Review: Parce Rum 12 Years Old

Parce is a new brand of rum made in Colombia. Sugar cane is sourced from local plantations as well as Barbados and Trinidad, then processed in country with natural spring water and a proprietary yeast. Fermented and column-distilled, it is aged in used bourbon casks for 12 years before blending and bottling. Bottles are individually hand numbered and dated.

An 8 year old and 3 year old expression, not reviewed here, are also available.

All told, this is an exceptional rum with plenty to recommend it. The nose is aromatic with notes of coffee bean, cinnamon, chocolate, and brown sugar — pretty much all the aromas you’re looking for in an older spirit. Give it time and hints of walnut emerge in the glass. On the palate, it’s sweet but not overly so, a bold body and a notable acidity giving it more to grab onto in the glass. The palate finds much of the same character as the nose, though it’s particularly heavy on the coffee and chocolate notes. On the finish, a light and lively, lingering sweetness — impregnated just so with spice notes — fully engages the senses and commands one to pour another glass.

Very, very well done.

80 proof. Reviewed: Bottle #D12002.


Review: Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum Sherry Finish

Papa’s Pilar is out with a limited release of 8400 bottles of a new expression of its sourced rum. It all starts with a custom version of Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum:

The team of Master Blenders created this special edition expression of custom barreled Papa’s Pilar Dark, with seven different hand-selected rums up to 25 years old, which are both pot and column distilled. After solera aging in Bourbon barrels, Port Wine casks, and Spanish Sherry casks, the bold and complex rum was further aged in Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks for approximately 30 days, creating a unique flavor profile.

In a quest to get rum back to its roots, the Papa’s Pilar Production team chose to embrace a similar methodology used in Scotch Whiskey, with the goal to allow the rum blend to continue to meld together, while also interacting with the Sherry and French Oak. It’s also a method used by Cuban rum makers in their best rums, as they cannot easily source used American Bourbon barrels. The team chose to use French Limousin Oak Sherry casks from Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, and only for a short period of time, because the grain structure of French Limousin Oak is wider and more open than American Oak Bourbon barrels (300L vs 200L).

Nutty on the nose, with a rich amontillado character, studded with chocolate, gingerbread, and cloves. It’s quite sweet, with a maple syrup aroma to it as well. On the palate, the rum is less rich than expected given the sugary nose, the somewhat oily body redolent of furniture polish and more baking spice, mixed in with walnuts and roasted chestnuts. On the finish, a slightly gummy, vaguely vegetal note takes hold, a counterbalance to some late-arriving notes of tart citrus, driven by the sherry cask. It’s not as impactful as those amontillado notes up front, but it does help soften what is otherwise a quite austere rum that keeps its charms a bit too close to the vest.

86 proof.

B+ / $40 /

Review: Avua Cachaca – Jequitiba Rosa and Still Strength

Brazil’s bustling cachaca brand, Avua, is back with two new expressions, further expanding its lineup. Details on each follow in the commentary for each option. Both remain distilled from local sugarcane

Avua Cachaca Jequitiba Rosa – Another native wood expression from Avua, this one is aged in barrels made from Jequitiba Rosa wood, a common tree grown in the south of Brazil, for up to two years. The nose is engaging, the inherent petrol character cut with notes of pineapple and lots of spiced baked apples. The palate is quite soft — one of the gentlest I’ve encountered in a cachaca to date — with modest sweetness and ample fruit that syncs up with the nose. Silky through and through, with hints of banana on the finish. One for your caipirinha for sure. Now the bad news: 600 bottles available in the U.S. 80 proof. A- / $70

Avua Cachaca Still Strength – I’m not sure if cachaca comes off the still at all of 45% alcohol, but either way, this unaged cachaca is still one of the higher-proof options we have available. That said, is more alcohol character what people are really looking for in a cachaca? The slightly higher proof (regular Avua Prata is bottled at 84 proof) doesn’t much alter the experience, which is a petrol-heavy experience with some lime zest on the nose and a palate that finds a bready, somewhat vegetal character lingering on the back end. Fine, but not altogether earth-shattering. 90 proof. B+ / $45

Review: Chairman’s Reserve Original Rum and The Forgotten Casks Rum

Saint Lucia Distillers is home to the Chairman’s Reserve brand, which currently comprises four spirits from white to spiced. Saint Lucia’s rums are typically blended from both column and pot still rums that are aged separately in bourbon barrels.

