Hailing from Guyana, El Dorado makes what is known as demerara rum, which is simply a rum from the Guyana area that is made using demerara sugar, aka turbinado sugar — you probably know the coarse brown crystals best under the trade name Sugar in the Raw.
El Dorado isn’t Rum in the Raw, though: It’s a smooth and sophisticated rum that’s well worth seeking out. Available in nearly a dozen variations, I tried three of its oldest bottlings. All are 80 proof.
El Dorado Rum 12 Years Old is a very mature rum, fragrant with mint but deeply sugary. The brown sugar character is strong here, but otherwise it’s a pretty simple construction. Dark, smooth, and ready to go. A- / $25
El Dorado Rum 15 Years Old ups the age another three years, creating a spirit even darker in color and richer in flavor. Wood comes through stronger on this one, with mint and herb fading into the background. Again it’s the brown sugar body that impresses deeply, with a rich mouthfeel that makes this one easy to sip. The only false note is a touch of harshness on the palate as it first hits the tongue, but the finish is extremely smooth. A- / $30
El Dorado Rum 21 Years Old is extremely dark brown and almost overdoes it with the wood notes. Here a certain vegetal character starts to weigh down the rum’s natural sweetness, and any other secondary flavors tend to fade away. It’s still good rum — sweet and sophisticated, but in my mind it’s spent a few years too long in the barrel. B+ / $65
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