Malternative: Belize Rum 2006, 14 Years Old, 65.6%, bottled by Malt, Grain & Cane, La Maison and Velier
Did you know that somewhere out there in the big open ocean, is a giant portal? A portal that leads to perhaps the most silent, more quiet, most static place in the world. Now we all know that someone who is such a light sleeper that the sound of a feather smashing the floor would wake them up with such shock akin to Keanu Reeves being forced out of the Matrix. Well this portal? It’s for those people.
This portal reside in the ocean off of Belize. (Image Source: Wikipedia)
This is the Belize Great Blue Hole, for those less than obsessed with geography. It is actually a big cave, a 124m deep, that filled up as sea levels rose. It was brought to the world’s attention by Jacques Cousteau, the world famous marine explorer, who brought his ship the Calypso, to chart its depths in 1971.
Jacques Cousteau declared the Big Blue Hole one of the world's top diving spots, driving a boom in tourism to Belize. (Image Source: Richard Walker)
But alas, Belize, located in the Caribbean’s, is more than a giant blue hole, it also has…rum! One of the key rum producers to find themselves in Belize - evidently Belize has enough land to build a distillery on sans the hole – is Travellers Liquors.
Travellers Liquors was founded in 1953 by Master Blender Omario Perdomo who started the business off of serving travellers along the main route to and fro Belize City – hence the name Travellers Liquors.
A humble start, Don Omario first began selling rum to travellers enroute to Belize City, the name later stuck - Travellers. (Image Source: ITravelBelize)
Travellers doesn’t just produce rum, it also produces a whole bunch of other distilled products, but that’s not what we’re here for is it? Its speciality is aged dark rums, which are distinctively produced by distilling fermented molasses (locally sourced) aged in charred oak casks. The distillation uses a double distillation process via their triple column continuous still – which basically means they run the alcohol in a three-column system that goes on continuously for two cycles. This style puts them something closer to the way rum, or ron, is made in Spain.
This bottle itself is a collaboration between Malt, Grain & Cane with La Maison and Velier for their Rum of the World range. To get specific, it is 14 years old, of which 9 years was tropical aging, and another 5 years and 7 months was continental ageing, upon which it was bottled.
Now, let’s get to the fun part. Let’s get a sippin’.
Belize Rum 2006, 14 Years Old, 65.6%, bottled by Malt, Grain & Cane, La Maison and Velier
Colour. A nice brazen copper. Reddish shimmers give this rum an almost sparkling quality.
Nose. Off to a strong start, this is very high proof after all. Swirling it alittle to let it open up… This doesn’t take long to fade away to reveal a much sweeter, more aromatic, yet delicate side. Very fragrant. Tinned plums, sarsaparilla, there’s a lot of cola candies here that I like a lot. Think cola gummies.
A distinctive Island characteristic, cola candies bring us off to a good start. (Image Source: Jessica's Sweet Shop)
There’s dark cherries as well, whiffs of espresso and chocolate bits.
Get past the strong punch at the opening and you will be wonderfully rewarded. Magnificent.
Delectable whiffs of a chocolate cherry tart. (Image Source: One Green Planet)
On the palate. Delightfully medium weight, it spots a very nice waxy texture that coats the mouth. Almost syrupy by significantly more intense. I might be getting alittle melodramatic but this brought me back to travels at the back of an open back pickup truck roving across a dirt road alongside a gorgeous pristine ocean. Simply put, it tastes tropical as tropical can be. Truly an island in the sun.
Picturesque to say the least, this bottling. (Image Source: 123RF)
The flavors that come through are bright and spritely, with cola fizz, grenadine syrup, a good heap of vanilla ice cream. An ice cream soda would be my guess.
A spritely, vanilla ice cream soda fizz greets you on the palate. (Image Source: This Ole Mom)
There are also grilled pineapples, sugarcane, and just a dusting of cinnamon and star anise. Very juicy, it is at once sweet and tart. A quality combination. The sarsaparilla comes through as well, giving it a nice light liquorice character.
Grilled pineapples add a tangy quality to the spirit. (Image Source: Taste of Home)
A little bit of herbaceous quality greets you as you close out on the palate, some mint, chevil and dill. It is very light on the herbs. Just a touch.
A good heap of aromatic herbs provides an earthy base. (Image Source: Martha Stewart)
The finish. Quick, refreshing, theirs is a slightly rougher granulated quality to it, almost like coffee bits you’d find in a frappe. I continue to get notes of sarsaparilla, an interesting bit of lighter fluid, very clean and distinctive. There’s also the same herbaceous quality that we observed in the palate.
I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I will caveat that it is of a very high proof and as such you’d be a fool to expect this to be delicate or light. The alcohol starts off very strong on both the nose and the palate but I must say that it goes off very quickly. Swirl and count to three and there you have it. Once that is out of the way, what you’re left with is a highly aromatic, tropical fiesta.
The La Laguna is where it's at. (Image Source: Unique Retreats)
It shares the DNA of cola, grilled tropical fruits, and lightly herbed, which makes for a great combination. Quite honestly, I almost felt like I fell into the aforementioned portal but somehow instead of the bottom of the ocean, I was brought to a sunny island, on a pick up, with the white sands on my left and a blue ocean as far as the eye can see.
It’s flavors are well matched and balanced and even the texture is one that I enjoyed more than I care to admit. The grainy quality adds a granulated dimension to the rum that makes it almost chewable, heightening the mouthfeel. It is no lightweight either, with a nice creamy consistency.
This one gave me serious island vibes and I really enjoyed it. Belying its strength is a wonderful eclectic mix that hits the right notes. This one gets a mindblown smiley, island vibes and got me dancing!
In you’re interested in trying one, you could probably still find a few bottles over at Malt, Grain & Cane.
Alternatively, find them at one of MGC's partners, LMDW, Auld Alliance, The Single Cask, Swan Song, Limehouse Asia, Cafe Gavroche (all based in Singapore), or Miles Whisky Bar (Indonesia) and Rudder (Japan).
Of course be sure to follow MGC on Instagram and Facebook (@MaltGrainCane) or follow Marcus himself @HampdenPirate.