Review: Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection – The UK Rum Club

The UK Rum Club is a Facebook online group where people, mainly from the UK, gathered to talk (pure) rum and exchange information. While this year hasn’t been great for many, it saw the first 2 collaboration between rum brands and UKRC – you can check the first one here and here. Wes Burgin (thefatrumpirate) and Steven James (Rum Diaries Blog), the admins of the group, have worked for this one with Arthur Motley from Royal Mile Whiskies to bring The UK Rum Club members a single cask of Vendome distillate from Saint Lucia Distillers.

As the story goes Arthur found 2 casks he wanted to bottle, #173 and #198, of which he brought samples for Wes and Steve to choose from. They went for cask number 173 from which 248 barrel strength bottles were released – mine is number 44 if anyone was wondering.

Master’s Selection is the name given to Chairman’s single cask bottlings curated for/by some retailers or groups. A good example is The Whisky Exchange one which I wrote about here.

Personally I’ve been more and more fond of rums from Saint Lucia lately, from the more easy-going Admiral Rodney to the 1931 range, and of course the Chairman’s Reserve who’s flagship, Chairman’s Reserve Original is one of the most complex entry level rums out there. They have also recently released the Chairman’s Reserve Legacy for which I am excited as well and is due for a review soon. But one Chairman’s at a time…

Molasses based, distilled in the renowned Vendome pot still, put into an ex-Bourbon barrel in 2011 and aged for 9 years in the tropical climate of Saint Lucia. Bottled at 59.5% ABV and, naturally, no additives.

On the nose feels warm and sharp. Freshly baked banana bread, green pears, balsamic vinegar and plums. Lemon zest, moth balls, dusty shelves and tobacco. So many layers… red apples, gasoline, cinnamon, some strawberry jam and a touch of pickled onions. It keeps on giving! Wasabi nuts, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom and maple syrup. I’m into this!

On the palate it’s… having trouble finding a profile to it, too many flavours, so I’ll just say complex. Stone fruits, root beer, wasabi and pear eau de vie. Prunes, blackberries, raw cocoa nibs, ripe bananas, pineapple and ginger. Feels like I’m chewing cardamom, tobacco, apricots and a couple of spicy oak staves. Green hot peppers, juniper, basil, kiwi and agave syrup. Some damp cardboard, marmalade and black tea. So much going on! The finish is long with wasabi, tobacco, peppermint and oak spices.

I’ll be honest, I was expecting a bit more of a “have a few deep breaths after the first sip” experience given how The Whisky Exchange Master’s Selection needed more time to get acquainted with. The UK Rum Club Master’s Selection is definitely better balanced while retaining the complexity too. Layer over layer over layer, it keeps delivering, this is definitely one of the best rums I’ve tried this year – £90 for this beauty, I’d say get involved, you can actually find it on Royal Mile Whiskies… for now.

I’m curious about that #198 cask which, conveniently enough, is also available on Royal Mile Whiskies – I think I know what I’m getting next month (if it’s still available).

Looking forward to see what Wes and Steven will pull out of the hat next year. Happy holidays!

Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection – The UK Rum Club score:
Flavour/taste: 63/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 93/100


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