Category Archives: Rum

Review: Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum

It’s a little hard to believe, but the top-selling rum company on earth — in fact, one of the top-selling spirits brands in the world — did not, until now, have a spiced rum under its umbrella. That is finally changing, as Bacardi this month has launched Oakheart, its own “smooth spiced rum.”

The emphasis is on smooth, to be sure: This rum (distilled in Puerto Rico, aged in American white oak) is on the mild side as spiced rums go, a muted spirit heavy on caramel and vanilla and pretty easy on the spice. Very light touch of cinnamon, but it’s almost passable as a moderately (and unspiced) aged rum. The finish is quite sweet and short, and while this is obviously a spirit designed for mixing with Coke (and to be a “well” spiced rum, based on its price), it’s so easygoing that it’s sippable straight. Aside from its sheer innocuousness, I can’t find else much to complain about here.

70 proof.

B+ / $13 /

bacardi oakheart spiced rum Review: Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum


Tasting Report: Brugal Rums Complete Lineup – Blanco Especial to 1888

Brugal 1888 89x300 Tasting Report: Brugal Rums Complete Lineup   Blanco Especial to 1888The Dominican Republic’s Brugal continues its march into America — it’s the #1 selling rum in the Caribbean currently — with another offering, bringing its total portfolio to four rums and, for the most part, rounding out its offering with a complete lineup of rums from silver to extra-extra-old.

I sat down with maestro ronero Gustavo Ortega to take a deep dive into Brugal’s history and production — largely via his translator and brand manager Juan Campos — at Drinkhacker HQ. I’m on record as being a big Brugal fan — great quality at a very reasonable price — and after this guided tasting through the line, I’m happier than ever.

First some notes about the distillery: Brugal is actually owned by the Edrington Group, which owns Macallan and Highland Park Scotch, among other spirits. The focus is always on quality, and Brugal, like its other hemispherical friends, is obsessive about the wood it uses. Production is pretty huge: 75,000 liters daily, with 250,000 casks aging on site.

All of the rums covered below are blends of a rums from a variety of ages and are released at 80 proof in the U.S. — with slightly different proof levels in other countries. Here are thoughts on the full line.

Brugal Ron Blanco Especial – Brugal’s “white rum” is aged two years, then filtered back to white in the classic Puerto Rican (and other regional islands) style. In fact, by law, rum must be aged for at least one year before bottling in the Dominican Republic. This white rum is crisp and clean, with a light citrus character and a touch of vanilla on the finish. Not too oily, it’s got a good body and an easy, not-harsh finish. A- / $20

Brugal Ron Anejo Rum – Aged 2 to 5 years, we didn’t taste this expression during this event, since I just reviewed it, which you can read here. A- / $20

Brugal Extra Viejo Rum – I reviewed this rum, aged 3 to 8 years, in 2009. Now it is repackaged and rebranded, with a more upscale look, though it’s still very affordable. A sedate rum, it offers caramel, coffee, cinnamon, and lots of balance. It’s not cloyingly sugary, but perfectly set between sweet and savory. This batch could be a touch muted since my ’09 review, but it’s still an A / $27

Brugal 1888 Ron Gran Reserva Familiar (pictured) – The latest expression, released in August, is a real conversation piece. Rums aged for 6 to 8 years in ex-Bourbon casks (as all of the above are aged), are then transferred to ex-Sherry casks for another 2 to 6 years. To give you a sense of how pricey this must be in the Caribbean: After 8 years, Ortega says that just 30% of the original barrel is left in a cask, the rest having gone to the angel’s share due to the intense heat and humidity. With 1888, Brugal is losing up to 80 or 85% of its spirit to evaporation. What’s left is pretty insane for rum: Intense Sherry notes up front, with citrus peel all over the place. The body is huge — hotter than most Brugal rums, surprisingly, and complicated with charred wood notes, Sherry (of course), and herbal touches. The sweetness hits you mainly in the end. It’s a rum for the whiskey drinker — just, I presume, as Brugal’s owners would want. A- / $50

brugal rums with gustavo ortega Tasting Report: Brugal Rums Complete Lineup   Blanco Especial to 1888

