Very Smooth. In the glass, a beautiful natural mahogany color of amber tinted with orange. Aromas begin with a pleasant perfume of sugar cane grass, vanilla, oak, honey, brown sugar, molasses, a bit of nutmeg, hints of clove, and a whiff of smoke, all very pleasing as the alcohols are well integrated. Initial Tasting brings out a refined dry rum that’s easy on the palate, with flavors of vanilla, honey, caramelized sugar and a light dusting of nutmeg. A medium-full, dry-not-treacley body hangs on the tongue for a surprisingly long duration before giving up to a finish that is long, honey-sweet, and mildly warm.
While delightful in its own right, Westerhall’s Vintage Rum exhibits the unmistakeable taste of its pedigree: an aged Angostura distillate. The heavy caramel and vanilla of Angostura’s premium 8 year old 1919 and 12 year old 1824 rums are for more subdued in Westerhall’s Vintage blend, but the distinctive provenance is apparent — not a bad thing.
During a visit to the ancient Westerhall Estate distillery grounds in 2006, my contact indicated he were considering releasing an older aged rum in a few years. By the time I returned to Grenada in October 2009, the new product had been released, but with no fanfare outside of Grenada. The Rum Gallery has always been a big fan of anything Grenadine, Westerhall’s spirits included. Their Plantation rum makes an especially good Fidel Castro. So I was anxious to try the new Vintage rum. After docking my boat in St. Georges, I sat down with an old sailing friend at the Victory Bar in Port Louis and sampled Westerhall’s latest release — Well done! It’s just what we’d hoped for: smoother, more colorful and flavorful than their light Plantation rum. Neither too complex nor overtly upscale to be considered snobbish or even an instant classic, Westerhall Vintage Rum is a fine traditional sipping rum, and a worthy addition to any collection.
Update late 2015 – Westerhall Vintage rum wasrebranded as 10XO and got a new set of clothes to more obviously state it’s age. The new bottle is seen at right, proudly displaying the gold medal it won at the 2015 Caribbean Rum and Beer Festival on Sint Maarten.
Initially, Westerhall chose to use the same bottle for their high-end Vintage rum as used by their Plantation product. Other than the batch numbered label and the color of the wax used to seal the hefty synthetic cork (gold wax replaces black), the bottles are identical. Considering the significant qualitative upward step Westerhall’s Vintage Rum represents, a unique bottle would do justice to its finer quality. Westerhall figured that out. But what’s in a name? It’s what inside that matters, and Westerhall’s oldest rum – call it 10XO or Vintage – wins medals.
Reviewed: November 2015 on Sint Maarten and October 2009 at the Victory Bar, Port Louis, St. Georges, Grenada.