Plantation Grenada 1998 (42%, Old Reserve, 1H210710, Grenada)

Yeah! The Nicaraguan expression did eclipse the Panamanian expression, yes it did! Wow! Hopefully this final sample I have from the Plantation Old Reserves maybe even surpasses the last three tasted. One must keep faith. This final sample is from a country somewhat lesser known for its Rums: Grenada. But more about Grenada another time. So without further ado… Wait a minute, wow, that was a short intro. Whyzdat? I’m actually cutting the intro short this time, because there will probably be plenty to say about the whole series at the end of this review…

Color: Full Gold.

Nose: Initially a pretty decent aroma welcomes us. This time less round toffee and caramel notes, yet more nutty, grassy and dry leaves. Coffee candy. Candied sugar. Add some sharpness and wood. Also a pretty heavy floral note as well (sometimes soapy). Some oak, chocolate and toffee. Alcohol comes undone, separates from the whole. Not the first time in this series. Almost like the gas from your deodorant. This marks also the demise of the wonderful initial aroma’s. Yup, there is the Cognac cask again, impairing its wonderful aroma’s, but this can’t hide the loss in balance. Personally I find Cognac casks very interesting for second maturation or finishing. In Whisky, Cognac can be sharp and specific, with Rums not so much. Alas the Cognac, nor the Rum itself, can’t do much against the dosage this Rum must have received, considering the dullness the nose shows us now. The initial aroma’s also get carried away in the wind, and the Rum leaves it at that. Lacking a bit in the complexity department, but that is probably the fault of this dosage.

Taste: Very, very sweet on entry. The syrup sticks to all of the insides of your mouth to never let go again. Fruity as well (as far as the sugar lets me discern it) and slightly prickly. Artificial milk chocolate. Wood bitterness, honey and peach syrup. Boy, this is sweet. Cloaked in sweet, big on toffee and caramel. Truth be told, I’m a bit tired of all this sugar by now, and after tasting this, I’m actually chuffed this is the last sample to taste from the Old Reserve line of bottlings (apart from revisiting the Guyana and Jamaica expressions). Right now eating grass off a field almost seems tempting. Almost, I said. Maybe a Greek salad would be the smarter choice for the ye ol’ stomach. It started out nice, actually underneath this cloak, you can still somehow taste there is some good Rum in here somewhere. However, it turned on me becoming dumb and flat again in the finish, just like, or maybe even more so than, the Trinidad expression. Forget the grass I mentioned above, can I have a super dry, over the top, over-oaked Rum now please? Yes here we have this foul sugary aftertaste again and a total lack of balance. The base Rum must have been considered really bad by someone to add this much sugar. Somehow, I don’t believe it, the initial smells are too good for that to be true (and the only reason this won’t score into the sixties). Maybe someone slipped and made a mistake in the dosage? Personally I would be ashamed to put this out on the market. I stopped belonging to the market this Rum is targeted at a loooooong time ago. Amazing, but this is even sweeter/worse than the Trinidad expression. I really believed that already hit rock bottom, guess not.

The introduction to this review was quite short, let make up for it now. One might feel that all these Plantation Rums are ruined by dosage, yes, in a way even the St. Lucia and the Guyana, which were the highest scoring expressions. It is certainly a good thing Rums from so many different places on the globe are presented next to each other, which makes for nice comparisons. I have definitely no beef with finishing them all off in Cognac casks, au contraire, its making for a unique experience. France has them, and France also has Rhum Agricoles and independent Rum bottlers, so why shouldn’t they use their Cognac casks?

Then there is this practice of dosage. Sure, the market seems to want sweet Rums, the market believes Rums are a sweet drink/distillate, and yes Rum producers and bottlers aren’t in the Rum business to educate people, they are in the business of making money, and sure enough, sugar sells, just like sex. What? You probably have never seen the Dictador promotion train in the flesh? I remember even Abuelo doing something similar. Me being, by now, a more prolific Rum-taster, the beef I have with dosage is that it does not only raise the level of sweetness, but especially what it does with the Rum where the sugar has been added to. It dumbs it down, it flattens it out, it masks aroma’s and very importantly, it ruins the mouthfeel in the finish and the aftertaste. By now I started to really dislike the aftertaste of dosed Rums.

I remarked earlier in some other reviews, that I (still) don’t dislike sweet necessarily. A good PX, or Port, or White dessert Wine can be damn sweet, without leaving this foul aftertaste in your mouth. Sure, Rum hails from sugar production, and rightly so, (some) sweetness belongs to the Rum world. Somehow, if one produces a Rum without tampering with the process in doing so, the Rum might turn out great, sweet(ish) and great, and can stay great when tasting, without adding sugar. Added sugar is the bad guy here. Having said all that, by now, these Plantation expressions are definitely not for me anymore. There are enough differences between the expressions. The Jamaica, the Guyana, the Saint Lucia expressions are ok, The Nicaragua to a lesser extent as well, and so forth, but all of them, yes all, have this cloak of “wrong” which makes these Old Reserve Rums less interesting if you already know your way around Rums.

