Raj Bhakta‘s eponymous spirits line started out as an Armagnac purveyor, but it’s since expanded to whiskey and, now, rum — all of which are designed to showcase these spirits at the peak of their maturity.
The product is a blend of two single vintages of Jamaican rum, a 25 year old column still rum (distilled in 1985) from Clarendon/Monymusk and a 23 year old pot still rum (distilled in 1990) from Appleton. The two rums were first blended in 2014 — proportions are not disclosed — and spent 3 additional years in second-fill bourbon and rye barrels from MGP. Finally, the rum was finished in casks of Bhakta’s Armagnac from the 1976 and 1980 vintages, completing the wild road to the drinker. 1500 bottles were produced (never to be repeated), bottled at cask strength.
As is often the case with Bhakta’s “mad scientist” creations, this rum bottling is evocative and immersive from the start. The nose promptly percolates with notes of cinnamon before a punchy note of earthy molasses takes over. Slightly smoky the way old pot-distilled rums can be, there’s a moderate push of ethanol on the nose that sears the nostrils a bit, evoking mint and rosemary with time in glass. Ample sweetness is evident, though it’s initially unclear if it’s driven by the original distillate or the brandy barrel finishing.
The palate suggests the latter: Chewy, very fruity, and heavy with floral elements. Bold fruit notes quickly come into focus, featuring lush fig backed up by citrus, followed by pepper and some anise elements. Surprisingly light on its feet, the brisk body suggests more of a column distillate than pot, though at this age and with all the finishing involved, that’s tough to say with any level of certainty. Crispier spice notes become prominent as the finish builds, a clove note making for a punchier denouement than the sweeter attack would suggest.
For such a well-aged rum bottled at cask strength, this is a surprisingly soft and approachable rum that never comes across as “too old” or hoary, though if you’re drinking it straight, water helps to even out the rough edges considerably. For those uninterested in drinking this $500 rum — gulp — on its own, a barspoon floated atop your zombie or mint julep would not be out of line.
A / $500 / bhaktaspirits.com