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Located in the heart of Brussels, very close indeed to the Grand Place, the Amigo Hotel is nicely tucked into an old school building. This is a formidable hotel where the demographic is not the hip and young but rather the old and moneyed.

The staff at the front desk is old school too, a bit stuffy and with varying levels of obsequiousness that don’t quite ring true. This is not your California front desk staff of happy kids. OK then.

Overnight, the staff swap led to some people who knew how to relax a notch, and that was nice.

The lobby is beige and marble. Come to think of it, there is lots of beige here in this room as well. I think the olds like beige.

We were upgraded from an expensive junior suite to an even more expensive classic suite. They did email and attempt to upsell the bigger suite, and we just responded that a complementary upgrade would be great. That seems to have worked. So thanks for the free upgrade!

We were assigned suite 237. This looks like the example room from this suite category. Plenty of room to hang out, a great bathroom, etc. “Pretty not bad” as my friend Sammy would say.

237 couch and desk room

The desk has a bluetooth speaker (bonus points)

The extra touches make all of the difference. Like a bluetooth speaker that you can pair a streaming phone with, and water by the bedside that is free (as it should be), and hangers that are real and solid.

Bedroom (mostly bed)

Through the French doors

Of course you should always get water (sparkling)

The room overlooks a classic Brussels street and into a set of offices.

Example view

The hall has lots of closet space, but it is not very well designed.

Closets could use some modernization

The bathroom is palatial. And there is a separate glass shower. “One of the better showers ever,” says ms NPS. Lots of marble.

Bathtub, toilet and bidet

Chair in the bathroom

Sink

Glass shower cube

The art is very nice and Tin Tin oriented.

An amenity with a personal note arrived while we were orienting. Belgian chocolates. Of course.

Amenity.

The bar downstairs is very good, with professional and knowledgeable bartenders who make a mean Negroni with Napue gin (from Helsinki).

A proper Negroni (up)

Napue gin from Helsinki

Local Belgian gins

Look who else has been here

Dinner at Comme Chez Soi was, like the hotel, on the old school side. Excellent food, especially if you like cream, butter, butter, and some caviar. Very heavy but outstanding. Plan to be full for two days.

Some Pomerol

Sauce! There is a cod under there somewhere.

Incredible tartine

Chocolates, because Belgium

With extra dipping sauce (lol)

The walk home helped to make up for the butter and the butter and the sauce and the cream. Kinda.

When in Brussels

Breakfast included a Belgian waffle (this was a mandatory item before we would be allowed to leave the country).

Bottom line: the Amigo is a five showerhead location, but is a bit old school for NPS. So four showerheads and an appointment to update the decor a notch for the Amigo. I imagine we will be back.

OK, well, the first one of 2019, but the second one ever.

The Great Belgian Rum Tasting of 2016 was a smashing success. So we decided to do it again some three-ish years later.

What that requires is a flight to Brussels, and a drive out to Lichtervelde.

You may recall that Lichtervelde is home to the world famous Eenie Meenie the goat. Eenie Meenie is getting on in years, and we were glad to see her again while she is still alive.

Eenie Meenie in the house

Things are much swankier than ever at chez Madou, where the bar is well stocked, Liberals are available at all times, and the kids are on track to shake up a mean cocktail.

Makings of a Liberal, including superior bourbon from Virginia

Start em early. Just don’t shake a martini.

Here’s how things proceeded on the rum front.

The lineup of seven rums

Cubay Ronera Central

Cubay Ronera Central: CUBA

Oak. Bitter. Alcohol nose. Under signed. 5 year. Proof 86. SCORE: 6

Havana Club Barrel Proof

Havana Club Barrel Proof: CUBA

Nice nose (no esters). Butter with a twist. Hot. Post sugar not too much. Proof 90. SCORE: 7

Pampero Aniversario

Pampero Aniversario: Venezuela

Venezuela. Post sugar. Balanced. Island style. Proof 80. SCORE: 6

Ron Millonario

Ron Millonario: Peru

Peru. Ester on the nose. Central America style. Brown sugar with ester twist. (Madou like it.) . Proof 80. SCORE: 5

Ron Barceló Imperial Blend

Ron Barceló Imperial Blend: Dominican Republic

Wins for ridiculous bottle. . Over sugared. Over oaked. Proof 86. SCORE: 5

Clément Single Cask

Clément Single Cask: Martinique

Rhum agricole. Great nose. Bitter. Mature Oak. Proof 93.6. SCORE 8

Clément Cuveée Spéciale XO

Clément Cuveée Spéciale XO: Martinique

Too hot. Under oaked. GAH. Proof ?. SCORE 4

Notes were kept.

Verdict is in.

The final order.

The final order:
1. Clément Single Cask
2. Havana Club Barrel Proof
3. Cubay Ronera Central
4. Pampero Aniversario
5. Ron Barceló Imperial Blend
6. Ron Millonario
7. Clément Cuvée Spéciale XO
8. Dettol

Special guest rum

As has become a tradition, a special guest rum was added to the mix just for fun. This year, dreft was replaced with the lemony goodness of Dettol

Special guest rum (slot 8)

Your host and the final order (plus or minus one)

Of course no visit to the new bar Madou would be complete without some tiki.