Review: DonQ “Pasion” Passion Fruit Rum

DonQ’s latest flavor is the always crowd-pleasing Passion Fruit, an exotic treat that nonetheless has become familiar to U.S. palates. DonQ’s Pasión is bright on the nose with tropical notes, but it’s hard to peg it specifically to passion fruit. On the palate, it’s even trickier, as the rum component comes across a little too harsh and the passion fruit a bit too sweet. The ultimate spirit tends to veer, oddly, toward cherry notes, when I’d hoped for something lighter and fruitier. This would probably be fine in a big and fruit-bombed tiki cocktail, but for more subtle drinks it’ll overpower the blend.

B- / $16 /

donq pasion passion fruit rum Review: DonQ Pasion Passion Fruit Rum

Review: Mount Gay Rum Eclipse Black

Barbados’s Mount Gay is rounding out its “Eclipse” rum collection — currently comprising a Silver and a medium-bodied gold rum — with Eclipse Black, a darker, bolder version of its classic aged rum.

The rum is a blend of single- and double-distilled rums aged from two to seven years. The final blend is then aged in new charred American oak casks and bottled at 100 proof.

I like this a lot. It’s got a big, authentic, sweet rum flavor, and it’s surprisingly smooth on the palate. Nothing unexpected: Rich molasses character, brown sugar, and a lasting finish. There’s some mint and light chocolate character in there, but it’s basically drowned by the big, deep dark rum sweetness. That’s not a bad thing, since the primary notes are so impressive. Be warned: The hefty proof level is a little dangerous for a rum this smooth. Travel with care.

A- / $25 /

mount gay rum eclipse black Review: Mount Gay Rum Eclipse Black

Review: Treaty Oak Platinum Rum

Texas isn’t a region one typically associates with rum production, but what the hell: It’s hot, and there’s plenty of sugar to go around. (Imperial Sugar is based here, after all.)

Graham Barnes names Treaty Oak Rum after a famous tree in its hometown of Austin, and is made from all-Texas ingredients (which, in the case of rum, mostly means molasses, yeast, and water). Made by hand, the company prides itself on both brewing its own mash and distilling in-house, a first, it says, for Texas distilling.

The rum is a hot, white spirit, redolent with lime aromas but also petrol overtones, reminiscent of cachaca. On the body, more of the same. This is an intense and a little funky rum, initially almost bitter despite a powerful and big body. That intensity fades as the finish comes on, though, and finally Treaty Oak proves that is indeed rum, with a mild sweetness that offers some fun secondary character: Dark molasses, filberts, and light wood character. It opens up even more — showing more of that sweetness — as you sip and let it air out, proving that there’s quality to be found in its crystal clear confines.

B / $30 /

Treaty Oak Rum Review: Treaty Oak Platinum Rum

Review: Malibu Black Coconut Rum

Malibu is clear. Malibu Black is brown.

With that out of the way we can introduce you to another extension of the Malibu rum line: Malibu Black, a stronger, less-sweet, and more-brown version of the classic coconut rum.

That description is, basically, all you need to know. Malibu Black has much more bite (70 proof) — to the point where you can actually taste the alcohol, unlike standard Malibu (42 proof). It is considerably less sweet, to the point where it has no discernible aftertaste aside from a vague tropical character. And it is brown.

The overall flavor plays down Malibu’s tropical character and replaces it with orange (and orange peel) notes. The coconut is still quite strong, especially on the nose, but the finish isn’t that lasting sweetness that you get with standard Malibu. Instead it’s more of a classic rum character on the fade-out, reminiscent of a fairly standard white rum, chased with a bite of old German chocolate cake.

B- / $13 /

malibu black rum Review: Malibu Black Coconut Rum

Review: Brugal Ron Anejo Rum

We’ve covered the Dominican Republic’s Brugal Rum before and declared its Extra Viejo (old, but no age statement) an awesome rum at an unbelievable value. Brugal Anejo is aged three to five years in American white oak casks and, like it’s kissing cousin, represents an incredible value.

