Review: El Dorado 12 Year Old Demerera Rum by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
12 years; Bourbon Casks
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller El Dorado (Guyana)

El Dorado, from one of the best rum making areas of the world - Demerera of Guyana - make terrific rum. Though sweet, it is incredibly rich - paying omage, perhaps, to their name, El Dorado, the mythical city that ancient explorers sought in Guyana. Guyana's climate means that the rum produced there is aged in high humidity and high temperatures, resulting in a fast aging process. 

El Dorado has three different sites, with three different stills - a continuous wooden coffey still which is over 200 years old (and the last of its kind), two wooden pot stills with copper necks which are over 250 years old ), and a continuous copper still. These stills enable huge flexibility in the types of rum produced, with the stills producing mild and fruity rums, heavy flavourful and aromatic rums, and sweet and dry rums, respectively. The continuous column still, particularly, is very flexible, making 9 different types of rum distillate. Each of these distillates can be seen single distillate, single barrel products from each of El Dorado's stills.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2013 

Darker and oaky and generally very rich and sweet. On a side note, this makes an absolute bomb of a hot buttered rum.  Apple and vanilla comes through, as does quite a bit of orange. And of course very rich molasses notes.

Sweet on the palate with lots more orange, and a "deeper" character - it's quite rich and dense. There's a nice balance of acidity to it. The orange is quite prominent, but not too much - that rich, oaky, molasses character is very central to this. The richness makes me want to return, time and time again. Slightly sour and nutty on the finish. The finish is pleasant, and quite light. Oak, some dried fruit, and pretty good body are present in it.

To understand this, comparatively, a good reference is the Appleton Estate 12 year old. This one is richer, more oaky, and sweeter, but it is still very enjoyable. I prefer the Appleton Estate to this one, which in part is because it isn’t as sweet.

Overall: 84/100

Value: 76/100 (based on $40)


Review: Pyrat XO Reserve Rum by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
2-15 years; American Oak and French Limousin Casks
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller N/A

Pyrat, a brand produced by Patron, is not a distillery but rather a producer which purchases rums and blends them together in Guyana.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: Quite medicinal. ORANGE PEEL. Some nice sweetness and vanilla to the nose with some distinct rum oakiness to it as well. vanilla is also there. certainly one of the most interesting noses on a rum that I've seen. Star anise, clove, and, as it sits, more dark molasses.

Taste: Sweet, remarkably full of orange, with some nice biting spice before ending with more orange and some oak and some anise seed. It seems as if it's an orange rum!  Quite sweet and perhaps a touch too medicinal. As I drink it more of the rum character (as opposed to heavy orange) comes out.

Finish: Lots of oak with a flourish or orange and anise. some dry clove and of course there's that orange. There's some molasses at last that lingers on the finish, along with dry oak and orange. It's a touch bitter. The spices and oak come out more and more, to good effect.

Maybe a bit too sweet and medicinal, but pretty good.

Overall: 81/100

Value: 64/100 (based on $41)


Review: Mount Gay Extra Old Barbados Rum by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
8-15 years
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller Mount Gay (St. Lucy, Barbados)

Another classic premium rum, from the Barbados producer who is also well known as a sponsor for sailing events. The rum is produced with open air fermentation and pot distillation - some single and some double distilled. The XO product contains relatively more of the double distillates, which, presumably, are quite a bit lighter.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: spicy and rich, and dry too. Lightly bitter with some lighter fruit lifting the aromas a bit out of the darkness too. Rum soaked raisins, and some dusty earthiness. It is too bad about the bitterness.

Taste: Very rich, though a bit flat. The length is good, and it does develop well. Some decent spice on the end too. Enjoyable, but perhaps there is a bit too much in the way of bitterness there. Medium level sweetness.

Finish: A bit of spiciness, but there isn't a whole lot of complexity or body, and there's a bit of a saccharin staleness too. These are relatively minor points - it is a good rum. Some cinnamon spice too.