I mentioned these Rums might be interesting for novices, but in my opinion it is better to stay away from Rums which received these levels of dosage altogether. Top tip! Now go educate yourself.

Points: 70

Plantation Nicaragua 1998 (42%, Old Reserve, 1H211209, Nicaragua)

Onwards! We will soldier on with yet another Plantation Old Reserve from a few years back. By now, I really hope for a drier expression within this range. Where the Trinidad expression turned out to be quite a low point in the series, so sweet and the true aroma’s of the Rum cloaked in cloying and sticky sweetness. The Panama expression seems to have somewhat found a way up again and seems to have coped better with the added sugar than the aforementioned Trinidad. Quite a feat for a Spanish style Ron, as opposed to a British style Rum, which should be heavier. I hope this Nicaragua expression can even eclipse the Panama expression, just for the fun of it, but I have my doubts by now. You never know. So, vamos again!

Color: Full Gold.

Nose: Hmmm, nice full on aromatics. Lots happening, with lots of fresh butter, vanilla, custard and pudding, but also the Cognac cask is recognizable again. Fresh air and after some breathing this becomes more floral. Hand soap and cold dish water adds to the complexity. Again, these notes may sound horrible, but in reality they aren’t. The Cognac adds a weak red fruity acidity to the nose as well this time. Sharper hints of wood, but also soft wood, and slightly funky wood notes are present (as in bad breath). More fresh butter. You might also want to call this a bit dusty. The nose doesn’t seem to promise a lot of sweetness, which is nice for a change. All aroma’s present, re-enforce each other. The base Ron was good and the second maturation works well. The nose doesn’t seem to be hurt much by the dosage. Maybe the dosage was done sparsely? Yeah right. Quite well balanced for a dosed Ron though. Let this breathe for a while and even some fresh air whiffs by. Smells familiar, Flor de Caña maybe?

Taste: Decent entry, quite soft actually. Not big and sweet, but thinner, sharper and warming. Cognac, coffee, hard coffee candy. Not as sweet as…but it still has plenty of sweet notes to work with. Nice bitter oak notes and even some slightly burned sugar. Both are very welcome in this range of Rums. This has more to it than many of the other Plantation expressions to date. Fairly long aftertaste, with toffee and this coffee-and-oak like bitter note. We are definitely on our way up again once more. Toffee, coffee candy and oak even remain for the aftertaste, how untypical for a Plantation bottling in this series. Towards the end of the body, and especially noticeable in the, slightly dull, aftertaste, is the dosage. Its present alright, only not to the extent of some other Plantation offerings I reviewed earlier. This Nicaraguan expression is not bad at all. Soft, fairly complex and not very outspoken, well behaved. A shame this received dosage, since I’m sure this might have done without it. It could have been much better without it. The dosage flattens the finish, making it of the sugar water kind. Such a shame.

Maybe in reality, compared to other Rums, this Plantation offering by itself maybe just so-so, but by now, scoring quite high for an “Old Reserve”. This, together with the Flor de Caña offerings, do strike an interest into more of these rums, lets see what else is made in Nicaragua. Must make a mental note…

Points: 80

Plantation Panama 2000 (42%, Old Reserve, Panama)

Wow, that was quite a disappointing Trinidad expression from Plantation, didn’t see that one coming to be Frank. Lets move on quickly and have a look at this Panama expression instead. Just like many other expressions of Plantation, this is also a double matured Rum. As we all know by now, Plantation is owned by Cognac Ferrand, so no shortages of ex-Cognac casks in that company I suppose. The Trinidad I reviewed last, wasn’t hurt by the Cognac casks at all, au contraire, it did it good.

However, there is another practice Cognac Ferrand applies to their Rums (of this “Old Reserve” range, at least). Dosage, the practice of adding extra sugar somewhere in the (maturation) process to cater to a certain taste profile of their consumers. In the case of the Trinidad expression, well…it smothered it essentially… But, I digress, so back to the task at hand. Panama. Again nothing is known where this Rum was sourced, and Panama does house more than Varela Hermanos alone, you know, although… In case you don’t know, the Varela brothers are the people behind the Abuelo brand. At this point, I can add nothing more to this introduction but to say Vamos, and review this Ron de Panama…

Color: Full Gold.