What does 20 bucks get you? Good, old rum. The attack is sharp, but it soon melts into a buttery body, studded with green pepper notes, mango, pineapple, and big wood notes on the finish. That finish is what knocks it down a peg, though: The petrol bite evident there makes it not nearly as good as the amazingly well-balanced Extra Viejo, an upgrade which represents the best five dollars you may ever spend on a rum. Still, even though its big brother is the more awesome sibling, Brugal Anejo represents an excellent value for what is a consistently high-grade product.

80 proof. Update: New bottle image attached.

A- / $20 /

brugal anejo rum Review: Brugal Ron Anejo Rum

Review: Ron de Jeremy Rum

Perhaps this was inevitable: Infamous porn star Ron Jeremy now has a rum. Makes sense, of course: Ron is Spanish for rum and Jeremy is actually from that noted bastion of rum production: Queens, New York.


Ron de Jeremy is actually an aged, seven-year rum from Panama. If it didn’t have Jeremy’s mug on the front (complete with “Blue Steel” pose) you might easily mistake it for something that’s been around for decades.

But this vanity project is brand new, a bizarre meeting of two industries that’s so crazy it just might work.

The rum itself offers few surprises. There’ quite a bit of heat on it and it’s not exactly complicated. It’s a throat-burner but it’s one that carries a little charm. Secondary notes are fairly traditional: Vanilla, mild spices, and creamy finish. A lot like Ron himself, I imagine.

As for Jeremy, my sole experience with him is that he fell asleep while driving his car during an interview with one of my writers for the movie review website I run. I can’t imagine having your very own rum is going to help much with that.

80 proof.

B / $30 /

ron de jeremy rum Review: Ron de Jeremy Rum

Review: Banks 5 Island Rum

Last year a survey named Banks 5 Island Rum as the best rum for that quintessential rum drink: The Daiquiri.

Only problem: Who’s ever heard of Banks 5 Island?

Well finally, we have.

It’s not called 5 Island for kicks: Banks 5 Island really is a blend of aged rums from five Caribbean islands: Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana, and Barbados. The fifth island, oddly, is not named. It is only said that it is to the east of the area. Hmmm.

Filtered to clear, this barrel-aged rum has much more character than most white rums. It is sweet and engaging, lively on the palate. The nose is rich with sugar cane, filling the room when the bottlecap is unscrewed.

Banks 5 Island doesn’t have a lot of nuance to it, and the finish is a bit lacking: Things take a turn for the bitter as the rum lingers on the tongue, which leaves the spirit a bit out of balance. I am out of limes right now, but I can certainly imagine how this would fare in a Daiquiri, and it is an image that I find pleasing.

80 proof.


Banks 5 Island rum Review: Banks 5 Island Rum

I Took the Cachaca Challenge

There is nothing more fun – or terrifying – than doing a blind head-to-head tasting of wine or spirits. What if everything you thought you knew was wrong? What if it turns out you like Gallo from a jug better than Screaming Eagle? (Answer: Well, then, you’re lucky. You’ll save a lot of money down the road.)

Recently I was given two vials of cachaca labeled A and B, some sugar, and a lime. My goal: Try the cachaca straight, then try it in a caipirinha, and report back to the agency putting on the event which I preferred.

I tasted them backwards…

Cachaca B was a clear, traditional cachaca, full of petrol notes but balanced with a little sweetness and citrus. Not much to it, a lot like a simple rum. (spot rating: B+)

Cachaca A was tinted light yellow, clearly one which had seen some barrel time. Much fruitier than A, it had lots of lemon oil and orange notes. Racy with aromatics, it was spice, flowers, and caramel/vanilla character from the time in wood. But still it was a cachaca at heart, as the petrol overtones made clear. Long, long finish here. (spot rating: A-, on the fence)

But what happened in a caipirinha? I made two cocktails identically, right down to the number of ice cubes, muddling lime and sugar, and adding the spirit and rocks.

Cachaca B made a very good caiprinha, pleasant and very much like a margarita. Clean and unfussy, it was easy to sip.