Today we look at Chairman’s Original Rum, a mainstream amber release, and The Forgotten Casks, its oldest and rarest expression, “crafted to mimic rum found in the original forgotten casks of Chairman’s Reserve, which were preserved from St. Lucia Distillers horrific fire on May 2, 2007.” Details follow.

Both are 80 proof.

Chairman’s Reserve Original Rum – As noted, this is a blend of column and pot still rum with an average age of 5 years old, there’s ample hogo on the nose, along with notes of burnt matches, cooked fruit, and coconut husk. The palate is bold and aggressive, though the initial funk is quickly whisked away by a surfeit of fruit: green banana, coconut, apricot, and some fleeting floral notes on the finish. It’s sweet and complex enough to sip on its own, but also intrepid enough to stand up to a complicated tiki drink. B+ / $32

Chairman’s Reserve The Forgotten Casks Rum – As discussed above, this rum is meant to mimic the casks “lost” during the distillery’s rehabilitation after a fire, those misplaced barrels ultimately taking on too much age to be used in the Original Rum release. The rums in this bottle are between 6 and 11 years old. As you might expect, there’s more depth here, starting with a nose rich in molasses, salted caramel, cloves, and a much more dialed-back version of that funky hogo character. The palate is rich and seductive, with a clear coffee character running through it, along with some dark chocolate notes. Moderately sweet throughout, but light enough on the finish, it’s a dazzling rum designed for extended sipping and savoring. Beautiful! A / $43

Review: Bedtime Bourbon 8 Years Old

What if I told you a company was making an eight year old Bourbon that was sourced from Tennessee, and that it was on sale exclusively in Kentucky? I’m not crazy, I’m just sampling Bedtime Bourbon, which is being produced by the Louisville Bourbon Transit Company, a tiny outlet that recently opened up shop here.

Here’s a look at batch #1 of Bedtime Bourbon, which is composed of just four barrels of whiskey, with 840 bottles produced.

This is a perfectly workable and enjoyable bourbon, though experienced whiskey drinkers will find that it keeps things on the safe side. The nose is lightly grainy, with notes of chocolate, ample vanilla, and plenty of caramel corn notes to get things started. The palate is sharp and a bit citrusy, with those caramel corn notes — not too young, not too old — dominating as the palate develops. On the finish, a bit of mint melds nicely with the chocolate notes, giving it a cohesive and appropriately dessert-like conclusion.

All told, like I said earlier, it’s a “safe” bourbon, but one that certainly gets a lot of things right by not toying too much with the script.

90 proof.

A- / $50 /

Review: Don Q “Pina” Pineapple Rum

Pineapple and rum go together like peas and carrots, and as flavored rums go, Don Q’s Pina — made in Puerto Rico with rum aged 12 to 18 months and naturally flavored “with 100% natural pineapple juice” — feels tailor made for your pina colada, or whatever other tropical concoction you have in mind. Quite sweet but not overblown, the pineapple notes come across more like sugared and dried pineapple slices, with a straight granulated sugar confectionery base underneath. The finish is a rush of brown sugar, the lightly aged rum in the mix finally showing its stripes.

Naturally, all of this reserves Pina for duty strictly as a mixer — it’s a one-note rum without much versatility beyond the world of tiki — but at $13 a bottle, that’s not such a bad thing.

60 proof. Aka DonQ.

B / $13 /

Drinkhacker’s 2017 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

It’s our tenth anniversary, and our tenth holiday gift guide!

After more than 5500 posts — the bulk of them product reviews — we’ve written millions of words on all things quaffable, and as always, we select the cream of the crop to highlight in our annual holiday buying guide. Consider it a “best of the year,” if you’d like — though we do try to aim the list toward products that are actually attainable (sorry, Van Winkle family!) by the average Joe.

As always, the selections below are not comprehensive but represent some of our absolute favorite products. Got a different opinion or think we’re full of it? Feel free to let us know in the comments with your own suggestions for alternatives or questions about other categories or types of beverages that might be perfect for gifting. None of these sound any good to you? Not enough scratch? Teetotaling it in 2018? May we suggest a Drinkhacker t-shirt instead?

Again, happy holidays to all of you who have helped to make Drinkhacker one of the most popular wine and spirits websites on the Internet! Here’s to the next 10 years of kick-ass drinks reviews!

And don’t forget, for more top gift ideas check out the archives and read our 20162015201420132012201120102009, and 2008 holiday guides.

