The Roots is one of those small independent bottlers that very intentionally bottles spirits aimed at the higher end of the market. Uncompromising in their approach, which means the releases aren’t cheap, even though I understand their margins are very fair. In return, we get an array of whiskies, rums and brandies that are undeniably first-rate.
As we’re nearing the first anniversary of The Roots, founder Joren Nuyts has proven that he’s got an eye for quality. His inaugural outturn was memorable, and his second album did really well too. With the third outturn hitting the market in early May, at least one of the trio of new releases has already sold out. The culprit, of course, was Serge Valentin, who had high praise for the new HD Jamaica Rum 2012 10 Years.
But two others still are available. One is a 14-year-old Foursquare, a rum from Barbados that has long been embraced by whisky drinkers. The other a 15-year-old Ledaig – in my opinion the true star of this trio.
Foursquare 2008 14 Years (57.1%, The Roots, C#1)
8 years tropical aging + continental aging
Nose: Touches of maple syrup, pine resin and cedar, but also some butterscotch, mead and sweet pastries. Then a hint of cigar boxes, mint and potpourri. Finally some orange blossom water and elderflower. Taste: Unexpectedly mellow, but in the best possible way. Rich in flavour and almost fatty, but not punchy. One might even say “smooth.” (But I would never, of course.) Sweet, honey, orange liqueur, and Muscovado sugar. Some eucalyptus and resin. And okay, maybe there’s a pinch of white pepper too. Finish: Long and tingly. More sweetness. Gentle spices.
Simply put, this is quite excellent. I’m not quite sure where the cask begins and the spirit ends, although I suspect the cask had quite a big hand in this, but I take it to mean this Foursquare is wonderfully well-integrated.
HD Jamaica Rum 2012 10 Years (58.3%, The Roots, C#25)
3 years tropical aging + continental aging
Mark OWH (Outram W. Hussey) = 40-80 gr/HLPA
Nose: Remarkable. Funky, yet very approachable. (I believe.) Full-on notes of tinned pineapple and melon, but also a touch of anise, very ripe banana peel. Hints of acetone, fermented fruits and almond paste too. Even a whiff of soy. Taste: There are hints of dried fruits and anise with a sliver of breakfast tea. Tinned peaches too, but mostly pineapple galore. The cask influence seems rather subtle, but there are some gentle oak spices. Finally a touch of raisins, green olives and honey. Finish: Very, VERY long with a spicy, yet sweet fingerprint. Tinned tropical fruits galore.
There’s a lot happening here. More evolved than the Foursquare, which sometimes is a little too much in the sweeter flavour galaxy. This is tropical fruit galore. Of the tinned kind, mind you.
Ledaig 2007 15 Years (50.4%, The Roots)
Cask Type: Hogshead
Nose: There’s a sense of maturity here that these vintages didn’t have just a few years ago. Faint notes of white grapes, vanilla pods, apple peel, and green banana. Touches of sauerkraut too, but certainly not as present as in some younger releases. Of course, there are coastal elements, along with wet pebbles, gentle notes of peach, and just a touch of smoked kippers. Oh, and a sliver of rubber. Taste: A delicious oily mouthfeel. It’s crisp, peaty and fruity with notes of brine, ashes, grapefruit and citron. The wood smoke is delicious. Also gentle farm-y notes, a touch of smoked bacon, and just a delicate whisper of green apple. Finish: Long. Lingering on white pepper, a hint of rubber and salt.
Very, very impressive. Big thumbs up! I should probably buy a bottle, stick it in a cellar for a few decades, and revel in the positive effects of bottle aging.