This year’s Rum Show was packed with delicious and interesting cane spirits – which has both its ups and downs. The bright side is that I get to taste so many of them, the downside is that I want to purchase so many of them, but unfortunately I cannot – therefore I have to be very picky when I decide what to buy. In this case, after trying both of these Ninefold expressions from the maker, Dr. Kit Carruthers himself, I had to get my hands on them.
Kit makes rum in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland and it’s been very interesting following his brand’s evolution. From his very first unaged Pure Single Rum, to his charity bottlings (Edition #0 and Nith Inshore Rescue) to his limited edition cask aged rums (Edition #1 and Edition #2) and his continuous aged rum (Batch CA01). His rums have definitely become better and better, to the point where the Buying Director of The Whisky Exchange, Dawn Davies, have taken a liking to them so much she decided she needed to have an exclusive Ninefold bottling for TWE.
Both these expressions are single casks aged for 3 years in a former Woodford Reserve barrel each – the only difference being in the distillate marque that went inside. So my brain couldn’t help but beg the question – which one is better? And so here we are!
Ninefold 3 Year Old Single Pot Still – The Whisky Exchange
This was released for the 2023 Rum Show and it’s a TWE exclusive offering. It was made using the same marque as the Ninefold continuous releases – it’s basically the Ninefold Cask Aged on steroids.
Molasses based, batch distilled on a hybrid still and aged for 3 years (from 17th May 2020 to 19th May 2023) in an ex-Bourbon cask. Bottled at 62.2% ABV without any additives or chill-filtration with only 207 bottles available.
On the nose it kinda smells like an inviting desert. Vanilla ice cream, Nutella, grated nutmeg and fresh ginger. Raw cacao nibs, stout and dusty cardboard. It has quite a “dark” profile for just a a 3 year old. Liquorice, cappuccino, dried figs and sultanas. Some cloves, candied bananas and sweet tobacco as well.
On the palate I can actually taste the Woodford cask. Vanilla, toasted biscuits, dried figs and charred wood. Liquorice and Earl Grey tea with a subtle layer of menthol. Yep, it’s quite bourbon forward, but fortunately the rum isn’t lost at all. Hazelnuts, Demerara sugar and old leather. The finish is long with Nutella and oak spices.
Dark, rich and liquoricey, it’s like a very bourbonish Demerara rum and I’m really enjoying it. All the flavours work well together, but the main note would probably be hazlenut. A great example of what a Scottish rum distillery can do and it’s very much worth it at £85 (TWE) given its taste, strength and limited availability.
Ninefold Experimental Cask Edition #3
This is Ninefold’s 3rd distillery single cask release, not including the charity and the above TWE releases. This is made from re-distilling the feints from the first 12 experimental batches that Kit played around with. The feints are basically the unwanted heads and tails from the batch distillation.
Molasses based, batch distilled on a hybrid still and aged for 3 years (from 11th April 2020 to 12th April 2023) in an ex-Bourbon cask. Bottled at 59.6% ABV without any additives or chill-filtration with only 200 bottles available – mine is number 96.
On the nose feels more citrusy than the TWE one. Blueberries, butterscotch, hazelnuts, marmalade and lemon zest. Popcorn, pale ale and biscuits. The bourbon cask influence is really coming through. Custard, dried apricots, white mulberries and some charred oak. A touch of Tic Tacs and saffron too.
On the palate it kinda leans more on the Scotch side of flavours. Blackberries, subtle peat smoke, candied orange and toffee. Sweet popcorn, black pepper and black tea. This is less rich and more bright and fruity. Floral honey, saffron, some apricots, Green Chartreuse and a touch of green chillies. The finish is long with stone fruits and hot peppers.
As I said this one is more on the fruity side with a hint of smokiness. A little more reminiscent of a highland scotch rather than bourbon which was the case with the TWE Exclusive. The Experimental Cask Edition #3 is priced at around £78 (Master of Malt) which again is really good for what you’re getting – a fruity, slightly vegetal, spicy, cask strength Scottish rum.
These two rums are more different than I thought. It’s a matter of chocolate and nuts (TWE Exclusive) versus orchard fruits and vegetal notes (Experimental Cask). Or more relatable put, bourbon-ish profile versus scotch-ish profile. I personally prefer the first as I’m a sucker for bourbon flavours. I love the rich, dark, nutty layers and I simply find it more appealing, but that’s just my preference – they’re both great rums and I wouldn’t scoff at any of them.
Ninefold 3 Year Old Single Pot Still – The Whisky Exchange score:
Value for money: 15/15
Ninefold Experimental Cask Edition #3 score:
Value for money: 15/15