Feb 042019

Last October, I ran into Pete Holland of the Floating Rum Shack at the Berlin Rum Fest (literally – I tripped and nearly fell into his shelf of rums, and he saved them by interposing himself so they would not be damaged, even if I was).  Although we, as long-existing rum bloggers, knew of each other — all of us know each other in the Oasis — we had only met once before, so I bee-lined over to see what he was doing. It turned out he was stewarding the line of rums from the cheekily named “That Boutique-y Rum Company” (hereinafter referred to as TBRC) a division of Atom Brands, which in turn runs the Master of Malt online spirits shop (and which also self releases and self reviews the Cornelius Ampleforth rum, if you recall). Pete steadied me, indicated the whole range on display, and asked what I wanted to try.

I looked at all the familiar countries, ignoring most, looking for the unusual, not the standard – something the brand has done that takes us into new territory to awe and enthuse (the way Foursquare has done with the ECS, L’Espirt is doing with its 2019 whites, Rum Nation did with the Supreme Lords, and Velier did with…well, just about everything).  These days, I want something weird, off-kilter, new, exciting, different – and still tasty.

Alongside the Bajan, Mudland, Jamaican and other suspects (all of which had arresting and brightly-drawn, brightly-coloured labels that took Bristol Spirits’ colour scheme out back and whupped it), there was one from Travellers (Belize) and Bellevue (Guadeloupe)…this looked promising.  But after five minutes of chatting, I was having difficulty making a decision so, I asked him: “If you had one rum out of this entire selection you’d want me to try, which one would it be?”

Now you could tell that Pete, who is a consultant for the company, not an ambassador, really liked pretty much everything, which is why he kept his glass on the go the entire time from different bottles (under the pretext of helping out the bright-eyed but inexperienced rum chums swirling around the booth). “Yes mon, me drinkin’ de same rum dat me showin’ you, so it gotta be good,” you could easily imagining him saying as he avoided braining passers-by with his tasting glass using graceful moves of the arm, never spilling a drop.  So I was curious what his own favourite was, shorn of the need to sell anything to me.

He hesitated, seeing the trap, but then grinned, sipped again, and then pointed at a bottle off to the side, sharing the same colour scheme as the Enmore and the Bellevue. It was from O Reizinho, a Madeiran outfit of which I knew nothing except that it was from Madeira (which, as an aside, is an EU-recognized agricole producer). “That one.”  And without losing his glass in the one hand, he proceeded to pour me a shot with the other, hefty enough to render me catatonic, then stood back to observe the results (much the way The Sage had done years back when I had tried my first clairin, the Sajous).

Strictly speaking, the rum is not that strong – “only” 49.7%, which is a couple of whiskers away from standard. It was made in Madeira, which intrigued me, as I really enjoyed the Engenho Novo rums made by Hinton and Rum Nation; and it was a pot still rum, an unaged rum, and a “white,” all pluses in my book.  And anyway, how could you not want to sample a rum named “The Kinglet”? I know I did, and not just because of his recommendation.

It didn’t disappoint, starting out with a firm aroma of salt and wax, very powerful.  Earth mustiness, cardboard, loam, olives, bags of salt. Like a clairin, but softer. Fresh and deep, edging “crisp” by a whisker, and while the herbal notes of dill and grass and fresh sugar cane sap were there, they were not so much dominant as coexistent with the other notes mentioned before. A really outstanding set of aromas, I thought, with an excellent balancing act carried off in fine style.

And the taste, the mouthfeel – wow, really nice.  Warm, sweet, dry and fruity, with raspberries, bananas, pineapple, papaya, salt olives all dancing their way across the tongue, without any sharp nastiness to spoil the enjoyment: I like rums north of 60%, of course, but there was no fault to be found in the strength that was chosen here because even at that low power, it thrummed across the palate and still managed to provide a clear demo of all the proper notes.  Excellent sipping dram as long as you’re okay with a not-so-furious amalgamation of sweet-brine-soya-miso-soup admixture. If it faltered some, it was on the finish – and for the same reason the nose and palate were so good, i.e., the muted strength. That didn’t invalidate it (to me), and it was pleasant, sweet, soft, warm, firm and fruity, with just a little edge carrying over to complete the experience.

O Reizinho means “Little King” or “Kinglet” depending on whose translator you use, and is a small distillery perched on a hillside on Madeira’s east coast by Santa Cruz.  It is run by Joao Pedro Ferreira, who returned from a sojourn in South Africa some years back to go into the rum business with his father. They source cane locally, crushing it in one pass only (no messing around with a 2nd pass or adding water) and then let it stand in a week-long fermentation period.  Then it’s run through a wood-fired steam-injected pot still, which on a good day can provide a dozen runs. So French island nomenclature notwithstanding, this is an agricole spirit, and it adheres to all the markers of the cane juice rhums, while providing its own special filip to the style.

