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Old Monk Supreme Rum (Very Old Vatted)

Review: Old Monk Supreme Rum  (Very Old Vatted)     88/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted March 19, 2015

Old Monk is a dark rum brand produced by Mohan Meakin Limited in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. According to the information I received from the importer (and which I gleaned from Wikipedia), their Old Monk Supreme is a molasses distilled rum, which although it carries no age statement, will have been aged for approximately 12 years in oak casks (in the tropical climate of India). It is sold as a special limited edition bottling sitting perhaps slightly up the rungs of the Old Monk ladder from the (previously reviewed) Old Monk Gold Reserve Rum (12 Years Blended) and certainly as a more premium version of the (previously reviewed) Old Monk Very Old Vatted Rum (7 Years Old Blended).

The Old Monk brand receives very little attention from the press, and does not appear to be represented in any advertising campaigns which I have seen. Rather Old Monk relies upon word of mouth and customer loyalty for its sales. Word of mouth must be good as this rum is (again according to information I received) the second largest selling  dark rum in the world.

(Note: India is a huge market for rum, and there is only a small presence of foreign brands on the sub-continent. Based solely upon sales in the home market, this would certainly be a believable statement. In fact the largest selling dark rum brand is also a rum produced in India, McDowell’s No.1 Celebration Rum.)

I was sent a sample bottle of Old Monk Supreme Rum (Very Old Vatted) by the local Alberta distributor, Madira Spirits Inc. and asked if I could provide a review here on my website. I was more than happy to oblige.

old monk spremeIn the Bottle 4.5/5

To the left is a bottle shot of the Old Monk Supreme. The bottle is kind of kitchy as it is in the shape of an Old Monk complete with a removable head which hides the metal screw-cap. The presentation is humourous and it serves the purpose of catching everyone’s eye when you take the rum out to serve it. My only quibble with the presentation is with the metallic screw cap under the Monk’s head. I would have preferred a more durable and better sealing plastic screw cap.

In the Glass 8.5/10

It was inevitable, as I have samples of the entire old Monk portfolio available in Alberta, that I would compare the Old Monk Supreme to both the Old Monk Gold Reserve, and the Old Monk Very Old Vatted Rum. Visually the rums are very similar, each displaying themselves as rich dark brown coloured rums with coppery hues that flash in the light. When each of my sample glasses are tilted and twirled, each shows a similar moderately thick sheen of rum which gives up a few lonely fat legs. It seems that the producers of Old Monk have a certain visual profile they like to project, and all of their rums (regardless of where they sit upon the Old Monk ladder) are produced to the same visual specification.

Differences begin to show themselves when I bring the glencairn to my nose and inspect the breezes above the glass. With each rum, the breezes above the glass are filled with impressions of dark brown sugar and maple as well as rich baking spices (vanilla, some spicy cinnamon and cloves, and a bit of pungent nutmeg). The Gold Reserve and the Supreme however, each bring forward a drier, spicier aromatic profile with less astringency and more evidence of oak spice. Separating the differences between the Supreme and the Gold reserve is more difficult than separating the differences between the flagship brand, Old Monk Very Old Vatted, and the two more premium brands. However just as the Gold Reserve was noticeably less sweet than the Old Monk Very Old (7 Year Rum), the Supreme is also a touch less sweet than the Gold Reserve. It appears that as you climb the ladder of Old Monk Rums, the reliance on molasses and caramel in the flavour profile of the rum diminishes, and the effects of maturation upon the rum within oak barrels is allowed to influence the rum more and more.

Although I like the nose of the Old Monk Supreme slightly better than the other two Old Monk Rums, I have come to the conclusion that the subtle differences do not warrant a higher score in this section of the review. (And in fact is almost a dead heat between the Gold Reserve and the Supreme.)

In the Mouth  53/60

As I sip on each rum, I find that again the two more premium rums each have a drier, spicier flavour profile than their 7-year-old sibling. The differences in taste profile between Supreme and the Old Monk Gold Reserve are however, very difficult to tease out. After several tasting sessions I decide that the major difference is not in flavour, but rather in the amount of astringency each rum brings across the palate. While it would be difficult to claim either rum has any significant amount of harshness, nevertheless the Old Monk Supreme seems to be just a little smoother than the Old Monk Gold Reserve.

Molasses flavours dominate the Old Monk Supreme with dry peppery wood spices adding additional character. These wood spices carry elements of cinnamon, clove, dry tobacco, and hot black pepper. As the glass sits and the rum is allowed to evolve, I begin to taste dark brown sugar mixed with baking spices and vanilla, as well as strong cocoa flavours, cola, and black tea. These flavour descriptors are practically identical to the Gold Reserve Rum, and as I indicated the only substantive difference between the two rums appears to be that the Old Monk Supreme is just a little smoother (and perhaps a hair less sweet).

In the Throat 13.5/15

The Old Monk Supreme is perhaps just a touch drier in the finish than the old Monk Gold Reserve. However the flavours in the finish are again very similar, with hints of licorice and the lightly bitter flavour of walnuts followed by a nice glow of woodspice and cinnamon. After the rum is swallowed, I taste lingering flavours of brown sugar, vanilla and tobacco.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The difference between the Old Monk Supreme and the previously reviewed Old Monk Gold Reserve amount to a very subtle difference in style, and it may even be that the two rums are the same, and that the differences I am noting are more a result of batch variation than of any substantive difference between the two rums. Having said that, I did feel during the review process that the Supreme Rum was of slightly higher quality, but the difference was so minor than I have scored each rum identically in all areas of the review except for the bottle presentation. In that area of the review the old Monk Supreme is clearly superior.

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.


Suggested Chocolate Pairing

Varlhona Chocolate Selection SAM_1467Last fall, I received a small box filled with different chocolate samples. All of the chocolates within the box were from the French premium chocolate manufacturer Valrhona. Since 1922, Valrhona has been creating special chocolate from selected rare cocoas from around the world. As each selected cacao has its own unique taste characteristic, Valrhona is able to create a variety of special chocolates to choose from depending upon your mood and food selections. The sample box provides very taste descriptors for each chocolate, and when you taste the small bits of cacao it is indeed possible to taste whispers of the indicated flavours within the intense chocolate (and sometimes I taste other whispers as well). As I have quite a few of these samples, I thought it would be interesting to provide the  occasional chocolate pairing for a few of the rums I review.

Lait JivariFor the Old Monk Supreme Rum, I selected the Valrhona Lait Jivari.  This Valrhona chocolate is created using cocoa from Ecuador with added malt. It is a creamy, smooth milk chocolate carries perhaps a hint of vanilla within its flavour profile. I found the creamy milk chocolate was a very nice foil for the dry, flavourful Old Monk Rum.


My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

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