(First posted December 2010)
Christmas is right around the corner, and soon, if not already, we’ll be having hair of the dog, doing the hearty party and drinking to excess on every possible occasion on our best friends’ dime. We’ll be buying gifts, attending bashes and often will be tasked with chosing a decent rum for our West Indian friends or rum lovers in general. What can we buy that is the perfect match of decent quality but won’t bust our slender wallet? Here’s a list to get you started (in no particular order, and with Calgary prices).
1. Captain Morgan’s Private Stock (~$40). Simple, not complex, rich and dark, with a slight spice hint and more than enough sweet. What classifies this as a sipper’s intro is the remarkable body and mouthfeel. Good way to get into higher priced premium rums. It’s easy to bash the Captain, but this rum is worth it, I think. As one grows in rum knowledge, it’s likely this one will be cast aside at some point.
2. Young’s Old Sam Demerara Rum (~$26). I didn’t really care for this at first, but it grew on me. A mixer not a sipper, it’s got powerful growly taste of burnt sugar, molasses and caramel that will perk up our cocktail for sure, and the cheap price means you can buy several, in order to double up on our enjoyment.
3. Cruzan Single Barrel Dark (~$45). Bloody brilliant rum: dark, silky, smooth and with tastes in great harmony, you can use this as either a sipper or a mixer and still have a great time. Great for Grampy.
4. English Harbour 5 year old (~$28). Regular readers here will know that Liquorature went pretty nuts over this premium mixer. Soft, pungent, lightly spiced, its flavour simply explodes in a cola.
5. Tanduay Superior 12 year old. I don’t know the price of this Phillipine product in Western markets, but the local price there is dirt cheap, and man, is this one stellar rum for its price. Slightly dry, slightly sweet, with a great smooth finish and a lovely dark body. One of the best in its class.
6. Old Port Deluxe Rum (~$35). A new arrival from India, tawny, medium bodied and delicious. I liked it neat, but take it any way you want. Decent, well priced and bang for your buck. According to the hippie, the Amrut Fusion produced by the same distillery in Bangalore ain’t half bad either.
7. Havana Club Cuban Barrel Proof (~$45). Golden, twice aged in differing oaken barrels, and smooth as all get out, with a taste and feel at once complex and long lasting. Damn this is good. Fill my glass, and pronto. Twice.
8. Bacardi 8 year old (~$40). It’s considered an easy target for ridicule, but then, everyone hates the big kid on the block. Underservedly so, in this case, because this dry, well aged golden rum is a cut above the ordinary, a great body and flavour profile, and just enough of a whisky driness and lack of sweetness to broaden its appeal among the Maltsters as well as the Caners.
9. El Dorado 12 year old (~$45). Oh man, Guyana knows how to make ’em. Heavy, dark, solid rum with a smooth fade that redefines the midlevel rums. I’m a fan of the 15 and 21 year old, but this one is a worthy younger sibling, believe me, in spite of the backstretch burn. Perhaps because it’s so affordable.
10. Bacardi 151 (~$35). Fine, it’s an overproof with a muzzle velocity off the scale, but you know what? It isn’t half bad after you pick yourself off the floor, roll up your tongue, locate your rapidly dissolving nose and find your face.
I cheerfully concede that these are selections from my limited reviews thus far (I’ve only been at it for a couple of years), and others will have their own opinions. Well, let me know that they are…there are fifteen hundred rums in the world, there are gonna be others worthy of the name at a price we can all afford.
Have a great holiday season.