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Old 10-30-2008, 05:45 AM   #7
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Hove, UK
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Default It's about the wood

Hi there.
Agree with all that's been said, but here's a couple of addition bits. The independent bottlers tend to bottle single casks (or small parcels of casks) whereas the brand owners will vat together large volumes.
The later want to make a consistent product.. you want your el Dorado 12yo to be the same every time (or as near as dammit). The independents however are looking for the individuality/singularity given by each cask (or simply have to deal with what they are given!) It's two ways of looking at the same thing.
If we take el Dorado 12yo as a case in point. The DDL bottling of 12year old uses a heavy 12yo Port Morant mark in its blend, but balances it with three/four other marks. The independent bottler will simply take that 12yo PM mark and bottle it.
The role played by wood is also more apparent in independent bottlings though in a weird way because it's often the lack of influence of the wood which can make these rums compelling.
Rum tends to be aged in old casks, whether that's in the Caribbean or Europe. This fact means that the influence of the oak on the rum is relatively low, which in turn allows the character of the distillery, or the individual mark, to have the upper hand.. hence the 'light bright' character that you talk about. [high-strength bottling and no sweetening will also enhance this]
It can backfire. Most independents are reliant on buying stock from a single source (by and large it's the same one) and you will get rums where the cask has been too tired to remove the aggressive/oily elements. A brand owner could blend these away, the independent either rejects, or bottles, or tries something like finishing to try and give life (and new flavour) back to the rum.
For me, Rum Nation and Plantation are consistently good. I also like Bristol Spirits, while Cadenhead, Gordon & MacPhail, Berry Bros and Murray McDavid are all worth looking at.
Rum on!
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