*** Update 28/02/2017: I’ve contacted the shop where I bought this (Amazon) and they’ve sent me a new bottle on the house. Same Lott number so same batch. It’s a different rum, I mean really different. The one in this review is a bad bottle and most likely corked, which is the first time that’s ever happened! So I’ll be doing a re-review once the new bottle had been open a bit longer.
I’m going to leave this review up for info purposes as I think it’s important to know that spirits can be corked. ***
What is it? Molasses based rum from the Dominican Republic, distilled in column stills and aged in a mixture of American ex-bourbon casks and European ex-sherry casks. I’ve seen mentions of this being “double distilled” on various sites. It is also double matured; the distillate is put into American ex-bourbon casks for up to around 8 years and then transferred over to European first fill ex-sherry casks for up to around 6 years, the key words being “up to”, this likely varies based on the cask selection and as such there is no age statement on this rum. I’ve also seen mentions of “around 7 or 8 years old” and based on the details above it could be up to 14 years old, but we don’t know with any certainty.
Brugal is owned by Edrington Group, who also own Macallan (the Scotch). Macallan are renowned for the quality of their sherry casks, used for their whisky maturation, and I understand the same casks are selected for the second maturation period of this rum….so we should have some decent caskage going on here. First fill casks mean that it’s their first fill since the previous contents were emptied, so in this case it means it’s held sherry and then this rum – nothing else prior – and should be very evident on the tasting.
Coloured (most likely), chill-filtered and bottled at 40% abv. My bottle is 2013 release, Lott 03.
Sugar? Sub 5 g/l (around 3/4), so no. This is likely to be residuals form the sherry casks.
Nose: Oh, now this is nice; toffee sauce, slightly burnt caramelised sugar like you get on top of Crème Brule, golden raisins, sultanas, thick honey. Really nice warming oak, some incense (cedar, sandalwood, that sort of thing) and a gentle smoke; fresh rolling tobacco being smoked somewhere in the distance. There is an earthy, leafy and slightly musty note in there too and a touch of wet dog.
Palate: Medium mouth feel, slightly sweet delivery but not sugar sweet. Straight away there is the taste of wet and musty cork, damp cardboard, bung cloth and that old dog note from the nose. Not so great at first really. This is something I’ve found in other Dominican rums before now too, but it seems to be amplified in this, not sure if this is a batch issue or not, but it’s not overly pleasant. After about half a glass it starts to taste quite nice; butter, caramel, milky coffee, mixed nuts and honey. There is a little cinnamon and a touch of oak.
Finish: Medium. Vanillas, honey, and quite spicy as it goes on – much more so than the palate suggest. Maybe a touch of clove, ginger and aniseed. Milky coffee again and walnuts right at the end which are a little sour and puckering.
Thoughts? Another easy and rather inoffensive rum from the DomRep. The nose is a real delight and the finish is safe but tasty, if not overly interesting. The palate bothers me. These are done in batches and I don’t know if the problem is with my batch, my bottle or just normal for this rum, but searching on the web I don’t find any other mentions of this taste – I get it every time so it’s not my palate. Anyway, it lets the rum down quite a bit; if the palate was like either the nose or the finish then it’d be a real joy, but as it is I find it too odd and out of sorts to want to get another bottle of this, especially at the price of £40 a bottle.
Don’t let my notes sway you, as I say there are many reviews of this stuff and it maybe just something I’m sensitive to or I have a dodgy bottle. As always, get a rounded and informed view from looking at many sources before deciding on what to buy 🙂