Nose: Sweetish, vanilla and quite some clear office glue (Velpon). The glue leaps out of my glass, especially with a drop of water added. Slightly dusty. Big on toffee, butter and caramel aroma’s, but this time in a more pleasant way (meaning, not so damn sugary). Soft spicy wood notes for balance, and hints of cigarette smoke and new oak. All probably coming from cask toast. Not really a very “sweet” nose, not even with the presence of toffee and caramel. Coffee and mocha. Black tea and a whiff of florality. Sweet yoghurt and vanilla. Cannoli. Well balanced and pleasant. I hardly dare to say it, but sometimes I’m getting fresh Gin-like notes again, like I did with the Santa Teresa. This maybe me. Lacking are the Cognac cask notes present in many Plantation bottlings. Maybe the Ron is masking it, or the second maturation was done more sparsely. This already smells a lot better than the Trinidad expression, although very exciting it is not.

Taste: On entry, well, Cognac (yes its here) and some cola, but also, luckily, some bitter oak. Definitely more character. Quite sweet again, vanilla and runny caramel. Again, also a bit flat. The spicy backbone, present in the nose, is somewhat masked in the taste. It still isn’t heavily sweet, but there seems to be enough dosage to flatten the taste. The Rum used as a base for this probably had enough oomph not to be totally overpowered by the dosage, like in the case of the Trinidad expression. The fact that a little bitter note stays behind in the finish (and aftertaste) shows that. The taste is less balanced than the nose was, and flatter, which is a shame since the nose was pretty good in my opinion. Here the thicker and sweeter bit, seems to be not really well integrated with the alcohol. You can almost taste the separation between the two. Towards the end of the finish and the warming aftertaste, are notes reminding me a bit of the Abuelo 7 and some other notes reminding me of the Abuelo 12. Definitely to much dosage again in this Plantation expression for my taste.

In the end, this is not all that bad (as the Trinidad was), but given the choice I would rather opt for an Abuelo 7yo or 12 yo, depending on your taste, or if you dare, mixing both in one glass. The Santa Teresa has a similar profile and is also better than this Plantation. You can also have a look at one of the Panamanian Rons from Rum Nation. I have some more Plantation Rums to review, but by now I’m already feeling that these Plantation Rums are nice, if you are a novice, but almost unsuitable when you passed the novice station already, and on your way to greater Rums. If you already know your way around Rums, you might want to skip these Old Reserves altogether. I had a whole bottle of the St. Lucia Old Reserve, and although it is probably the best Old Reserve, Plantation has done, the dosage in that one really started to annoy me a bit towards the end. I still have samples of both the The Jamaica and the Guyana expressions, so I’m going to try them after the last new Plantation review, to see if they are still worth buying, and if necessary update those reviews.

Points: 76

Plantation Trinidad 2000 (42%, Old Reserve, 1H200111, Trinidad)

As you might have gathered from my recent reviews, I picked up on Rums again, and after reviewing several bottles I have open on my lectern, I also turned to my stash of Rum samples, to see what’s there. I unearthed a few Plantation samples from the time of the Jamaica and Guyana samples I reviewed earlier. The Guyanese review already covered a bit about Plantation so no need to repeat that here. Trinidad is also the birthplace of the wonderful, yet utterly wrong (according to some), and alas, no-more, Caroni Rums, which has quite a following. Trinidad is also the place Angostura is made, and based on my review of the 1919 and the newest 1824, a Rum distillery I’m in no hurry to buy more of. I’m afraid this Plantation Trinidad isn’t likely to be based on Rum from Caroni. Nevertheless, the three Old Reserve’s reviewed until now, got quite some favorable marks, so let’s see how this Trinidad turned out…

Color: Full gold.

Nose: Quite closed at first. Sweetish, buttery, vanilla powder and crushed dry leaves. Greenish, half ripe banana and slightly floral. On entry quite big (almost Bajan). In the back of the smell there is something I recognize from Port Charlotte CC:01, yes this Rum was finished in Cognac casks alright and it is recognizable as well. A welcome addition. Again a Rum based on Cookie dough and vanilla aroma’s. Dusty, minty and woody notes come next with more banana on top, reminding me a also bit of Angostura 1919, of which I’m not a fan. That’s it, nothing more comes from this. After the initial aroma’s it flattens out quite quickly. At this point, I checked if my nose maybe died on me, with the Santa Teresa in a second glass, and I’m happy to report there is nothing wrong with my nose, works perfectly, and I’m also happy to report the Santa Teresa is a much, much better Rum than this Plantation Trinidad, although the smell of this Trinidad is initially not bad.

