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Chairman's Reserve Single Cask Rum Review

I can’t deny I have a soft spot for Saint Lucia Distillers. I’ve written about them in more detail here and here. Their basic Chairman’s Reserve was my introduction and got me interested to look further into their expressions. That brought me to the St Lucia releases from independent bottler Hamilton. Oh my word! Some of the best rum I’ve ever had! The sentence “pure Vendome pot still rum” has been engraved in my brain since then. I’ll buy it whenever I come across it.


There lies the problem though, I don’t come across it much. There is not a lot of pure Vendome rum being made unfortunately. The Hamilton St Lucias are as good as gone and since Saint Lucia Distillers doesn’t sell any bulk rum anymore, there won’t be any of them in the future either. Luckily, the Chairman’s Reserve brand has been expanded a lot. There are many store picks and single barrel releases out there under the CR banner. From pure pot still (John Dore) to pot and column blends to…..the very occasional pure Vendome expression. A few months ago I tasted a Chairman’s Vendome and it was sublime. I haven’t been able to buy a bottle unfortunately.


Of course I can drown myself in my own tears when it comes to not being able to buy St Lucia Vendome rum, which I do from time to time…..BUT…..even though I think that’s the best of their output, it doesn’t mean the rest isn’t worth looking at. On the contrary! For example, the two we are checking out here. Both are single cask releases, picked by Binny’s in Chicago. For those who don’t know, Binny’s is a liquor store Valhalla in Chicago, which seems especially impressive when you live in Toronto and are used to the mediocre LCBO inventory. I saw the bottles on their website and thought:”I NEED this!”. I bet that feeling is familiar to many people reading this. First question though:”How?”. Luckily for me, a very friendly rum connection in Chicago was willing to buy both bottles and send them to a friend in the US, who I was about to visit. He gave me a generous sample of one bottle, and I took the other. I love how rum people are willing to help others so often.


The Cast


Both are 15 year Vendome pot still & John Dore 1 pot still blends from 2005. As far as I know these are molasses rums only, no cane juice rum was blended into it. Please correct me if I'm wrong.


Bottle 1 is ex-bourbon cask number 24012000 and bottled at 60.6%.

Bottle 2 is ex-bourbon cask number 224001995 and bottled at 61.9%.



I’m going to visit the distillery soon and thought this was a nice warm up exercise. At least…..that’s my excuse for tasting these.


Nosing


Chairman’s 1

Oak, pine, menthol, vanilla, molasses. It’s a bit medicinal and sweet. Wonderfully soft and buttery.


Chairman’s 2

A little sharper, with the brightness pot turned up. A bit fruitier than 1 and has some grassy earthiness to it. It’s less on the soft molasses side than 1. Otherwise similar.

Prefer Chairman’s 1, but it’s close.


Tasting


Chairman’s 1

Holy medicinal. Woohoo! Menthol, oak, tobacco, chai tea, molasses, vanilla and lots of wood spice. Medium length, spicy finish that hints towards the bitter end of things, but is saved by the bell through a little bit of sweetness. Great rum.


Chairman’s 2

Slightly less medicinal than 1, but that profile is still present, luckily. Stronger on tobacco and a little sweeter. Lots of wood spice, combined with a good dose of sweetness. Black pepper, oak, molasses, vanilla, menthol. No bitterness. Excellent.


Conclusion


Even though these expressions aren’t pure Vendome, they are absolutely delicious. Highly skilled blending turned them into complex and delicious rums with a clear Saint Lucia Distillers signature. It’s not surprising to me, as I’ve only ever had one rum from SLD that I wasn’t impressed with. A sample of a brandy cask rum, where the cask influence was too strong for my palate. Other than that, it has always been good to excellent. These two fall in the excellent category.


I prefer Chairman’s 2, especially on the palate. No bitterness, more sweetness. I’d like a lifetime supply of it! Although, on second thought, I’d much prefer a few casks of Vendome rum. I’ll make some room in my garage, park my car outside, no problem. Leave them there for a while to add some Canadian ageing for uniqueness sake. Vendome party at my house!


Ah, it’s so good to dream!


Scores


Chairman’s Reserve Binny’s 1 – 88

Chairman’s Reserve Binny’s 2 – 92


Click here for info on the scoring method.

Click here for the complete list of reviews & scores.

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