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Samaroli 1948 West Indies Dark Rum, 49% ABV


It was only a few days ago that @masamindependentbottlers shared some photographs of the late Mr Silvano Samaroli with a selection of his bottlings when he visited Singapore, and it was by sheer coincidence that I was tasting and writing my notes for a bottle that Silvano himself had a special affection for and considered the best bottling in his career - the West Indies Dark Rum 1948.

Finding details about the rum’s provenance is a tall task considering it was distilled in 1948, and its records lost somewhere in time. But most rum bloggers whom had reviewed the West Indies before I had all point to @durhumpointcom’s conversation with Pietro Caputo, where Pietro was told by Silvano in 2016 that it was a blend of Jamaican and Martinican rums.

@rogercaroni’s interview with Maryse in 2019 further reveals that the rum was purchased from a Scottish family who had acquired it for many years, originally with ten casks of 500 litres each, of which only three casks of 488 litres remained when It was bottled in 1991, after 42 years of aging, with an outturn of 800 bottles at 49% abv.

The nose is soft and delectable, with wafts of rancio, cured meats, and rather spicy actually. It has a nice balance of depth and freshness, whereby those rancio gives the impression of an age old rum, which indeed it is, while the spiciness and fruitiness just throws you off that little bit. Further on you have tobacco, slightly herbal, which might point towards its Martinican roots, peckham pears, soy sauce, and plasticine.

The palate is sweet to taste and might perhaps point to the dominance of the Martinican agricole rum. There are many similarities with the Clement 1952, albeit less complex, red fruits, tomatoes, slight rancio but softer on the palate than on the nose. If there was a downside to the rum I would say it came across a rather thin on the texture. The finish is of red fruits, hawthorn flakes, blackberry jam, cane sugar, tobacco, just slightly dry and medium in length.

Its easy to see why the West Indies 1948 was favoured by Silvano - it is undoubtedly a venerable and beautiful rum, simple to taste yet complex in flavours, one that can be appreciated by nearly all rum drinkers no matter what their favoured profile might be. The blend was crafted in such a masterful way that the two seemed to just meld into each other, in what I would describe as a harmonious blend of flavours with elegance and maturity. And while the price of the West Indies 1948 is plenty ridiculous on the secondary market, it nonetheless stands as a testament to the legacy of Mr Silvano Samaroli, as the first rum he had ever bottled, and one of his very best.


Image Courtesy of @weixiang_liu


Your occasional rum addict!