Review: Santero Ron 21 Años

Rating: ★★★½☆
Santero Ron 21 Años

Since starting these rum reviews some three or so years ago, my love of rum has certainly evolved. I like to think that my skill at reviewing rum has evolved as well. Of late, I’ve taken great pride in digging into the rum experience and identifying subtleties and nuances that may not be immediately obvious. In my non-rum reviews, I’ve long struggled to avoid simply labeling any product as “good” or “bad”, instead seeking ways to identify the qualities of said product, and thereby letting the reader determine if it is suited to their own interests and tastes, and I hope to finally be doing the same in my rum reviews.

As such, it’s with some level of defeat that I hereby identify Santero 21 rum as being – simply put – very, very good. I explored this rum to the best of my ability, trying a glass here, a glass there – always seeking those unique characteristics that I might share with my readers to explain what sets this rum apart. And always I’ve failed. But don’t mistake my failure to identify this rum’s qualities as being a failure on the part of this rum’s creators – this is an awsome, noteworthy rum. Continue reading

Review: Old Monk XXX

Rating: ★★½☆☆
Old Monk XXX

Click to buy!
from Internet Wines and Spirits

What is it with eastern Indians and pornographic rum? Really, I have only two rums in my collection from India, and both are labeled as being XXX. Old Monk rum, I notice, is aged seven years, which is admirable. But seven years is hardly “old”, and certainly not old enough to participate in XXX endeavours. But I digress…

Old Monk Rum comes in a squat, rotund, uniquely textured bottle that makes it stand out from many of its contemporaries on the liquor shelves. The label features a smiling, rather european looking monk, and in big red letters features the aforementioned XXX. In the glass, Old Monk is a rich amber. To the nose it smells of the distant, candy sweetness common amongst sugarcane-juice frenchy rums, rather than the embracing, robust sweetness of molasses real rums. It lightly burns the back of the nasal cavity, and also carries hints of charred leather and cherry cordial (seriously.) Continue reading

Review: El Dorado 25 Year

Rating: ★★★☆☆
El Dorado 25 Year Rum
www.eldorado-rum.com

Click to buy!
from Internet Wines and Spirits

El Dorado 25 year rum carries the distinction of being one of those few rums old enough to legally drink itself. As such, it’s auspiciously packaged in an elegant, understated glass decanter complete with a ship logo. The rum inside can be clearly viewed, and is a soft, deep amber color.

When poured in the glass, this rum smells very sweet, and is quite sharp on the nose, burning the sinuses in a way that is sure to grab some attention. And if it doesn’t, the first sip surely will. It burns – quite pleasantly, and quite lingerlingly. Flavor is rather beside the point at this stage, as the sensation overwhelms. Continue reading

Review: Appleton Extra

Rating: ★★★½☆
Appleton Extra
www.appletonrum.com

Click to buy!
from Internet Wines and Spirits

During my earlier years as a partaker of rum, Appleton V/X remained an ongoing staple. Where some rums were nuanced or brought unique character to the game, V/X remained rum – plain and perfect. In time I grew out of V/X, my more refined (or perhaps robust) palette thirsting for greater challenges. Enter Appleton Extra.

Appleton Extra is everything that was V/X, only older and more sophisticated. It’s darker, heavier, oakier. It’s a bit more brutal, and a bit more rewarding. In short, it’s a definitive trade up from V/X, which I still maintain to be a fine entry-level sipper. Continue reading

Review: Mount Gay Eclipse

Rating: ½☆☆☆☆
Mount Gay Eclipse
www.mountgayrum.com

My experience with Mt. Gay has been 50/50. I first tried their Sugar Cane Rum, and didn’t care for it much at all. I next tried their more exclusive Extra Old Rum, and it was an instant favorite. So now, just for grins, I return to the grocery store variety of Mt. Gay to try their Eclipse rum.

The color is light amber, the bottle unremarkable, and the label boasts the contents to be “refined.” To the smell, this rum is distant, and somewhat mildewy and crustaceous – I swear to you, there’s uncooked lobster in this, which makes for an odd, if not exactly good, start (especially for pirates with allergies.) But being the brave sort, I take the plunge and have a swig. In the mouth, Mt. Gay Eclipse is light and syrupy. It leaves a defined tingle across the tongue once swallowed, but little in the way of any actual flavor. The second sip encounters less tingle, and a bit more sweetness – but is still absent any real flavor. Indeed, with each subsequent sip Mt. Gay Eclipse flirts with flavor – sweet here, leathery there – but never really commits to anything. As such, it has little to recommend it to the the rum sipper of any sort of refined expectations.

