Published on May 23rd, 2019 | by Ken Gargett


Kenfessions – Partagas LE ‘Privada’ 2014/Yamazaki Single Malt 12 Years; Archie Rose Rum

Set myself up for a terrific evening with a big football game (fans in Australia will be well aware of the coaching swap between Souths and the Broncs in the NRL and the acrimony that went with it, so a real grudge match), a cracking cigar and a couple of sensational drinks. Well, the Broncs crapped the proverbial bed and the footy was a nightmare so forget that.

The cigar, the Partagas LE ‘Privada’ 2014, was a one-off in the humidor. It was a leftover from when Rob and I did them for a video (checked it out – RG3 was still playing for the Skins, so another lifetime). This one was put aside as it apparently looked like it might be too tight. It certainly wasn’t, but it had other problems. In other words, very ordinary footy game and a dud cigar. Thankfully, both spirits stepped up in a big way. 

For drinks, the wonderful Yamazaki Single Malt 12 Years and a rare one, the Archie Rose Rum. I had a small bottle of the latter as part of a piece I was doing on rums. While there are great concerns about the supply of quality Japanese whisky and the much-diminished stocks, they are ‘horn of plenty’ stuff in comparison to the Archie Rose Rum. Only 182 bottles were made and I doubt any are left. You might find it at a good bar. 

The cigar – it was a bit of a revelation to see that vid with Rob. We loved it at the time and both of us talked about it going towards a 95-96 point cigar. This one? It was not the tightness that was an issue. The construction was fine – perhaps a tiny bit difficult towards the finish with the wrapper starting to unravel, but otherwise, no issue. Early hints of chocolate, spices. A little more powerful than many to begin but settled back down under mid-bodied. It did take time to settle. Some coffee bean notes, hint of vanilla, though these flavours were very muted. To be honest, it started reasonably well and then settled, but there was no deviation or evolution after that. Straight as an arrow, very subdued. And not a lot to interest anyone. Took a long time and, to be honest, was a little boring. This was nothing like the ones Rob and I saw for the vid. Very disappointing. 86 max. Shall we just assume that this was one of those times that the difference in a handmade product comes to the fore? 

The Yamazaki was a lovely malt and worked as well as one could hope as a match. It is an interesting concept – how to match something so subdued and dull? Fortunately, it stood up for itself. Burnished gold colour, a slight smoky note. Hazelnuts, and they really came in towards the finish. Florals and spice. Texture is a good, very seductive. There is real length and plenty of complexity. 

Even better was the rum. Aromatic with delightful florals and spices. This is an elegant style of rum – would be unrecognisable for those who have grown up with the ubiquitous Bundy (and that is no reflection on Bundy at all – just a very different style). Has a lovely note like a fragrant honey meringue. Good texture. There is some sweetness, but it is balanced and very much part of the style. Young, but I loved it. Cracking rum.

This was Archie Rose’s first rum. Distilled in 2016 from sugar cane grown at Condong in northern NSW, it comes in under their ‘Concepts’ label for rare releases. This is the third such release under that label. 

The cane was pressed within 12 hours of cutting and a specialist yeast strain was added, before the juice, with fermentation having started, was transported overnight to the distillery. The fermented wash was then triple distilled in handmade copper pot stills. It is a cask strength rum, at 56.8%, but to be honest, I doubt you’d pick it as that high, so well balanced is it. It spent over two years in American oak casks that were once used for bourbon. Total production was 182 bottles and if you can find it, $199. Interesting to learn that rum was Master Distiller, Dave Withers’, first love. Archie Rose is, of course, far better known for its gins. 

If it can continue making rum like this, that might change. 


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