Taste: Quite sweet on entry, but also a hint of fresh oak. Recognizable Cognac casked sugar water, with more cookie dough and vanilla again and a sort of flatness I get from Blended Whiskies laced with caramel coloring, dumbing down the finished product (Blanded Whiskies) and cloaking all that used to be there (fruit probably). Dosage flattened this Rum as well (with a sledgehammer, I might add). This enters your mouth and seems not that bad, but disaster strikes when you swallow it, you get a sort of rounded out total taste, that’s it. You swallow it whole, and the sugar stays in the cavity of your mouth the longest. A taste and sensation you can follow up with another sip, but really, what I am craving after this is a nice cup of coffee. When I wait a bit, and still before the ordered coffee arrives, my mouth contracts because of the sugar residue left behind. So coffee and a toothbrush are needed after this Rum. I’m quite happy right now this is only a sample and not a full bottle. This Rum really lacks development, it just sits there in the glass staring back at you with its dull eyes. You look into its brain and you don’t even sense the synapses firing. A very dumb (dull) Rum. A stupid Rum. The dosage even leaves some sort of bad taste behind in my mouth. It shows me no respect. Very good though, this has some notes from Cognac cask maturation, otherwise it would have been even worse than it already is. Even Diplomático was better than this.

From this series I liked the previously reviewed Guyana and the Jamaica versions much better, and to be honest, you have to do a lot to damage to a Demerara or to kill Jamaican funk if the dosage was the same in those examples. So as a novice it didn’t hurt me getting to know the Demerara and Jamaican styles with those two bottles). A light Angostura on the other hand, yes, you can hit that very well with dosage. This Plantation Trinidad, for me, isn’t up there with both others. Dull, dumb, boring. A dud. The Angostura (and hey we are not even sure this is an Angostura) they had to work with wasn’t probably much, but what they did with it is kill any character dead that might have been left in it. I hope more recent bottlings of Plantation Trinidad are better than this, but I won’t be the one to find out, since there are a lot more, and way better bottlings out there, waiting to be discovered. I still have a few Plantation samples left, I hope it gets better again from here.

Points: 72

Havana Club Añejo 7 Años (40%, OB, Cuba)

Well, here is something I don’t do all that often, starting a review not knowing really what it is. (I’ll know in due time, before finishing it). I was given this sample and although I have heard some clues as to what this is, I am at the time of writing not sure what it precisely is. Well I do know it is a Rum called Havana Club though, bought by it’s owner right at the distillery on Cuba. And with Havana Club, I mean the real Havana Club, made in Cuba, you know, the island that has Havana sitting on it. There is also Puerto Rican made, Bacardi owned Havana Club, sold in the USA, that is said to be much worse. I don’t know, I haven’t tried it, but people who’s taste I trust, tell me so. The real Havana Club puts out quite some expressions, half of which are really, really affordable. Even the Selección de Maestros won’t cost you an arm or a leg, yet the other half is quite expensive to say the least. There seems to be nothing in the middle. Maybe the 15yo sits in the middle, but it already costs three times as much as the Selección de Maestros.

Color: Gold.

Nose: Starts with a peculiar rotting fruit off-note. Over-over ripe yellow fruits. Hint of gravy even. I’m definitely picking up something meaty, something I didn’t pick up on the first time around. Passion fruit, papaya and some mango. Over time the rotting bits fade away, leaving room for a more recognizable light to medium, sweet smelling, Cuban spirit. Some dusty wood and vanilla powder. Cancel the fade away bit, after snorting it one more time, the rot is back, or has never left. Wonky balance at first, yet bad it is not. Yes, fruit is the pivot around which the smell of this Rum spins. Is it real Cobb? Wait a minute the rot is again gone. Am I dreaming? A bit nutty but foremost ripe yellow fruits. Dried banana skin and a hint of red fruit acidity. There seems to be nothing more to it. Well there is some soft wood, and faint whiff of very old leather. Let this breathe for a while. The Rum picks up balance that way.

Taste: Super thin, instant evaporation in the cavity of my mouth. Rum vapors must come out of my nose. with still a thin, even coat of medium sweetness in my mouth, quickly followed by a wee bit more astringent wood notes. Sweet entry, toffee and fruits, and gone it is. Another sip (with lots of air). More nutty and even woody notes. And gone it is again. Yes a light Rum indeed. 70 cl of this must weigh around 10 grams. Simple, straightforward, but also without flaws. Generates a nice warmth. Toffee and fruits. That’s it, with still this wee woody spiciness underneath. As must be clear to you by now, the finish is short. Gewurztraminer notes suddenly appear, as well as some red fruit acidity. There is hardly an aftertaste. However this does leave a sort of toffeed Cuban memory behind. I wonder now if the Cubans drink this neat?

If you are really a novice, than is may very well be your starting point. Very light and unoffensive and Cuban. Yet it still has some alcohol for you to see if the world of Rum is for you. If so, boy are you in for a treat exploring further, because there is a lot more to find after this. Simple, fruity and medium sweet, but also clean and problem free. If you are more experienced, it may be too light and a bit boring, but having said that, this does bring to mind the pictures of Cuba. Sure you can mix this in many wonderful Rum based cocktails, but being on the island, I would have no problem whatsoever with a glass of only this Rum. Yes, I would enjoy it. Being quite hot today, I do understand the need for the Cubans to distill this light Rum.

