Mar 292020
 

Let’s dispense with the origin story right away. Call me jaundiced, but after doing this for over ten years, I not only roll my eyes when I read about rum heritage and pirates and prohibition heroes and (in this case) rum-running schooners, but fight a near-overwhelming urge to fall asleep. The facts are as follows: this is a rum named after a boat; it is made by Bermudez in the Dominican Republic; launched in 2012; it is claimed to be 18 years true ageing (a statement that is something of a bone of contention); it is a light, standard-strength Latin-style ron, imported to the US by the spirits division (35 Maple Street) of a direct-to-trade wine merchant (The Other Guys Inc) owned by a spirits company that itself had started with wine (3 Badge Beverage Company). 

Kirk & Sweeney have always maintained, as have those who talked to Bermudez, that the rum is aged a full X years (12, 18 or 23). The two points that make people uneasy with that statement are the labels, where it says, as in this case, “18 Years” and not “18 Years Old,” (thereby skirting any possible accusations of of misrepresentation) and the price, which is deemed by many to be simply too cheap for a rum that old. Moreover, the profile doesn’t seem to be quite … there, and if it needs help from what are clearly discernible additions, you can see why the suspicions fester.

This is not to say that there isn’t some interesting stuff to be found. Take the nose, for example.  It smells of salted caramel, vanilla ice cream, brown sugar, a bit of molasses, and is warm, quite light, with maybe a dash of mint and basil thrown in.  But taken together, what it has is the smell of a milk shake, and there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of startling originality – not exactly what 18 years of ageing would give you, pleasant as it is. It’s soft and easy, that’s all.  No thinking required.

On the palate this continues, and to the shortcomings of a rather straightforward series of tastes – more vanilla, molasses, salted caramel, almonds, cream cheese, a touch of leather and yes, more ice cream – is added the strength, 40% ABV, and just too much sweetness, which is simply not enough to make any of the flavours pop and sparkle. It’s a thin juice, over-sweet, over-vanilla-ed, a slumgullion, and the short and unexceptional finish which just repeats the same notes, does more to bore than impress.  We could perhaps permit the K&S 12 year to pass muster on that basis – for something half again as old, such indulgence is not available, sorry.

Now, that’s my considered opinion. But that said, the rum has had fervent adherents who really stand by its charms, though it is unclear whether that’s because they don’t have a decent base of comparison, or simply prefer and are used to light rums. Chris Nell of Drinkhacker gave it a solid A- in 2015. Kara Newman awarded 93 points in an undated Wine Enthusiast mini-review, and Influenster gave it 4½ stars out of 5 which was also the general opinion of the many comments on that tasting note. Flaviar aggregated it at 8.5/10. Eric Zadona of EZdrinking probably nailed it when he remarked in an unscored 2017 review, that it would appeal to the Zacapa-loving crowd. The two best reviews available online – none of today’s crop of regulars have bothered – come from Diving & Chilling, in an lengthy unscored essay that touched on all the high (and low) points and disliked it, and Dave Russell of Rum Gallery who did the same in his crisp style, and loved it (9.5 points). And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that group-sourced scoring website Rum Ratings, where the majority of the 143 posters rated it 8 or 9 points.

It may have fallen out of favour with today’s more educated and vocal rum drinkers, what with the increased popularity of the Caribbean full proofs from the estates and distilleries, and the European independents. If it sells briskly in the US (from whence most of the positive commentary originates), perhaps it’s because it sells in the US, and part of the reason for that may be that they are so starved for choice that if it looks cool and tastes halfway decent (which this does), it’ll move. So, summing up, if what you’re after is a cool looking bottle within which are ensconced light, unaggressive flavours, you’ve come to the right place.  Step up and pays your money because so as long as you like rums like the Dictador, Diplomatico, Zacapa, Opthimus 18 or El Dorado 12, then you will be quite pleased with what you’re getting here.

(#714)(79/100)


Other Notes

Because the case of its doubted age is not proven with certainty, I have elected to continue using the “Years Old” descriptor in the title…but I use it with reservations.

Mar 242013
 

First posted November 19, 2010 on Liquorature.

#048

***

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.

(73/100)