Review: Velier Antigua 2012

Velier, probably one of the (if not the) most highly regarded rum bottlers in the present day, comes from Italy and it was founded in 1947 by the Chaix family. Between 1953 and 1983 they were importing and distributing wines, champagne and spirits. In the 1980s Luca Gargano buys shares in Velier and becomes the most prominent figure associated with the company today.
From the Damoiseau releases to the DDL and Caroni unique bottlings to the Rhum Rhum range and the discovery of the hidden gem of Haiti – Clairin, Velier, and more specifically Luca, has brought a lot of innovation into the rum world – he is also responsible for the “premiumisation” of the cask strength offerings and also very important – the Gargano Rum Classification – developed in collaboration with the Master Distiller Richard Seale from Foursquare.

Now about Antigua Distillery Limited – in the previous review I talked about their core range rum, The English Harbour 5 Year Old, you can find some details on the distillery there.
The highlights would be:
– The ADL company was founded in 1932 and the distillery is located on Rat Island;
– They distill rum using a 3-column pure copper still (even the bolts are made out of copper and all the repairs are done with copper – quite unique) that was modified into a 5-column still;
– When they age the rums they add oak chips into the barrel for more interaction with the wood.

Velier Antigua 2012 is part of Velier’s 70th anniversary range, 27 casks being chosen by Luca Gargano for their “unusually high level of congeners”. What I’ve learned while searching for details is that one of the 27 casks mentioned on the label has been bottled separately at 68.5% ABV, while the rest of the 26 casks are in my bottle. Made out of molasses, distilled using the ADL copper column still in 2012, aged for 6 years in ex-Bourbon casks and bottled at 66%, this is noted on the label as “A truly remarkable rum.”. Lets test that!

On the nose it’s the same “dusty” aroma the English Harbour 5 has and surprisingly the ABV doesn’t jump out of the glass to numb my nose. I get cinnamon, marmalade, dried fruits, strawberries, hints of burnt chocolate powder, damp oak, golden syrup, some nutmeg and citrus zest. It seems yummy!

On the palate the ABV is there but still not that harsh as I would’ve expected. I got chocolate coated nuts, caramel, apple juice. Although it is just 6 years old I can feel the bourbon cask shinning through, if I wouldn’t know better I would’ve easily confused this with a cask strength bourbon in a blind tasting. The dried fruits (especially cherries) are there along with some nail varnish aroma, banana, mandarin zest, a bit of coffee, biscuits and bourbon notes (corn, vanilla, oak spices). The golden syrup from the nose is there too. The finish is nice and it doesn’t burn at all with vanilla, salted caramel, mushrooms and oak spices.

I have to say I kept seeing people posting about this rum on different groups and I followed the hype (something I really hate doing sometimes) and got myself one. Between the £50-60 price range, the 66% ABV and the complexity I have to say it is well worth it. As I said before the flavor profile does tend to go towards bourbon a bit more than usual and I do like that, but I am biased since I do love a good dram of American whiskey. Good stuff!

Velier Antigua 2012 score:
Flavour/taste: 57/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 13/15
Overall: 85/100


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