This would work well in cocktails that embrace dark rum.

Overall: 82/100

Value: 64/100 (based on $45)


Review: Appleton Estate 12 Years Old Jamaican Rum by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
12 Years
Recipe
From Molasses
Distiller Appleton Estate (Nassau Valley, Jamaica)

The Appleton Estate has been distilling rums since 1749, and they have certainly grown in production since then. This represents the lowest of their age stated range. The rums are all pot distilled, and, though still sweet, they aren't relatively as sweet as many rums - a good thing in my book.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2013

 Nose: Fabulous! a great rum nose - oak, brown sugar, candied orange peel, and slight vanilla - still with some nice orange notes and sharp molasses. The sweetness and woodiness comes out, almost as maple.

Taste: This is quite delicious, and it is complex and evolves. Quite sweet, and it starts lightly with some citrus, vanilla, and oak before turning darker with some more spices including somegreen cardamom.

Finish: Dark, thick molasses with some spices - a bit like clove, perhaps - they're somewhat darker than in whisky. This is very nice. The molasses lingers for some time. It has quite decent weight and length too - very enjoyable! Fruity, woody...it's quite nice, I must say!

Overall: 84/100

Value: 75/100 (based on $41)


Ron Zacapa Sistema Solera 23 Guatemalan Rum by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
6-23 years old, American, Sherry, and PX barrels
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller Zacapa (Guatemala)

This is one of the most popular and available "premium" rums known, and, for a long time, represented the best rum you could get at the LCBO (along with the El Dorado 21). For a number of years, it won the International Rum Festival's compeition for the best premium rum, and was the first rum inducted into the international rum festival's hall of fame. It is distilled from Guatemalan sugarcane, and distilled before being transported to Zacapa's aging facility in the mountains - the "House above the Clouds" where it ages at an altitude of 7500 feet. The key to this rum is the aging - the rums pass through 4 different barrels - new american oak, reused oak, sherry, and Pedro Ximinez - all of these barrels are never totally drained, either, meaning that trace elements of the rums throughout the years are present.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2013

The nose is dry and oaky, with lots of sherry – apple seeds, molasses, classic oaky spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, raisins, and a slightly sour character. And a bit of earthiness – like a dried out marsh. Becomes a bit vegetal with air. Dried orange peel. Mint. The tannins are present on the nose, and lightly elegant overall. Lots of orange and molasses on the palate, finishing with lots of rancio. Cinnamon, and stewed spiced plums, raisins. Finish of dried fruit and rancio – and slightly sour. The nose is terrific – the palate and finish are only mediocre though.

Score: 81/100

Value: 33/100 (based on $80)


Review: Sailor Jerry Spiced Navy Rum by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller Sailor Jerry (St. Croix,US Virgin Islands)

Sailor Jerry rum is another Diageo owned brand distilled in the Virgin Islands and honors a famous tattoo artist, Norman Collins, known for tattooing sailors. Each bottle has a picture of one of his tattoos on the label and one that is visible behind the label when the rum has been finished. It is notable too, for a relatively cheap rum, that it comes in at 46%.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2013

 Nose: Reasonably spicy, which might dominate more than the molasses. Less sweet on the nose than the other rums I've been taking time with. The vanilla notes are lighter, but come through more as it sits - orange peel as well.

Taste: Assertive with slightly bitter molasses and some drying spice, cinnamon and cloves, and there is vanilla in it as well. More intriguing and complex than many spiced rums. It's also drier, which I do quite like as well. I might actually wish that it were a touch more sweet, as uncommon as that is. Its spiciness is certainly evident after tasting side by side of some other rums.

Finish: More spicy than rum-y. It is longer and more interesting than the others, for sure.

I like to mix with this.

