An interesting little number this that a wee bit of detective work shows is a hidden gem. For non-UK readers Marks & Spencer are a very middle of the road supermarket, the kind of place your mum goes to get a nice bit of food, where maybe you got your first suit as a young man.
I'd heard some chat about this so picked up a bottle today and, first impressions, it's a nice looking bottle, fairly plain but a bit of googling shows you that Ratalhuleu is where the fine folk of Ron Zacapa make their booze. As there's only one rum distillery in Guatemala that kinda tells you who's making this.
Now, interestingly, the blurb tells us it's aged in bourbon casks, 2 sherry casks then finished in cognac barrels in France and there's only one company doing that so what we have here, effectively, is a Plantation Zacapa rum.
Anyways, after all that, is it any good?
- Atmosphere - watching a replay of the British & Irish Lions win over the Melbourne Rebels post work.
- £22 a bottle
- 40% ABV
- Aged in ex-Bourbon barrels, Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks while in Guatemela then finished with 6 months in Limousin cognac casks
- No age statement but I have e-mailed M&S to ask, besides it's from a solera so age isn't so important
- Some caramel added - I like that they're upfront about this on the label
- Colour - dark golden honey
- Nose - sweet butterscotch with some orange and a little floral element at the end
- Flavour - the sweetness combined with dried fruits (apricot, maybe peach) comes through followed by dark chocolate. There's definitely a buttery mouthfeel, makes you want to hold it in your mouth that bit longer
- Finish - very, very smooth going down and then the time in the cognac barrels gives a very pleasant dryness, there's a little hint of peppery spice there as well but it's very subtle
This compares very favourably to the Zacapa 23, the mouthfeel is a little thinner, suggesting slightly younger spirit but the dryness helps to subdue the sweetness that can make the Zacapa, for me, a bit one note at times and the sweetness is in itself less up-front than the Zacapa, allowing other flavours to shine through.
This is a rum with more complexity than the Zacapa, and, at £22 a bottle an absolute, flat-out bargain. I'm very impressed by this, for a supermarket own label a lot of time and effort has gone into making a top-notch sipper.