Two Silver Seals 2020: Silver Seal Jamaica, Clarendon, 1984/2020 (36 years old) & Silver Seal Barbados, Black Rock, 1986/2020 (33 years old)
Introduction: The Auld Alliance very recently put up a tasting set of six samples, one for each Silver Seal rum release this year. Three of these are aged at least 30 years: an Uitvlugt (likely from the Port Mourant still), a Black Rock (likely Rockley-style), and a Monymusk (tropically aged). Some crazy specs, aren’t they?
Name: Silver Seal Jamaica, Clarendon, 1984/2020 (36 years old)
Background: Tropically aged for 36 years, that’s like 70 years in Scotland? Also, this probably comes from a sister cask to last year’s Monymusk “Rum Sapiens” bottling.
Nose: molasses; liquorice stick; talcum powder; camphor; candied orange peel; a bouquet of red and black fruits, over a chocolate fondue; banana cake; bananas foster; baking spices; more liquorice; salted celery juice; then there is a wave of funk, and we get smelly socks, cream cheese gone bad, and even a fresh coat of paint; the base notes are salty, earthy and nutty -- think mushrooms grilled with cumin in a peanut sauce dip.
Palate: drying and astringent entry; burnt caramel; a flash of blackcurrants; camphor; pure chocolate from Madagascar beans, garnished with burnt orange zest (reminds me of Michel Cluizel’s Noir Infini); lemon juice; a bunch of soft drinks -- sarsaparilla, root beer, ice cream soda -- squeeze their way past the dominant wood to make a surprising appearance on the back-palate.
Finish: MAC blackcurrant lozenge; a bitter aftertaste of charred wood and pure chocolate; minutes later, there are shadows of sugarcane juice and honey lemon lozenge.
Conclusion: it noses like a darker version of this Worthy Park, and I really like that. Regrettably, everything falls apart in the mouth. This has clearly spent too much time in the cask. Indeed, few distillates can stand up to 36 years of tropical aging. Clarendons never struck me as one of those few.
Score (assuming a normal distribution with mean 50): 68/100
Name: Silver Seal Barbados, Black Rock, 1986/2020 (33 years old)
Background: another 1986 vintage WIRD IB. I have not heard of a bad bottling of this vintage. Let’s see if this one will change that.
Nose: new make from malted barley; canned tuna on freshly baked baguette; sesame oil on rice; prosciutto and jamon; greasy bacon; Chinese salted vegetable; Sichuan zha cai; more meat, but now with more sweetness -- think barbecue ribs, drenched in sauce, or honeyed ham; with the sweetness comes a pastry note, upon which I immediately recall the Cantonese char siew sou; roasted watermelon seeds and cashews; coriander; sugarcane; creamy mango on a cup of yoghurt; fritters of banana and cempedak complete the base notes.
Palate: sweet entry; honey and propolis; an attack of tropical fruits, too many to count; I detect passion fruit, soursop, golden kiwi, persimmon, mango and jackfruit; a vegetal note accompanies the fruits -- fresh sugarcane, perhaps; a sweet-savoury pork floss bun, dipped in balsamic vinaigrette; dark chocolate; roasted almond; liquorice; freshly cut grass; tobacco smoke; citrus peel encrusted in mineral salts; stone fruits.
Finish: sweet cream and sweet tropical fruits; more liquorice; dried fruits of various kinds -- apricots, mangoes and cherries; raisins of all colours; blackforest cake; a complex aftertaste of honeyed ham, more dried fruits, roasted seeds and nuts, seaweed, barley and vegetables in cling wrap.
Conclusion: what a confused spirit! The nose, palate and finish seem to point to three different rums, each of which is excellent in its own right. Put together, we have a beast of a rum, and it is a surprisingly pleasant beast. Somehow, the entire experience just works. Objectively, this is hard to rate as a whole, so I am falling back on my pure pleasure scale.
Score (assuming a normal distribution with mean 50): 92/100
Image Courtesy of u/zoorado.
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