I’m a huge fan of the stuff that Beenleigh Distillery makes – in fact it’s probably the very first Australian rum I have ever tried. S.B.S Australia 2007 is one of my favourite rums bottled from them and it has one of the highest scores on my blog. That’s why I was excited to try these VSGB sample bottles of the Velier Beenleigh vintage bottlings.
Firstly many thanks to Lance aka The Lone Caner for allowing me to rummage through some of his samples and VSGB bottles allowing me to write this review!
I did try the Velier Beenleigh 2015 before in 2021 at the UK RumFest during a rum session with Luca Gargano, the CEO of Velier, and I remember really enjoying it.
The 2006 and 2015 ere described as being matured in different areas of Australia, with the 2015 being aged in the Riverland region of South Australia which has a desert-like climate, and the 2006 being aged at the distillery in a more humid, tropical environment. To be more precise both have been aged at an average temperature of 27.3 degrees celsius, but with a humidity between 35 and 59% for the 2015 and between 59 and 75% for the 2006.
It’s all very interesting, but this is not a direct comparison given the age difference and the ageing vessels. In fact the 2015 was aged in ex-Bourbon casks for 5 years, so all good so far, but the 2006 is described as being aged in ex-Brandy vats, 1st fill ex-Bourbon barrels and finally vatted in Beenleigh’s historical 120+ year old Kauri Pine Maturation Vats on the distillery site for 15 years altogether. I’m really not sure if vats do count as actual ageing and I have no information as to how much time the rum actually spend in each vessel – if anybody can clarify this for me I’m happy to listen*.
*Later Edit: According to Steve Magarry any wooden vessel counts as maturation, vats being quite popular – that’s something that not all rum producing countries would agree on probably.
The 2006 is also described as one of the oldest vintage Beenleigh rums ever released. Now onto the comparison!
Velier Beenleigh 2015
Velier Beenleigh 2015 is molasses based, column distilled then pot still re-distilled and aged for 6 years in first fill ex-Bourbon casks in a desert/arid climate. Bottled at 59% ABV without any additives and a limited number of bottles.
On the nose it has that heavy stone fruits note I always enjoy from Beenleigh. Apricot brandy, pear puree, bananas and acetone. Cardamom, new leather and fruity tobacco. It has an interesting Tic Tac-ish note alongside the fruity flavours. Some moth balls, lemon zest and melon.
On the palate it becomes quite minty and sharp. Tic Tac, liquorice, Limoncello, vanilla and stone fruits galore. Black pepper, some wasabi and sour green apples. Feels fresh and acidic in a very pleasant way. Unripe pears, fresh tobacco and banana liqueur. The finish is long with stone fruits, fresh ginger and banana.
Very good, although I wish it had a bit more oak-like warm spices to balance out the sharpness of the unripe fruit notes. Just seems a bit raw, but still very complex and intense. All in all another great rum from Beenleigh.
Velier Beenleigh 2006
Velier Beenleigh 2006 is molasses based, column distilled then pot still re-distilled and aged in ex-Brandy vats, 1st fill ex-Bourbon barrels and in the Kauri Pine Maturation Vats on the distillery site, all for a total of 15 years of maturation. Bottled at 59% ABV without any additives with a limited number of bottles.
On the nose feels more rich and “dark” than the 2015. Demerara sugar, caramel, stone fruits and biscuits. Ripe bananas, fresh paint, agave syrup and Tic Tac. It is very similar to the 2006, but seems more rounded. There’s a mustiness to it alongside some dry sherry-like nutty notes. White grapes, old leather and a touch of cloves.
On the palate once again feels more rounded. Musty oak, black pepper, stone fruits and a sweet honey-caramel note. Dark tobacco, raisins, walnuts and ripe banana. This one is just overall “darker” and more rich with more obvious wood influence. Cardamom, wasabi and ginger. The finish is long with stone fruits, caramel and nuts.
This has everything the 2015 has and more – easily my favourite here. The oak influence really helps balance out the (pleasant) harshness of the distillate, making it more of a daily sipper than just a sharp, kind-of-pungent young rum.
Both of these are amazing rums, but I’ll have to say, the whole “arid/desert maturation” and “tropical ageing” monikers that are on the label of each bottle seem a bit gimmicky for me. I’m not saying it doesn’t affect the ageing process, all I’m saying is that there is nothing to compare the differences with – there’s no reference to figure out what the different environments have done special here. If both of them were aged for the same amount of time in the same type of barrel, then we might have been able to see what the humidity variation would have done to the maturation process.
Leaving that aside, these are some stunning expressions from Beenleigh! The rums are not available anymore, but, at least in France, they were priced at €120, respectively €180 which is quite a decent price for the complexity and strength that you’re getting.
Velier Beenleigh 2015 score:
Value for money: 15/15
Velier Beenleigh 2006 score:
Value for money: 15/15