Bellevue 1998 (The Dutchess)

Review 2017-059 «Specifics» Rum • Vintage 1998 • Bottled in 2017 • Distilled using column still from molasses • 54.5% Alcohol • Matured in Europe (?) for 19 years in an undisclosed type of cask (#22) • Non-chill filtered? • Natural coloured • Sourced from Bellevue Distillery (Sainte-Marie, Guadeloupe) • Bottled by The Duchess • Amsterdam • The Netherlands • Limited availability (303 bottles) • Still available in the Netherlands (price €100)

STORY. The Duchess is a recently founded independent bottler from the Netherlands that is associated with the bestofwines liquor store located in the village of Bussum. After releasing a couple of single malt whiskies, this is their first single cask rum. Not much more to write about them, therefore we focus on what the rum is actually sourced from. A mysterious rum, as it is not from Bellevue Distillery located on Marie-Galante, the sister isle of Guadeloupe, as you would probably expect based on the label. In fact, it originates from Longeuteau Distillery on Guadeloupe, whose domaine is called Bellevue. Longeuteau normally produces a light style of rhum agricole from sugar cane, however, when sugar cane is not available they switch to molasses for a short period. The molasses-based rum is labeled as Bellevue, to not confuse it with their house style, and sold to independent bottlers all over the world. I think most independent bottlers have had one of these, and always from 1998, except Velier who started the run with another vintage year. I wonder, why always 1998, what happened with the Bellevue distilled in other years? Sherlock, please leave me your phone number.

TASTING NOTES

APPEARANCE. Artistic and beautiful design, colour of the contents is leather brown and cask coloured.

NOSE. Oriental spices, rotten fruits and molasses mingle into a beautiful whirlwind of scents. This is strong, complex and deep. The wood influence is evident, but the strength of the distillate is certainly not tempered. Dark chocolate, old varnished wood, pure cinnamon powder, balsamic vinegar and in between I find some bread notes. (water) Much gentler now with a combination of spices (ginger, cinnamon, pepper, garlic, cumin), overripe bananas, orange skin, burned brown sugar and bitter walnuts. Perhaps some pencil shavings (but in a good way).

TASTE. The palate delivers olives, balsamic, bitter chocolate, ristretto, ginger and artichoke. Full-on, but balanced, and drying.  (water) Beautiful balance between the sweet, spicy and bitter side. Lots of dark chocolate, expresso, olives in balsamic, garlic, ginger and a slightly salty aftertaste. Yes there is definitely some coastality (is this a word, don’t think so). Pumpernickel bread, soya sauce, curry, orange skin, walnut oil. I detect some strong herbs, which I cannot directly pin down. Finishes very strong on balsamic, olive oil and orange. Drying.

VERDICT. I previously tasted a sample from Sansibar that I liked very much, but silly me, I was too slow to purchase a bottle. However, this is just as brilliant. Personally, I prefer the Bellevue 1998 to the sought-after, and mostly overpriced, Caroni’s. But still, where have the other Bellevue vintages gone?

Recommended for serious rum enthusiasts or those who love the real heavy sherried malts

I purchased my bottle from Van Zuylen.

«What others say»

  • @Whiskyloving: “A rich expression, really liking this rum a lot”
MY SCORE
Nose
88 %
Taste
89 %
Balance
87.5 %
Depth
88.5 %
Price
87 %