Cachaca A was overpowering: It stood up to the lime and sugar and made itself known, giving an astringency to the drink that was matched only by the floral and aromatic notes that followed. More complicated and intriguing, at first I preferred this one… until, five minutes later, I just couldn’t get that floral taste out of my mouth. While Cachaca B’s caipirinha finished clean, Cachaca A was too much, with a strong, almost salty aftertaste. I was reminded of my recent pisco tasting, where the stronger, mosto verde pisco was too much for a pisco sour to handle, and the simpler, acholado-style spirit turned out to work better in a mixed drink.

Just goes to show: Just because you like something on its own, doesn’t mean you’ll feel the same way once you start adding stuff. (And vice versa!)

And now for the identities (revealed after I submitted my ratings)…. Cachaca B was Cabana (then: B+), and Cachaca A was Leblon (then: B+).

cachaca challenge I Took the Cachaca Challenge

Review: Cockspur Fine Rum and Bajan Crafted Rum 12 Years Old

Cockspur isn’t a new name in the rum business, but corporate changes have led to Cockspur recently updating the way it sells its product in the U.S. Most notably, for the first time in decades, Cockspur’s U.S.-sold bottlings will be bottled in Barbados, where all the rum is made. Previously, Cockspur you purchased here was made on the island but bottled here.

We had a chance to taste two of the new, bottled-in-Barbados offerings from the company. Both are 80 proof.

Cockspur Fine Rum “Aged Reserve” - This is Cockspur’s entry-level rum, aged in oak (how long is unclear) and blended to a moderate gold color. A perfectly palatable mixing rum, Cockspur Fine isn’t much of a sipper — it’s got a roughness that isn’t easy to shake. But at its core it offers good, sweet vanilla notes, some herbal character, and light menthol notes. I’d happily pair this with Coke, particularly considering the price, but it’s lacking the complexity to be much more. B / $19

Cockspur Bajan Crafted Rum 12 Years Old – Containing “the oldest rums kept on reserve” at the Cockspur distillery — and Cockspur dates back to 1884 — Cockspur’s higher-end offering is considerably more advanced. Deep orange/amber color, a nutty character, and a sherry, citrus, and minty finish that offers deep complexity and richness. Great balance here, and while the denouement has a touch of rockiness, it’s quite a compelling rum. Great price for the quality. A- / $34 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

cockspur Review: Cockspur Fine Rum and Bajan Crafted Rum 12 Years Old

Review: Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum

Cruzan is the latest rum maker to jump into the spiced rum game. Its “9″ is rare in that it actually indicates what spices — nine of them, natch — are used to flavor the rum. They are: allspice, vanilla, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, clove, mace, and juniper berry.

This, by the way, is not a gin.

I had a tiny sample of 9 well before it was released and found it a bit off-putting. Whether the recipe has been tweaked or my final bottle (#233 of the first 500 made) is proving more worthwhile in a more controlled review setting I don’t know — though the latter is more likely. Cruzan 9 proves itself to be quite a capable spiced rum, a nice mix of sweet and relatively mild spices.

Vanilla is the big note here, with cinnamon and nutmeg distant secondary characteristics. Any sense of heat from pepper and the like is absent in 9, it’s one of the smoothest and most easygoing spiced rums I’ve ever had, and it could pass for a racier aged rum if one didn’t know better. I find this restraint rather a delight. 9 is one of the few spiced rums I can fathom drinking on its own, and it’s a natural companion with Coke and lime.

Give it a whirl.

80 proof.

A- / $14 (or less) /

cruzan 9 rum Review: Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum

Review: Bacardi Rock Coconut Flavored Rum

As it did with “Torched Cherry,” Bacardi continues its tradition of double-flavoring rums and giving the finished product one, nonsensical name.

Bacardi Rock Coconut is naturally flavored with rock melon and coconut water, hence, I guess, “rock coconut.” Rock melon, by the way, is a fancy name for cantaloupe.

As for the character of this rum, the emphasis is certainly on the coconut here. It’s strong on the nose and the body, and only if you leave the rum in your mouth for several seconds do you get any sense of fruit here, and even then it’s vague, mainly citrus in tone.

Frankly I’d wanted a little more coconut out of this, and it certainly could have used some more of the “rock” that’s promised. All told, your typical beach-goer isn’t going to be able to tell the difference between this and Malibu in his fruity cocktail, but it doesn’t really offer anything special to elevate it above the competition.

