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bdrinker

Sipping rum suggestions for beginners

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bdrinker

 I recently opened this bottle of ed12 which I got for Christmas. Very tasty rum, a bit on the sweet side, definitely sweeter and less bourbon like than the Appleton 12, but excellent sipping rum, with a good nose and great flavor.

 

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tanstaafl2
16 hours ago, dcbt said:

This was a very helpful thread.  I'm a rum newbie and only had the Balcones and SA Revelation on my bar but wanted a non-NDP Caribbean rum to add to it.  I didn't want to dive down the same rabbit hole that bourbon got me in, but at the same time I see myself broadening my horizons a bit, especially as summer comes around (and especially given the current bourbon market). 

I wanted a rum more on the bourbon side than the sweet side, I wanted something aged, I wanted something close to 90 proof (which seems next to impossible in the rum world - it seems everything is either 80 proof or 150 proof), I wanted something readily available at Total Wine, and I didn't want any additives in it. 

The info above narrowed it down for me, and then some info over at Capn Jimbo's site (remember him?  He was here for a cup of coffee awhile back before burning a bridge or two IIRC) provided some interesting tests on additives in rums.  After reading this thread and perusing those tests I narrowed my choice down to Mount Gay XO and Seale's 10 year.  Then I stumbled across an interview with the Seale's guy, and he seemed legit, honest, transparent, wanted to do things the 'right' way. 

So Seale's 10 year, 86 proof was the winner.  I'll try it later this week.   At half the price of Mount Gay XO, I feel even better about it.  The only downside is this bottle design.  Very phallic.  But it makes it easy to spot on the shelf I suppose.

 

It is a rather odd bottle design but a pretty good rum especially for the price. Sounds like you might want to investigate a good quality rhum agricole although they can be harder to find, especially with some proof, and a bit expensive. Or the darling of Cap'n Jimbo, Barbancourt rhum, which is not very expensive, generally pretty good and pretty commonly available. The 8yo "5 star" is a good place to start.

Foursquare is a nice spiced rum from Seales that is not up in your face with the spice but more balanced than the typical Sailor Jerry or Captain Morgan spiced rums. But it is hard to find in the US. Altohugh seems like I have seen it at Total Wine on occasion next to the Doorly's and Seale's 10yo. Only down side is it is a low proof liqueur style at 70 proof.

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The Black Tot

Richard Seale is indeed the man, in all respects. Any product with "Foursquare Distillery" on it is his as well.

All bottles are phallic - RL Seale's 10 is just a little less excited.

Captain Jimbo's Rum Project is, in my opinion, the best site about real rum that there is. I know it totally changed the trajectory of my rum understanding in a way that would have taken me another decade to figure out on my own. Jimbo does not compromise, and is definitely a force majeure, but he cares about the truth, hates corporate skullduggery, and has done more for his chosen spirit than most of us. If you can see rum as a rogue's drink, think of Jimbo as the perfect spokesperson - rum is supposed to be spirited, wild, and sometimes garrulous, but always uplifting, at least at some point in the evening!

Pusser's was the rum that started me on my journey really. Prior to that I was a Zacapa23, Diplomatico, Atlantico, ED21 drinker - all the sugary messes. Pusser's has some sugar in it as well, but it is a very interesting blend which is a throwback to the recipe of the British Naval rum. In the UK they recently changed the labels, and the old blue label is now a black label which they call "gunpowder proof" at 109 proof, which is about perfect for whiskey drinkers and where this rum shines, in my opinion. In the US it used to be 97.5 proof, then it went down to 92 proof, not sure where the blue label is now, but I last heard they were downproofing the US release to 80 proof because nothing higher than 80 proof spirits could be sold on Army/Navy bases and they wanted to appeal to the sailor demographic - Who would have thought the US Army/Navy would eventually nanny-state a great naval rum formula into dilution? But that's the story I heard. Germany alone gets a 151 Pusser's overproof - If you can make sense of that, drop me a line and explain it to me.

Anyway, wishing to understand Pusser's brought me to the Project, and now I'm mostly focused on buying the kind of rums that go INTO (or used to go into) Pusser's, without the added sugar and often at cask strength.

