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Penny Blue XO Single Estate Mauritius Rum (Batch #002)

Review: Penny Blue XO Single Estate Mauritius Rum (Batch #002)    89/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published July 16, 2015

Berry Bros. & Rudd is one of London’s oldest Wine and Spirits Merchant with over 300 years of experience and tradition from which to draw upon. The company began its operation at 3 – St. James’s Street (in London, UK) in 1698, and still operates from that same location today. Although they are primarily merchants of wine, the company has a strong presence in the sale of distilled spirits as well. And in fact, this presence within the spirits industry had its beginnings approximately 100 years ago. (The Cutty Sark brand was developed by Berry Bros & Rudd in 1923.)

I was able to obtain a sample of Penny Blue XO Single Estate Mauritius Rum, from the Western Canadian distributor Charton Hobbs. This spirit is produced by the Indian Ocean Rum Company which is a partnership between the local Medine Distillery on the Island of Mauritius and the aforementioned Berry Bros. & Rudd Spirits. Penny Blue is a true Mauritian Rum, distilled from the locally produced molasses from the Medine Distillery’s home-grown sugar cane.

According to the information provided to me, only 7000 bottles of Batch #002 were produced from 22 oak casks. Thirty percent of the rum was drawn from ex-Whisky casks, thirty percent from ex-Bourbon Casks, and 30 percent from ex-Cognac casks. The ages of these rums varied between 5 to 11 years. An astute person will note that this accounts for only ninety percent of the rum. The final ten percent of the rum was actually a portion drawn from Batch #001 which was added to the blend for additional flavour and complexity. After blending the rum is bottled at the Medine Estate. This bottling strength may vary slightly from batch to batch, and Batch #002 was bottled at 43.2% alcohol by volume.

bottleIn the Bottle 5/5

‘Penny Blue’ in case you did not know refers to the postage stamp which you can see on the front label of the rum. This happens to be a postage stamp with its own story which began in 1847 when Sir William Gomm became Governor of Mauritius. The Governor who wanted the Island to produce their own Postage stamps commissioned a local engraver 500 one penny and 500 two pence postage stamps (the famous Penny Blue). A printing error of the two pence stamp was spotted, but not before Lady Gomm had used the new stamps to send out invitation cards to a fancy ball the Gomms were hosting. Of the 500 Penny Blues which were made, only 12 are known to have survived to the present day, and in 1993, one of those stamps sold at auction for $1.4 million dollars. This makes the Penny Blue one of the world’s most expensive stamps and one of Mauritius most iconic symbols.

The name and the label of the Mauritian Rum honors the Penny Blue stamp and serves to tie the rum firmly to its Mauritian identity. I love the bottle, the label and everything I see with respect to how this rum is presented.

In the Glass 8.5/10

According to the information I have received (and according to the label) the colour we see in the glass is the natural colour of the rum with no additives, and when I poured myself a small sample in my glencairn, I found this colour is a pleasing amber/caramel with a light reddish/orange tint. I took a little time to tilt my glass and give it a slow swirl. A slick oily sheen was apparent which held back for a moment, but then released long slender legs back into the rum. This is a slightly overproof rum with an alcohol strength of 43.2 % which causes an initial push of alcohol heat to rise into the air. However this push doesn’t last for long, and so we are able to enjoy sweet scents of butterscotch, oak spice, and vanilla drifting upwards into the air above the glass.

The butterscotch aroma is accented by hints of tobacco and leather, and the oak spice brings impressions of orange peel and baking spice (in particular cinnamon and bits of nutmeg). There is an underlying impression of almond as well as a few floral notes. The overall impression I have is that the rum promises to be quite pleasant with perhaps just a touch of heat to add to its character.

In the Mouth 53.5/60

Sweet flavours of butterscotch lead out with a bit of heated spice following along just behind. As I sip, the rum heats my palate with a combination of light alcohol heat and orange and banana peel spiciness. There is a nice sweep of vanilla and light building up of cinnamon and brown sugar. There is perhaps a touch more heated spice than I expected; but this heated flavours is well-balanced by the lightly sweet butterscotch. There are also some nice subtle nuances which are adding depth and character to the sipping experience. I notice a mild winding grassy flavour within the rum and lightly nutty almond presence. A light herbal sensation reminiscent of menthol, and vague impressions of pine and heather round out the rum.

With a little added ice, the rum becomes even more enjoyable. I notice the orange peel has moved to orange marmalade, and a nice creaminess has been brought forward by the cold ice. Hints of milk chocolate can be deciphered and perhaps a little coffee and cola as well.

The pleasant impressions of the nose have been confirmed, and I am enjoying the Single Estate Mauritius Penny Blue XO Rum from Batch #002.

In the Throat 13/15

If you take your time and sip the rum slowly, the lingering finish is quite nice. This exit is dominated by butterscotch and orange peel, but lighter nuances of vanilla and baking spice also tickle the throat. Things are perhaps a little hot, but pleasantly so.
When ice is added, a lovely trail of milk chocolate appears to compliment the finish.

The Afterburn 9/10

I was quite excited when I discovered I was going to receive a sample of rum which was produced in Mauritius. I had no idea that this small Island country in the Indian Ocean (near Madagascar) even existed, let alone produced rum. Being able to explore spirits from different areas of the world is one of the great benefits of being an online reviewer.

I am happy to say that the excitement which I felt when I received my sample bottle was equaled by the reward inside the bottle. The Penny Blue XO Single Estate Mauritius Rum (from Batch #002) is definitely a worthwhile indulgence, and I am hopeful of finding another bottle to add to my collection of fine rums.

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

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Suggested Recipe:

Rum Club Cocktail SAM_1662The Rum Club Cocktail

2 oz Penny Blue Rum
1/4 oz Orange Curacao
1/4 oz tsp Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 tsp Sugar Syrup
1 dash Fees Bitters
1 dash Maraschino Liqueur
Ice
Sugar
Lemon Peel
Splash Ginger-ale

Add the first six ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the sides frost
Rim the edge of a chilled cocktail glass with a lemon slice and dip it in sugar
Strain the contents of the shaker into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with lemon peel and a lump of ice
Complete with Ginger-ale

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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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.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

 
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