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Let me be perfectly blunt – on first tasting this rum, I found it slightly revolting. The second taste was no better. Take a sniff, and you’ll find Saint James Hors D’Age is swimming with aromas that just don’t normally go with rum. It’s overflowing with a sweet fruitiness that actually reminds me of a French Bordeaux. Now, I like Bordeaux just fine, but not generally in my rum. However, it doesn’t end there – it also carries a smell that, God help me, brings memories of a bizarre breakfast sausage I had in Sweden a few years back. I can’t tell you how this is possible, but I’m sure you can imagine why it might be a turnoff when tasting rum.
Wine drinkers will sometimes speak of the complexities of a good wine – how a single sip can taste of grape and earth, leather and musk. I’ve had wines like this, and it’s really quite the experience. Rum, however, is generally simpler. Even complex rum is generally pretty straightforward. Hors D’Age, however, is not. I spread a single bottle out over the span of a month, and in that time each glass was a very unique experience. Different subtleties emerged, some good, some challenging, and some downright frightening (as in the breakfast sausage.) Each sip was a split personality – half rum, and half surprise.
As you might expect, this is a difficult rum to review. I could tell you of the night it tasted warm and fruity, or instead of the time it was chilly and distant. The only common trait seems that it generally tastes like rum mixed with a fine, complex wine – full of wide-ranging sensations one doesn’t normally associate with fermented sugarcane.
On first trying Hors D’Age, I despised it. In time, I warmed to it and found the experience more enjoyable. It’s not what I would choose for a staple rum, but it’s certainly been memorable.