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Review: 1998 Guadeloupe - Kill Devil

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

1998 Guadeloupe 19 yr. - Golden Devil (Bellevue) - 59.7%

Context: There was plenty of confusion when these '98 Guadeloupes dropped. Is it Damoiseau? Is it Marie-Galante’s Bellevue Distillery? Is it agricole? Is it molasses? Fortunately, Single Cask Rum sorted most of that out for us here. If I follow, this is from Damoiseau, column still, molasses base that was partially aged in the tropics, rested in steal tanks for an undisclosed amount of time which may or may not have mucked with the age statements. The sale of this particular vintage/style/bulk parcel seems to be a one-off event.

I could've just read the K&L notes to confirm most of this - minus the juicy bits about the tanks. But truthfully, I bought this bottle without much thinking. Shame on me. I already liked the other Kill Devil stuff that I'd tried - Hampden and Diamond. Plus, Whisky Fun popped an eyebrow raising score on a similar bottling. Combine all that with a relatively approachable sticker/high age statement - thinking was only gonna get in my way.

Nose: Flat-out rich. Caramelized banana. Chocolate. Baking Spice. Old tires. Pool toys - inflatable inner tubes. Black licorice. Charred oak. Wheels within wheels.

Flavor: Rich caramel (like dusty bourbon or 30+ year armagnac). Molasses into big oak. Dark chocolate. Raspberry. Sauteed greens. The finish kicks oak again - menthol and wild cherry hard candies.

Palate Structure: Sticky and sweet upfront. Don't worry. Things unspool and open in measured fashion, picking up steam through the finish and beyond. It’s layered and supremely balanced between the dry and sweet notes. Even though the body leans light, it never leans thin, managing to support the rich, deep, complex flavors. Outstanding interplay.

Alcohol Integration: Balanced weight. Very controlled on the palate for the ABV - slow roll with the individual notes. Nose is full and deep, but not too spirity. The body at time can feel a little thin like maybe the proof is too high, but it quickly corrects. Long and hot in the finish. Flavor gets a little patchy at the very end where the ABV wins.

You May Also Dig:

Armagnac - single cask, cask strength, no additives, 30+ year vintage

L’Encantada Le Freche #44 – 1986 – 31 yr. – 47.9%

Score: 8 (Stash One) Complex. Layered. Rich. Wild. Length and clarity are fantastic. Stash one? I did not do that. Guess I should've done my research. The enjoyment I get out of this bottle seems to grow a little every time I revisit it. Now, I'm a few pours away from putting it to rest and trying not to prematurely grieve. It's probably going out in a blaze of glory tonight. Fortunately, there are well received '98 Bellevues still floating around out there. They just don't seem to be getting any cheaper.

Rating System

10 - Reevaluate The Budget

9 - Stash Two (If Able)

8 - Stash One (At The Right Price)

7 - Highly Recommend It To Strangers

6 - Solid - Above Average

5 - Acceptable For The Situation

4 - Not Vocally Complaining

3 - Wish I Was Drinking Something Else

2 - Nothing Nice To Say

1 - Drain Pour

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