Plantation Royal Blend - Exclusive to Smuggler's Cove

Plantation Royal Blend SC-RG1

Product of:  Distilled and aged on Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados and Guyana; matured and bottled in France.
Aged:
  13 years
Price:
 $14/shot (Or, the Smuggler’s Cove’s secret: order Royal Blend in any menu drink for a $3 up-charge. Just ask for a Royal Mai Tai, Royal Daiquiri, etc.).
Alcohol: 45% ABV
Context:
 Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 10

Tasting Notes
Extremely Smooth.  Plantation’s Royal Blend exhibits a brilliant copper color with a slight green hue of looked at in bright light.  Swirling produces legs going every which-way on the sides of your tasting glass,  running off vertical.  I imagine each one is trying to find a path to express their history before the others can.

Breathe in, and sense the unmistakeable timbre of pot still rums, accompanied by the perfume of Cognac, softened by fruity Maury wine.  Dive deeper into your tasting glass to uncover aromas of pot still esters, phenolic, wax, stewed fruits,  prune fig, vanilla, oak and an early stage of rancio.  The more time spent sniffing, the greater the number and subtlety of aromas you sense.  There’s complexity in spades, no rum is denied it’s contribution. Best you go off to a lonesome corner and indulge your nose, a rum with these scents won’t pass your way again soon.

Initial Taste;  Wonderful.  All that you smell, you taste.  The heavy body languors on your tongue like a rum-soaked sailor enjoying shore leave by lying on a warm sandy beach.  Plantation’s signature sweetness is there no doubt, but it’s well balanced by the pot-still funk of the heavy rums.

The finish?  Never does.  You’ll be taking your next sip long before the flavor of the last one fade away. 

Anecdotes
The name Royal Blend is in respect to the Royal Navy and pot-still rum making traditions of the former British colonies.  Plantation Royal Blend for Smuggler’s Cove starts with four rums from different Caribbean countries and some of the World’s most distinquished distilleries:
Jamaica 2000 pot still (Appleton)
Trinidad 1999 column still (Angostura)
Barbados 2000 pot still (Foursquare)
Guyana 1999 pot still (Demerara Distillers Ltd.  [The mystery is: which still?  Rum Gallery speculates it is not from the Port Mourant still, but perhaps the single wooden pot still taken from the old Versailles Distillery].

Plantation-Smuggler's Cove Royal Blend

Smuggler’s Cove owner Martin Cate (pictured below) discovered the rum at a private tasting hosted by Plantation during Miami Rum Festival in April 2013.  When Cate inquired the about the rum, they replied it was an experiment and didn’t have a customer – yet. Ever quick to spot opportunity, Cate bought 150 bottles.  Plantation Single Cask Royal Blend Rum debuted at the San Fancisco tiki hotspot on the bar’s 4th Anniversary, December 8th, 2013.

Smuggler’s Cove is San Francisco’s home of premium rums and exotic cocktails.  Named one of the Top 50 Bars in the World for three consecutive years, the bar is, in Martin Cate’s words:  “…duly proud of our carefully curated collection of over 400 rare and premium rums … but particularly proud of our newest addition:  Plantation Single Cask Royal Blend Rum.”  

Martin & Royal Blend @ SC 12:8:13

“Plantation Single Cask Royal Blend Rum is an expertly selected blend of great vintages from the four iconic homes of traditional English-style rums: Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica, and Guyana.  These four aged rums were chosen by Alexandre Gabriel of Plantation Rums and skillfully blended at his facility in Cognac, France, then allowed to marry in a used Cognac cask for a year.  The blend was finished in a used Maury ( fortified French dessert wine) cask where it acquired a gentle fruit finish.  Bottled at an unapologetic 45% ABV, this rum exhibits incredible depth and complexity, its bold pot-still character accented through over 13 years of aging on three kinds of cask (used Bourbon, Cognac, and Maury).”

To learn more about Maury wine and how it is made, see the Wikipedia entry at:  Maury_AOC

Opinion
Royal Blend pushes rum blending and multi-barrel aging techniques to new levels of sophistication.  Not one but three pot-still rums and one column still rum – each from different distilleries and Caribbean countries – make up Royal Blend’s base rum.  Each distillery has their own distinct style, but you could categorize them loosely within the context of “heavy rums” or “English style rums.”  

Simply getting the blended proportions right, enabling the aromas and flavors to stand out but contribute synergistically to the overall package, is a feat few master blenders would undertake.  Add more layers of complexity to the equation; marrying in used Cognac barrel and finishing in a used Maury fortified wine cask, and you’ve got one of the most compleat blended rums ever produced.  Royal Blend is as delicious as it is rare, and equally complex.  Kudos to Cognac Ferrand for producing this rum, and thank you to Martin Cate/Smuggler’s Cove for possessing the foresight to bring it to us.

Plantation Royal Blend is available by the shot only at Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco.

Reviewed: December 8th 2014 at Smuggler’s Cove, and later inthe same month at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017