Saint Lucia Distillers – Chairmans Reserve: Legacy

Seasons greetings!

I kept meaning and kept meaning to add to the site – now I’ve blinked and it’s December! Procrastination, thy name is RumLondon. I’m genuinely sorry you’ve not been subject to my terribel gremmar and awful, punctuation – but we’ve probably all suffered enough in 2020 amirite?

Fear not however – I’m back and I’ll probably never leave you again.
The subject of todays review is a new addition to the core range for SLD and one that’s been infiltrating my social media posts for a month or so now. It’s called Chairmans Reserve Legacy and through, what I can only assume was a terrible misunderstanding of how small I am in the world of rum and rum reviews, I was very kindly sent a bottle of it by Dave Marsland, UK Brand Ambassador for Chairmans Reserve.

I’d like to take a minute (just sit right there) to talk about this package that turned up at my doorstep just under a week ago. Not only did it comprise the bottle in the picture above, but also 4 pipette bottles, housing each of the different rums that make up the final blend and a very informative pamphlet.
As if that wasn’t cool enough, I somehow found myself sitting in a Zoom call with Dave (I can call him that now, he’s seen my face), Margaret Monplaisir (Managing Director of SLD) and Deny Duplessis (Master Blender of SLD), along with several notable rum BA’s and reviewers.

And then there was me (I?).

Once I’d manage to silently squash my rapidly inflating impostor syndrome, we were treated to a really brilliant presentation on the history of the distillery, it’s stills and the reason behind this new release.

Long time followers of this blog (lolz) may recall the review I did on the Forgotten Cask release (link here). Whilst I covered a little background there, I thought it’d be nice to do a bit more of a distillery deep dive for this one, armed with the knowledge gained from listening to Messrs Monplaisir and Duplessis.

First thing off the bat is to say that this blend is a homage to SLD’s dearly departed Chairman, Laurie Barnard, who passed in 2012. He had a vision to innovate beyond the predominant column still/molasses mentality of the time and was a driving force in the creation of the Chairmans Reserve brand. He also oversaw the planting of sugar cane fields on the distillery premises, invested in new pot stills and, as we heard, was always chasing down new ideas for cask aging.

This product is composed of rums aged between 51/2 and 7 years before being blended; 72% Coffey (column) still, 16% John Dore 2, 4% Vendome (whose single still expressions have a bit of a cult following) and – uniquely to the Chairmans range – 8% John Dore 1 made with sugarcane juice. That’s right; an agricole component!
The bottling is released at 43% and comes in a pale yellow/magnolia cardboard box whose design mirrors that of the bottle inside.

On to the review then, eh?

Presentation – The addition of the box marks this as a slightly special purchase, inside is the usual 70cl stubby bottle with a much lighter label, Laurie Barnards’ portrait and the distillery, both in grayscale and a synthetic cork stopper with plastic top. ABV is, as mentioned, 43%.

Nose – Brown butter, ginger, toffee, jaggery and a menthol/pine resin trailing at the end, perhaps thanks to the cane juice inclusion. It’s not a complex nasal assault in the way of a Jamaican funk bomb or young agricole (it’s predominantly column still remember) but it’s….inviting. This is a pleasure to smell.

Palate –At the front is some lemon and freshness. The mid-palate develops a more rounded brown sugar and vanilla (is that a creme brulee technically?), toasted coconut and oak, before a little lightening with mint and then trailing off into that oak, now with some ginger and spice.

Finish – Medium length, moreish. I keep heading back to the glass and it’s empty FAR too soon

Scores on the door:

Presentation: 5/5
Nose: 7/10
Taste: 17/20
Finish: 7/10
Value for money: 5/5

Total: 41/50

Notes: I’m somewhat of a SLD newbie; prior to this one I’ve only had the Forgotten Cask which I loved. This, I feel, surpasses it and is destined to become one of my “must haves” – even better then, that this is part of the core range going forwards. It’s retailing at a ridiculous £38.95 currently at Royal Mile Whiskies. I would, hand on heart, recommend this to anyone looking to pick up a quality, affordable rum.

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