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Rum Reviews

Three Pirates Walk Into A Bar: Distilia TDL 1991 'Black Bart', Diamond 1996 'Captain Benjamin Hornigold' & Grenada (Westerhall) 1993 'Edward Low', Golden Age Of Piracy


If you've heard of the Golden Age of Piracy series from Distilia before, fret not, you're not dreaming - we've got three more pirates joining the rum party.

Distilia is an independent bottler and retailer of spirits, and also runs Whiskymarket.com, focusing on fine spirits. We've tried two prior sets of releases from the Golden Age of Piracy series before, each expression following the lore of legendary Pirate figures - tldr, we've thoroughly enjoyed all of them, so safe to say Distilia's got some pretty hot hands when it comes to selecting quality rums.


And if that wasn't sufficient evidence, the Floral Rum series with Catawiki, as well as the Guyana centered Greenheart Collection, should all underscore my point.

| Read: [Reviewed!] The Golden Age of Piracy Rums by Distilia - Foursquare 2005, “Calico Jack”; Caroni 1999, “Blackbeard”; Enmore 1992, “Anney”

| Read: [Reviewed!] Three More Pirates From Distilia's Golden Age of Piracy: New Yarmouth 1994 'Woodes Rogers', Long Pond 1983 'Charles Vane', Uitvlugt 1991 'Samuel Bellamy'


And so today we've got three more pirates joining the party - that's Black Bart, a 1991 TDL, Captain Benjamin Hornigold, a 1996 Diamond, and finally and very interestingly, a 1993 Westerhall 'Edward Low'.

What I really like is how the series is broadening in breadth to include a wider diversity of rums, and yet all of which are well-aged and some seriously heavy punchers, bottled at exceedingly solid proofs.

Without further ado, let's go!

TDL 1991, 31 Year Old, ‘Black Bart’ Golden Age of Piracy by Distilia, 62.7% ABV 

As we know TDL stands for Trinidad Distillers Limited, a rum producing entity - the only left on Trinidad for that matter - belonging to Angostura of Bitters fame.

Angostura had started out buying rums which were used to create their bitters, but eventually thought it might be more efficient to produce their own rums, which came under the name TDL. As rum fans know, several distilleries on the island, including the legendary Caroni, either folded or consolidated, and today only TDL stands.

More recently TDL has been making quite the comeback, having taken the rum community by surprised for delivering intensely fruity flavours of lychee and longans on both the nose and palate. 

Let's give this a go!


Tasting Notes

Color: Deep Gold

Aroma: Bright honey layered with tinned fruit syrup - a little bit of that lychee and fruit jelly cups. There’s a light muskiness and vinous quality reminiscent of vine longans.

Taste: More punchy here with more on spiced honey and a continuation of that tinned fruit syrup. Here the lines between bright estery lychees and more earthy, vinous longans are alot more blurred. There’s some dried leaves and vines here - slightly vegetal and woody, giving off some pronounced tannins and astringency.

Finish: It continues to hone in on that mix of bright lychees and vinous longans. It gets alittle gritty here of coffee grounds.


My Thoughts

I’ll tell you right here and now - TDL’s are incredibly underrated. Much of what’s come out under the label vacillates between bright tinned lychees and musky, vinous longans. Here it’s a spot on 50/50 mix of the two, melding perfectly a juxtaposed brightness and earthiness that’s quite remarkable. It’s not confectionary but neither is it overly tannic.

In short, a more than certain crowd pleaser. 

Side note: I also really like that grittiness that came through at the finish of coffee grounds. It gives the otherwise fruit bomb that much more character.

My Rating: 9/10

Diamond 1996, 26 Year Old, ‘Captain Benjamin Hornigold’ Golden Age of Piracy by Distilia, 50.2% ABV 

Good ol' Diamond. This of course comes from Guyana, the land known for its incredible Demerara rums. Now Diamond itself isn't a technically a distillery per se. Rather it's a complex of distilleries that consolidated the folding of the country's numerous distilleries - that is to say, as each distillery mothballed and got demolished, their distillation stills were shifted to the Diamond estate. And thus Diamond is alittle bit of a multi-distillery all-in-one, which also happens to be the last remaining distillery in Guyana.

More practically speaking, what that means is that we don't know exactly which distillery's stills this came from - we'll find out shortly. And if you're wondering how much of an influence each still could have. Well, Guyana's stills are unlike any other. They're made with the hardest wood on the planet, the Greenheart wood, and so imagine boiling 300 year old wooden stills to make rums - now that's why Guyana's rums are so esteemed.

Let's go!


