Flor De Cana 18

What is it? Molasses based, multi-column distilled rum from Compania Locorera de Nicaragua (CLN), in Nicaragua, and bottled under the Flor De Cana (Cane Flower) rum brand. I’ll not go into the background any more on this as I’ve already reviewed the Flor De Cana 12, but this is essentially a No Age Statement rum. Without covering old ground, this rum is not 18 years old, the producers say that it has an average age of 18 years – it says so on the website but not on the bottle, which gives them the ability to change their mind as and when they want. If you’re going to put a number on a bottle, that looks like an age statement, then put a bloody age statement on the bottle. If you’re not going to give the rum an official age statement then don’t put an a number on the bottle that looks like one.

Chill filtered, coloured and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: Ah, not what I was expecting; it’s a bit dirty at first (that’s good by the way), with dry soil, damp leaves, raw walnuts and even some tar and marine fuel of all things. After that it gets more of what I thought it’d be; roasted pecans in toffee sauce, burnt sugar, some toast with honey on, Seville oranges or marmalade, a touch of toffee apple and a lift right at the end of copper pans or a cutlery draw – a sort of tangy metallic note.

Palate: Medium mouth. Oak at first and some of the savoury with olive oil, glue and some mushrooms – this doesn’t last long before we go sweeter with honey, oranges, vanilla, milk chocolate, “Tracker” bars that I found in the 12 too and some butterscotch. There’s some cinnamon butter, a touch of clove and a generic floral notes I can’t quite pin down as it finishes.

Finish: Medium. Sweeter here with caramel, candied orange, lime and lemon peels, vanilla custard and tails off with oak spices of clove, cinnamon and a little hint of ginger heat – maybe chocolate covered stem gingers.

Thoughts? A decent and solid rum, infinitely better than the “12” and I’d certainly put it at “above average”. You can see this is related to the 12, but it’s the better looking, more successful and more popular older sibling (we all know those people!). The savoury side was unexpected, and whilst it is a bit off balance it does give much more complexity to the rum and I think was what I was missing from the 12 – it also carries a lot more amplification of flavour, everything is more concentrated and more intense.

Now, I paid £41 (!!!) for this online, which at the time was only £6 more than the 12 and it’s twice the rum, so make your call on that. Total no brainer when the price is right. At £40-£45ish it’s one I’d buy again, but I’m not too sure that I would at £60 though, it’s not that good.

Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos

What is it? Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos (aged 7 years), is a molasses based rum distilled in a single column still in Cuba, and comes off at around 75% abv – so “Traditional Rum” under the Gargano Classification. The rum is aged for at least 7 years, tropically, in ex-bourbon casks with the additional twist of what Havana Club call “continuous aging”; basically, when casks are ready and selected, some of the aged rum is added back in to casks along with new spirit. They don’t say how they do this but it’s going to be similar to the way a Solera works I imagine, or atleast the principle and intended result is the same. The rum is intended to sit at the top of the standard lineup of Havana Club rums as a basic sipping rum in the light Cuban style.

Please note that this is the European version of this rum. The version that is available in America, as far as I’m aware, is actually from Puerto Rico.

 

Coloured, chill filtered and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Spirity at first, once that blows off it’s really quite good. A lot more decadent than I expected; chocolate praline, lightly roasted coffee beans, fudge, vanilla and toasted coconut. There’s a lovely smoky cigar leaf to this, but it’s not intense. Some cedar, nutmeg and clove in there too. A definite note of cane juice and some warm hay.

Palate: Spirity again, medium mouth feel. Quite zesty and fruity here at the start with limes, grapefruit and a bit of tangerine. It moves on to vanilla, caramel and then thickens to melted milk chocolate, roasted cashews, pecans, coffee and a roll of smoky cigar on your tongue. A touch of tar or oil at the back of the palate too as it moves to the finish with is surprising and adds a nice savoury touch.

Finish: Medium, just about. Milk chocolate again, Cafe Latte, pralines, coconut, toasted oak and a fruit that I can’t quite put my finger on, like a custard apple or lychee. There is a little slightly tart stone fruit and green apple right at the end.

Thoughts? I’ll point out that this isn’t my preferred style of rum, I’m generally not really into the light Cuban style and I wasn’t really expecting a lot from this, but I’m very pleasantly surprised indeed. Sure, it’s a lighter style and it’s certainly got some of the more sweeter notes than I’d normally choose, but it’s balanced, clean, well made and reasonably complex for what it is. Ok, it’s not the best rum I’ve ever had in my life but I’ve got to judge it for what it is and it’s a really solid rum. It can 100% be drunk neat, it can be mixed, and it’ll reward you well if you take a bit of time with it – especially if you manage to pick it up on sale like I did for £19……yes, £19. Very good value for money, I must say and one I’d pick up again for the right price.

Flor De Cana 12

What is it? Molasses based, multi-column distilled rum from Compania Locorera de Nicaragua (CLN), in Nicaragua, and bottled under the Flor De Cana (Cane Flower) rum brand. Molasses comes from local sugar and is produced at the Ingenio San Antonio sugar mill which is part of the same company as CLN and undergoes a 36 hour fermentation. The is the bottling of the “12”, this does not mean 12 years old; in recent years the packaging has changed and where it used to say “12 anos” on the bottle it now just states “12 slow aged”. They also produce a “7”, “18” and “25” – none of which are the age of the number on the bottle. I really don’t like this misleading labelling that is often used in rum, which allows the consumer to believe they are buying a product of a certain age but in fact that are not, they may was well call their line-up “Flor De Cana 1, 2, 3 and 4” for all the difference it makes.

