First posted November 19, 2010 on Liquorature.
Bermudez is the second rum I managed to find from the Three Bs distilleries in the half-island of the Domincan Republic (Brugal, Bermudez and Barcelo), and is both less and more than its possibly better known sibling, the Ron Añejo Brugal which I took a look at yesterday.
J. Armando Bermúdez & Co., C. por A. is a distillery located in Santiago de los Caballeros in the north central region of the DR. It was founded in 1852 (hence the year on the label of this Anniversary edition) by Erasmo Bermúdez, who created the formula of the Bitter Panacea, an early rum meant to be taken as appertif, and which soon became very well known. To this day the descendants of Erasmo run the show, but there are stories about how the various members of the family have squabbled among themselves on the direction of the company, and so it no longer holds the pre-eminent position it once had. It certainly is the oldest of the Three Bs, Brugal being established in 1888 and Barcelo in 1930.
There is no age statement on the bottle, so one is forced to resort to external resouces to see what’s in this baby. Wikipedia refers to the Anniversario as a golden high-end premium blend (not particularly helpful), and Chip Dykstra’s notes suggest it has either a twelve or a fifteen year old backbone, based on the supplier’s say-so. Given its middling price of just around forty dollars, he may be right, but I find it frustrating in the extreme to find the company website unavailable, and no other notes of consequence anywhere to inform the casual reader on the matter.
Anniversario is a tawny gold colour, however hidden it may be in a nearly opaque dark green bottle. I can’t say the tinfoil cap impresses me much – if this is a premium rum you’d think something more would be added to the initial presentation to justify the price, not a cheap covering and an equally cheap sigil on the front above the label.
A thin oily film devolves into slow thin legs that meander slowly back into the glass; on the nose, the medicinal sting and reek is more pronounced (much to my surprise) than the Brugal I had right beside it and ten minutes previously (I promptly poured another glass of it to make sure this was not an accident and yup, it was confirmed). After I left it to open up a bit, other flavours emerged: a sort of earthy, dark taste, like rich chocolate, balanced off by a dry and woody flavour and a hint of citrus. Later it developed a sweet floral hint, though not as light and clear as the Brugal: it was more…heavy, a bit like lilies as compared to white roses.
The Anniversario is a dry, unsweet medium-bodied rum which seems to be characteristic of the Latin islands. Tasting it confirmed some notions, dispelled others. A sweeter taste shyly emerged from out of the nose, and the driness became more pronounced, as did the slight bitterness coming from the oaken tannins. On the back end and leading into the finish, the faint traces of molasses and caramel I so like could finally be discerned. The finish is short and spicy, a slight burn that just misses being sharp (for which I give thanks), but again, is nowhere near as smooth as the Brugal.
I wish I knew more about its distillation and provenance: it smelled and tasted like a single digit rum, yet it was obviously aged and seemed to be marketed as something more. And against that, the 3-5 year blend of the Brugal has a phenomenally smooth finish which this one can’t even approach. In fine, I’m underwhelmed by the Anniversario. It has a relatively modest price tag, but if it is true that it is a blend of double digit teen rums, then it has a pedigree I simply cannot see as justified (on the other hand I must say that it’s a matter of what one reviewer has said, plus some anecdotal evidence gleaned from hours of searching online – no real hard facts I can hang my shapka on).
At the end of it all, it must come down to my opinion based on what I tasted. The Bermudez Ron Añejo Anniversario tastes like a dry cognac, not a rum, is not sweet enough and lacks a real body. The blend just doesn’t work as well as it should for me, in spite of the fact that it may have a blended series of aged components in the double digits. It has an interesting marriage of flavours, but this groom, alas, ain’t buying today.