Rum Review : Renegade Pre-cask series

Yet another long interval splits two of my reviews. I’m sensing a theme here.

This time, to make up lost time and reviews, I’ll be tasting the range of THE hottest new thing in rum. Renegade rum’s pre-casks. Well… when I say, the hottest new thing I basically mean; a new brand, new distillery but one with massive respect for older practices.

Renegade is the new venture of Mark Reynier, the man who brought Bruichladdich back to what it is today and who created the Irish Whisky distillery of Waterford. A whisky mirroring the world of wine in many senses. From its single farm expressions to the Organically and Biodynamically grown barley for their respective whiskies and eventually the Cuvées and Micro-Cuvées. Selecting the best fields, barley, and maturation that give -supposedly- the best whisky.

But this is not about whisky. we’re talking rum here. Renegade has the same general idea as Waterford. Creating a spirit that differs noticeably from terroir to terroir. Terroir is a principle mainly connected with wine and its grapes. The idea is that the environment is very important for the characteristics in the grapes that are grown in certain regions, this entails: soil, temperature, sunlight, water, moisture,… It’s a very significant part of wine-making as the end result (wine) lies very close to its raw material (grapes). In distillates, the idea of terroir has always been seen as mumbo-jumbo, something for the marketeers.

This is what Mr. Reynier is trying to disprove. He’s made it his mission to prove terroir makes an actual difference. I won’t judge on his endeavors in whisky here. But let’s see what these principles bring to rum. And he’s doing it in Grenada, the home of River Antoine. A location chosen by the wide variety of landscapes that should let the Terroir shine through.

I’ll be trying 5 rums, all of which are completely unaged and at 50% ABV:

Old Bacolet: Here we have a terroir which lies on the Southern cost of the Island. It’s a flat flood plain between two rivers. The high availability of water and clay combine for a luscious growth of cane. Here they use a cane variety they call CAIN. Distillation was done by pot still.

New Bacolet: A south-facing, steep-sided, sunbaked bowl. A location with more slopes and a rougher growing location than Old Bacolet. Here they use the Lacalome Red cane variety and distil using pot stills.

Dunfermline: Dunfermline also lies on a slope, on the north-eastern coast of the Island. Here we have two expressions, both from the same field, same cane, but different distillation. One pot still, the other column still.

Pearls: On a coastal plain, with an Iron-rich Volcanic underground, the cane used here is called Yellow Lady and the distillation is also through pot still.

 Old Bacolet (comparative tasting with New Bacolet)

Colour:

White

Nose:

Fat and sweet grass. It almost has fruity qualities, I’m getting apples, pears and even a beginning of raspberries and other red fruits. Nail polish and cleaning supplies too.

Taste:

Vey different than the nose. Here the I have some nettles, mint, and hay. The cleaning supplies turned to metal. A mix of sweet and salt. Very punchy.

Finish:

Long finish with little development. The freshness lasts for quite a while without revealing a lot of new flavours

New Bacolet (comparative tasting with Old Bacolet)

Colour:

See-through

Nose:

Much more “classic” Agricole nose. Fresher and minty with a considerable amount of minerals. Scallops, dill, and seaweed.

Taste:

Still has a very dry taste. Very fresh with lots of citrus. Grass in a glass. This reminds me of a good Marie-Galante rum. Also some olive brine after a bit.

Finish:

Also quite long with much of the same characteristics hanging on. These Bacolets are similar in flavour development, yet they do have very different “base flavours”

Dunfermline: Colum still (comparative tasting with Pot Still)

Colour:

Never saw a cask in its life

Nose:

Smells like the fruits & vegetable department of my local supermarket. Fresh salads mixed with a hint of summer-y fruits and some low-fat Greek yogurt.

Taste:

Fresh , pointy. White peppers combined disinfected grass. A bit harsh and extremely aggressive on the palate. It tastes as though it’ll be extremely proficient against Covid.

Finish:

Due to the intensity and sharpness of the rum, this lingers for a while. Perhaps a bit too long. Let’s quickly get to the Pot Still.

Dunfermline: Pot Still (comparative tasting with Collumn Still)

Colour:

Water-like

Nose:

Much fuller than its columned companion. This reminds me of the Providence First drops. Meat, olives, grass that’s been lying in the sun for a couple of days.

Taste:

Much better and well-balanced as well. It’s rather fat and really sticks to the palate. The meat takes a step back to expose the fresher elements more, but it still provides a nice coating for a gentle experience. Though it still has some peppers, it’s a benefit here as it complements the complexity instead of adding aggressiveness like with the column distilled sibling.

Finish:

The finish here is medium-long and adds some subtle smoky notes. I’m very curious what a cask will do with this.

Pearls

Colour:

Glass, but liquid (I’ve run out of ways to say it looks clear)

Nose:

Very funky, overripe everything. Some Jamaican funk. Marinated meat and olives overwhelm me with the first sniff. After a while, the nose opens up nicely to reveal some red fruits; raspberry’s, blueberry’s and even some strawberry’s

Taste:

Same funky qualities, this could easily compete with the Jamaican heavy-hitters. Lots of minerality as well. At first, there’s a lot of full flavours, the meat and mineral rocks are very prevalent at the start. only towards the end do the vegetal qualities start coming through.

Finish:

Here I’m getting that transition from full and fat to grassy and fresh. It never fully changes but this gives it a nicely complex and lasting finish. I guess this tasting was really building up to a climax.

Conclusion :

Overall, the tasting notes here are almost identical with every rum. This is of course normal as they’re so closely related and all unaged. It was mainly the balance and depth of those similar flavours that sets them apart and makes some great and others not so much. Let’s give out some points. Old and New Bacolet were decent enough but will have to develop with ageing to stand out. Dunfermline column was sharp and aggressive, not my thing. Things really got good at the Dunfermline Pot still and the Pearls. Both rums with something special going on. Full-bodied and with a varying degree of funkiness.

Old Bacolet: 7/10

New Bacolet: 7/10

Dunfermline Column: 5/10

Dunfermline Pot: 7.5/10

Pearls: 8/10

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