Tasting Notes

Color: Gold

Aroma: Deep notes of manuka honey and lacquered wood. This lets up to some overripe banana, cooked plums and sticky date pudding. There’s also a thick base of brown sugar that’s layered with crushed cane. Lighter notes of leather, tobacco leaves and some cloves.

Taste: Here’s an incredibly flavour forward, syrupy waft of caramel, brown sugar, fudge, and then more on unripe green bananas. It also pulls towards more salinity of green olives in brine. It’s very evocative of creme brûlée, custard pudding with burnt brown sugar, and sticky date toffee puddings. Into the finish there’s a more tannic quality of charred wood. 

Finish: More milk coffee notes that fades into a lingering umami salinity of green olives and miso.


My Thoughts

Its aromas while dark and dense are also very mellow and takes some coaxing and concentration to hone in on. But this belies the real party to be had on the palate - bam - a thick, syrupy dense sweetness of confectionary desserts. There’s all the makings of creme brûlée, custard pudding, burnt brown sugar, sticky date toffee puddings and milk coffee - with a side of salinity and umaminess of miso and green olives.

If that doesn’t scream complexity, I don’t know what does. It has a great balance between the flavours, melding contrasting flavours to incredible precisions. It’s a rum that’s full of (good) surprises, depth and evolution.

Fantastic stuff!

My Rating: 8/10

Grenada Westerhall 1993, 29 Year Old, ‘Edward Low’ Golden Age of Piracy by Distilia, 64.5% ABV 

Not often do we get the fortune to taste a rum from Grenada - the country isn't particularly known for its vibrancy in rum production - nonetheless there are works to change all of that. Alas, that's a story for another time.

Much like many of its Caribbean peers, Grenada was once a sugar economy - and as with cane-based sugars, rums are never too far away, given that sugar production creates the molasses byproduct that's used for rums.

As the sugar industry eventually disappeared, so did rum making. While a popular active remnant from the country is that of River Antoine, known for their white rums, another legendary figure resides, that is Westerhall.

Westerhall started producing rums in the mid-1800s, at first primarily producing bulk rums, but eventually started selling rums under its own name in the 1970s. This was unfortunately to be shortlived as the rum estate would cease production in 1996, and move towards being a blender instead.

As such, few Westerhall's continue to exist today, each one's quite the rarity.


Tasting Notes

Color: Honey Gold

Aroma: Lush sweet, spiced honey. Its pretty punchy at first - paraffin and varnish. Entirely fragrant notes of honey cake, sponge cake with vanilla frosting, and a concentrated note of orange liqueur orange blossoms. As it opens up and lets up (this is pretty high proof, mind you), it aromas are intoxicatingly deep and syrupy, with a sort of brilliance. At the back there’s a musty note of antique polished wood. More nosing gives a note of freshly peeled banana all the way to the back.

Taste: There’s a light nip at the start, which comes almost accompanied with a deep honeyed note that borders on Cognac. Rich notes of yellow raisins, dried apricots, a touch of herbal tortoise jelly and eucalyptus, all of which leads towards a light woody astringency. More tasting gives banana bread as well.

Finish: It turns alittle more briny and funky with green olives and more bananas. There’s a wisp of bitterness of old wood before letting up to a more charred oak and black tea quality. There’s a white floral perfumery that appears after. Nosing the empty glass gives more herbal jellies and manuka honey.


My Thoughts

Wow! Completely incredible! This was entirely elegant with a great complexity that’s layered atop a bright, syrupy almost Cognac-like quality except brighter and more multi-dimensional.

It’s quite surprising that at 29 Years Old, this still punches in at 64.5% ABV which is itself quite the feat - practically this also translates to it being a good idea to give it some time to open up. At it opens up, it puts up an incredibly distinct and refined aroma that’s deep and concentrated.

On the palate, I could probably best characterise it as a two-fold of Cognac and Jamaican in profile. And finally into the finish you’re getting a more textural complexity as it tightens up with some acidity and salinity before letting up to a more floral perfumed quality.

All in, quite an incredible rum to say the least. Brilliance is probably the best description.

My Rating: 10/10 


Another bang spectacular set for the Pirates of Distilia! This time more varied than ever - we had a very classic Diamond, a wonderfully balanced, fruity TDL, and then a rare glimpse at the incredible Westerhall. 

Absolutely fantastic selection once again from Distilia.

For me personally the Diamond was solid as ever, and the TDL showed so much elegance, but the Westerhall really swept me off my feet. It was incredibly complex and had such an amazing, unique profile.

Of course, all available via Distilia here.

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.