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

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. 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

Plantation Xaymaca

Given my preference for rum, and my enjoyment of Plantation products, I was excited to see the NC ABC started to carry Plantation Xaymaca. This is a very nice Jamaican rum with no added sugars, unlike some other Plantation products. In fact it is labeled as “Special Dry” to indicate it’s lack of added sugar. There is a note that they add caramel color to maintain consistent colors from batch to batch.

I picked up a bottle on sale (there is a trend here). It has a wonderful fruity aroma. To me, it tastes almost exactly like Appleton Rare Blend 12 year. It is younger than the Appleton, as well as being less expensive.

I need to do a side by side tasting and see how much effect the barrel has on the two products.

This rum does just fine as a sipper. I have also enjoyed it in rum-forward cocktails where it would not be lost and wasted.

Age: In the Tropics: 1-3 years in Bourbon casks, On the Continental: 1 year in Ferrand casks

Proof: 86 (43% ABV)

Price: $22 for 750ml, on sale (North Carolina ABC)

Buy Again: Yes

Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Rum

After finding and enjoying the Appleton Estate Signature Blend Rum, I ran across a bottle of Rare Blend 12 Year Old Rum. Unlike some (many) other rums, Appleton lists the actual age of the rum for their products with an age statement. So this is truly a 12 year old rum.

The reviews indicated that this was a fantastic bottle of rum, and while you can use anything for a cocktail, this was described as a rum to drink neat or on ice.

When I first saw it, it was listed as $32. That is a non-trivial price for something I’m not sure of in a spirit. So, reviews, and YouTube videos, and checking my sofa for change. And lo and behold, the ABC store runs it for sale at $28. Well, I had to take a chance on it at less than thirty dollars, right? Not so fast! So I did what most people do. I found a way to justify it. It was a couple of months until my birthday. I’d buy it now as a birthday present for myself! And I did.

The decorative packaging

I actually put it in the cabinet until my birthday. When withdrawn from the cabinet, and the top removed, I was greeted with a bit of oak, a bitter orange, maybe brown sugar, or something similar, and I’d almost swear, pineapple.

The taste sticks around for awhile. The sweetness is there, and the alcohol burn is held in check. There is some spicyness that may come from the barrel. The Appleton Signature Blend has a harshness that isn’t present in the Rare Blend. In descriptions of many rums, there term ‘funk’ is used. I don’t know if I can define it, but I know it when I taste it. There is definitely fun in Appleton rums. And that is a good thing!

Proof: 80 (40% ABV)

Paid: $28 (on sale) for 750ml (normally $32)

Buy again: Yes (but only on sale, or for my birthday)

Ron Zacapa 23 Rum

Holy Moly! Ron Zacapa 23, now that is rum! This is a fantastic top shelf rum. There is a pleasant sweetness, molasses, honey, banana, maybe vanilla, a subtle spiciness, something fruity, along with a mild alcohol bite. As much as I like Plantation, and I still like Plantation, this is an incredible rum!

There is considerable discussion online regarding the labeling of “23” on the bottle. On other spirits, it is considered bad form, or in some cases, is illegal, to state an age unless that number is accurate. In the case of Ron Zacapa 23, it is not 23 years old. If it was, it would be far more expensive. It is thought to be a blend, including some amount (who knows how much) that is 23 years old. Some say it is more likely 6 to 8 years old. If you want to know more, there is a detail articles (with charts!) here: https://refinedvices.com/ron-zacapa-part-ii-solera-system-explained

There is also a great deal of discussion about rums, including this one, having added sugar. Purists are concerned/offended/angered/insert-adjective-here. I don’t care, and will continue to enjoy the rum for whatever it is.

Age: Thought to be a blend of rums distilled from virgin sugar cane aged between 6 and 23 years, in white oak casks.

Proof: 80% (40% ABV)

Price: (It was a very generous gift from my son!) On the shelf it is $50 for 750ml

Buy Again: Yes, but I’ll have to save my pennies and save it for special occasions!

