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Review 3: Velier Uitvlugt ULR 1997 (59.7%)

As you may have read in a previous post we got to try this rum at Merchant house a few days ago. We were excited as it’s a very rare rum. In fact from what we have been told there were less than 1500 bottles ever of this particular rum. This was due to the Angels Share being over 75%! That’s a huge loss and understandable as to why there were only a small number of bottles.

This was bottled at the Uitvlugt (pronounced “eye-flat”) French Savalle four-column still in Guyana, in 1997 when it was still functioning (it was shut down in 2000). To find out more about demerara distillers in Guyana please read this article Demerara Distillers: Guyanese Rum.

The final thing we noticed was that this rum is bottles at a strength of 59.7%. Very strong and yet from what I had read on this rum was intrigued to find out how this strength would translate through the rum.

The black bottle as you can see if very simple and clean. There is a lot of detail on the label of the bottle explaining some of the finer details of the complex rum. A lovely cork sits in the lid and gives in a lovely feel when opening.

On the pour of the rum we notice it’s a red gold colour, like a light mahogany. In the glass it is not very thick or viscous, which is as expected. On first sniff, we were careful not to inhale too deeply due to the strength of the rum. We get a fruity hit, pineapples and apricots, but not too intensely. Next we find an introduction to tobacco followed by something earthy and wooden. Very complex and intense nose to start with.

The first sip and the level of alcohol is immediately apparent. The rum is ordering you to pay attention! Too big a sip, or dragging in too much air with the sip and you will know about it! We get the fruit I smelt on the nose next. Very clear and maybe with added peaches. However, we don’t taste any tobacco like on the nose, but that earthy taste comes back from the nose. The viscosity of the rum covers your mouth well and now we get a delicious spicy finish with dried raisins. What a taste with genuine surprise at how well these flavours combine.

Then we decide to cautiously swallow the rum the fruits follow a very warming feeling. To finish on pineapple and apricots is definitely a good thing. Taste buds active and demanding more, next we give the rum a couple of minutes to sit before going for the second taste.

After sitting for a period the fruits are still very clear on the taste buds. Very light and refreshing. The earthy tones have dulled slightly now. The finish again very warming and fruity, this time we can taste a hint of tobacco but nothing that dulls the fruits.

Overall this is a rum for true enthusiasts. Probably too harsh for the newer drinker who we feel would find the taste of the overproof too intense. However, by showing this rum some respect you are rewarded with a rum that is not only delicious, but very refreshing and highly drinkable.

Fans of other Demerara rums such as El Dorado will definitely enjoy this if they can get hold of it. Not too full bodied like the Jamaican rums for example and not quite as light as the Cuban side, but sat in-between with a fruity taste that will leave you reaching for another glass straight away. Just be careful not to get carried away, not many of these bottles remain!

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Merchant House Bar

A couple of days ago we had the opportunity to visit Merchant House in London, who claim to have one of the largest collections of Rum (and Gin) in the World. As you can imagine, we were excited when a friend suggested it to us. It has been on the to-do list recently and we jumped at the opportunity.

The bar is downstairs with the entrance and small shop upstairs. The shop has a few bottles of spirits for sale including the St Nicholas Abbey 10 year which can be difficult to get hold of. The cocktail bar is downstairs and has a variety of bottles along the walls and in cabinets throughout to entice those who even have a passing care in them.

After speaking to the bartender we decided to start with a Botran 12 year (made in Guatemala) and have a look through their collection on the shelves and cabinets to see if they had anything we hadn’t seen before or anything they would recommend to an enthusiast like myself. A quick look round left us a tad disappointed with the selection. They had a large collection indeed, but nothing we didn’t own or hadn’t tried before. Nothing rare or unique jumped out at the team.

After a quick chat with the lovely and very knowledgeable Welsh waitress Daisy, she asked if we had seen their special cabinet at the back of the bar. It contained their rarest and most expensive spirit selection and had quite a few unique rums and she was sure there would be a few we hadn’t seen or tried. She was right.

The cabinet contained quite a few rare rums including Uitvlugt 1997 ULR (59.7%) from the Demerara distillers in Guyana (also home to El Dorado), a selection of Samaroli rum (This company is originally from Italy and the rum is matured in Scotland), Damoiseau Rhum Vieux Millesime 1991 from Guadalupe and Black Tot last Consignment. A proud selection indeed!

We decided to try the Uitvlugt 1997 ULR (review here), and then enjoyed a cocktail of the bartenders choosing which was his personal twist on a Dark ‘n’ Stormy (n.b. wasn’t called a dark ‘n’ stormy). We also decided to try the Empire Old Fashioned with different bases of rums and under guidance used Botran 12 and Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva.

Overall it’s an excellent bar with a superb variety of rums available. If you are in London we highly recommend a visit. Great atmosphere, great location and great rum, what more do you need?