Initially, to get things going for the first release, TBRC bought some of those rums from a broker (Main Rum) the way so many new and old independents did and do.  But this one was bought direct from O Reizinho, and the intention in the future is to continue to do so, and to go with both aged and unaged products from this tiny distillery.  If they keep bottling — and TBRC keeps issuing — juice as fine as this, then all I can say is that the future is a bright one for them both, and I look forward to trying as much as I can from TBRC’s extended range of rums generally, and O Reizinho specifically.  They’ve enthused me that much with just this one rum.


Other notes

  • Batch 1 of this rum is 487 bottles
  • Just for the record, I really enjoyed the brightly coloured, lighthearted design of the labels, which are a nice counterpoint to the minimalist “facts-only” labels currently in vogue. The artist is from the outfit Jim’ll Paint It (FB Link)(Website)- ATOM brands came up with the brief, then Jim brought it to life.  In his work he reminds me somewhat of Jeff Carlisle, who did “Another Night at the Warp Core Cafe.

  14 Responses to “That Boutique-y Rum Co. O Reizinho White Agricole Rum (Batch 1) – Review”

  1. Do yourself a favor and taste the Plantation 3 Stars White Rum. You will be quite surprised. Not really a white rum, but rather a filtered rum.

    It is the dominant mixer. Almost sipping quality.

    • One of these days, I’m sure that time, money and opportunity will intersect and I’ll be able to take a look. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. It’s like their Plantation Grand Reserve Barbados 5 Year, the no longer available Guatemalan Rum (different from the current Belize blend) and the El Dorado 12, it embarrasses much more expensive rum. Like wine, price has nothing to do with what is in the bottle. The Plantation 3 Star White is only around $17 a bottle in the states. Your passion for Rum, “the history of America in a glass,” shows with each posting. Very impressive. Your review of the Plantation 20th Anniversary Barbados is also spot on. SMOOTH is the only way to describe it. As you are no doubt aware, all their rums are not good, but these are distinctive.

    • You refer to rums I have moved away from and now longer regard with such favour as I once did.

      Plantation Barbados 5YO and 20th Anniversary, and the El Dorado 12YO, are too over-relianct on additives for their smooth and sweet profiles. As little as five years ago I would have agreed with you, but since then I’ve learned more, tasted more…and nowadays no longer enjoy rums that need artificial enhancement to sell. That’s not to say others won’t like them and buy them…they’re great against Zacapa or Zaya or Diplo (especially on price). But I won’t buy them any longer.

  3. We don’t have to agree on everything. Taste buds no doubt evolve over time. I don’t , however, sense the sugary additive in the Plantation 5 Yr or the El Dorado 12, particularly with its bite. I like the bite in the 12. It certainly isn’t in the El Dorado 21, another masterpiece. It is, however, in the Plantation 20th Anniversary. I assume you have changed your feelings about the Ron Millonario as well. The Diplomatico was always a bit sweet for me. I don’t see Zacapa and Zaya in the same league. Keep up the good work. You are one of a kind.

  4. Your conversation with Phil has reminded me I’ve been meaning to ask you. Given your current taste in rum, what would you consider the outstanding WIDELY AVAILABLE bottling at less than 25 (pounds dollars euros as Horst would put it). For your own sipping pleasure, not as a recommendation to others. At first I was going to say aged rum, but any one really.

    • You pose a difficult question for a number of reasons

      1. There are very few rums worth sipping which are under 25 anything (to me). Those that are and cost that little, are often doctored.
      2. Prices vary widely around the world so what is < $20 in the USA can be > $40 in Canada
      3. Nowadays I rarely buy rums to enjoy on my own time, since my collection is quite large already and I can always find something in the basement. What I buy is for review purposes or jujst because I want ’em
      4. When I’m having fun with friends, am on my own relaxing, and thinking is not required, I go equally with a mix or a more expensive upscale rum.

      Still, the question has merit. Here’s a short and non-exhaustive list of relatively cheap rums I love and keep in the bar constantly when in Canada or Germany, but won’t limit myself to sipping rums only…or pure ones, since I’d be lying to you if I said I had none.

