the honour of being the first ever to independently bottle (or co-bottle which is Velier's preferred lingo) Renegade's rums.

While I got to try the Habitation Velier Renegade Rum 2020, I'm also aware of a Renegade Rum 2021 which I've seen around social media but have not yet gotten to try.

Let's get to it!

Habitation Velier Renegade 2020, 3 Year Old, 55% ABV - Review


Tasting Notes

Aroma: Super savoury and umami! Lots of black olives, well-aged parmesan, more earthy baked mozzarella and mushroom duxelle - incredibly intense. There’s also alittle bit of sweat, that animalic farmhouse quality.

Taste: Ooh this is surprisingly mellow - the savouriness and umami flavours are still present and accounted for, but here it’s alittle more tannic, but it still throws us some spiced honey alongside the olives, baked cheese and mushrooms. Little bit of dark chocolate. The tannins tense up more to give it quite a fair bit of dryness into the finish.

Finish: Yet another twist! Here it’s more of a herbal jelly, rather grassy and of herbal dried roots, spiced honey and then it’s back to the oaky tannic dryness.


My Thoughts

To call this memorable would be a huge understatement - this was not only distinctive, it was incredibly powerful! There’s all this fascinating complexity in what can only be described as an umami-bomb, this is a real bouillon cube of a rum, and on top of that it does this little magic trick of contrasting a great thicker texture with those multi-dimensional sweet, umami and savoury notes. 

At every leg of the tasting, I found myself delightfully greeted with (positive) surprises, each adding more nuance and complexity, with the utmost intensity that you wouldn’t believe can still remain cohesive. It’s a wonder how this stays so balanced and also friendly and approachable on the palate.

What a stellar, stellar expression, good god! This is one I’m going to remember for a long time! It got me smacked and I was getting everyone to try it.

If you're a big spirits fan, you've got to come on down for Whisky Live Singapore 2024, there's a whole slew of great new bottlings each year so it's always something new with them. I'm told that it'll be held 23/24 November 2024, once again at the Singapore Flyer.


My Rating: 9/10


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.