Bourbon – Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch Bourbon 2017 “Al Young 50th Anniversary” ($500) – I’m not the only one to have fallen in love with Four Roses’ one-off Small Batch bottling, which was made in honor of longtime employee Al Young and his 50 years on the job. While this exquisite small batch hit the market at $150, you’re more likely to find it at triple the cost… which means you can expect triple the thank yous should you buy one for a loved one. If that’s not in the cards, check out this year’s Parker’s Heritage Collection Single Barrel Bourbon 11 Years Old ($300+), A. Smith Bowman Abraham Bowman Sequential Series Bourbon ($40/375ml – hard to find), Wyoming Whiskey Double Cask Limited Edition ($55), or Hirsch High Rye Straight Bourbon Whiskey 8 Years Old ($40). All of these will make for unusual, but highly loved, gifts.

Scotch – Kilchoman Red Wine Cask Matured ($110) – So much good Scotch hit this year that it’s hard to pick a favorite, but for 2017 I simply have to go with the magical combination of Islay peat and red wine casks that Kilchoman just released. It’s an absolute steal at this price; buy one for your best bud and one for yourself, too. Of the many other top bottlings to consider, the ones you should be able to actually find include: Caol Ila Unpeated 18 Years Old Limited Edition 2017 ($100), The Balvenie Peat Week 14 Years Old 2002 Vintage ($93), Bunnahabhain 13 Years Old Marsala Finish ($80), and Glenmorangie Bacalta ($89).

Other Whiskey – Kavalan Amontillado Sherry Cask Single Malt Whisky ($400) – I’m not thrilled about dropping another multi-hundred dollar whiskey in this list, but Kavalan hit it out of the park with its finished single malts, the top of the line being this Amontillado-casked number, which is as dark as coffee in the glass. Also consider The Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey 16 Years Old ($70), Amrut Spectrum 004 Single Malt Whisky ($500, apologies again), and the outlandish Lost Spirits Distillery Abomination “The Sayers of the Law” ($50, but good luck).

Gin – Cadee Distillery Intrigue Gin ($36) – It’s been a lighter year for gin, but Washington-based Cadee’s combination of flavors in Intrigue are amazing. A close second goes to Eden Mill’s Original Gin ($40), which hails from Scotland.

Vodka – Stateside Urbancraft Vodka ($30) Philadelphia-born Stateside Urbancraft Vodka was the only new vodka we gave exceptional marks to this year. Is the category finally on the decline?

Rum – Havana Club Tributo 2017 ($160) – As Cuban rum finds its way to the U.S., your options for finding top-quality sugar-based spirits are better than ever. Start your collection with Havana Club’s Tributo 2017, which you can now find for much less than the original $390 asking price. More mainstream options: Mezan Single Distillery Rum Panama 2006 ($43), Maggie’s Farm La Revuelta Dark Rum ($35), Cooper River Petty’s Island Driftwood Dream Spiced Rum ($32), or, for those with deep pockets, Arome True Rum 28 Years Old ($600).

Brandy – Domaines Hine Bonneuil 2006 Cognac ($140) – Hine’s 2006 vintage Cognac drinks well above its age and is just about perfect, a stellar brandy that any fan of the spirit will absolutely enjoy. Bache-Gabrielsen XO Decanter Cognac ($100) makes for a striking gift as well, given its lavish presentation and decanter.

Tequila – Patron Extra Anejo Tequila ($90) – No contest here. Patron’s first permanent extra anejo addition to the lineup hits all the right notes, and it’s surprisingly affordable in a world where other extras run $200 and up. Siembra Valles Ancestral Tequila Blanco ($120) is actually more expensive despite being a blanco, but its depth of flavor is something unlike any other tequila I’ve ever encountered.

Liqueur – Luxardo Bitter Bianco ($28) – Who says amaro has to be dark brown in color? Luxardo’s latest is as bitter as anything, but it’s nearly clear, making it far more versatile in cocktails (and not so rough on your teeth). I love it. For a much different angle, check out Songbird Craft Coffee Liqueur ($25), a sweet coffee liqueur that’s hard not to love.

Wine  A bottle of wine never goes unappreciated. Here is a selection of our top picks from 2017:

Need another custom gift idea (or have a different budget)? Drop us a line or leave a comment here and we’ll offer our best advice!

Looking to buy any of the above? Give Caskers and Master of Malt a try!