Origin: Saint Lucia Distillers Ltd., Roseau, Anse la Raye, Saint Lucia
Age: 11 years
Today we are reviewing a rum from an independent bottler that we haven't looked at before: Berry Bros & Rudd are an English firm that specializes in importing wines and spirits, such as cognacs, whisky, and rum. The firm was founded in 1698 by a widow who is only known by her last name– Bourne– and started out as a grocery near St. James's Palace. By the early 1900s, and after several generations of different shop ownership, wine and spirits became the focus of the company.
The bottle in front of me today is something of a rarity: an independently-bottled Saint Lucian rum. Saint Lucia Distillers, Ltd. (SLD)– the sole remaining distiller on the eponymous island– reportedly stopped selling bulk rum or single barrels to bulk rum merchants like Berry Bros or E&A Scheer, perhaps after the success of Ed Hamilton's (in)famous Saint Lucia single barrel bottlings.
Not a ton of information is available about this release online (or on the bottle for that matter), but the RumX listing has this stated as a 1999 vintage. Working backwards, and with information from thefatrumpirate's review of this same rum, this seems to be the story of Finest St Lucia 11 year: distilled in 1999 using a pot still (most likely John Dore 1, which was the only pot still at SLD in 1999), aged for 11 years with unknown share of tropical vs. continental aging, potentially blended, and subsequently bottled by Berry Bros & Rudd for release in 2010 at a strength of 46% ABV.
Copper, high clarity, medium viscosity
Raspberries, pear, clove, baked blueberries, motor oil, permanent marker
Rotting pineapple and melon, mango, sour green grapes, pear, diesel exhaust, cinnamon
Medium, bitter, dry, fruity; fruit leather, oak, touch of bitter mint
Berrys' St Lucia has a lot of notes that one may find in Saint Lucian rum, but this particular vintage does not share the best that this island has to offer. It has plenty of fruit and some Saint Lucian funk, but these aspects are overshadowed by bitterness and a muted profile.
The rum is a nice copper color, with high clarity and medium viscosity.
The nose gives me notes of bitter yet fruity raspberries, fresh pear, clove, and the aroma of baked blueberries. The spice and fruit subsides a bit towards the end of a nosing, yielding the pungent aroma of motor oil and the unmistakeable stinging of permanent marker. It's very much a nose of a Saint Lucian rum, but the trailing ends of the aromas devolve into a dryer, muted funk, not unlike that of Fiji rum.
Saint Lucia 11 year provides a palate chock full of fruit with some spices, including rotting pineapple and melon, mango, sour green grapes, pear, and cinnamon. It's a fairly bitter and drying mouthfeel, with the funk of diesel exhaust coming into play in the rear palate. It's got some nice flavors, but you have to dig a little to get there; these notes are muted, and are slightly overpowered by the spices that come in after the main notes dissipate.
The finish is medium-length, bitter, dry, yet fruity. I get notes of fruit leather, tannic oak, and some herbal elements by the way of bitter mint. It lingers only a short while with the continuance of muted flavors from the palate; I relate this to the aftertaste of a spent piece of gum one has been chewing for an hour or two.
On paper this is should be an interesting pour, Berry's St Lucia unfortunately suffers from an imbalance of flavors and perhaps a little too much time spent in the cask. It's just this side of pleasant, and just on the other side of being over-oaked. Still, I'm glad I picked up this bottle of Berry Bros & Rudd, given its rarity, and the fact that it is a Saint Lucian rum that is independently-bottled, a double rarity.