70 proof.

B / $20 /

bacardi rock coconut rum Review: Bacardi Rock Coconut Flavored Rum

Drinkhacker’s 2010 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

Another holiday season is upon us here at Drinkhacker HQ, and again we take the opportunity to look back at the best — and most gift-worthy — spirits the year had to offer. Don’t settle for giving your boss a bottle of Crown Royal again (not that we don’t like Crown Royal). Step lively and go long. Here are some gift-giving  ideas based on 2010′s brightest stars.

Also check out our 2009 and 2008 holiday guide.

Bourbon – George T. Stagg Antique Collection 2010 Edition ($65) – Always a favorite with bourbon fanatics, the incredibly alcohol-heavy Stagg is as good this year as its ever been. If you can’t find it (which is likely), we also highly recommend the new releases of Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve ($40), Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2010 ($50), and Four Roses 2010 Single Barrel Bourbon ($75 or so).

bruichladdich cuvee E 16 years old dyquem1 259x300 Drinkhacker’s 2010 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for ChristmasScotch – Bruichladdich 16 Years Old First Growth Series: Cuvee E Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes Finish ($105) – Failing a windfall that lets you nab a bottle of the new Highland Park 1968 ($4,000), this whisky is one of the best crowd-pleasers we tried all year. For more of a splurge — and an even more impressive statement, the bargain-priced (for its age) Glenfarclas 40 Year Old ($400) is outstanding.

GinBerkshire Mountain Distillers Greylock Gin ($30) – More of a hard-sell, but now you can prove to your dad that Americans can make gin just as good as the Brits. The unique Citadelle ($35) is always a hit, too, and this year’s version is wonderful.

Vodka – Rokk – 13 bucks a bottle, and just as good as anything else out there… though maybe not for a gift for anyone over 25 years old. Instead, Vision ($25) may be somewhat more impressive. Hangar One Kaffir Lime ($35) isn’t new, but it’s one of the best flavored vodkas on the market and will be cherished.

Rum – DonQ Gran Anejo ($70) – Rebranded and bottled in upscale style, it looks like a fancier gift than it is. Pampero Aniversario Ron Anejo ($34), though not new on the market, is equally decadent and a bit of a bargain. Also check out Botran Reserva ($24) or Dos Maderas rums ($32-$43) if you can find them.

camus borderies xo cognac 243x300 Drinkhacker’s 2010 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for ChristmasBrandy – Camus XO Borderies ($140)- A single-estate cognac that tastes far richer than its price would indicate. Brand new on the U.S. market, so your giftee will probably never have had it. Of course, if you can afford Emperor’s Giorgio G ($535)…

TequilaTequila Avion Anejo ($55)- It’s been an amazing year for tequila, and while we loved Peligroso Reposado ($50), Espolon Reposado ($25), Riazul Blanco ($45), Arta Silver ($45), and Dulce Vida Anejo ($55), we have to give the edge to Avion’s amazing anejo for our top pick.

Liqueur – Voyant Chai Cream Liqueur ($22) – In a world of iced tea-flavored vodkas, how about something a little more exotic? An authentic tasting chai tea liqueur that inspires India… or at least an Indian restaurant. Also unique and gift-worthy: Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur ($35).

Need another custom gift idea? Drop me a line or leave a comment here and I’ll offer my best advice!

Review: DonQ Limon, Gold, and Gran Anejo Rums

We’ve reviewed rums from this Puerto Rico distillery a few times before (here, and here), but this time we’re really getting into the good stuff, with DonQ’s Gran Anejo the top of the company’s standard product line.