Points: 75

Even though the score seems low, there is nothing wrong with this Rum. It’s just very simple. Thanks again to Auke.

Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve (45%, OB, Jamaica)

A few years back I had a Worthy Park from Rum Nation on my lectern, which was definitely not bad. Nope, not bad at all. Here is another one, but this time it’s not bottled by an independent bottler, but by the owners themselves! Hurray! Finally some more worthy OB’s! I’m already sort-of happy this was bottled at 45% ABV and not a lackluster 40%, which often hurts the Rum, just look at both offerings from Foursquare: Both Doorly’s 12yo and the 9yo Port Cask Finish were bottled at 40% ABV, and suffered a bit from reduction if you ask me. Especially Rum, and this is my personal view, fares well at higher strengths. Sure I like it better, but I also feel it presents itself and all the flavors and aroma’s better. Sure, when starting out with Rum I had no beef with lower strength Rums and found lots of Rums were quite good (even the one’s that aren’t all that good in hindsight). As time and experience progresses, I find that the higher strength really does matter considerably. However, as said before, this may not be true for you, so please don’t take my word for it and make up your own mind. The owner of the bottle I’m about to review found this quite alcoholic in comparison to The Rum Nation Guadeloupe I reviewed not too long ago. Let’s see in a few years time what his thoughts are about this Rum.

Color: Gold.

Nose: Yes Worthy Park alright, I recognize it immediately from the Rum Nation bottling I reviewed a few years back. Funky banana, sweet wax and nutty. Lots of fruity banana. Very fragrant. Very fruity. Runny toffee, with an edge of fresh oak and almonds. The big fatty note subsides a bit to show more dry and slightly woody notes. Dried vegetable powder. Sweet Grain Whisky reminding me of Girvan. Vitamin C dust, sawdust and Pisang Goreng (baked banana), complete with the dough and powdered sugar. Milk Chocolate. I have to say I really like the play between the sweet banana toffee notes and the dryer grainy, tea-like and woody notes. More sugared yellow fruits and even some warm licorice. After more breathing, a more alcoholic and green note appears. Showing some apparent youth, which in this case is certainly not bad. More warm licorice and cooked vegetables. Cold gravy. Easily recognizable as a Worthy Park though, but also some surprises are here to be had. I like this one, it smells good.

Taste: Wow, definitely less sweet than the nose promised. I may have used that line before. In fact, this is also thinner than I thought. Less fatty and less sweet. The big nutty and banana note almost seem absent. Starts with (slightly bitter and slightly nutty) wood, Greek green olives and tea. Warming. Quite dry, which is a nice surprise after the banana smell, unless you are expecting a banana nose as well. Already the body seems to un-balance itself, which is a pity. The balance was never this Rums biggest fortay since the difference between the nose and the palate is easily noticeable. Somewhat short in the finish-department as well, lacking warmth, with the bitter wood note having the longest breath. Salty on the lips, like the brine from the Greek green olives.

This is a nice Worthy Park, but for me this doesn’t eclipse a lot of independently bottled Worthy Parks. This in fact surprised me a bit being dryer than most Worthy Parks I tried from the independents, thus showing a somewhat new side to me. Is it the best? Certainly not, it is a bit thin on the palate, but it certainly isn’t pointless at all, I really like the dry profile. This is definitely worth knowing, and I do like it. It is an education, and I’m happy I have been given the opportunity to try it. I don’t think you need the whole bottle for the experience. On par with the Monymusk I just reviewed, but I have to admit this one is growing on me. If I would have an open bottle of this, this might grow on me as well. So in time I will get back to this for sure.

Points: 82

Thanks to Auke for the sample.

El Dorado 25yo 1980 (40%, Guyana)

Here is El Dorado Number four. After the more affordable and pretty sweet 12yo, the proper 15yo and the poor mans mid range premium 21yo, here is the true official Premium version. Just look at the decanter and the big knob on top. This is a 25yo distilled in 1980, so released somewhere around 2005. The previous, and first 25yo, was the millennium edition, released in 1999. El Dorado is the go-to-Rum when looking at Demerara Rums. However, the owners do get some slack for adding sugar. Many very good or even stellar Demerara Rums are released by independent bottlers offering expressions without added sugar, or less added sugar. Velier, Bristol and Rum Nation come to mind, but there are a lot more. Lately DDL themselves are now in the business releasing Demerara Rums as if they were an independent bottler with the release in 2015 of an 1993 Enmore, 1999 Port Mourant and a 2002 Versailles (with some added sugar). In 2017 another Port Mourant (1997) and Enmore (1996) were released. For me, Demerara is one of my favourite styles of Rum, together with the funk of Jamaica and St. Lucia and lets not forget about Rhum Agriciole, fantastic stuff in its own right. There are many wonderful Rums to be found. (Just opened my first bottle from Reunion, actually). Nice, and again different from the rest.

