Penny Blue

Penny Blue-RG1

Product of:  Mauritius
Aged:
  blend of rums aged up to 10 years
Price:
 $80
Alcohol:
 44.1% ABV
Context:
 Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 8.5

Tasting Notes 
Very Smooth.   Penny Blue XO shopws a copper amber color, swirling produces a thick film on the side of the tasing glass that begets long legs that form and repeat.

A bouquet of  sweet caramel sweeps down out of the bottle.  It’’s not not delicate like perfume, more like a dense magma o f aged rum.  The aromas are less sweet and more substantive, with a pleasant alcohol bite on the nose accompanying the caramel foundation, together  delivering sensations of charred oak, dry tobacco, overripe tropical fruit, apricot, milder notes of  orange zest, walnut, then faint, bright hints of eucalyptus leaf (but nowhere near that of Ron del Barrilito).  Clearly, Penny Blue offers a lot of entertainment for those who begin their exploration of a new a rum through their noses.

Tasting brings a medium-heavyweight body of caramel, with more wood, fruit and orange peel, yet dry from the 44.1% ABV.  Allow it to rest a moment on your tongue and appreciate the complex balance between wood, tobacco, fruit and spice before the moderately long finish.  Penny Blue XO is a rum to be savored, not hurried.

Anecdotes 
Imagine you walk into a bar and ask:  “Do you have Penny Blue?” 
If the answer like: “Who is Penny Blue?”, walk out.    

Penny Blue Label-RG1

However, if the person asks: “What is a Penny Blue?” then prepare yourself for an intelligent conversation.  Explain that Penny Blue  is  both a wonderful XO rum plus one of the World’s rarest stamps, and both are from Mauritius.  Then be prepared for questions about geography.  Only then will you be able to explain that Queen Victoria’s face adorns the stamp.  What makes Penny Blue’s so unique and valuable today is their limited number; Mauritius issued just 500 of the blue Two-Pence stamps in 1847, and estimates claim only 12 remain in existence.  The first 500 were engraved with the words “Post Office” on the left margin.  Later stamps used the words “Post Paid”.  Value: one such Penny Blue stamp sold for £1 Million Pounds Sterling, or $1.597 Million in late 2013 exchange rates, at an auction in 2011.   If you’ve extended the lecture this far, the bartender will give you a drink on the house just to shut you up.  And maybe they’ll have this excellent rum the next time you drop in.

Penny Blue Stamp-RG1

To learn more about Mauritius’s rare Penny stamps, see the wikipedia entry:  Mauritius "Post Office" stamps

Enough about the stamp, what’s so special about Penny Blue Rum?
Answer:  It’s from Mauritius and tastes wonderful.   Penny Blue is column-distilled at Medine, Mauritius’ oldest distillery of six, using fermented molasses derived from estate-grown cane.  Aged in used American oak whisky barrels and French Limousin oak casks that previously held Cognac, the rum is not chill filtered nor colored prior to bottling.  Less than 6,000 numbered bottles were produced in the first batch in late 2013, and only 2,500 are earmarked for USA.  Despite the limited quantity, we thank Jean Francois Koenig, Master Distiller at Medine distillery, and Doug McIvor of London’s Berry Bros. & Rudd for producing and delivering this rare rum, respectively.

Opinion 
Among collectors, a Penny Blue stamp is one of the World’s most coveted possessions.  Like the stamp it was named after, the rum will be almost as prized among rum connoisseurs.  Hopefully, the distributors at Anchor Distilling will find a way to make XO far more accessible to those of us who prefer to collect treasures we can use and replace, rather than just look at.  For me personally, Penny Blue XO is treasured for the delight it provides many senses – my eyes, nose, mouth.  perhaps best of all, the wanderlust in me loves that Mauritius is about as far from the Rum Gallery’s California USA base as a human can be while standing on planet Earth.  Yet I can enjoy Penny Blue XO in the comfort of my tasting room.  So can you.

Reviewed:  October 2013 at Smuggler’s Cove in SF and at The Rum Gallery, USA, from Batch #001 of 14 casks.

© Dave Russell 2017