El Dorado 21 year old review

20160519_120833Ok, so it’s about time I got around to this, having done the 12yo and the 15yo, given that this is the “daddy” if you will. Another one of those rums that seems to pick up zillions of “awards” by “experts”. I’m pretty sure I know what I’m about to get with this one as I’ve read many a review on this myself. Here we go.

What is it? Guyanese rum blended from 3 stills that are now operated by DDL (Demerara Distillers Limited); the dominant component being from the Albion Still (four-column Savalle still). The other 2 stills included in the blend are from the Enmore Still (wooden Coffey still) and the Versailles Still (single wood pot still). At least 21 years old. Molasses based.

43% abv, coloured, filtered.

Sugar? Yep. Of course. It’s an El Dorado. Online sugar test data shows anywhere between 16 grams/litre and 33 grams/litre, so we’ll go in the middle and call it “some”. It appears to have less than both the 12 and the 15 year old, which can only be a good thing. There also seems to be some variation by batch.

Nose: Lots of oak and your typical Demerara straight away with liquorice, aniseed and a little bit of tar. The brown sugar you use to make cakes with, infact….yes, overcooked and slightly caught fruit cake. Molasses, blackberry jam, prunes, bananas, black coffee and a little bit of smoke. There are some woody spices in there too, your typical cinnamon and clove while a slight mentholly note picks things up a bit. Pretty complex actually and a fair bit lighter (well, less “heavy”) than the 15 year old. Oh, a nice bit of worn leather pops up after a while too. There is a good bit of age on the nose.

Palate: Sweet delivery and semi-viscous mouth feel. Not as bad as I was expecting given I know this is loaded with sugar. Herbal, minty, banana liqueur, prunes, figs, dates, maybe a hint of orange/marmalade. Lighter liquorice, slightly bitter coffee, actually there is a fair amount of bitterness given the sugar levels (too much cask?), black cherry jam and a touch of earthy mushroom. Pretty complex despite the meddling.

Finish: Medium to long, quite sappy and actually bitters off with some strong oak. Touches of leather, cigar smoke and a burst of bitter orange marmalade, some black coffee and a handful of fresh herbs. Ends with that fuzzy buzz you get with altered rum and the lingering taste is a confusing mix of sweet and bitter that’s not entirely pleasant nor is it unpleasant.

Thoughts? It’s a pretty good rum. I don’t taste rum blind because I drink what I’ve bought and I know what I’ve poured into my glass, and this can cause a problem. The problem is expectation. I expect this to be very good, it’s quite expensive (£80) and it’s won loads of awards, but at the same time I know it’s loaded with added sugar which I generally don’t enjoy as a rule. So what do I do? I’m judging this before I’ve even tried it and I’m not any wiser after having tried it. I don’t think it’s one of the best rums in the world, even if I was a sugar fiend there are “better” ones out there. Sure, it’s more complex than the 15 year old, it’s got less sugar and that’s good, but personally I’d take the 15 year old over this (or buy 2 bottles for the same price). In my view it’s not twice as good and the Port Mourant still in the 15 gives it the oomph it needs.

You can pick this up from The Whisky Exchange here:

El Dorado 21 year old

Ron Millonario XO review

20150805_151810What is it? Rum from Peru distilled from molasses in column stills. Aged using a Solera (no details on ages).

Coloured, filtered and 40% abv.

Sugar? You bet. On-line data shows 44 grams per litre. That’s right, 44.

Nose: Smells old. Leather, cigar boxes and incense (sandalwood, cedar, pot-pourri). Oak, thick caramel and butterscotch. Woody baking spices; nutmeg, clove, cinnamon as well as some vanilla and dried fruits.

Palate: Medium mouth feel. Ok this doesn’t taste at all as I was expecting, it tastes a lot drier and almost cognac like. Lots of oak and vanilla, plumes of sweet cigar smoke and aromatic pipe tobacco. Dark winter fruits like figs, prunes and raisins. Some caramel pops up, but it’s distant and quite restrained. Very complex and it’s not a thick, heavy rum.

Finish: Medium. Now the sugar is making it’s play, it’s flattening the finish and leaving that fuzzy feel on my tongue. Still, the finish is still pleasant with some spice and oak prickle and a lovely smoky note, with some thinned golden syrup.

Thoughts? I’d best describe this as “delicate” or “beautiful” and it floats around your senses, however standard retail price is a bit too high for what you get. It’s quite a complex rum with a lot to offer and very well balanced, but it’s too “easy”. It’s been dumbed down and I suspect aimed at the likes of the cognac or whisky market given the price and presentation. I might add that I got mine far reduced (just over £60 rather than the standard £85) and for that price it’s a peach. I wouldn’t spend £85 on it though.

Ron Zacapa Centenario Systema Solera 23 Review

20150619_104738What is it: Rum from Guatemala made from sugar cane honey. Solera aged with the maximum age of rum in the blend being 23 years old (and probably not much of it); average age is estimated at around 8 years old. Sherry and bourbon casks in the blend. This is the previous bottling, not the new curvy one.

Coloured, filtered and 40% abv.

Sugar? Yep, around 20 grams per litre (according to on-line sugar tests), so not too bad actually.

Nose: Sweet, dark fruits, some sherry and some cola syrup/cola bottle confectionery, maybe cherry cola. There is some nice runny honey and milk chocolate too. Deep down there is a smoky element, maybe some cigar box or pipe tobacco and some roasted nuts.