Overall: 77/100

Value: 65/100 (based on $30)


Review: Captain Morgan Private Stock Spiced Rum by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
2 years, ex-bourbon barrels
Recipe
From molasses
Distiller Captain Morgan (St. Croix, US Virgin Islands)

Interestingly, I don't find this rum on the captain morgan website. However, in Canada, this bottle is the most expensive captain morgan (at $35), above the black spiced, bold spiced, spiced, white spiced, gold, dark, and white labels. When I started that list I didn't know we had so many Captain Morgans here....

The rum is produced in the Virgin Islands, though its origins came from Seagrams who started to make it in Jamaica but it has moved a few times and now is produced in the Virgin Islands.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2013

Nose: Some nice brown sugar and vanilla notes. it's a bit fruity as well, not the berry notes of bacardi but rather notes of honey, dark brown sugar, light and perhaps slightly citrus fruit - maybe pineapple and perhaps a bit of pear. I do quite like this nose. A touch of cinnamon as well. A bit of almost pastry-like notes as well; brown sugar, butter and flour. A bit floral and perfumed too.

Taste: Thick, sweet, with lots of vanilla, brown sugar, and coconut,  and a touch of molasses bitterness and cinnamon at the end and a slight warming finish with butterscotch on the end. Interesting because I didn't really enjoy this as much the second time I drank it (i.e. after I bought it), but this time it once again seems quite fine, perhaps because I have been primed with some coffee. A bit plain compared to the Bacardi 8 or Sailor Jerry, but I still do like it.

Finish: the molasses plays with the mouth a bit, but rather fragile still. However, there isn't anything lacking in the finish.

Overall: 75/100

Score: 60/100 (based on $35)


Review: Glenfiddich 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
18 Years; Ex-bourbon and ex-oloroso
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Glenfiddich (Dufftown, Scotland)

This single malt is made from a mix of oloroso sherry casks and bourbon casks, which are aged and then married in batches for at least 3 months in large oak casks.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: Cinnamon and slightly caramelized apples, pineapple, vanilla, and a bit of creaminess akin to vanilla pudding. There is some nice honey sweetness on the nose, and the oak has taken up some good presence. The caramelized, honeyed apple is so vibrant and inviting, and even more after the vanilla picks up as the nose develops.

Taste: Nice and viscous body. The oak comes in at first, with a good measure of honey – and some spicy apple comes in before fading to vanilla and some spicy cinnamon. Amidst all this, there are some raisins, with the slightest bit of an earthy peaty undertone. The spiciness, acidity, sweetness, and mouthfeel are all brilliant. Warm cinnamon and cacao on the finish. slightly herbal too.

Finish: Tingly, spicy, sweet, and even a touch oily .There are some light apples, vanilla, oak, honey, and just a very light touch of smoke. It is slightly herbal as well, and there even appears to be a bit of mint on the finish. Even, after some time, I find some malt comes through. It is slightly dry too, with good body and length.

This is very good – engaging, complex, and deep. Still, it’s light – not heavy or intense, but light and elegant. The oak has had its effect on the whisky, and it has done good work. A very nice extension from the 12 year old expression. Very pleasant.

Overall: 89/100

Value: 20/100 (based on $157)


Review: Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
45%
Aging
Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
~75% Corn, 15% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
Distiller Buffalo Trace (Frankfort, Kentucky)

This was the first whisky I tasted, along with Johnnie Walker Black label, that transported me from being interested in whisky to being fascinated by it. It was a full fledged party in my mouth when I first tasted it, and it was love at first taste.

The whiskey is made in Frankfort, Kentucky, at Buffalo Trace distillery – one of the most renowned distilleries in the world. It is made from a mashbill with corn, rye and malted barley in it, and is aged about 8 years in barrels. It is made in a small batch process, with roughly 40 barrels selected for each blend.  Interestingly enough, you can taste the white dog/new make whisky from which this comes if you can find it – Buffalo Trace Mash #1, which is the base for this whisky, Eagle Rare 10 year old, and even the famous George T. Stagg.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: The oak from the nose reminds me of the warehouse I visited at Buffalo trace – dense, moist and almost mossy oak. It is a great nose! Apple juice, vanilla, honey, dried apricot, peach tea, and a slight coca-cola smell as well. The nose smells sweet, and has a lovely dried fruit character to it that is almost floral in nature. There’s even a bit of chocolate milk on the nose. I can also sense the rye spice in my nostrils as I inhale – it’s a dusty rye…not particularly fruity. I would say that it reminds me in large part of markets/bazaars which have nuts and dried fruits stacked up high….those dried fruits play such a big role here. very enjoyable!

