Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum

In my quest to try new rums, and given my limited selection in North Carolina, I recently ordered a bottle of Don Q Oak Spiced Rum from VA ABC. After being notified of its arrival at my preferred store, I was road-tripping to see my neighbors to the north.

I know spiced rums have a poor reputation in general, often using poor quality rums and an abundance of artificial flavors and sugar to hide that fact. This one seemed to have a lot to recommend it. Aside from using natural flavors, promoting the oak influence, and having a real age statement, it weighs in at a respectable 90 proof.

The aroma is vanilla upfront with toffee, cinnamon, and oak. The flavor is the same as the aroma, with the oak bringing some char, and some additional heat from the alcohol to go along with the cinnamon; it reminds me of spiced Christmas cookies. The flavor lingers for a bit also.

Don Q Oak Spiced Rum was a very nice experience. Unlike other spiced rums I have tried neat, this was very drinkable. It is not overwhelmingly sweet like so many others, and the claimed natural spice flavors, come across as such. The oak is there in the aroma and in the taste.

I haven’t mixed this yet. I think I could be happy having it neat as a special treat, saving the less deserving spiced rums for the Coke

Age: 3 Years

Proof: 90 (45% ABV)

Paid: $30 for 750ml (VA ABC)

Buy Again: Yes!

Old Forester Rye

Rye whiskey is so named due to the recipe consisting of at least 51% rye, usually followed by corn, and barley, in some combination. Bourbon contains at least 51% corn, and often contains some percentage of rye to add some spicy notes. It is often in the range of 15% rye. There are also high rye bourbons with 30% rye.

Old Grand-Dad is a high rye bourbon and is quite spicy, while still being sweet.

Old Forester Rye is 65% Rye, 20% Malted Barley, and 15% Corn.

The aroma is very minty with oak and cinnamon.

The flavor is very spicy, but less sweet than most bourbons. I taste mint followed by sweet, cinnamon, a peppery heat, and of all things, bubble gum!

Age: No Age Statement

Proof: 100% (50% ABV)

Price: $25 for 750ml (NC ABC)

Buy Again: Maybe on occasion

Flor de Caña 7 Year Gran Reserva

Flor de Caña makes a number of rums ranging from the Flor de Caña 4 Extra Seco (their white rum) to the Flor de Caña 25. As with a lot of rums on the market, the number on the bottle may not mean anything.

I tried a bottle of Flor de Caña 7 Year Gran Reserva rum. The “7” on the bottle used to read “7 Years Aged”. Now the Flor de Caña website uses the phrase “Profile: 7 Years”.

Unlike a lot of rums, Flor de Caña does not add any sugar after distillation. I don’t have a problem with rums that do add sugar, but it is nice to have access to brands that don’t.

The aroma has a bit of oak, alcohol, and a little sweetness. The taste is like the aroma, with the addition of a light molasses flavor.

The rum is nice to sip, but the flavor is very light. In my experience, the rum doesn’t hold up in cocktails as well as others I’ve tried.

Age: No age statement

Added Sugar: None

Proof: 80% (40% ABV)

Price: $20 for 750ml (on sale, NC ABC)

Buy Again: No

Bernheim Wheat Whiskey

Unlike a bourbon where the main grain is corn, Bernheim Wheat Whiskey uses 51% wheat, 39% corn, and 10% barley. It still has the sweetness from the corn as well as the wheat. Given its seven years spent in oak, that flavor is a nice component of the aroma and the taste.

It doesn’t have any rye which usually imparts a spicy flavor into bourbons, but there is a little spice from the oak barrel that comes across as a bit of cinnamon to me. Overall, the flavor is mild compared to bourbons, and very mild compared to rye whiskeys.

It is a nice, unoffensive, sweet whiskey. Of course, some people will want something a little more complex.

Age: 7 Years

Proof: 90% (45% ABV)

Price: $25 for 750ml (on sale, NC ABC)

Buy Again: Maybe on occasion

Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum

Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum sits firmly on the middle shelf. The ‘black barrel’ description comes from the fact that the rum is finished in heavily charred bourbon barrels, in an effort to impart some additional oaky char to the flavor.

The aroma is molasses, caramel, banana, some oak, and a light spicy note. The alcohol is minimal, and after sitting for few minutes, disappears from the aroma.

The taste is mildly sweet, with flavors of molasses, and the light spice comes across as cinnamon. The oak char that sometimes get lost is very prevalent here.

It is not as intense as the Mount Gay XO Reserve Cask, and that’s okay. This is very drinkable neat, but inexpensive enough to mix. In fact, this is amazing when mixed with Coke. A bourbon drinker could find a lot to like here. A very nice rum indeed, and a contender for my favorite neat rum.

Age: No age statement

Added Sugar: No

Proof: 86% (43% ABV)

Price: $28 for 750ml (NC ABC)

Buy Again: Yes