Palate: Sweeeet. Thick and big mouth feel, but very sweet – more than I was expecting given the sugar tests. Brown sugar, oranges…no, marmalade and some banana. There is a distinct taste of Pint Pots/beer bottle sweeties that you used to have as a kid and a bit of cola. Once the sugar coating goes there is actually a little depth to this; musty, forest floors/rancio and maybe some aniseed, just about.

Finish: Quite long, more long than medium. Still some sweetness and a bit of banana/orange combo, but there are lots of spicy prickles. Oaky buzz and bitter flattening of everything. Maybe some aniseed, mint, and that tobacco at a push.

Thoughts? It’s too sweet for me really, way too sweet. There are some nice flavours in here for sure, but its totally over shaddowed by whatever has been added. This isn’t challenging and I wouldn’t pick it up when I wanted to engage my brain or senses, but for those switch off moments or after a meal or something it’d be ok. Fully aimed at people who want to drink rum in a pub and have no idea what rum tastes like.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva review

Diplomatico Reserva ExclusivaWhat is it? Rum made from sugar cane honey (not quite molasses, but not sugar cane juice either) in Venezuela. Pot and “batch” distilled, blended from light, medium and heavy rums and then aged for up to 12 years or so in small oak barrels.

40% abv, coloured, filtered.

Sugared? Ooooohhh yes, we’re verging on a liqueur here. On-line data shows around 40 grams per litre.

Nose: Big caramel, toffee, butterscotch (you get the idea). Vanilla and dark fruits, maybe some orange skin. Tiny prickle of spice from the oak. The combination is not complex but it is certainly very hedonistic and smells wonderful.

Palate: Big caramel, toffee, butterscotch. Vanilla and dark fruits……oh wait. Nose, taste and repeat. Very viscous and mouth-coating, actually quite cloying. Yep, it’s a liqueur. Delicious though but a “rum” this is not. It’s very sticky indeed.

Finish: Actually surprisingly long, didn’t expect that. Lashings of vanilla and a bit of oaky bitterness but I get the impression that the finish is just there because my mouth is still coated with the sticky rum and I’m still getting “palate” and not an actual “finish”.

Thoughts? Waaaayy too much sugar (and various other flavourings, including vanilla no doubt). It’s simply not possible to get something this viscous and sticky from distillate and cask. Let me be clear; rum is made from sugarcane (or its derivatives such as molasses) but through distillation no sugar passes from the wash through the still and into the end spirit – it’s a clear, sugar free mix of ethanol and water (as well as certain fatty acids called congeners that provide flavour from the fermentation). It does not have any sugar in it! Any sugar in the bottle is added later by the distiller.

……putting that aside, it’s very, very tasty – but I guess that’s the point. It’s not rum, it’s rum based liqueur. A very good one, but a liqueur non the less. One for the alcopop generation me thinks. If you are getting into rum and have a sweet tooth then this is probably a good rum for you to try, it’s very tasty, easy to drink and has very little character to upset anyone. If you want a real true rum and want to taste what rum should be like then stay well clear of this.

Dictador 12 year old review

20150619_104829What is it? Well, it’s not 12 years old. It’s Solera aged, between 8 and 14 years apparently, which gives an average age of 12 year old. It’s from Columbia and from sugar cane honey.

40% abv, filtered and coloured (it doesn’t say it’s not so we’ll assume it is).

Sugar? I don’t think so. On-line sugar tests also show is sugar free.

Nose: Eh? Should this smell like the rubbery stuff the bottle is coated in – probably not, but it does. Weird. When the smell of latex catsuit (don’t ask) goes away there is some coffee in there, think roasted beans rather than brewed. Some smoky tobacco and prunes, quite earthy. Caramel and some vanilla too. Smells “manufactured”.

Palate: Let’s hope this is better. Argh! That bloody rubber again, where does that come from?! Well, mouth-feel is pretty good at least – quite oily. Ah, better now; dry actually, I was expecting a sweeter rum. Smoky again, earthy leaves and raisins. Not really much oak. Honey on burnt toast and then some of that coffee (brewed and black this time) as it moves to the finish.

Finish: Short to medium and no rubber, phew. Ends sweeter than the palate and has some bitter oak as it tails off, smoky again.

Thoughts? Minus the rubber and coffee this would be a very ubiquitous rum, and I think I’d prefer that to what they’ve done to it to give it “character”.

Not sold. I’ve been going back to this time and time again because for some reason when I’m not drinking it I want to, but then when I do drink it I don’t want to! No sugar added here, I don’t get that flattening on the finish or a cloying palate, but I’m concerned about 2 things:

The fake rubbery latex and coffee, neither of which should be in rum. I know Colombia produces coffee, but I wonder if they have somehow added the flavour into the rum, as the coffee profile doesn’t quite sit right. We’re not talking notes of coffee here like aged navy style Guyanese rums but actual coffee and it’s all rather odd, like the kind of coffee note found in Old Monk.

Rubber. WTF. This isn’t the kind of rubber ballon or tyre note you get in Jamaican pot still rum, this is altogether something else, and not pleasant. My first thoughts were that this odd rubberised bottle coating (not my thing by the way, gimme a glass bottle) was imparting some unwanted flavours to the rum, but I can’t see that being the case, so I have to assume it’s from the production or ageing process. A bit of research shows that this is aged (at least in part) in sherry casks. I suspect very strongly that some of these casks are duds and are imparting these notes into the rum, whatever the reason I don’t like it.

I wanted to try the 20 “year old”, but given my experience with this I’m reluctant to pay £50 just in case I get a similar experience.