We drank our weight in rum at RumFest; here you’ll find 20 different rum tastings.
DonQ Gran Anejo
Golden rum aged 5 years; 40% ABV; price unknown; available 2012
The bottle may say it is aged for 5 years but that’s a purely legal detail. Inside is a blend of rums aged no less than 5 years and up to 30 years. Speaking of the bottle, it is one of the finest to display rum; the low, square glass decanter is a work of art. Even the stopper is glass, unlike the plastic/wood hybrids usually used to bung up spirit decanter-bottles.
The contents are no less classy. A beautifully bright, marmalade colour when held to the light, this Puerto Rican solera blended rum is delicate in aroma, with touches of oak, honey and a little nutmeg on the nose. On the palate, it’s so rich yet so smooth. The blend of 5 – 30 year rums is masterfully done, giving just enough molasses, honeycomb, carrot cake and oaky flavours without getting too complicated. Very impressive.
St. Lucia distillers
12 year old golden rum; 40% ABV; approximate price £40; available now
Matured in port barrels, Admiral Rodney is extra aged golden rum presented in an ornate, decanter style bottle. On the nose it is sweet and oaky with a slight spice. Upfront, the taste is delicate and smooth, almost so much so you begin to wonder if there’s any flavour. Then, patience is rewarded with one of the longest, most delicious aftertastes around.
St. Lucia distillers
Blended rum; 43% ABV; approximate price £50; available from November 2011
Blended from rums as old as 22 years old, this is a vibrant amber coloured rum with a smooth, fruity aroma. The taste is sweet, dense and powerful, not unlike a lightly peated whisky, but without any burn. These qualities almost make it similar to a cognac, and it is a definite slow-sipper. According to the representative, the branding may change year on year, e.g. 1932, 1933 and so on.
Anejo 4 year old; 37.5% ABV; out now
Ron Santafe is made in Colombia, in a region of the Andes at 9,000 feet above sea level. The higher altitude means there’s less of the evaporation, or ‘angel’s share’, commonly experienced with other rums. The producers claim this helps to give its unique flavour.
Gold in appearance, this is has a very light and delicate smell. The first thing you notice it that it’s light as air in body and taste, with very little kick and an easy going profile. Interestingly, there are the same coffee and leather notes also found in the Diplomatico rums from Venezuela.
Reserva Exclusiva 8 year old; 40% ABV
The Exclusiva is not much like the Anejo, bearing many of the same flavour characteristics, though coming through that little bit darker, heavier and stronger. There are toffee notes in the aroma, and a honeyed aftertaste. This is the sipping rum to the Anejo’s mixing rum.
en-ye Gold Rum
en-ye Single Estate
3 year old gold rum; 40% ABV; price unknown, presently limited release
En-ye is made in a small, single estate in Argentina and is only presently available in the Gaucho chain of restaurants, with the producers looking to expand their range to bars and more restaurants by Christmas 2011.
The gold rum has a noticeable and very alluring honeycomb scent, with a dash of vanilla. The sweet honeycomb comes through on the taste, partnered with toffee, but before it becomes too sweet and simple, an undercurrent of chilli pepper slips in and helps to deliver a long, dry aftertaste. For a rum aged 3 years this is amazingly complex. If en-ye released an 8 year old that expanded on the quality of the 3 year old, it would probably cause people to have instant orgasms.
en-ye White Rum
white rum; 40% ABV; price unknown, presently limited release
This has the honeycomb scent and taste of its older counterpart though less intense or complex, being white. A very pleasant mixing choice.
Brugal Extra Viejo
8 year old rum; 38% ABV; approximate price £25 – 30; available now
Craig Heap: This is a dark amber/deep red brown rum, aged in American bourbon oak casks. The cask makes itself known throughout the profile, beginning with delicate wood and toffee aromas and peaking with a full on oak taste. Leather and toffee backs up the oaky taste to give it complexity and balance. The taste is bold but without any burn, making this a deliciously versatile drink ideal for sipping or mixing.
Chris Hall: This clean, gorgeous, orange nectar is bursting with oak, caramel, and just a little bitter chocolate. It has a really rich woody texture, but is also quite gentle in its delivery. It balances a soft, creamy flavour and a sharper honey tartness very impressively. A very smooth rum with a long finish and lots of charm.
