• Ivar

Guadeloupe 1998 - Plantation & Cadenhead & Duncan Taylor - Rum Review

Updated: Jan 12, 2020

I recently visited my friend Steve Leukanech in Florida, a long time spirits collector with an incredible nose and palate. He has a great collection and I was thrilled by the prospect of tasting new (to me) rum and to pick up some tips and tricks from his vast experience.


Steve gave me permission to go through his liquor cabinets. This really made me into a kid in a candy store. I figured I’d find 5 bottles I really wanted to try. I was wrong. Within no time there were 15 bottles on the table and I kept adding. Luckily I was there for 4 days! Over the course of a long weekend we tasted many different expressions, from Armagnac to cognac to bourbon to 40 year old port….and of course a lot of rum.


We had talked about doing a proper tasting together for Rum Revelations. With that in mind I was looking for a couple of bottles to do a comparative tasting. There were a few interesting options, with one standing out from the crowd. He had 3 different bottles of Guadeloupe rum from 1998. Duncan Taylor, Cadenhead and Plantation. Bingo!


Photo: Steve Leukanech

When it comes to rum from Bellevue in Guadeloupe it can get a little tricky. There is a Bellevue distillery on Marie Galante. Then there is Damoiseau, which is on the Bellevue estate on Grand-Terre, the eastern half of Guadeloupe proper. It’s not always clear which Bellevue is in the bottle. Next to that, there are conflicting stories about the 1998 Guadeloupe releases. There are quite a lot of them through independent bottlers. Plantation states it’s rhum agricole, but that they couldn’t label it as such:”according to the AOC, limited quotas of rum produced in Guadeloupe and Martinique can bear the “rhum agricole” label. This rum was simply over quota, so it could not bear that name.”


A totally different angle is the idea that a large batch of 1998 molasses rum was sold in bulk by Damoiseau. It was sold to Scheer, the world’s largest rum broker. Plantation is a regular customer of Scheer. The guys at Single Cask Rum have a very interesting article on this, in which Hervé Damoiseau shares some insight into the sale of this particular 1998 batch.


To make it even more complicated we felt they somewhat tasted like a molasses and cane juice blend. As with many things in rum, it’s hard to get all the facts. Which story is true? I don’t know, you decide.


Facts-ish


Cadenhead

Distillery: “Bellevue distillery”

Age: 17 years

Abv: 54.3%

Still: Column


Duncan Taylor

Distillery: “Bellevue distillery”

Age: 18 years. Distilled 03/98, bottled 02/17

Abv: 52.8%

Still: Column


Plantation

Age: It is suggested it’s 12 years, including one year in Ferrand cognac casks

Abv: 42%










Nose


Cadenhead

Similar to the other two but with some candle wax included. It’s slightly sharper and shows some furniture polish as well. Dirtier. Sweet scents combined with agricole like features.


Duncan Taylor

Bigger, more confident but not hot. Shows the most wood on the nose. Floral, cinnamon, Christmas spice, earth, chocolate, tobacco and wood. No one thing dominates.


Plantation

Strikingly similar to the DT, but a softer, less sharp version. Less complex.


Taste


Cadenhead

It’s dirty, farmy, tart and sweet. We both wrote down the word “agricole” and then wondered if this might be a sugar cane juice/molasses blend. Great long finish, showing sweetness, astringency and spices. Good fun!