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Velier Last Ward Barbados 2007, 16 Years Old, 60% ABV

 

The Last Ward is a little bit of a mini arc contained in the tapestry of Velier's works - it's like One Piece or Pokemon where in one of those episodes the crew goes on a totally self-contained side quest that nicely wraps itself up by the end of the episode. 

The name itself is taken to mean the last of Frank Ward's work - Frank being the heir to the Mount Gay estate, the world's oldest commercially active rum distillery. Going back several hundred years, what we know as Mount Gay rum today, was originally known as Mount Gilboa in 1703, having been established by William Sandiford who consolidated several estates into one. Eventually the estate was sold to the Sober family who eventually had engaged the help of one John Gay Alleyne to manage the estate. In honour of Alleyne's quality work, they renamed the estate as Mount Gay (as Mount Alleyne was already taken by, well, Alleyne himself for his own estate) - all we get are some shoddy pizza in the office lunches these days pfft!

 

Mount Gay Distillery.

 

Come 1918, an Englishman named Aubrey Ward had come to purchase the distillery and also brought it up to speed, installing a column still and making a deliberate effort to market the Mount Gay brand of rum internationally. By 1989, Remy Martin had come along to purchase some shares in the Mount Gay estate but did not come to own the rights to the distillery, which still belonged to the Ward family. Frank Ward, who is a descendent of Aubrey Ward thus made use of this right to the distillery's operations to start his own brand of triple pot distilled rum (which is incredibly uncommon) under that original Mount Gilboa name. 

Nonetheless by 2014, now Remy Cointreau had come to acquire the distillery in full, and this marked the end of Frank Ward's side quests and also the Mount Gilboa brand. It was then that some of the earliest stocks of this triple pot distilled, fully tropically aged Mount Gilboa rum was sold to Velier, who vatted them and bottled them as Last Ward, in honour of Frank's work.

 

Last Ward is my Roman Empire.

 

It is said that Velier had acquired 19 barrels of Frank's first batches, and as we can see from Velier's bottlings, this has been parceled out and bottled as the Habitation Velier (HV) Last Ward 2007, and then twice again under HV as the Last Ward 2009 and Mount Gay 2011, and then separately twice more under Velier's Elliot Erwitt Magnum Collection Mount Gay 2007, and Velier's 70th Anniversary Warren Khong Collection Mount Gay 2008. That's as far as I'm aware of.

And now we can add one more to the stable - Velier Last Ward Barbados 2007, this one topping the rest before it, with a whopping 16 years of tropical ageing.

This was one that I was terribly excited to try, having been a massive fan of the Last Ward's. Would this be the last Last Ward? Who knows. Well, I could ask, but where would the fun be in that?

Let's go!

Velier Last Ward Barbados 2007, 16 Years Old, 60% ABV

  

Tasting Notes

Aroma: Really strong Cognac notes - yellow raisins, grassy herbal jelly, dried plums - it’s a whole lot of herbal dried fruit sweetness, quite dense, fruity and floral. Softer notes of dried lychees and longans, sarsaparilla root, before a light fizzy bit of cola cubes and cola syrup.

Taste: Heavy on the musky dried longans, brown sugar, more vinous of dried grapevines, sarsaparilla roots, still very herbal with dark, warm sweet flavours.

Finish: More herbal roots giving that vinous quality, a continuation of the floral and fruity dried lychees and longans, with a side of that fizzy cola cubes. It takes a more lightly drying turn, with a final whiff of coffee and also a more earthy, umami bit of dried mushrooms. 

  

My Thoughts

I really loved this - my immediate first impression was that the combination of brown sugar, tropical fruits, and herbal qualities made me think of a local Chinese dessert called Cheng Tng. That said this was not removed of its Barbados hallmarks of the fizzy cola cubes, which was a touch that really drove this expression astronomical for me. 

I find it reminiscent of modern TDL Trinidadian rums with those fruity notes, but with that bit of fizzy cola cubes that felt like a little reminder that this is ultimately from Barbados.

This was an incredibly impressive rum for me with so many great flavours, well expressed, with so much depth to its autumnal flavours - simply elegant!

Compared to the Habitation Velier 2007, 2009 and 2011's and also the Elliot Erwitt Magnum, which are the Last Ward's I've tried, this takes a darker profile, packing more warm and autumnal notes - the earthiness definitely comes through here more, but at the same time it's also fruitier, having replaced the lifted airy notes of fresh linens, white florals and vanilla. This was definitely warmer and heavier.

I was pretty fortunate to try this - weirdly overlooked - at Whisky Live Singapore, which consistently brings in gems like this. I'm told Whisky Live Singapore 2024 will be held on 23/24 November so make sure to put that down - it'll be at the Singapore Flyer once again.

  

My Rating: 10/10

 

Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.

 

Kanpai!

 

@111hotpot