DonQ Limon Rum is the company’s citrus-flavored rum. Lemon/lime is the focus here, and the rum (aged about one year) part of the equation takes a back seat to the citrus notes. Much like a citrus vodka, but sweeter. A bit of tough bitterness mars the finish, but this would be a perfectly good substitute for citrus vodka in a Cosmopolitan or in a Caribbean-style Lemon Drop, and obviously would work well in a Mojito. 60 proof. B+ / $17

DonQ Gold Rum is a blend of rums aged 1 to 4 years — and is said to be the rum used in the world’s first Pina Colada. Light gold in color, with a fairly strong medicinal character to it. More woody than you’d expect, but that lends itself more to tannin than gentle smokiness. 80 proof. B- / $18

DonQ Gran Anejo Rum has been recently repackaged and renamed, dropping a “D” from the old DonQ Grand Anejo moniker. A blend of rums aged 3 to 12 years in both American white oak and used sherry barrels. This is DonQ hitting its stride in full. The sherry notes are strong and lush, giving an orange tartness to balance the sweetness of the rum, well mellowed by time in wood and smooth as silk in the body and finish. Notes of straw, raisins, and cinnamon in the body. Good balance all around, though slightly tight in the finish. A totally solid choice for sipping after dinner. 80 proof. A- / $70

Cocktails for National Sandwich Day

Did you know that tomorrow (November 3) is National Sandwich Day? Did you know there was such a thing National Sandwich Day?

Well, there is, and even if you don’t like eating sandwiches, our friends at Flor de Cana have devised a way to drink them.

Behold, three of the strangest cocktail recipes I’ve seen all year. Happy drinking! Er, dining?

PBJ Cocktail 199x300 Cocktails for National Sandwich DayPB&J
Created by Gianfranco, Tippling Bros.

1.5 oz. Flor de Caña 7 yr rum
.5 oz. Lustau Palo Cortado Vides
.25 oz. Strawberry jam
.25 oz. Peanut syrup*
1 Egg white
1 Yellow banana

Shake all ingredients in a boston shaker without ice, then add ice and shake vigorously again. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass that is rimmed with minced salted-peanuts.

Garnish: A banana slice.

*Peanut syrup
1) Combine 2 parts water with 2 parts sugar in a pot
2) Bring sugar water to a boil
3) Add 1 part minced peanuts
4) Simmer for 10 minutes
5) Strain to remove peanut particles

BLT Cocktail 199x300 Cocktails for National Sandwich DayBLT
Created by Niccole Trzaska

1.5 oz. of Bacon-infused Flor de Caña 7 yr rum
2 oz. Sacramento tomato juice
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Pinch celery salt
Pinch black pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice
Dollop of horseradish
Fresh Cilantro to taste

Pour all ingredients over ice shake and then strain over ice.

Garnish:One piece of bib lettuce wrapped around a thick piece of crispy apple wood smoked bacon and an avocado slice. Use a toothpick or skewer to secure with a cherry tomato.

Cheeseburger Cocktail 199x300 Cocktails for National Sandwich DayCheeseburger
Created by Trevor Burnett and Whitney Munro, Tipicular Fixin’s

1 oz. Flor de Caña 7 yr rum
2 muddled Roma tomatoes
1 oz. Iceberg lettuce water
1 oz. Beef (well reduced)
2 tbsp Toasted bread crumbs
1 tsp Dry mustard powder
2 tbsp Aged cheddar
1 large Kosher dill pickle
Salt and pepper to taste

Muddle tomatoes, add ice, and slowly poor lettuce water. Stir rum and beef jus together in stainless shaker. Float rum mixture over ice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Garnish: Cheddar frico and pickle knot.

Garnish instructions: Heat pan to medium heat, sprinkle in cheddar and use sides of spoon to gather cheese into a circle. Brown and remove from pan to cool on plate. Mix bread crumbs with dry mustard. Wet rim of glass with pickle juice, dip glass in crumb mixture.

Review: Pampero Aniversario Ron Anejo

A pampero, I am told, is a “vicious squall” across the pampas in South America. I’m only saying that because it’s the only the second time on this blog that I’ve been able to legitimately use the word “pampas.”

Pampero Aniversario is a Venezuelan rum, and one of only a handful I’ve ever tried. And like its comrade Santa Teresa 1796, it is examplary.

Chocolate brown in color, the rum exudes nuttiness and dark, bittersweet chocolate on the nose. Fresh sugar coats the tongue as you taste, and Pampero takes you on a trip into desserts galore on the body — chocolate mousse, creme brulee, caramel pudding. The finish keeps going and going. Wood is there, but it’s sedate and stays in the background. The rum may look impossibly dark, but it actually spends only 4 to 6 years in old bourbon barrels. Really quite seductive and delicious, and at a price that’s more than fair for the quality you get.

