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 When withdrawn from the cabinet, and the top removed, I was greeted with a bit of oak, a bitter orange, maybe brown sugar, or something similar, and I’d almost swear,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. 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.

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.

Proof: 80% (40% ABV)

Price: $32

Buy Again: Not sure, given it’s price.

 

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…

Plantation Grande Reserve 5Y

Ah. Rum plus sales price, equals win. There’s always a chance to try something new with less risk, and with the possibility that it will be a great option to buy again.

I am a fan of the Plantation Double Aged Dark rum. So I decided to give the Grande Reserve 5 Year a try. It is the first truly “aged” liquor that I have purchased. Anything else that is I have that is labeled as “aged” is a blend of ages. This is supposed to be aged for five years. There is no way that I can confirm or deny, but it has a distinctive flavor that comes from being in a  charred barrel.

Upon  opening, the smell is banana, sugar, and alcohol. I taste a slight sweetness, hint of char, alcohol, and that banana flavor. I can almost drink it chilled or over ice in small quantities, which for me, is saying something.

Update: I’m sipping it in small quantities! It is less harsh than the Appleton Signature Blend. I get an almost caramel sweetness, and a hint of banana.

It makes a good Rum and Coke, but I’m curious how it will be in other cocktails.

Proof: 80 (40% ABV)

Paid: $22 (on sale)

Buy Again: Probably

Bacardi Banana Rum

Bacardi must have the largest line of rums in the world. That isn’t saying that they are all good.

I bought this miniature (50ml) bottle just to try it on a whim. It has the same artificial banana flavor that I find in banana liqueur, mixed with a very basic white rum taste with some white rum burn.

From a cocktail point of view, I guess its easier to have two-in-one than separate bottles. Maybe? I don’t know. I think I’ll just stick to having a good white rum and a good banana liqueur.

Proof: 70 (35% ABV)

Paid: $1 for 50ml

Buy again: No