Chairman’s Reserves, Part 1: Eskimo Bros. Pick and Sugarcane Vendome

The Chairman’s Reserve brand was launched by Saint Lucia Distillers in 1999. In recent years, the brand has put out a staggering number of diverse picks ranging from younger, cask-finished blends to really old single casks. As a follow-up to my reviews for the now-defunct Hamilton Saint Lucia series, I’m reviewing four rums from this very not defunct brand.

Chairman’s Reserve 8yr Master’s Selection for Eskimo Bros. 

Up first is a blend selected by the Eskimo Bros. Barrel Club and sold by the Florida Rum Society. It was distilled from molasses using the John Dore 1 and Vendome stills, aged eight years in ex-bourbon, and bottled at 59.8%.

The nose offers Irish breakfast tea, clove, star anise, Sichuan peppercorn, menthol, cola, wet leaves, automotive smoke, a little melting plastic, and some fried wonton. 

On the palate, I get orange marmalade, Irish breakfast tea, star anise, clove, and banana peel. There are some rubbery industrial notes, but they’re much less dominating than they are in the single still expressions, particularly the Vendomes.

Well, my takeaway here is to not be afraid of SLD’s blends. This is balanced and, to be honest, more pleasant to drink than any of the Hamiltons. Though it has run its course, it’s worth pointing out that this bottle was once available for $60 – a downright silly value. (7/10)

Chairman’s Reserve Sugarcane Vendome 9yr Single Cask

This unique expression was distilled from fresh cane juice using the Vendome hybrid pot still, the same one used for the Hamilton series. It was aged in ex-bourbon for nine years and bottled at 60.3%.

On the nose, I get dried lawn clippings, campfire, black pepper, clove, star anise, vanilla, dried ginger, unripe peach, antique shop, and a bit of the musty smell clothes get when they stay in the closet too long.

The defining characteristic of the palate is a syrupy preserved fruit flavor, with notes of canned peach, cooked cherry, pineapple liqueur, and plum. I also get spices like clove, star anise, and allspice, with a little crème brûlée and cola to boot. There’s a tiny bit of that burning rubber note, but nowhere near as much as the molasses-based Vendomes I’ve had.

The softer, fruitier profile is a nice change of pace from the unyielding intensity of molasses-based rums from the same still. I don’t think it stands head and shoulders above all other SLD’s, but it certainly demonstrates the distillery’s remarkable versatility. (7/10)