As promised, we will devote the occasional blog post to personal discoveries and favorites from the distilleries. Though I'm much more a Scotch man, than a Bourbon or Rum guy, once in a while I get knocked off my soapbox by a spirit that makes drinking ordinary fare seem like scarfing rotgut. Cadenhead's Classic Green Label Rum does that!
Cadenhead is a Scots specialty bottler, export-importer, and retail distributor of Scotch and other selected spirits, centered in Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland. Before the import regs changed a few years back, a lot of their familiar dark green limited bottlings of small batch Scotch reached our shores.
As a rule, I don't take much Rum straight, because most of it--the run-of-the-mill stuff you get in taverns or grocery stores--is not very inspiring. Most good Rum is produced in the New World--in the Caribbean, to be precise. Many of the most famous bar-drinks are based on white Rum, and a lot of it is consumed world-wide.
Caribbean Rums vary in color and density from white (clear) through gold, and dark Rum. Dark Rums are richer, somewhat sweeter--the result of longer aging in wood casks. Long aging is common with Scotches, as well as Bourbon, and certain other fortified liqueurs such as Port or Brandy. It's somewhat less common with Rum.
I was offered a taste of this new Class Green Label at a local tavern, and was immediately struck by its complexity, seductiveness, and power. High alcohol concentrations aren't always suitable. Higher alcohol content often will make for a very "hot" palate, especially with "thin" flavored spirits such as Grappa. High alcohol content can, however, enhance a beautifully balanced, strong flavored spirit, matching its strength and intensifying its effect. Classic Green Label Rum is a perfect example of this.
Oddly, Cadenhead hasn't chosen to reveal the exact source of the stuff, but a few people on the internet have speculated it's Jamaican, or possibly even Cuban (which of course would be illegal to market in America). It's listed at 50% or 100 proof, making it an "overproof" Rum.
The nose is candied (Demerera), with hints of cinnamon, charcoal, and marshmallow. Dark gold in color, clear. It begins with a soft, "crackerjacks" sweetness on the tip of the tongue, and is softly caressing along the sides and under the tongue. It settles out with chocolate notes, caramel, and burnt pineapple, lightly tingling at the back of the tongue. No sense of burning, stinging, no bitter aftertaste, gradually filling the mouth with a pleasant warmth and encouragement.
I've never tasted another Rum like it--but my range of experience with aged Rums is, as I say, pretty limited. I paid a little under a hundred dollars for this bottle. As recently as two years ago, this same stuff was being marketed for under $70, so it's definitely appreciating. I wouldn't recommend it as a mixer, because it's just too good to adulterate with other flavors, and much too good for cooking use.
This one is a real winner. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes good quality Scotch or Bourbon. You could drink it before or after a meal, or at any time after Noon. But be careful, the stuff is habit forming.