Historically Edradour has had a reputation for woeful inconsistency. Some bottles were good, some were terrible, but you’d be hard pushed to established a common thread between them. My personal experience of older Edradours has been a total shot in the dark. Far from reassuring, but sort of fun in a lucky dip kind of way. Since the distillery was purchased in 2002 by independent bottler Signatory Vintage, standards have dramatically improved. However, consistency has rather been turned on its head by Andrew Symington – the breadth of cask utilised is now mind-bogglingly wide. Edradour bottlings are still a lucky dip – just a much better one.
Whilst setting up this week’s selection of Edradour reviews, the 2007 Grand Arome Rum Cask Matured bottling jumped out at me. I’ve written about rum casks a lot over the past few months – there’s a ton of them knocking about. But Grand Arome is a rather particular, rather unusual style.
Rums given the moniker of ‘Grand Arome’ are usually associated with high-ester spirits particularly those hailing from the French island territories. This style of distillate is getting a lot of attention right now – with modern examples taking a leaf out of the big ester play-book with long fermentations and resultant big flavours (see Worthy Park and Hampden for good demonstrations).
Edradour have bottled six rum cask matured whiskies over the past decade – all for their Straight From the Cask (SFTC) series. Four of them are listed as deriving from Savanna Rhum based on Reunion Island – a little south west of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. The other two are indicated as ‘Grand Arome’. It’s a fair bet that these are all one and the same thing. Savannah distillery is one only a few sites in the world still producing spirit in this method. The only other I’m aware of is Le Galion Grand Arome from Martinique in the French West Indies.
Edradour’s 2007 SFTC has been fully matured in Grand Arome rum for 10 years, being bottled at the start of 2018 at 59.6% ABV. As a limited batch single cask (#350), only 752 bottles were produced. Whilst not produced solely for the German market, it seems that’s where you’ll find most of the remaining bottles at around €70 for a 50cl.
Nose: A heady mix of roasted pineapple chunks and brown sugars offers a real sense of rum influence. Heavily reduced, sugary tropical fruits alongside a dusty basket of fruit salad that’s started its own little fermentation experiment. Lemon peels, ginger spice and wood polish sit with toasted corn warmed bread and burnt pan sugars – caramelised, black and with a slightly bitter charred note. Water continues in a similar vein – liquorice, burnt pastry crusts and musty dunnage floors. Fruits are forward, but it’s the background aromas that provide the interest here.
Taste: The arrival has an appreciable rum influence beyond just dark sugars. Raisins, wood lacquers and charred cask heads sit with mixed tropicals (pineapple, mango and guava) and an array of spices – ginger, anise, cinnamon and white pepper. It’s more subtle than it sounds, ably marrying sweet reduction with peppy, almost effervescent spice. Dilution offers more char and more fruit – toasted caramelised oak, syrupy and tinned fruits – both oily, and mouth coating.
Finish: Medium to long with sugars and spicing giving way to bitter singed wood and becomes increasingly drying.
The rum influence here feels a lot less of a gimmick than in many other bottlings where it’s used as a finish and merely adds a vague sense of sweetness. Overt, punchy rum with plenty of esters from the Grand Arome style pushes through continually and feels surprisingly balanced with the heavily toasted/charred wood that permeates both the nose and the palate. I like this a lot – if only the wood was a little bit more restrained in the finish we’d be looking at a very good score. As it stands, this is nevertheless a marker for keeping an eye out for other full-term matured rum cask Edradours – there’s something here that’s worth exploring more.