Okay, for the first full week of reviews in March let’s do a week of things that are not single malt whisky. I’ll start with a rum that has an unlikely whisky connection. As we all know, it’s not very unusual anymore to see whiskies that have been “finished” or double matured in rum casks. What I have for you today, however, is something that goes in the opposite direction: it’s rum that was finished in an Islay cask. The rum in question is from Panama, though I believe Grander is the brand name of an independent bottler rather than a distiller. This rum was matured for 10 years in an ex-bourbon cask—which is fairly par for the course for rum—but then finished for an additional year in an Islay cask (the rumour is that the cask in question was from Ardbeg). As to where the finishing happened—at the distillery in Panama or elsewhere, I’m not sure. It’s a bit embarrassing that I don’t know, considering I’m a member of the private group for which this was bottled. I will make it my life’s work to find this out sometime in the next 10 days to 10 years. In the meantime, here are my notes on this chimerical creature. (The bottle was opened a while ago; these notes are from my fourth or fifth pour.)
Grander Rum 11, Islay Peat Finish (62.4%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Comes in with big smoke off the top—charred and phenolic—with some chilli pepper in there too along with a fair bit of salt. The rum takes a backseat here, adding some sweetness but not a very obvious rum character. With time the sweeter notes pop out a little earlier and the rum character begins to assert itself; some orange peel too now. With a lot more time and then a squirt of water we’re now firmly in rum territory: the smoke has receded and the molasses and aniseed are out in force; some toffee too.
Palate: Big smoke here too to start—more char and ash here than phenols. Surprisingly approachable at full strength; oily texture. Sweeter as it turns to the finish. The rum character starts emerging earlier with every sip and the char begins to turn to cracked black pepper and plenty of it. With more time there’s a vegetal note, somewhere between herbal and bell peppery—it works well here. Okay, let’s add some water. It doesn’t push the smoke back completely here as on the nose but the rum character is far more pronounced here too now.
Finish: Medium-long. It’s here that the rum fully emerges as the smoke dies down, with molasses, aniseed and a light herbal note emerging as it heads towards the close. Quite a bit of salt here as well. With time there’s some pencil lead and then quite a bit of the cracked pepper. Quite a bit sweeter with water.
Comments: This is fun stuff. Right off the bat it’s like two drinks in one: coming in as smoky whisky on the nose and palate and then transitioning smoothly to a sweeter herbal rum on the finish. With time, air and water the rum becomes more pronounced. A good changeup and I look forward to seeing how it develops with more air in the bottle. And I’m kind of wishing I’d gotten two bottles instead of just the one.
Rating: 87 points.
Hi, enjoyed your review on this single barrel. To answer your question, the rum was finished at the distillery. All of our rums are distilled, fully aged and bottled in Panama. Glad you enjoyed! – Dan (Grander)
Hi..any idea where I might find a bottle? Russ
This was bottled for a private group and I believe it’s all long gone.
Thanks for the timely response..I am looking to buy a bunch but really wish to live with a cpl of bottles first. I talked to Knud( he has a bunch) in Holland,but after talking to Dan I found some at 5 Star liquor in orlando and maybe with Broc in the Sarasota liquor locker. Bradley from rum caucus is sending me a sample and hopefully I will receive the bottles soon from Florida. I am hoping to buy about a half barrel,as I am primarily an Islay lover but good clean caskstrength rum is a close second.🤷♂️😊. Cheers,russ
Yes, I think what you are getting is similarly made but not the same rum that I reviewed. My bottle is from a barrel that was entirely bottled for a private group a few years ago.
Understood, usually slight differences in the casks😊…I did ask Dan ,and he agrees that there will be lots of similar notes…so I am hoping for a pleasant sip
By the way,I am enjoying reading your reviews..similar palate to mine it seems…FS 2004,2005,stolen hampden,rattray caroni so far read ,enjoyed and agree with. Cheers!
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Glad to hear it. I wish it was easier to get quality rums to review here in the US. Especially since I stopped purchasing spirits from Europe a few years ago.
Living in Miami for 6 months and then travelling allow me access.. I am quite enjoying the Biras from Fiji and South Africa,the Mhobas from South Africa,the 1998 st.James,the 15 yr st.James,the Royal cane and down island 20 yr FS pot stills,and a lot of the Holmes Cay line over the last little while..it’s time for a break from cane, so gonna dive into some new scotches particularly the Bunna lady of the Glen 25 yr and the Talisker 25 yr…off to sleep,pleasure meeting you, salute,russ