Chill filtered, coloured and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Quite oaky at first, a good sign – maybe it has actually seen some aging after all! Pecans, walnuts and syrup; think Tracker Bars (nutty snack bar things in the UK). Vanilla, some cinnamon, light brown sugar and Werthers Original sweets. There isn’t much fruit on display here, a little red apple perhaps, that’s been caramelised as if to make a Tart Tatin and a little dried papaya, but other than that it’s really cask smells. With some time I can pick up the faintest floral note, almost of Peonies.

Palate: Medium mouth feel, quite coating actually. We’re in the same place as the nose really, it’s a bit more buttery, cinnamon certainly, vanilla and Allspice. Hints of warm oak, caramels, burnt sugar and pecans again. No floral notes here but a toffee apple sweetness, which again is the only real fruit. Tanic as it moves to the finish.

Finish: Short. Tanic, starting to bitter. Burnt toast with butter and honey on top, some toffee and that’s about it. Hmmm, not the best finish really.

Thoughts? Not bad, but not good either. It’s a very run-of-the-mill rum and all a little pointless. I’m not really sure who this rum is aimed at; your casual drinker will find it too dry and bitter whereas your seasoned rum drinker is unlikely to find it complex or interesting enough and all a bit dull. Maybe it’s aimed at whisky drinkers, who knows. I’ve started going to this bottle when my palate is having an off day, it still tastes ok but I don’t feel guilty about wasting a decent rum when I can’t taste too well.

So, £35……now that seems ok but there are a hell of a lot of better rums out there for that price…. not one I’ll be buying again.

West Indies Rum and Cane Merchants – Central American XO

What is it? Rum produced in Nicaragua and Guatemala. Crafted from molasses and distilled using column stills then aged in ex bourbon casks. A limited release of 2,000 bottles worldwide. This was bottled by West Indies Rum & Cane Merchants (a brand of Crucial Drinks). I have no idea where the rum came from, I’ve contacted Cruical Drinks about the distillery information and rum ages but I’ve not had a reply.

My bottle is from Batch number 1 and is bottle number 560.

Not chill filtered, not coloured and bottled at 43% abv.

Sugar? No information on this at the moment. The bottle states “natural rum” and I’m not finding any evidence of tampering during tasting, so I don’t think there is any added sugar in here.

Nose: Quite aromatic and almost agricole like with fresh flowers (Lilly of the Valley, Sweet Pea), Lavender, limes and cane juice. There is a little orange rind in there too. Behind the citrus and florals there is a warm oak, actually quite a bit of oak, incense, a little tobacco leaf, spent coffee grounds and menthol. Fairly complex with some lovely mixing of smells.

Palate: Medium mouth feel, quite spicy at first. Some of those cane’y notes from the nose with the flowers and lime but then quite quickly to richer flavours; dark chocolate, choc-chip brioche buns, some cinnamon, vanilla – gets a bit Bourbon’y; a few cashew nuts here and there, honey, coconut and a little mint.

Finish: Short, not it’s best bit I’m afraid. Spearmint, spices (generic heat), some honey and a little bitter coffee. It just kinda falls off a cliff at the end.

Thoughts? Very pleasant and a great surprise; I was expecting trouble given the countries this is from, and whilst it does get a bit flabby near the end of the palate and finish, overall it was interesting. The nose is the best bit, really quite a bit going on. I think it’s a decent rum and worth the price I paid, which was £34.

Brugal 1888

Right. This is a re-review of Brugal 1888. I reviewed a bottle in  February and the bottle was bad; it was corked. Luckily for me the shop I bought this from (Amazon) sent me a new bottle free of charge, and I’ve been drinking this for a few weeks – time to review a good bottle!

What is it? Well, I wont cover old ground. You can read details of the bottling and my previous review here (Brugal 1888 – corked). Essentially, it’s a sherried column distilled rum from the Dominican Republic.

Let’s get down to it then;

Nose: Similar (naturally) to the corked bottle; gooey toffee, Crème Brule topping, golden raisins, sultanas and honey – but it seems “wider” and “rounder” if that makes sense, a lot less narrow and the smells merge and overlap with better integration. This is where things start to pick up; the oak is warmer and the incense is much more intense with plenty of mouth-watering rolling tobacco. The nose is much fruitier than before too, with flamed orange peels and even some grapefruit. There is some faint earthy, mushroomy smell further in which is quite consistent with the rancio notes I’d expect from a sherry matured spirit.

Palate: Still a medium mouth feel, a bit fuller than before (the old bottle seems thin now). No damp cardboard or wet dog! Result. There is still a musty cork note in this, but that’s common with what I’ve had in previous DomRep rums and is just part of the character, it’s not a “flaw”. Here is where the difference in this new bottle is found. Big fruity oranges, that slightly sour grapefruit note and lots of honey. Big fat juicy sultanas, figs, buttercream, milk chocolate and coffee. There is a big handful of roasted mixed nuts, covered with fresh cinnamon and a prickle of oak and it moves to the finish.

Finish: Medium. Juicy, mouth-watering and spicy at the same time. It’s a dry finish, with plenty of vanilla, clove, root ginger and walnuts. There are notes of coffee bean, brown sugar and mint as things fade out.

Thoughts? Well this is seriously better than the first bottle I had. When I did a side by side it’s like they were almost different rums, which I’m very happy about. I’ve looked back through my previous review and I think I was being a little kind when wrote it, it wasn’t until after that I really realised how bad that bottle was. Is it for me? Well, yes. I’m not a massive fan of the DomRep style, it’s fine and has a place but I find it all a bit “magnolia” – you know, you paint your walls magnolia because it’s goes with everything, it’s neutral and doesn’t offend anyone….but it doesn’t really excite, its just “there”. This rum, however, is quite different. It’s easily the best DomRep rum I’ve had so far and the ex-sherry casks have been fantastic by pumping it full of big flavours. One I’d consider getting again.