Monthly Archives: January 2018
Let’s admit it… as rum lovers we often look at big brands like Bacardi or Havana Club with a certain dédain. But what about their ‘better’ expressions? Drinkable or not? Let’s find out with the Havana Club Selección de Maestros (a rum that replaces the Havana Club Barrel Proof in the range) for which the casks have been hand-picked by the maestros roneros from the company’s finest aged stocks. The rums selected by the maestros roneros are finished in special casks of white (American) oak chosen for their aromatic properties before being bottled at a higher strength than the standard range for a more intense, immediate flavour on the palate.
The Rum: Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros
Raw material: molasses
Bottled: ca 2017
The Nose starts with pleasant floral notes accompanied by a slight vegetal sour touch. Spicy oak, nutmeg and a whiff of aniseed. After about 10 minutes in the glass it gets much fresher. Confit lemon peel, raisin and even a bit of a salty aroma. After 10 more minutes also some spicy ginger and a delicate touch of green tobacco.
The Taste is medium sweet with toasted sugared almonds, nicely balanced oak with soft bitters, and a touch of leather. Fine tobacco leaves and peach on syrup. The alcohol strength is perfect!
The Finish is rather long and slightly drying with well-integrated wood. Definitely not too sweet, but with a touch of sweet sauced pipe tobacco. Also orange peel, and at the very end some juicy white fruits (peach, nectarine).
Our Score : ****. A very nice Havana Club? Yes, it does exist!
The Jaguar Edicion Turrialba is also bottled under the name Jaguar Cordillera. It’s branded as a rum from Costa Rica, but is actually a blend of rums from diverse countries. Colombia and Peru for sure, and maybe Venezuela – info on that is contradictory.
The Rum: Ron jaguar Edicion Turrialba
Raw material: molasses
Distilled: column still
Matured: 10 yo, ex-bourbon casks
The Nose: a lot of oranges and dark sugar with some warm vanilla custard, a bit of a nutty aroma and some slightly sour vegetal notes.
The Taste: sweeter than the nose predicted. Strong taste of tangerine and vanilla, and a very pronounced taste of soft mocha. Is this the Colombian rum in the blend maybe? Because if you like Dictador rum, you’re going to like this one too. Bot the nose and the taste is rather good, but they don’t match. A delicate whiff of tobacco gives it a bit more depth.
Finish: medium long, sweet with lots of mocha again.
Our Score : ***
OK, let’s do just one last Santa Terezinha…
The Cachaça: Santa Terezinha Carvalho
Origin: Espirito Santo
Distilled: n.i. – pot still
Maturation: 3 years first fill American oak
The Nose: soft vegetal with a very pleasant floral perfume. I have sultanas, a bit of bourbon vanilla, coconut and a cognac like flavour. Nice and elegant, soft and easy. A really inviting nose.
The Taste: medium sweet with lots of wood – this really seems to be a distillery signature. The taste actually contrasts a lot with the nose. Where the nose indicates a floral, soft and easy going cachaça, the taste is firm with big wood.
Finish: again very woody and bitter, quickly dropping.
In the relatively small State of Espirito Santo near the Atlantic coastline, the Santa Terezinha distillery started production in 1942. Santa Terezinha is an artisan distillery working with respect for the environment. We’ve seen it all before with other distilleries: manual harvesting without burning the fields, swift pressing of the cane, the bagaço that is being used to heat up the copper pot stills (direct heating), and so on. But what makes Santa Terezinha really different is the particular way of fermenting the calda.
Once the juice or calda has been extracted, an equal amount of boiled sugarcane juice is added. To that mixture, the distiller also adds roasted and grinded bagaço (the dried sugarcane stems) as well as cornflower. To bring this mixture to the right temperature, a big stone is heated and then dropped into the mixing tank. In the meantime leaves of oranges and tangerines are being burned over a fire next to the tank, to clean or to purify the air. After four to five days, the mixture is all ready to go into the fermentation tanks. There it still takes an exceptional four to five days of fermentation to get the garapa ready. Once distilled, 80% of the spirit is used as coração.
All this means a very complex and time consuming method, combining the old traditions from back in those days when slaves made the cagaça with traditional European methods from the viniculture, brought to Brazil by European immigrants.
The Santa Terezinha cachaça is then matured in casks or tuns of oak, jequitiba rosa, bálsamo, umburana, or sassafras. Labels and boxes are often designed by famous Brazilian artists like Hélio Coelho and Haroldo Bussotti, making the bottles also real collector’s items.
The Cachaça: Santa Terezinha Serie Artes
Region: Espirito Santo
Distilled: pot still – lot 2017
Matured: amburana, 6 months
The Nose is rather elegant with soft vegetal aromas of fermenting most and a pleasant and again rather soft herbal touch. Also hints of sweet hay in good balance with a touch of white pepper and fresh sugarcane. Give it a good 15 minutes in the glass and it becomes more floral (rose petals)
The Taste is a bit sweet and rather vegetal on the first impression. As it was with the sassafras version, the second impression is more woody, but this time not as bitter. Some very subtle cinnamon (I suppose these amburana casks are really old, not giving much flavour anymore). Firm sugarcane and a delicate fruitiness reminding me a bit of sweet red fruits.
The Finish is rather woody with a sweet note, and is medium long. Slowly drying towards the end with soft-bitter wood but no aggressive tannins.
We already tried many cachaças on all different kinds of wood, but we never had the opportunity to taste one matured on sassafras wood. Ocotea Odorifea or Canela-Sassafras is a native Brazilian tree rich on safrol: an aromatic ether used as disinfectant and as oil in cosmetics. It can also be found in black pepper, cinnamon or basilicum. Sassafras oil was once the chief ingredient of American root beer. Today, the use of sassafras oil is forbidden in the USA.
The Cachaça: Santa Terezinha Serie Gourmet Sassafras
Origin : Espirito Santo
Distilled : Potstill – 2012
Bottled : 2015 (lot 03/15)
Matured : Sassafras
ABV : 38%
The Nose is rather light and subtle for a cachaça, but still very rich. There are some slightly sour touches, some Black Cavendish tobacco (Alsbo Black) and strong fruity aromas of dried figs and raisins. After about 10 minutes also some cold coffee. Leave it for another 10 minutes and it gets more vegetal, grassy with hints of wet hay.
The taste is a bit strange. I mean…you have some whiskies or rums that start sweet or fruity and go towards strong bitterness of the wood towards the end. Here, the wood comes right in the middle. The first impression is a bit sweet, quickly followed by this bitter woody notes. But at the end of the palate the fruity sweetness makes its comeback. I checked some other cachaças matured on the same wood, and they all have a shorter maturation time (12-18 months). It would be interesting to compare, because it’s my impression that 3 years was a bit too much. The bitter woody notes are overpowering the elegant character of the cachaça itself.
The finish (medium long to long) is woody but now with more sugarcane juice and most, evolving towards a subtle sweetness again.