Blended from rums aged 5 to 14 years; 40% ABV; price unknown; available now
Made by the Botran family in Guatemala, a lot of effort goes into the rum, in a process utilising the solera aging system, years of blending, and a variety of port sherry whisky and re-charred whisky barrels.
Craig Heap: What comes out is a dominating, dark brown spirit with a rich and smooth aroma giving out toffee and spiced notes. It’s reminiscent of Diplomatico – delivering plenty of dense, complex flavours such as coffee and oak, balanced by sweet caramel and a long finish.
Chris Hall: A coppery, sharp-looking number with a rather subtle but pleasant set of aromas including vanilla, apricots and leather. Very sweet on the tongue but with oaky bitterness, and steady build of caramel. No burn in the throat despite a spicy finish. Very smooth.
Botran Solera 1893 (5-18yo blend)
The older Solera blend from Botran had a darker, almost ruby-tinged colour, with a far sharper and drier scent of vanilla, dried fruit and a little smoke. A thick wave of caramel up front gives way quickly to a full, sharp smack of spice. It rounds itself off with a long, juicy aftertaste that brings things down gently and smoothly.
The Arcane 18 month
A French Caribbean style all-cane rum with no molasses, The Arcane is a slightly milky, pale gold, with a sharp, citrusy smell offset with suggestions of herb gardens, flowers and cucumber. On the tongue it gets feisty, slapping down a crisp, tingly texture; thick, can juice sliding down your throat leaving almost yoghurt-sour elements alongside a syrupy sweet profile.
The Arcane 12 Year
A deeper gold than its younger brother, the 12 year version of Arcane is a wildly unusual creature. The aroma is mint, mint, mint with suggestions of Sauvignon Blanc white wine in the background. It simply refuses to be treated the same as other rums, serving up a very minty, sweet yet peppery palate. It’s a very complex liquid and, surely, an incredible cocktail ingredient in the right hands.
Takamaka Bay Aged (8 year)
This aged effort from the Seychelles distiller is a little bit dull in the glass, not quite as bright as some of its competitors. A smoky, almost Scotch-like character pervades the nose, showing a lot of input from the whiskey barrels used to age it. The palate is disappointing, giving up a lot of heat in the throat but no clarity in its flavour.
Takamaka Bay Coco (3 year)
The Coco from Tamakaka (not technically classified as rum due its strength) uses loads of natural coconut extract, which translates quite cleanly into its aroma if not the palate. A lemony, sour quality overtakes the coconut, leaving a strange, emptiness at the back of the throat.
This rather tackily branded but authentic overproof Jamaican rum is a shock to the senses. A heinous, brain-cell destroying pong of ethanol dominates, tinged with banana, pepper, and raw sugarcane. It’s unpalatably strong, fierce and relentless with its assault. Barely understandable. The aftertaste is what I imagine may occur when dying.
Pinchancha 15 year old
This high-altitude-distilled rum is a solid, thick, toffee colour, and makes no secret of the amount of molasses. It’s fierce, citric, bitter and aggressive. Sadly, it tastes in your throat as opposed to your tongue. More burn than flavour, and poorly executed.
R.L.Seale’s 10 year old
Barbadian rum aged in bourbon barrels. Bright amber in the glass, ozzing honey, vanilla and creamy, toffee cheesecake aromas. Flavour is short but perfectly formed, and translates all those smells quickly and cleanly back and forth across the tongue. A crisp, bitter toffee aftertaste tempts you for more.
Senari’s 2 year old Pure Cane
Spanish all-cane effort with a sour, juicy, clean nose of lemons, cane and a little banana. The flavour is fast and fruity, dealing out a very tingly, sharp and snappy palate that leaves the tongue just a little too quickly.
The Kraken Black Spiced
A rambunctious, dark-looking beast that is actually more red than brown in the glass, Kraken offers up spoonfuls of toffee cheesecake, burning molasses and a rich spicy kick from the nose alone. On the tongue it is both enjoyably smooth and surprisingly complex, giving equal time to both spice and sweetness as it slips down your gullet. A little burn is left behind, offset by a rich, sticky toffee flavour that is irresistible.
A darker-than-gold, lighter-than-dark rum with a sweet, orange aroma and fairly balanced if a little boring palate. It has a little too much in common with Southern Comfort in its flavour, but still a very fine spirit to use in a long drink with ginger beer and lime.