Incidentally, dcbt, NDP is a different concept in the rum world. In fact, it's the NDPs who release the best, least adulterated, non-filtered, cask strength product. Apart from Richard Seale, who of course runs his own distillery. But most of the big players still believe that the world wants sugared, downproofed, adulterated rums (and maybe they do, but that's because it's all they've ever been given access to so far). Cadenhead, Berry Brothers and Rudd, Velier, Bristol Spirits, and a few smaller independents are all NDPs, and they release the best rums in the world - better than the distilleries that made them, who dump their best into inferior blends, stretch them out with GNS, and/or add sugar and flavoring extracts of things like prune (Brugal) and vanilla.

You have to understand that most rum distilleries don't respect their own product - in the rum world, it takes the NDPs to buy the raw (or young-aged) distillates, age them well (they know a thing or two about aging spirits in Scotland), and release them in the way connoisseurs like them.

So in the rum world, you avoid NDPs at your peril. Total Wine carrys Berry Brothers rums. Not cheap, but you'll know why when you taste 'em. Cheaper than limited bourbons today, for sure. Remember, Revelation Rum is an NDP - AND it's delicious.

Ed Hamilton's rum releases are pretty good too, and broadly available. His Demerara 151 and 80 releases are excellent for cocktails, and the closest you'll get to a replacement for the famous Lemon Hart 151. His Jamaican and St Lucia rums are also good examples of honest rums with no flavoring added (although there is some coloring, this isn't the same negative it is in the malt world).

For a white rum, find yourself some Bacardi (yes, this is the only time I'll say Bacardi) Heritage edition. ONLY THE HERITAGE EDITION. The other stuff is ghastly. Heritage should cost you less than 20 bucks in the states when you can find it, and it's so nice you can sip it neat. I however buy it for my mojitos and cocktail needs where a white rum in the Cuban style is called for. The Heritage is distilled in Mexico, unlike the bad stuff, which is distilled in Puerto Rico, but regardless of it being made in Mexico, it is made in the Cuban STYLE.

Mount Gay XO is too light for me. It has it's place - buttered toffee like flavor, without additives. If you love that you'll also love Cockspur. Note that MGXO, Cockspur, AND RL Seale's are all Bajan (Barbados). Once you're through those, try the Berry Bros Guadaloupe and Nicaraguan.

Myself, I went down the Demerara rabbit hole, and I still haven't found my way out yet. It's a labor of love, pain, border-crossings with swelling suitcases, and heavy, heavy expense. Rum hunting is a lot of the reason I haven't been hanging around here so much recently. Now I'm taking a breather - my bank cards get out of intensive care next week, fate willing.

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dcbt

Interesting to hear that about rum NDPs.  Good to know.  Thanks, black dot, that's a good road map if / when I venture out father.  

I spent most of the day on Sunday concocting a spreadsheet as I cross referenced brands mentioned here vs Total Wine availability vs Cap'n Jimbo's additives research, with proof, price, origin (island), etc.  (That's what happens when football season ends I guess.)

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dcbt

By the way, what can you tell me about Cruzan Single Barrel?  Even though I'm a novice, I know enough to know normal Bacardi is junk, and I tend to think of Cruzan as flavored junk.  But the single barrel didn't have any additives it looked like.  Is it decent and just suffers from its namesake flavored brands?  Or is it crap like the other Cruzans?  Or am I wrong entirely about my perception of Cruzan as junk?

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tanstaafl2

It is the best of Cruzan which is admittedly a low bar. But it will do in a pinch as a light golden rum.

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The Black Tot

The old Cruzan Single Barrel Diamond Estate with a pirate ship embossed on the bottle was wonderful, and a great deal. I found some, in all places, at a London bar a few weeks ago and will be popping back in until it is no more.

I've got two bottles of that from my dusty hunting daze, but one doesn't come across 'em much anymore.

The current offering is trying to capitalize on this past success, and is in nowhere near the same league, as Bruce rightly confirms.

Also, rule of thumb: If it's a recognizable brand and it's distilled in Puerto Rico (as is Cruzan), your purchase supports megacorp bastards who, through lobbying and obstructionism, are responsible for shutting authentic rum out of the US market, and starving authentic Caribbean brands into closure. One can't always walk the line of grace, but it needs to be said - there are plenty of ethical companies that make as good and often better stuff, guilt free.

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The Black Tot

If you go into Spec's and ask them to check their computer inventory you'll probably find an area store around DFW that has the Bacardi Heritage Edition.