Color: Copper brown.

Nose: Sweet hints, with nice woody notes. Woody acidity and spicy. Slightly tarry, wood polish and plain old dust. Notes of clear glue as well. Compared to the 21yo, this does smell more distinguished, like entering an old mansion. Priceless antiques, beeswax furniture polish and so on. Definitely, some industrial notes with petrol, unlit tobacco and licorice (Enmore), but also (again) the whiff of fresh air, burnt caramel and brown sugar. How is that even possible with all these heavy aroma’s? It tells me the nose isn’t very clogged up, and roomy. It lets its treasures out in layers. Honey, cough syrup and more beautiful wood (and more licorice as well). Very, very nice. Amazing how well aged Demerara’s can smell. In fact this does smell a bit like an old Agricole (but less so than the 21yo). Next, another layer opens up, caramel, burnt caramel and vanilla, but not in a (sweet) way, gluing the aroma’s together, similar to the 21yo. This is the better smelling of the two. It’s there but not as much. Slightly more influence from the wood.

Taste: Good lord almighty! (no offence intended). Fruit syrup, definitely raspberry. Very dissonant and unbalanced. It sits on top of, and maskes, the rather brittle Rum, overpowering it massively. This seems like Jekyll and Hyde appearing at the same time, quite a feat. Underneath an overly dry Demerara. (I have a bone-dry 1964 Port Mourant locked away, so I know). This has that underneath, but quite another and strange fresh and fruity layer on top. Doctored! Messed with!! Ruined!!! Fruit syrup. Raspberry syrup for sure. Liquid sugar. Candied oranges. Where did that fruit fly come from? The second time around, trying this on another day, it didn’t take the fruit flies long to find me and my Rum. Amazing. This came from the bottle depicted to the left? Yes it did. Guyana Rum. No way they did this! Yes the reports are true, the consumer has been saved from old, heavy, over-the top, over aged, dry and potentially aggressive Rum by sugar of the added kind. This fruity sweetness should be very interesting for mixologists I guess, as Don Papapapapapapa can be called interesting as well and which will vanillin you long time. Both shouldn’t be sold as Rums, but rather as liqueurs, as which compared to “other” liqueurs, they aren’t bad at all. As Rums: stop! ban! forbid! just don’t! Short finish but and an aftertaste very similar to that of PX-Sherry. Get PX in stead, much cheaper than this El Dorado. Some amazing decisions were made in Guyana a long time ago…

Burnt sugar and burnt wood in the aftertaste. Very fruity. PX. Actually a very strange aftertaste: the insides of my cheeks are full of cloying sugar that won’t let go by itself, and the aftertaste is more sugary as well. Not nice. Only the wood seems to maintain itself well into the finish. Sugary aftertaste, which is also quite short. Although there is a lot of the greatness still around, I can imagine it was originally bone-dry, but to shoot it in the back like this, is a bit cruel don’t you think? I will savour the nice bits this displays, but the whole is quite well ruined (as a Rum). Not really a sipping Rum for the discerning consumer, but if you make a lot of money and are not a discerning Rum-drinker, this has nice packaging, nice bottle, oozing “success” and “because you can” and is rather excellent in cola! Go for it! Us poor people will buy the occasional cherry-coke and a bottle of PX instead. ’nuff said.

Points: 74 (hard to tell really, since it doesn’t seem to be a Rum)

P.S. Just to wash away the sugary aftertaste, I picked the El Dorado 21yo. That one now seems bone dry in comparison… (it isn’t, in case you’re wondering).

P.S.II. The second time around in stead of following it up with the 21yo I mixed the two together. 60% of the 25yo with 40% of the 21yo. The 21yo still managed to take over the end result, but, and you might have guessed it, this new concoction was way better than the 25yo by itself. Quite dry in the nose, but sweet on the palate, with less of the raspberry syrup. Not bad with a way longer and dryer finish. I actually like this mix very much, seems very balanced and somewhat “bigger” than the 21yo by itself.

El Dorado 21yo “Special Reserve” (43%, Guyana, 2006)

After reviewing the 12yo (in 2013) and the 15yo (in 2015) from the El Dorado premium range, now the time has come to move up one step of the ladder again and have a look at the 21yo. Just like it’s two younger brothers it has been blended together from Rums made with several of the many stills that have survived. I call the three, “brothers”, since the three aren’t simply older versions of the same kid, but the DNA between the three has some variation. Related but different, like brothers. This 21yo has been blended together from the Albion (AN), a French Savalle still, the Versailles (VSG), a single wooden pot still and the Enmore (EHP), a wooden Coffey still. Where in the 21yo, the Albion is the dominant one.

