Cubay 10yo “Reserva Especial” (40%, Cuba)

Ron Cubay was founded in 1964 in Santo Domingo, which is some 25o km’s to the east of Havana. The Cubay rum is produced in the Cuba Ron distillery, which also produces… yes you’ve guessed it: Havana Club. Cigar lovers will already recognize the marketing plan similar to that of Cohiba, and later, the Trinidad brand. The Ron Cubay brand was intended for domestic consumption only. But soon after taking a course in marketing and dare I say it: capitalism (I’m just kidding), it became apparent it was time to export the next Cuban brand, so the Ron Cubay was first exported only five years ago, in 2010. I just don’t know if the Cubay brand was shrouded in the same kind of mystery as Cohiba and especially Trinidad (as Fidel’s private brand).

The full range of Ron Cubay consists of five variants of which only three are exported. The 3yo “Carta Blanca” (a White Rum), the 7yo “Anejo” and the 10yo “Reserva Especial”. They found the 4yo “Carta Dorada” and the 5yo Anejo Suave” a bit obsolete and settled for the 3yo, the 7yo and 10yo. Ron Cubay is produced with Cuban molasses from sugar cane. In Cuba it is illegal to use imported molasses for making Cuban Rum. Cubay is distilled with a column still. The 10yo I’m about to taste is fully matured in American white oak casks of different sizes and levels of char.

Cubay 10yo Reserva EspecialColor: Orange gold, toffee.

Nose: Aromatic and sweet, creamy and buttery. This flies out of my glass. Citrussy and fresh. Hints of oranges and fermented apple-juice. Light black tea with a splash of lemon. Vanilla latex paint. All of this is mixed with quite some wood, but in no way is the wood overpowering. Its soft and soothing, sometimes meaty and only gives a spicy backbone. Mixed in with the wood, some aged Calvados and honeyed sugar-water. So the apply part is growing. Altogether fruity and if you want it, there is some florality as well. Great balance. A lovely nose.

Taste: Fruity and very appetizing. Toffee and hard coffee candy. Some wood upfront, but even less than in the nose. Quite warming, and when the first sip goes down a more dry woody residue stays behind in my mouth. Woody and licorice. Again not overpowering. The start of the body is the best part for me, quite some vanilla combined with a tasty fruitiness. The development into the finish is eventful. Something is happening. The finish has medium length, with a hint of walnut bitterness, and has a tendency to fall apart a bit into the wood spice and an acidic fruity part. This is much less pronounced than in the Abuelo 12yo, where the acidic fruity part bothered me a bit. Sugar water again, and after a while it’s gone. The aftertaste shows this has been in wood for 10 years. I would say the bitterness is slightly hoppy now. More pronounced and velvety and less fatty than the initial walnut bitterness.

Nice stuff and dangerously drinkable. Especially in the taste not overly complex, but just tasty. Although this has quite some aromatics it has the strength of the scent of a flower, so I’m not sure if you should use this as a mixer. I know for sure it will do well as a nipper. I can’t put my finger on it yet, but I really like it. Recommended.

Points: 82

Abuelo Añejo Reserva Especial (40%, Panama)

When looking around on the internet you can see that Ron Abuelo from Panama is a very hip and foremost sexy brand of Rum. When Rum is presented by women in underwear and swimwear, I have no problem with that at all, non, nice, I like that. Thus no complaints for me. But underneath I’m also a sort of distillation geek, and that side of me is a bit worried. If Ron Abuelo is actually a good Rum, why then is so much effort put into distracting the public from the Rum itself?

Abuelo has four Rums in its portfolio. We’re about to try this Añejo, but there is also a 7yo, a 12yo and finally there is also a Centuria. The first three are all reasonably priced and make up the standard range. Centuria is a bit more expensive and something of a speciality. I’m telling you upfront, prices for the Centuria will be rising soon.

Abuelo AnejoColor: Gold with a pinkish hue.

Nose: Light, sweet and young. Sugar water. A slight hint of wood, leather and cinnamon, but also a coastal note. Very smooth smelling. Whiffs of fresh air. Light scent of fresh-cut flowers, immediately followed by a more meaty component. Gravy. Also notes of candy powder and red fruit gums.

Taste: Very light and sugary. Not a lot of character yet. Add to that a wee bit of oak and that is what you get. Sweetish, but not sweet. Warming with hints of licorice and a slight woody bitterness, to give it some back bone. Quite light and in the distance it sometimes reminds me of cane juice (Rum). Toffee. The entry into the mouth is light, and the body is not any heavier. Funny enough, after swallowing, the Rum starts to work. Its warming and shows some heat from young Rum. Peppery note from the wood.

The entry-level offering is really an entry-level Rum. Very light, young and pretty simple. No off notes, so that’s a plus. Yes you can sip this, and keep doing this for a long time f.i. when playing cards with your friends. This is a Rum that probably is made for cocktails and similar uses. Its alright, but not as exciting as the girls selling it. I hope the rest of the range is better. Actually it’s not bad, but it is what it is. A very affordable, very light young Rum.

Points: 78

Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial (40%, Peru)

Rum, Rhum, Ron all words for the same beverage. The fact that there are so many ways to describe this drink shows us that Rum is made all over the world. But then again, which drink isn’t? Whisky is made all over the world now and so is Wine. This particular Rum, or Ron in this case wasn’t made on a small Caribbean island, but in the northern part of Peru, South America. Ron Millonario have a website, but somehow it only shows their 15yo Solera Reserva Especial. This Super Premium XO Reserva Especial is nowhere to be found. The  Millonario Rums are made by slow distillation of sugar cane molasses, using three old Scottish column stills. The distillery has its own coopers that make casks from American and Slavonian! oak. The 15yo Rum is made with four stage Solera system. Chip Dykstra mentiones that for the XO a fifth stage may be introduced, lifting the age by 3 to 6 extra years over the 15yo mentioned above. Mind you, in Rum, 15yo means that the oldest Rum is 15yo, whereas in Whisky 15yo means that the youngest Whisky is 15 years old.

The XO is limited to 6000 bottles per annum.

Ron Millonario XO Reserva EspecialColor: Copper Brown

Nose: Sweet, floral and quite light. The rum also brings a small hint of acetone and dry wood. Dry powdered raspberry sweets, which also resemble not quite ripe cherries. Toffee, old vanilla and wood again. It doesn’t promise heavy sweetness. Tiny hints of young Cuban tobacco and cookie dough and wet brown sugar, which still doesn’t make this Rum smell “sweet”. Very interesting smell, but not a powerhouse.

Taste: Well balanced stuff, this is (Yoda). Seems a bit light at 40% ABV though, but still has a lot going for it. Very sweet (honey) and well made. Small hints of licorice that goes extremely well with the honey I mentioned earlier. It has quite some staying power and the finish sometimes resembles a cognac. Very smooth stuff. Elegant.

The profile seems to be a bit middle of the road for me, but the view from the middle is quite spectacular. The sweetness is perfect as is the balance. The only thing wrong with it is that it’s quite expensive, but hey, most Whiskies cost (a lot) more than this, so I guess buying this it would be money well spent. Recommended!

Points: 85