Mount Gay XO Reserve Cask Rum

Mount Gay XO (Extra Old) Reserve Cask Rum is a top shelf rum. The taste is intense molasses, banana, and even though the alcohol is there, it doesn’t hurt too much. It is not as sweet as the Don Pompero Aniversario. This is one of the few rums I can drink neat. I don’t know if I would ever admit to mixing a rum like this and as long as I can drink it neat or over ice, that’s probably how I’ll continue to drink it.

Age: Thought to be a blend of rums aged between 8 and 15 years in American bourbon barrels

Proof: 86% (43% ABV)

Price: (It was a very generous gift from my son!) On the shelf it is $50 for 750ml

Buy Again: Probably not, based on the price

 

 

Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum

I’m a big fan of rum. And so far, I’m a big fan of Plantation rums. This was no exception and in fact it a fantastic rum. The Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple is one of Plantation’s dark rums, with a pineapple infusion. Don’t think syrupy sweet pineapple. This has a mild sweetness and the essence of pineapple. You instantly get the flavor, but it doesn’t overwhelm.

I can certainly drink this neat. I’m sure it would go well in any number of cocktails. I’ll have to try some and report back.

Proof: 80% (40% ABV)

Price: (It was a very generous gift from my son!) On the shelf it is $30 for 750ml

Buy Again: Yes, but I’ll have to save my pennies and save it for special occasions!

 

 

 

Don Pompero Aniversario

I ran across Don Pompero Aniversario at an ABC store across the county. I had read great things about it and had never seen it anywhere in my area. It comes in a leather pouch, has a real cork, and it is rum, so there.

This not a bottom shelf rum, and has the price to prove it. The aroma is molasses, a hint of cinnamon, with very little alcohol. Tasting it, I get a subtle sweetness, molasses, cinnamon, caramel, oak. The alcohol hits harder here than  in the aroma! I also get subtle banana after a couple of minutes. After comparing it at a later time, the sweetness is more intense than the Mount Gay XO, and there is a slight bitterness, possibly from the oak.

We are a long way here from a Bacardi light rum! This is no Captain Morgan sugar bomb. It is far more more sophisticated than I’m used to, so it might be an acquired taste.

Age: Thought to be a blend of rum 4-6 years old.

Added Sugar: 12g/l

Proof: 80% (40% ABV)

Price: $32

Buy Again: Yes (price aside)

Sippers

I have mentioned, in more than one post, that I’ve never been able to drink alcohol straight.

It could be the cold, or it could be the products, but I’m sitting here sampling Appleton Estate Signature Blend and Plantation Grande Reserve 5 Year. I’m able to sip both, although the Appleton is a bit harsher.

I’m quite surprised. This gives me hope that some higher end bottles might actually be good when sipped straight!

Favorite Rums – November 2018

So, as I’ve had some time to try more rums, mostly in cocktails, and occasionally on the rocks, a few favorites have risen to the top.

Dark Rums
Plantation Original Double Aged Dark. To me, this is one really good, funky rum. It is sweet, so that might work for some people.

Gold or Aged Rum
Both Appleton Estate Signature Blend and Plantation Grande Reserve 5Y are really good in cocktails. I’m going to give them another go over ice. Update: I’m actually able to drink (sip) the Plantation 5Y and it is rather pleasant!

Spiced Rums
As always, it depends on what you’re looking for. For me, Bacardi Oakheart is my favorite spiced rum. Captain Morgan Private Stock is very good, but is much sweeter and that, in some cocktails will lead to an overly sweet drink.

Light Rums
Let’s face it, light rums are almost always going to be mixed. I’ve tried Bacardi Superior, Cruzan Light, and The Naked Turtle. So far, I like them starting with the Turtle, then Cruzan, then Bacardi.

Drink what you like, like what you drink…