I have read somewhere that, 35yo Rum was used, but by now, because the 21yo is around for some while, that might not be the case anymore. I’m sure the Rums used, have different vintages where the youngest Rum has to be 21yo. A rule adopted, from Single Malt Whisky, by the English-speaking Rum world. This is completely different from the practices of Solera type Rums. The Rum has aged exclusively in the carribean and since the climate is hot and dry, Rums this age can get very easily over-oaked, since water, instead of alcohol, is the first to evaporate. Speeding up the ageing process, as compared to the more mild European climate. Cadenheads and Bristol come to mind, when thinking about Demerara Rums that have (partly) aged in Europe, but there are many others.

Color: Copper gold.

Nose: Thick Demerara style. But with a breath of fresh air. Sharp wood, spicy wood. Tar and oak. Lovely. This is how a Rum should smell, one that has been in cask for a long time. Are you paying attention Don Papa? Oh, wait a minute. Caramel and toffee comes next. Somehow the nose seems glued together with sweetness now. Hints of petrol and melting plastic to balance things out. Yes again an aroma that sounds hideous, but really isn’t. Well it is, but not in this Rum. Dry crushed leaves and molasses with a return to the more woody notes. Green and (dry) grassy. Hints of lavas, but darker and more brooding. Tar covered lavas then? Black tea and hot toffee (again, slightly deep burnt sugar-toffee). Dry, dusty and now I get more than a fair share of licorice (and warm caramel), whilst I revert to smelling it like a Dyson would. Vortex snorting. (I must remember this expression, and use it more often, since it is revealing). Nice stuff. I have a feeling there is some fruit to it as well, but since the Demerara style is strict and fierce it doesn’t let it out. Very appetizing but also I fear some added sugar was used on this old Rum. Let’s taste it.

Taste: Thick (for a brief moment) and sweet, but not too much, and never cloying. Lots of licorice again, but also a slight nudge towards the style of Agricole. Unmistakable, I get it every time. Excellent aged brown sugar aroma, but with lots of soft wood notes to balance this out. A nice burnt (sugar) note, toasted oak with vanilla, combined with bitter oranges. Cold black tea and ear wax, but with less bitterness than both. This one is about wood. So here the number 21 does mean age. Very balanced, it tastes exactly like it smells, less sweet maybe and “thinner” in structure. Since this is an old one, because in Caribbean weather, 21 years in wood is almost a lifetime, the sweetness is broken down and surpassed by the effect the wood has on this Rum. Hints of freshly sawn oak even. It’s not as big and shows some delicacy of the old, especially towards the finish. In the finish some soapy and definitely bitter wood stay behind and some honey as well. The aroma’s are brittle and hardly a problem though.

This is geriatric Rum, I love it, sure in many ways it is over the top, as if aged for too long, gaining too much of the benefits of wood, making it less easily drinkable, than the very sweet 12yo and the very nice 15yo. This is why of the whole series people tend to prefer the 15yo as a sipper, and the 8yo as a daily drinker. But this 21yo has its moments and when it time, this delivers, warts and all. Granted this may be for experienced drinkers to really appreciate it, and so be it. If you are not one of those, you might want to stay off this one for a while for you to become of age and try it again. And if you do, it will be clear this was (today), fairly priced as well.

Points: 87

Don Papa No.7 (40%, Philippines)

This is a review I’ve been putting off for quite some time now, for different reasons. First of all, I do not review liqueurs. Cyril has found out, that Don Papa has 2.4 g/l added glycerol, 29 g/l added sugar and…wait for it…359 g/l added vanillin. This last number is extremely high. Another Rum known for a lot added vanillin is Diplomático Reserva which has “only” 4.8 g/l added vanillin. That is almost a 100 times less! (However, Diplomático has even more added sugar than Don Papa; 44.1 g/l), but if you lace it with vanillin, who cares anymore about the sugar? So, for me, with these kinds of numbers, this simply isn’t a Rum, and according to laws in many countries this isn’t even allowed to be called a Rum. Still it is sold everywhere, so much for enforcement and protecting the public.

I do not dislike sweetness in drinks. Not at all, I like a good PX Sherry, and other kinds of good, sweet fortified and normal wines. But that’s about it. Apart from some exceptions obviously, I don’t have a sweet tooth. There are some styles of Rums that can be sweeter than others, but that goes with the territory. Some Rums can have added sugar somewhere in the production process but that doesn’t necessarily mean, they are bad, or taste bad, although sometimes they are. However, considering the data, it seems to me Don Papa isn’t a Rum, and therefore I didn’t feel the need to review it. On the other hand, since it claims to be a Rum, and I can’t review Rums here without some oddballs now can I? But the best reason for waiting so long is, what if…I like it! The horror! The shame! I might just like it, never to be taken seriously anymore. On the other hand, to be taken serious is highly overrated, don’t you think? Do you want to be taken seriously?