Taste: Honey, and light corn entry which develops and builds into a bit of spice which then subsides relatively fast. The taste of honeycombs is so evident in the taste. There’s also a bit of leather, and fruitiness reminiscent of stewed peaches and apricots. It’s pleasantly sweet, without a lot of development at the forefrontof the taste – but as your mouth gets to know the whisky a bit – that’s where it gets interesting. It’s as if it’s a train…it takes a while to get moving, but when it’s moving – it’s certainly hard to stop.

Finish: This is where the whisky takes off, and this is what blew me off my chair the first time I tasted this whisky. Once you’ve swallowed, the heat and spice build up in your mouth and carry on and on, rising in heat for a good ten seconds after you’ve swallowed. The rye comes to the forefront, with the corn dancing all about in the background, filling the crevices of your mouth. Eventually, it fades and dries out with an aftertaste of honeycombs and a bit of white pepper which finally fades to oak vanillins. It coats your mouth, making it water, longing for some more. Absolutely fantastic! How often I have wished that I could cut and paste this finish onto some other of my whiskies….the one drawback is some of the lingering rye once everything has died out – it is a bit too dry for my liking. But eventually the sweet, dried-fruit comes and has the last say.

This is one of my favourite whiskies because of its roarind finish. If that were taken away, it would be lacking some complexity and intrigue. It shows you what a strong finish can do!  Sadly, I find the edges of whisky round out as you keep bottles open, even if you try to preserve them (as I do with wine preserver neutral gas).  I have found this with many whiskies, unfortunately (particularly peated scotches) – and now try to be careful about which and how many bottles I keep open. This is still fantastic – but was better when I had just opened it a bit over a year ago. As I tasted it then and made notes, the scores are based on this – now I would drop it a few points.

Score: 86/100

Value: 84/100 (based on $41)


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: B1422707
  • Bottling Date: ~2015

A huge fruity nose, with the dried apricot, rose, prune, dried peach, walnuts, and oak. Nice rye influence. The palate starts sweet with cherry, before the oak, clove, nutmeg, corn, and earthy notes build up towards a pleasantly warming and complex finish. Oak, dried corn, and cherry on the finish. This doesn’t have the finish that I recall, but still a terrific bourbon.

Score: 86/100

Value: 84/100 (based on $41)


Review: Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Distillery Edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
51%
Aging
15 Years; Ex-bourbon and Ex-oloroso casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Glenfiddich (Dufftown, Scotland)

This is different than the solera matured 15 year old, and clocks in at an impressive 51% and is also non chill-filtered. It is made from similar casks as the other 15 year old, but without a solera process. So, we'd expect a better mouthfeel and finish than the standard 15, but how does it really compare?


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L32Z 4903 2611 0820
  • Bottling Date: ~2015

On the nose – lots of peach - stewed and dried - and lots of spice here as well! Pears, almond, custard, apple seeds, corn husks, and a touch of nice malt. The palate is rich – and with wonderful mouthfeel – nutmeg, cinnamon, almond, peaches, green apple, pleasing light malt – buttery and very easy to drink but also with the lightest texture of tannins. The finish is full of gummy peach candies – fuzzy peaches, in Canada.  Also dried apricots, pleasing vanilla, a touch of sherry spiciness, though it does disappear fairly quickly. I quite like the 15 year old solera reserve, and this doesn’t quite have the same complexity, but the mouthfeel is far superior and the palate shows a bit of a different character – but still a favorite of the Glenfiddichs for me.

Overall: 86/100

Value: 50/100 (based on $87)