Review: Havana Club 15

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Havana Club 15yr Rum

Cuban rum – by its very nature – has some serious expectations to meet. Between the mystique of being taboo, the equally high bar set by Cuban cigars, and the general buzz of how incredible Cuban rum is supposed to be, it only stands to reason that finally getting your hands on a Cuban bottle should be a moment to celebrate. And as such, the rum itself is certainly expected to be worthy of such a lofty build-up.


My first dissappointment with the Cuban rum was the bottle itself – mainly the screw cap and plastic diffuser. I like corks, and diffusers seem appropriate only with cheap mixers. So why cheapen a dignified rum with one? Well, I have been schooled. It seems that with the diffuser locked in place, it prevents malcontents from drinking a rum, refilling the bottle with some other rum, and then reselling the thing. It makes sense. I still don’t like it, but I recognize the logic, and will try to be less critical of plastic diffusers from here on. (This said, it bears note that to date I’ve only discovered this forgery-defence utilized on highly praised yet over-rated rums, and never on those I would genuinely deem worthy such concerns. In my experience, the best of the best rums remain humbly – and honorably – corked.) Continue reading

Review: Rogue Spirits Dark

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Rogue Spirits Dark Rum

Click to buy!
from Internet Wines and Spirits

It’s a pet peeve of mine when people compare good rum to fine cognac. This is because it seems like everyone wants to somehow apologize for rum, or justify their enjoyment of it. “It’s not like rum, it’s more like a fine cognac” and so forth. These people can take a long walk off a short plank, for all I care. I love rum, and I don’t need to compare it to cognac to feel better about my enjoyment of a beverage that’s essentially born of industrial waste.

All that said – and I apologize for the irony – Rogue Spirit’s Dark Rum is more like a fine cognac. Continue reading

Review: Coyopa

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Coyopa Rum

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from Internet Wines and Spirits

The packaging of Coyopa Rum is a classy mix of old and new. The square bottle and large, wood-handled cork reminiscent of rum’s fine heritage, as does paper seal, complete with handwritten batch numbers and distiller’s initials. But on closer inspection, the busy background of the colorful label is actually various images of a dancing couple, which gives a slight hint of modernism and trendiness. Personally, I enjoy the old-style found in many rum bottles, but in this case the blend seems to work rather well.

The rum inside is a rich, clear amber, and to the nose it smells cool and uncomplicated. Brown sugar is dominant beneath the chill, and little else makes itself immediately known. Continue reading

Review: Cartavio 12 Year

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Cartavio 12 Year Rum

It’s always a pleasant surprise to see something new sitting on the store shelves – and even moreso when it boasts being aged 12 years. Cartavio 1929 was a new face in these parts, and being relatively affordable as well, I couldn’t wait to give it a try. Cartavio 1929 comes in a classy cardboard tube. The bottle inside is relatively understated, but quite presentable with a wood capped cork and a classic brown-toned label. The rum inside is a rich, inviting amber.

To the nose, Cartavio 1929 smells of cinnamon, oak, musk, and ripe fruit. The familiar smell of alcohol is of course present as well, but this is a rum that smells complex and enticing, with none of the astringence present in some rums. Continue reading

Review: Sea Wynde

Rating: ★★★★½
Sea Wynde

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from Internet Wines and Spirits

If for nothing else, Sea Wynde rum distinguishes itself with one of the cleverest ways of making a boring, basic wine-type bottle interesting. The metal label is just awsome – like a piece of medieval armor for some sort of dark-ages pirate. But happily, this is hardly the only thing distinctive about this rum.

Sea Wynde is actually quite deceptive – it’s soft amber color give the appearance of a gentle spirit (hey, a double meaning!), but one pop of the cork and a quick sniff later clearly conveys this rum to be anything but. It smells of a stark contrast to itself, almost like a dual personality. On the one hand, the overt sweetness of liquour-like rums is present (such as is common amongst east indian rums, or Ron Zacapa), while there is also a strong sense of pepper. Pepperiness and Sweetness are both common amongst rums, but I generally consider them to be opposite ends of the spectrum, and rarely have I encountered them so overtly present in the same bottle. Continue reading

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: El Dorado 25 Year

Rating: ★★★☆☆
El Dorado 25 Year Rum

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: Mount Gay Eclipse

Rating: ½☆☆☆☆
Mount Gay Eclipse

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: Gosling’s Gold

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Gosling’s Gold Rum

I’m to the point where I pretty much recognize every rum in all the local stores, even if I’ve yet to try them. This is why it’s so much fun to see a new face, and that goes double when it’s produced by a brand name for which I’ve a fondness.

Gosling’s Gold came out of nowhere – never heard a thing about it – their own website doesn’t even mention the stuff. Truly uncharted waters, I naturally had to check it out.

Gosling’s is most famous for their Black Seal rum – a blacker than black concoction that casts off any pretense of character or subtlety, instead opting for the “I am rum – hear me roar” approach. Not for amateurs, but now that I’m a bit more experienced it’s a very worthy experience. Continue reading

Review: Santa Teresa 1796

Rating: ★★★★☆
Santa Teresa 1796

Santa Teresa 1796 is a truly glorious rum out of Venezuela. Some rums require time to get to know them, but Santa Teresa was love at first site. When first I saw it, the dignified wine-like bottle hidden beneath a rugged cardboard tube, complete with ribbon and wax seal, I expected I was in for a treat. And upon uncorking the bottle and taking a sniff of the amber rum inside, my expectations were instantly confirmed. To the nose, Santa Teresa is cool and spicy – and ultra, ultra smooth. It carries an extraordinarily soft aroma of oak, with underlying subtleties of banana and vanilla.

On the tongue, Santa Teresa is surprisingly unimposing, tasting richly of what I can only call “almost-fruit.” As it warms in the mouth it seems to thicken and cool. And yet when swallowed, it leaves behind a wonderfully penetrating heat along the roof of the mouth.

Incredibly gentle yet maddeningly seductive, this is a rum well worth experiencing.