For the record, that’s Old Fashioned Traditional Dark. The rum itself may be old-fashioned, but its creation is decidedly newfangled. Constructed by a crew of seven self-described “rum geeks,” the team behind Plantation’s OFTD includes Plantation’s rum master Alexandre Gabriel, plus David Wondrich, and five rum-centric bar owners, including Jeff “Beachbum” Berry (New Orleans’ Latitude 29), Martin Cate (SF’s Smuggler’s Cove), and Scotty Schuder (Paris’s Dirty Dick). Their goal: To create a rich, flavorful, and strong rum, something that might be given out to old navy sailors back in the era of clipper ships.
The blend the septet came up with includes rum from Guyana, Jamaica, and Barbados, and it’s bottled at “a full 20 degrees overproof” according to Royal Navy measurements. At 69% alcohol, it’s really designed for cocktails — to serve as the definitive dark, overproof cocktail ingredient.
Let’s see what Gabriel and this motley crew have come up with.
The color is a nice toffee-coffee brown, which seems like it should be nice and easygoing, not an overproof bruiser. The nose quickly proves you wrong, offering a mix of Madeira, burnt sugar, black coffee, coal fire, and a mix of Caribbean spices… cloves, anise, and salty licorice. Very hot with alcohol (as it should be), this heat spills over into the palate, which offers a heavily charred barrel influence to dry out the rich molasses underpinning it. The secondary character includes some lingering orange peel, more of those heavy cloves, ginger, some petrol. It’s slightly nutty at times, and even a little floral if you can push past some rather intense and tarry licorice notes. If nothing else, at least the heavy amount of alcohol makes for a finish that gently burns away anything lingering on the palate, leaving behind some light but not unpleasant notes of tar and coffee grounds.
It is tough to make a great overproof rum, but our friends at Plantation have done quite a good job of it. Let us honor their hard work of delving through hundreds of samples and historic reference points by taking a hearty pull from the OFTD flagon, no?