Seriously, dude. Clear the shelf. It'll be like the old bourbon days when shelf clearing cost $15/bottle for top product. A good feeling.

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The Black Tot

Also, incidentally (I've had too much chocolate here on board, having no access to bourbon or rum), don't shy away from trying a Pusser's just because it has sugar in it.

A lot of people hate Pusser's because of their lawsuit against a cocktail bar in NYC over the rights to the cocktail name "Painkiller". There's an amazing drinking parrot who hangs around here who subscribes to this view, I believe.

While I appreciate this stance - I have a similar personal ban on Michter's since they went after Stoll and Wolfe, in Pusser's case I have to balance this against my fascination with the Royal Navy's daily tot tradition (My username is based on Black Tot Day, when the navy rum ration was abolished and the last ration was issued in June or July 1970, I think it was) and, of course, my love of the rum itself!

Personally, although you've been advised to find the 15yr, that's $65 in the US and also can be quite hard to find. I'd cut your teeth on the much cheaper blue label, which should be in the 30s, and if you like that, go for the 15, although the 15 is more heavily sugared than the blue label.

OK, I'm outta here!

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tanstaafl2
On ‎2‎/‎16‎/‎2016‎ ‎10‎:‎17‎:‎47‎, The Black Tot said:

The old Cruzan Single Barrel Diamond Estate with a pirate ship embossed on the bottle was wonderful, and a great deal. I found some, in all places, at a London bar a few weeks ago and will be popping back in until it is no more.

I've got two bottles of that from my dusty hunting daze, but one doesn't come across 'em much anymore.

The current offering is trying to capitalize on this past success, and is in nowhere near the same league, as Bruce rightly confirms.

Also, rule of thumb: If it's a recognizable brand and it's distilled in Puerto Rico (as is Cruzan), your purchase supports megacorp bastards who, through lobbying and obstructionism, are responsible for shutting authentic rum out of the US market, and starving authentic Caribbean brands into closure. One can't always walk the line of grace, but it needs to be said - there are plenty of ethical companies that make as good and often better stuff, guilt free.

Had forgotten about the old Cruzan Single Barrel Diamond Estate. That was indeed good but haven't seen it in a long time!

I believe Cruzan is a "Virgin" and not Puerto Rican?

However it is true that the massive subsidies being given to the big three rum producers, Diageo, Fortune (which is Cruzan) and Bacardi, and are a potential blow to smaller producers ability to compete. I am not sure of the current status of these subsidies and the impact they have had as this all started being reported in late 2012/early 2013 and we are now 3 years down the road.

Edited by tanstaafl2

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The Black Tot

I'm also hearing things about Don Q not being quite so evil... so hold your fire on Don Q until further info comes in.

You're right about Cruzan being Virgin Islands. Still a benefit of similar subsidies though and a deceitful operator.

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MTNBourbon

Well, this one for me so far is the best I've liked,  El Dorado Special Reserve (15 Yr. Old) .

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The Black Tot
12 minutes ago, MTNBourbon said:

Well, this one for me so far is the best I've liked,  El Dorado Special Reserve (15 Yr. Old) .

Then you're definitely ready for Pusser's.

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MTNBourbon
26 minutes ago, The Black Tot said:

Then you're definitely ready for Pusser's.

Which one?

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The Black Tot

Try the blue label first, because it's cheaper and easier to find. If you like that, then experiment with the 15yr if you want to pay the $60+ it costs in the US.

My REAL recommendation would be to try and get your hands on a UK version at 109 proof, which is where this blend really shines, in my opinion. But you have to start with what you've got available to you.

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MTNBourbon
1 minute ago, The Black Tot said:

Try the blue label first, because it's cheaper and easier to find. If you like that, then experiment with the 15yr if you want to pay the $60+ it costs in the US.

My REAL recommendation would be to try and get your hands on a UK version at 109 proof, which is where this blend really shines, in my opinion. But you have to start with what you've got available to you.

I have some of the Blue Label and it's ok, would not buy again, good price though.

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The Black Tot

Fair enough, then. Tried is tried!

