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Rum Reviews

Two Volumes Of 100 Aspects Of The Moon: Uitvlugt 1991 31 Year Old & Diamond 2001 22 Year Old, As Selected By Precious Liquors and Stefan van Eycken

 

I'll just come out and say it - these are some of the coolest labels I've seen on rum bottles. Now, bear in mind, unlike whiskies where the label game is pretty intense, rums not so much - make what you will of that statement. The reality is that in so far as the label comes with the bottle, say what you will, it still bears some weight on how one feels about it.

These come from a series from bottler and distributor Precious Liquors titled "100 Aspects Of The Moon" wherein spirits aficionado Stefan van Eycken has been called in to help with the selection of these rums (and I'm told this series will include whiskies as well later on). Stefan is probably best known for his work in Japanese whiskies (but the man's got a ton of things he's incredibly well versed in from music to balsamic), with his work with Whisky Magazine Japan and the online editorial Nonjatta, as well as a hardcopy print Whisky Rising (you can pick it up over at Amazon), which is the most comprehensive guide to Japanese whiskies wherein he's personally visited every one of Japan's active distilleries covered in the book - which is pretty much all of them at the time of the book's print.

  

 

If you're into Japanese art, you probably immediately recognise the art on these labels and the name of the series itself should also ring a bell, quite literally being that these art prints come from Edo period Japan's last great ukiyo-e woodblock print master Yoshitoshi's "One Hundred Aspects Of The Moon" (Tsuki no Hyakushi or 月百姿 in Japanese) series which were created between 1885 to 1892. This is quite emblematic of Stefan who similarly used Yoshitoshi's "New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts" series for his ongoing and highly sought after Ghost Series bottlings of Japanese whiskies (and one gin) - you can read more about it here in a great interview with Stefan.

The Tsuki no Hyakushi or One Hundred Aspects Of The Moon contains 100 woodblock prints that included everything from famous historical and literary figures to also scenes taken from poetry of the time - all of which inextricably linked to the moon in one way or another. The idea here was to showcase a diverse interpretation, expression and representation of the moon and how people and society related to it in different ways in spite of a constant commonality - this ended up being one of Yoshitoshi's most famous collerctions.

Back in the old day, folks would apparently queue before dawn to buy each new design and would often find it sold out - guess some things don't change!

Today we'll be trying the first two volumes of the series, both Demerara rums, very well aged, sporting their respective woodblock prints, which I'll promptly talk about below.

Very excited to try these - let's get to it! Onward!

Rum Guyana Uitvlugt 1991, 31 Years Old, 100 Aspects Of The Moon Vol. 1 / Precious Liquors, Selected by Stefan Van Eycken

Volume 1 bears the artwork named "Inaba Mountain Moon (Inabayama no Tsuki)", which depicts the Siege of Inabayama Castle, a grand final battle in the legendary samurai Oda Nobunaga's (known for unifying Japan) campaign to defeat the Saito clan, whose source of power and leadership was concentrated in their mountaintop castle, and would thereby hand him control over the Mino Province of Japan. You can still visit the grand Gifu Castle today!

 

Tasting Notes

Aroma: Rather green - think pomelo rinds, watermelon rinds, green guavas, young vines, but also crushed leaves and branches, there’s a distinct bright grassy scent here. This is backed up by some more acetone note of shaving cream as well, longans, orange zest. Also a mustiness of dunnages, abit of funky sweat as well. Over time, there’s more of a lychee fruit scent as well.

Taste: Really smoky - industrial notes, but also sweet honey, mint jellies, parsley, cordyceps, dried root herbs - mellow but powerful herbaceous qualities. It’s quite funky as well, little bit of that soft cheese note. It turns more earthy and umami, with some soil, dried mushrooms, unrefined brown sugar, and also some coffee candy.

Finish: More of that coffee, also coffee grounds, cocoa - all very earthy, umami dried mushrooms, cacao nibs and husk, burnt brown sugar. It gets more drying with pencil shavings, with lingering notes of herbal dried roots.

 

My Thoughts

This was very fascinating with so much complexity, depth and twists and turns. It’s initially very green on the nose, but when you get to the palate it’s much more earthy and herbal, and then into the finish it tends towards a more earthy and herbal but dry style.

In that sense there’s so much progression and breadth to its flavour profile and through it all it doesn’t overstep into any disagreeable territory of sharpness or being overly dry or tannic - it keeps a layer of sweetness backing the funfair of flavours bouncing about and pushing at what would have seemed like opposing dimensions.

For me this stands out on the palate and finish where I really enjoyed that deepening of the earthy and herbal flavours that was not only rich but well expressed - it felt like watching the changing of the seasons from a more vibrant autumnal brightness to a more dry but darker earthier style.

Some of the folks around had really enjoyed the aromas more as it was commended on being rather atypical and more vibrant, but all things considered its complexity was certainly uncontested.

Rum Guyana Diamond 2001, 22 Year Old, Port Mourant Stills, 100 Aspects of The Moon Vol. 2 / Precious Liquors, Selected by Stefan van Eycken

Volume 2 carries the artwork "Moon of Enlightment (Godo no Tsuki)" and depicts the God of Fortune, Hotei, one of Japan's Seven Luck Gods, pointing at the moon, which is meant as a Zen aphorism of how pointing at the moon is not the moon itself - I haven't the slightest clue what that means.

  

Tasting Notes

Aroma: Still keeping with that very green quality - pomelo peels, green mangoes, green vines, here it’s alittle more earthy and floral at the same time, so also green coffee beans and green lychees amidst other green tropical fruits. Over time there’s more fresh lychees - this time ripened, rose petals too. A side dish of umami notes too - dried mushrooms, unrefined brown sugar.

Compared to Vol. 1, this had more breadth, but is also more narrow in depth, which does make it edge less close to being as high pitched, which in turn makes it more friendly and accessible. It’s more mellow and rich, in that sense. 

Taste: Coffee notes again, coffee grounds, industrial grease with some of that oiliness, yet there’s no smoke here. Burnt brown sugar, miso, olive brine - there’s some dirtiness here. Also the unripe tropical fruits, still quite leafy - parsley, especially. It evens out to darker notes of tobacco leaves and herbal eucalyptus cough syrup.

Finish: Sweeter and darker here still - brown sugar, a nuttiness, coffee grounds, creme brulee, some bitter tannins from old wood, pencil shavings, but also a good amount of herbal Pei Pa Koa cough syrup, tortoiseshell jelly without syrup (guilingao). There’s a floral aspect here too - rose petals. Over time it turns alittle sweeter and floral, with more brown sugar and lychees.

 

My Thoughts

I like this alot - it keeps all that complex, but is noticeably more rounded, more approachable and harmonious. It’s still very much earthy and herbal and even still rather green but not as high pitched and is also richer, and therefore glosses from each turn alittle more seamlessly.

Compared to Vol. 1 this is narrower in its profile, not as challenging and therefore easier to enjoy, and would be alittle bit more of a crowdpleaser, however by that same definition, this trades off some complexity and surprises and is alittle more predictable.

This for me stands out for that well-roundedness and balance with flavours that are less edgy, where this is more mellow.

Both expressions are quite unique in their own sense, both certainly well made, with the Vol. 1 being more atypical and thrilling, while Vol 2. adheres more to the classical style with a touch more fruitiness.

 

 

Kanpai!

 

       

@111hotpot    &     u/zoorado