      1. Young’s Old Sam Demerara, mix
      2. Bacardi 8, sip
      3. El Dorado 5 (mix) or 8 (sip) or the white (mix)
      4. Appleton V/X for the mix, 12 for the sip
      5. Plantation Barbados 5 – always with rum-newbie friends, sip
      6. Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros (breaks the price rule)
      7. Flor de Cana 7 (it used to be the 7 YO)
      8. Mount Gay Eclipse Black 100
      9. Any young Vieux rhum from Damoiseau, HSE, Bally, Neisson, JM or Depaz, etc I rotate through them without undue favour.
      10. English Harbour 5 YO, mix
      11. Barbancourt 8
      12. Rum Fire

      Now, here’s some pricier non-indie ones I usually keep around and re-buying intermittently.

      1. El Dorado 21
      2. Flor de Cana 12
      3. Brugal 1888
      4. Clairin Sajous
      5. Diplo Res Ex
      6. English Harbour 10 YO
      7. Any of the Foursquare ECS series
      8. Pusser’s 15
      9. Any middle aged agricole from the same makers as #9 above. Usually I have three or four of them on hand at any time. And any of their white, ditto..
      10. Mount Gay XO though I like the cask strength more these days
      11. Millonario 15, especially with friends and for Mrs. Caner
      12. Worthy park new 2017/2018 releases when I can find them
      13. Barbancourt 15
      14. Rum 66 12 YO
      15. Santa Teresa 1796
      16. Smith & Cross when I can get it

      Neither list is complete, but my personal and professional circumstances are abnormal – I do not hang my hat on one place, lack a permanent place of abode, and work in a dry part of the world. So what’s listed here are my regular buys, out in the Real World.

      I’ve probably missed something. I may add to this comment as I go through the day 🙂

      Note: A few years ago I had a similar conversation (on top end, and value for money) in the comments section of the English Harbour 1981. You might want to take a look at that thread below the review, here:

      And about a year ago I wrote in reddit in response to a question about “The Pinnacle of Rum” which you didn’t ask about or for, but which I’ll link to for completeness:

      • Thanks for the thoughtful and comprehensive list(s). I meant USD as there wouldn’t be many choices <25CDN. I do own some rums already from every list except the reddit "pinnacle" lineup, and will likely add a few others I've been on the fence about to my wish list based on this.
        As an aside last night I tried my first pour of the ED Master Blender's I mentioned to you before in a SbS with HC SdM. For me the Seleccion was much preferred. I suspect one who favors Appleton 12 would enjoy the ED more than I. The ED had a pronounced oak influence that was overwhelming to me. Or maybe the lighter column still rums are for me over the Demerara pot stills. My favoring Millonario 15 and Dliplo. RE over ED 15 might bear that out. Early on in sipping rums neat, ED 8 didn't make my cut, though I love it 50/50 with Coke. Now that I have exposed myself to more rum with no or minimal dosage, I may have to retry it beside the Master Blender's.
        Lastly, I compliment Mrs. Caner for her choice of rum. (And Phil from a previous comment) Some of us never leave behind our (simple) taste for candy.

      • Good discussion. I am also at odds with “legitimate experts” on the Appleton 12. I don’t like it. It has been in my collection for years. Same with the Dictador rums. While I love the 12 and 21, I also don’t like the younger El Dorado rums or the 15. Important to note that these blends are constantly being refreshed. What has influenced each of us, positively and negatively, may not be what is in the bottle today. This is potentially a skewing dynamic that rarely gets discussed, another reason to respect other opinions. I would take the Plantation 5 year Barbados, the Bacardi 8 year and the Travelers 5 year over any comparatively priced sipping rums. The dirt cheap Cruzan is the mixer. Drink up. Life is short.

        • I dunno if there are any “legitimate experts” in the written rum world. All of us writers are at best experienced and enthusiastic amateurs.

          Your point about the refreshing of the blends is a good one, and doesn’t get much press. On balance though, I find most of the major brands’ flagship (or at least, well-known) rums, of any age, tend to be quite stable for long periods. Although admittedly, even I could spot variations in the various Appletons I reviewed for the Rumaniacs series.

          • Had a fabulous Italian dinner with my perfect daughter tonight. Shocked to find a drinkable rum on the menu. Had a shot of the El Dorado “12” after diner in a cognac glass. It was certainly good, but it was caramelized with sweetness. It does not even remotely resemble the El Dorado “12” in my collection which is now at least seven years old. See string above re the variations in these blends.

  5. Good question. Will watch for the answer. Post Cuban Bacardi rum is not good, but for some reason, the 8 year old with the bat on the label is good. It also sells for under $20 in the states. My opinion on the Plantation 5 Year Barbados stands as above. The 3 Star Plantation white is also quite good for a similar price. The dirt cheap Cruzan (St. Croix) is a great mixer.

  6. With some recent added motivation, I’d love to get my hands on a bottle of this!

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