Many reviews have surfaced since Don Papa landed in the west and they haven’t been mild, some reviewers fell ill, some are dead, some have lost their palate, some have lost their minds and subsequently their wives and some were able to unblock pipes that seemed blocked forever. There are even reports that it also functions quite well as motor oil. Why should I review something with only one other positive fact, the utterly gorgeous label! I’m not an art critic. But worse, what if I like it!

Color: Brown.

Nose: Vanilla.

Taste: Sweet (very).

Label: Perfect.

Well, only if you are the worlds biggest fan of synthetic vanilla or artificial baking products, this is for you. You know these small bottles of artificial Rum flavours you can get for backing cakes, this is it. It’s really like reviewing that stuff. So I guess my next review will be of a chunk of marzipan or sugared artificial cherries, made of artificial sugar. Sure we like baking cakes, and brownies. We don’t mind it contains 75% sugar, we’ll still eat them. Don Papa is like that, the smells are nice, it’s only vanilla, so its nice, and its sweet, and the world will eat anything if its sweet, that’s why the sugar industry is ruling the world. Just find out for yourself how much sugar Cola contains (and how much acid is needed to hide that sugar from you). Acid, not good for your teeth. So a nice smell, but in no way this is a Rum. Calling this a Rum is disrespectful, offensive, maddening and criminal. Call it an (artificial) liqueur and it is borderline ok. Just remember you are being duped big time. If you bought it, tell people because, just like me, you adored the label.

Points: 43, since it is essentially a liqueur, and most definitely not a Rum.

Big thanks go out to two people from the Rum bloggers community, telling me they miss me and urging me to write more Rum reviews. This one if for you Lance and Wes! I’m back!

Tres Hombres XV Años (42%, 2013, Dominican Republic)

Although Tres Hombres sounds very “Spanish” and the Rum hails from the Dominican Republic, this is a Dutch brand with a nice story behind it. Tres Hombres are three Dutch friends called Andreas, Jorne and Arjen who in 2007 started the world’s first emissions free shipping company. Today the company is called Fairtransport and has five ships in their fleet, one of which is called “Tres Hombres”. Apart from the ship and their nickname, Tres Hombres is obviously also a brand, put on Rum, coffee and chocolate. So when your cargo is shipped west, no ship returns empty. Sailing emissions free, the company also focusses on transporting special products which are organic, or crafted traditionally, like olive oil, Wine and Rum. When sailing back from the Caribbean, powered only by the wind, the journey takes a while and it is said that the Rum ages on the ocean, adding to the flavour.

This particular example, edition 05, from 2013, is a solera 15, so it is not a true 15yo Rum. The Rum is made by Oliver & Oliver. A company we already came across when reviewing Presidente 23 Años, also the Atlantico Reserva and Private Cask I reviewed earlier are sourced from Oliver & Oliver, this time for a Miami based brand owner. Even though Rums like this might be sweet, and you get duped a bit with the “age”statement, all examples mentioned were good for the style they represent.

Color: Light gold.

Nose: Smells like a typical Rum. Warm with a promise of some vegetal dirty sweetness. Soft. All is here, wood and leather, but again soft and laid back. Vanilla powder, maybe even powdered coffee creamer. Virgin oak. After letting it sit for a while, the wood gets more assertive, and sharper, which I welcome very much, still underneath the feel of warm sugar-water. Now we also get some unlit cigarette tobacco and even a more spicy feel. A breath of fresh (sea?) air even. Dry leaves, wood and tea. Vegetal with tiny hints of latte macchiato, tea and hot chocolate. Very late in the mix some red fruits sweets. A nice Rum, yet overall it smells a bit simple, maybe less complex would be a better way to describe it. Likeable nevertheless.

Taste: On entry a bit thin. It isn’t thick nor cloying, which is good. I expected something different. Spicy oak. Vegetal again, but different from the nose. This time it’s autumn forest floor (on a sunny day, so without the damp and the rot). Cold tea with hints of chocolate powder. Hardly sweet, people! It drinks like the Epris I reviewed recently. With this I do not mean it resembles the Epris because it smells entirely different and the taste is quite different as well. It’s a different style altogether. I guess you need a bit more experience to wrap your head around the Epris. The Tres Hombres may lack complexity, and it’s not in your face, nor is it big (or sweet) like a Demerara or a funky Jamaican, but it is likeable, like a puppy is. Amazing. I love the way the soft wood presents itself here. Were the casks on deck, stewing in the sun?

When you pick up some experience along they way, I have to say this smells a (more than a) bit in the same line as the other Oliver & Oliver Rums I mentioned above. Tastewise however, this one does show that the people at Oliver & Oliver are perfectly capable in making (blending) different Rums. Lovely puppy, and puppies aren’t 15yo nor is this Rum.

Points: 84