Stick with the Mt. Gay Extra Old. It costs a penny or two more, but you’ll be happier in the end.

Review: Bacardi Select

Rating: ½☆☆☆☆
Bacardi Select
www.bacardi.com

Bacardi has long been at the forfront of rum, at least so far as nightclubs and bars are concerned. A staple of mixed drinks, I’ve long avoided drinking the stuff straight. But having explored rums far and wide, it seems high time I finally take a swig or two of what’s been readily available from day one.

I’m unclear which is meant to be Bacardi’s premiere sipping rum – either Bacardi Select or Bacardi Solera. For this review, I tried the Select. I bought a bottle, poured a glass, and gave a long overdue fair shake to this rum I’ve so long avoided. And the result?

C’mon, Bacardi. Is this really the best you can do? The largest existing distillery with the greatest resources at your disposal, loads of heritage beneath your wings, and you call this retch “Select”? Gosling’s Black Seal probably dumps better rum than this down the drain – and sells a better product for half the price. So do others, for that matter. Continue reading

Review: 10 Cane Rum

Rating: ★★★½☆
www.10cane.com

Though certainly the most enjoyable, rum reviews are also one of the toughest subjects I tackle. This isn’t always the case, but now and then I’m confronted with a factor that is unique to rum alone amongst all my reviews – it changes.

Actually, that’s not wholly accurate. True, being an agricultural product, one bottle of rum (despite sharing the same label) is not always identical to the next. This poses a challenge. But what’s more, *I* change as well. Whether it’s my ever-developing appreciation for the product, or simply alterations in the weather, the fact is I don’t always remain consistent in my opinions. What’s fantastic one day might fall a little flat the next. And so on.

Continue reading

Review: Maui Dark

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Maui Dark Rum
www.haleakaladistillers.com

Many words can be applied to Maui Dark Rum, but “timid” it is not. From the moment the bottle is opened, a broadside of sensations is unleashed. Oak and burnt leather, and a heavy sweet musk with hints of nutmeg and pepper. This rum can be brutal and merciless, and that’s before you’ve even taken a first sip.

Maui Dark tastes much as it smells, with the same musky earthiness, toffee, and a bit of char. It isn’t subtle, and it certainly isn’t gentle. Strangely, as this rum journeys through your mouth, it leaves the majority of the tongue untouched, instead focusing its attentions on the back of the mouth – the rear roof, the base of the tongue, and the back of the throat. It’s in these areas that Maui works its mojo, for good and for il. Continue reading

Review: Gosling’s Family Reserve

Rating: ★★★★★
Gosling’s Family Reserve
www.goslings.com

I’ve long been a fan of Gosling’s Black Seal rum. Dollar for dollar, it’s one of the finest rums around. True, it isn’t for the faint of heart – but it soundly encompasses what rum is meant to be, and is one of the most affordable rums around that can be enjoyed straight up. So when Gosling finally started making their Family Reserve Rum more readily available, I was duly excited to finally try it.

First, it’s always a delight when a rum distiller takes the time to package their product in a manner befitting a spirit of such rich history. Gosling’s Family Reserve (also called Gosling’s Old Rum) is bottled in frosted glass of an extremely dark green. Its cork is sealed in black wax, embossed with a company seal and identified with rustic labels which include individual bottle/batch numbers. The whole affair is encased in an open-faced wooden box, and is truly a sight to behold. Continue reading

Review: Zaya Gran Reserva

Rating: ★★★★☆
Zaya Gran Reserva Rum

Click to buy!
from Internet Wines and Spirits

Never has a rum looked more dignified. The bottle is tall and elegently marked with its black and gold label. The neck is tightly wrapped in palm, which contrasts beautifully with the rich mahogany, 12 year aged, pure sugarcane rum within. The bottle itself is extra thick, and the additional heft this creates only further lends the impression that this is a rum worthy of note.

Upon removing the cork, the rum itself smells heavy and sweet, and tastes the same. It’s full of contradiction, weighty and aloof, yet surprisingly forward. It’s kind of like meeting a dusky tribal queen dressed from head to toe in rich silks and golden feathers, and when you reach out to politely kiss her hand she instead sits on your lap and liplocks you in front of your bewildered crew. Yeah – something like that. Continue reading