Yes, that is what you think it is (in Belgium)

Zombie for the tiki win

And no evening would be complete without a Liberal.

WRT showers and places to stay, above the bar is a complete guest suite featuring wood beams, skylights, a sitting area and glass showers. Sorry, no pictures.

Fix showerheads (plus one) for Madou’s new digs. Can’t wait to be back.

Thanks Madou.

What happens in Lichtervelde? Rum happens, especially at Madou’s abode.

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Here is how it went.

Hey guys, what about Eenie Meenie?

Hey guys, what about Eenie Meenie?

Pre-bar chaos reminds me of home in the old days

Pre-bar chaos reminds me of home in the old days

The Lineup: 12 rums

The Lineup: 12 rums

Cartavio 12 Años – PERU

Cartavio 12 Años - PERU

Cartavio 12 Años – PERU

Very oaky. Hot start. Sugar overcome by oak. 80 proof. SCORE: 4

Millonario XO – PERU

Millonario XO - PERU

Millonario XO – PERU

Plenty of oak (again). Sugar more present. Blackstrap molasses. Madou’s choice. 80 proof. SCORE: 7

Zafra 21 Yrs – PANAMA

Zafra 21 Yrs - PANAMA

Zafra 21 Yrs – PANAMA

Banana. Fairly flat. Not hot. Not much curl. Watery. 80 proof. SCORE: 5

Clement cuvée speciale XO (rhum agricole) – MARTINIQUE

Clement cuvée speciale XO (rhum agricole) - MARTINIQUE

Clement cuvée speciale XO (rhum agricole) – MARTINIQUE

Ah. Island rum. Better alcohol content. Balanced finish. Proof 88. SCORE: 8

Clement single cask 9/02 (rhum agricole) – MARTINIQUE

Clement single cask 9/02 (rhum agricole) - MARTINIQUE

Clement single cask 9/02 (rhum agricole) – MARTINIQUE

Super hot but fair. Best yet (after dinner). Balanced and masterful. Proof 93.6. SCORE: 9

Brugal reserve extra viejo – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Brugal reserve extra viejo - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Brugal reserve extra viejo – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Blech. Please mix with anything. Tiki level rum. H2O. Proof 76. SCORE: 2

Coruba blended Jamaica rum 18 yrs – JAMAICA

Coruba blended Jamaica rum 18 yrs - JAMAICA

Coruba blended Jamaica rum 18 yrs – JAMAICA

Terrible nose. But not a bad rum. Banana. Proof 80. SCORE: 6

Angostura premium rum 1824 – TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO + SCOTLAND

Angostura premium rum 1824 - TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO + SCOTLAND

Angostura premium rum 1824 – TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO + SCOTLAND

Nose just hurts. Central America bend at end. Odd and slightly scottish. Proof 80. SCORE: 4

Ron Barceló imperial premium blend #1861 – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Ron Barceló imperial premium blend #1861 - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Ron Barceló imperial premium blend #1861 – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Jasmine nose. Bitter finish. Over oaked. Sugar front. Proof 86. SCORE: 6

Hamilton St Lucian pot still aged rum 9 yrs #813-9CS – ST LUCIA (aged)

Hamilton St Lucian pot still aged rum 9 yrs #813-9CS - ST LUCIA (aged)

Hamilton St Lucian pot still aged rum 9 yrs #813-9CS – ST LUCIA (aged)

Varnish nose. Stagg hot. Melts. Too many esthers. Proof 122.6. SCORE: 4

Samarold rum 2004 rhum (really?) cask #5 bottle 175 – HAITI

Samarold rum 2004 rhum (really?) cask #5 bottle 175 - HAITI

Samarold rum 2004 rhum (really?) cask #5 bottle 175 – HAITI

Good balanced rum. Hot nose. Balanced oak. Whiskey sensibility. Lite. Proof 90. SCORE: 6

Koloa Kaua’i gold – HAWAII

Koloa Kaua'i gold - HAWAII

Koloa Kaua’i gold – HAWAII

Armpit nose. Super flat. Yawn. Water. Proof 80. SCORE: 3

Tasting notes were kept.

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The verdict is in.

Rum re-ordered by notes and including dreft

Rum re-ordered by notes and including dreft

The final order:
1. Clement single cask
2. Clement cuvée
3. Millonario
4. Barceló
5. Samarold
6. Coruba
7. Zafra
8. Angostura
9. Cartavio
10. Hamilton
11. Koloa
12. Brugal
13. Dreft

Special guest rum

Special guest rum (slot 13)

Special guest rum (slot 13)

Of course, we would be remiss in our NPS duties if we did not report on the shower situation. It is excellent. And madou built the shower himself! Five showerheads.

The non-plastic shower

The non-plastic shower

Non-plastic shower technology system

Non-plastic shower technology system

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Thanks madou!