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sailor22

The Rum market in the USA has generally been a race to the bottom price wise, anything to make a lower priced, sweeter product.  The result is that nearly all the "Rums" on the shelf in most parts of the country should more accurately be described as liqueurs. Heavily sugared with Port, Sherry, Muscatel, vanilla, coffee, botanicals, dosed with glycerin and coloring added. None of this is disclosed on the labels.  The age statements on Rum bottles not from Barbados, Jamaica, Martinique, Guadeloupe and Marie Galant are mostly meaningless, and if it says solara disregard the age statement entirely as it's a meaningless term when applied to the way rum is aged and marketed in the USA.

 

If you enjoy a thick sweet sugary sip (and I do occasionally) then anything from Abuelo, Botran, El Dorado, Zacapa, etc will be of interest and worth your time exploring. Just know that you are not drinking a pure rum.

 

If your looking for something  lighter but very smooth and sweet look at Cruzan, high end Bacardi, Panamanian products like Zafra, Peruvian Cartavio  and most Cuban style and Puerto Rican products. These are all produced in alcohol plants that make a very very high proof distillate (in some cases high enough to qualify as a cane neutral spirit) and then flavor it with  sugar, wood chips, molasses, prunes (that mysterious raisin flavor in Matusalem) and wine.  These can be delightful pours on the right afternoon a good light mixer but understand they are essentially flavored vodka. Again no disclosure on the labels.

 

Another class to be aware of is the higher cost "premium" NDP rums like Opthimus, Don Papa and some special editions from the big major producers who distribute in the USA. These are almost all similar to flavored vodka and are sugared, usually a lot of sugar.  As you know from your Bourbon exploration the spirit doesn't get crazy sweeter and vodka smooth the longer it stays in the barrel. Most of these are bogus age statements with heavily sweetened near vodka being sold as "premiums". Drink what you enjoy but be careful what you pay for.

 

If you are hoping to find a more Bourbon like experience with no sugar added and you don't want to order from overseas  look to Appleton 21, Mount Gay XO, Mount Gay Black Barrel. If ordering from overseas doesn't scare you then look at barrel proof (or at least higher proof) offerings from Cadenhead, Velier, Duncan Taylor, Rattray, Karukera, Three Rivers, Clement and Banks among others.

 

 Agricole rums are made from fresh cane juice rather than the molasses that other rums are made from. It pretty much requires the distillery to be in the middle of a huge cane plantation as fermentation of cane juice begins almost immediately upon pressing. So, fewer and more esoteric along with a different flavor set. Earthier and generally less sweet these lend themselves particularly well to long tropical aging and bottling at higher proof. New make and lower proof make killer Ti Punch and tropical cocktails as well. About the only ones available in the USA are Clement, Westerhall, Depaz and a few JM. Clement is the most widely available and I recommend the Clement 6yr as a great introduction to Agricole products. Most of the agricole found on shelves in the USA are young products released as mixers, don't think if it's an agricole it's automatically a great sipper. By law on the agricole islands (Martinique, Guadelupe and Marie Galant) rum with an AOC designation cannot have anything added and the age reflects the youngest spirit in the bottle, the same as whiskey.  

 

Hope this helps beginners understand what they are tasting.

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tanstaafl2
1 hour ago, sailor22 said:

 About the only ones available in the USA are Clement, Westerhall, Depaz and a few JM. Clement is the most widely available and I recommend the Clement 6yr as a great introduction to Agricole products.

 

Westerhall is an agricole? Are you talking about their sourced rum from Trinidad? Is that all cane juice as well? I know Trinidad made cane juice rum but I wasn't sure either Trinidad or Grenada were as strict about how the rum is bottled. As far as I know Westerhall no longer makes anything on Grenada itself. I had a bottle of it from nearly 15 years that I got in Grenada a long time ago 15 years?) but long since finished it. Not sure it was made in Grenada even then.

 

Seems like both Depaz and St. James have gotten hard to find of late at least locally. Not sure why.

 

Didn't the Clement 6yo just get relabeled as the XO? Seems like I read something about that not long ago. I suppose that is to replace the fancy XO now that it has run dry.

I definitely like the Clement 6 (and 10) better than the younger Select Barrel as a sipping rhum. I so rarely see the JM Rhum XO locally or even on the few US websites that are still willing to ship to me that I can't recall the last time I tried it. I do have a bit of the JM 1994 left that I have been reluctant to finish. I guess I should do so though!

Edited by tanstaafl2

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sailor22

Would recommend the  6yr over the 10yr - IMHO The Clement 6yr has a bit more personality than the 10yr which seems a bit limp by comparison.