It also comes in a hard-to-miss leather satchel (it’s not a purse!), which makes it an unmistakable gift. 80 proof.

A / $34 /

pampero aniversario rum Review: Pampero Aniversario Ron Anejo

Review: Mount Gay Rum 1703 Old Cask Selection

We’ve reviewed most of the Mount Gay lineup, but have finally gotten our mitts on the top of the line: Mount Gay 1703 Old Cask Selection.

This rum is produced in accordance with the Barbados distillery’s typical methods — aged molasses is distilled using two different techniques, then the rum is put into casks. 1703 is a selection of a variety of casks at a variety of ages, some up to 30 years old.

The result is a blended rum that exudes complexity. The nose is strong with wood and vanilla notes, so hefty you’d be excused if you thought this was good bourbon based on the aroma. But the first taste offers that telltale rum sweetness, a rush of sugar that is quickly tempered by so much wood that it feels like you’ve woken up in a lumberyard.

As things mellow out in the glass, 1703 reveals it to be less sugary than many fine old rums, and more balanced with those wood, candylike dessert, and green vegetable notes — characteristics which actually work pretty well rather than detracting from the overall effect. Without a doubt it’s one of the priciest commonly available rums on the market, and that makes it a tough sell vs. Mount Gay Extra Old at half the cost or less, but for something decadent and celebratory, this is a hit.

86 proof.

A- / $100 /

mount gay 1703 rum Review: Mount Gay Rum 1703 Old Cask Selection

Review: DonQ Cristal and Anejo Rum

DonQ is an unsung hero in the rum world, producing both some extremely inexpensive spirits as well as some highly-regarded, well-aged rums. Based in Puerto Rico, you’ll find these 80 proof rums just about everywhere.

Today we took a look at two of the less expensive, more widely-available offerings from the company.

DonQ Cristal Rum is a hot little number, produced in a Cuban style — aged for a year or more, and then filtered to remove the color and leave it clear. The rum is clean-tasting but quite hot, with a good bit of burn on the finish. The aroma offers wood and a little smoke, and the body is only minimally sweet with the aforementioned characteristics as secondary notes. If you’re a fan of simple rums without overwhelming sweetness — but which are nonetheless perfectly palatable on their own — DonQ Cristal is a winner at an amazing price. B+ / $10

DonQ Anejo Rum is aged from three to five years and is left with its color intact. The nose is sweet vanilla with wood backing it up. Still hot, though, but it’s mellowed out by the sweetness that the Cristal lacks. Hardly complicated but easy enough to sip on or mix with, it’s nonetheless a solid rum at this price level. B / $16

Review: Botran Solera 1893 and Reserva Rum

Botran Rum, aka Ron Botran or Casa Botran, hails from Guatemala and is distilled by the same outfit that makes the fantastic Ron Zacapa, Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala.

Located about a mile and a half above sea level, Botran’s rums are matured in a very cool warehouse compared to most of the industry, where the rum is made to sweat it out in tropical climes. Botran’s portfolio spans six rums. We tried two, the most noteworthy offerings available in the U.S.

Both are 80 proof.

Botran Solera 1893 – Botran didn’t start making rum until 1939, so don’t think you’re getting rum that’s over 100 years old here. But this solera-style spirit certainly does have some really old spirit in it, judging by the deep amber color and intense aroma of wood here. The flavor profile is classic for a quality anejo: Almonds, marshmallows, a touch of black cherry, and lots and lots of turbinado sugar. A little bitter on the finish, alas, but overall this is a really quality rum — and a real bargain at $30 a bottle. A- / $30

Botran Reserva – Quite a different rum than the Solera, with less body but even more sweetness. This anejo is blend of various rums from 5 to 14 years old, rich with tropical flavors — banana and coconut — plus a good slug of caramel character. There’s less overwhelming brown sugar character here than in the Solera, and the Reserva’s finish is exquisitely smooth. This is a real winner of a rum, and, like the Solera, also a truly impressive bargain. A / $24

botran rum reserva and solera Review: Botran Solera 1893 and Reserva Rum