Haven't heard about the 6 becoming the new XO. 

 

I know the single barrel Clement are no longer cask strength which is a major disappointment.

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sailor22

Since posting the long note above I have learned that Guadeloupe and Marie Galant are not governed by the same restrictions as rums made on Martinique.  So don't cunt on all the rums from them being unadulterated.

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tanstaafl2
13 hours ago, sailor22 said:

Since posting the long note above I have learned that Guadeloupe and Marie Galant are not governed by the same restrictions as rums made on Martinique.  So don't cunt on all the rums from them being unadulterated.

 

What are the differences between the two places? Are you talking about the fact that the Guadeloupe rhums aren't officially included in the AOC of Martinique and thus aren't necessarily required to be held to the same standard?

 

I know that Distillery Bellevue on Marie Gallant (the largest distillery on the island as best I can tell) produces rum using a column still for some (or all?) of its production. What seems unclear is whether it is using cane juice, syrup, molasses or all of the above. Although Bellevue is on Marie Gallant it is sometimes referred to as Guadeloupe since Marie Gallant is officially a dependency of Guadeloupe and while both Martinique and Guadeloupe are both part of the French Overseas Department (and relatively close to one another) they are considered separate entities.

 

The other two distilleries on Marie Gallant (Poisson and Bielle) make agricole only as best I can tell. Distillerie Bielle is the source of Capoville rhum agricole made in collaboration with an Italian distiller and an Italian independent bottler Velier as best I can decipher. Unfortunately it is in Italian!

 

With a little luck I should have a single barrel cask strength bottle of their rum to try in a few days. As best I can tell the other two distilleries on Marie Gallant, Poisson and Bielle, just make agricole on a pot still. Whether they mess with it at all I can't say.

 

Just to confuse things a bit, Damoiseau sits on the "Bellevue au Monde" estate in Grand Terre, Guadeloupe.

 

Seems to me like a road trip is indicated! Or perhaps a boat trip would be more appropriate...

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tanstaafl2
15 hours ago, sailor22 said:

Would recommend the  6yr over the 10yr - IMHO The Clement 6yr has a bit more personality than the 10yr which seems a bit limp by comparison.

Haven't heard about the 6 becoming the new XO. 

 

I know the single barrel Clement are no longer cask strength which is a major disappointment.

 

Weren't they always that way, despite what they claimed? I need to recheck the bottles but all three different barrels I have had from Europe were all the same proof as I recall (93.6 proof seems to stick in my head). That would seem hard to achieve if they were all barrel strength. I need to recheck them. Is it now lower? I see some on Master of Malt that are lower at 41.6 ABV which is a bit discouraging. 

 

Have you heard anything about when (or if...) it will finally be released in the US?

 

The "new" Clement XO (at a weaker 82 proof, down from the former 88 proof) seems to be the relabeled and watered down 6yo. now that the original XO with the vintage rhums in the tear drop bottle is no longer available.

 

For sale at Master of Malt. The original 6yo at 88 proof is still on their website for a good bit more.

 

The same post mentions the single cask and claims the lower 41.6 ABV is still "barrel strength". While possible I suppose it seems a bit suspicious, especially if they all end up at the same proof.

 

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sailor22

Last time I checked there was still some 6yr Clement available on line from US retailers.  IMHO It's a good bottle but not worth the shipping from the UK.

 

Last July at Tales I was assured by the Clement rep that  the single barrel would be available in the UDSA by the end of the year (2015) - apparently I was misinformed.

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garbanzobean
On 8/18/2015 at 4:32 PM, bdrinker said:

I wonder if you can list some non-bourbon-like rums besides ED 12?

Don't worry guys, I'm here from 9 months in the future to answer your questions.

 

In all seriousness, I don't drink a lot of rum, but I have used the old rum forum thread extensively to inform my purchases.  I currently have a bottle of Foursquare Port Finish (3 years in ex bourbon, 6 years ex port) open, and after you leave the bottle open for a couple of days to let some of the vanilla fumes burn off, it turns into a very single malt like experience.  Quite a bit more body than other rums I've tried, which are typically more like bourbon or Boise/sugar treated brandies (artificially sweetened rums), or more like natural brandies (naturally presented rums like Smooth Ambler Revelation or Rum Agricoles).  The fact that a spirit made from sugar cane juice can be so dry is fascinating to me.

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