I’ve been enjoying this rum for quite some time and it’s become a favorite of mine, even though it has recently come under fire for undeclared additives (a significant amount of sugar), effectively destroying the presumed purity of this Caribbean classic. I know… what a way to open a review! That’s definitely a digression, so let’s start from the top.
This very dark rum comes in a classic “squatty” rum bottle (and nicely boxed, I might add). It’s a blend of ”specially selected aged rums, some as old as 25 years, from the Enmore and Diamond Coffey stills, the Port Mourant double wooden pot still and the Versailles single wooden pot still, [which] is blended to perfection and aged in old bourbon oak casks.” There’s definitely a lot of history associated with the unique stills employed by Demerara Distillers in the making of El Dorado rum. It’s also interesting to note that each of the products are distinct blends and not merely various ages of the same blend. This provides more of an adventure in exploring the range and I recommend doing so… I’ve been impressed with everything I’ve tried so far. The unique blend employed here is aged for 15 years “in old bourbon oak casks.”
The nose is a rich entanglement of molasses, prunes, vanilla, straw, sweet tobacco, overripe pear, honey, charred oak, pomegranate, wet grass and ginger. There’s the slightest amount of heat, but it’s mostly sweet and rich with just a note of musty leather. The taste is similarly sweet, rich, flavorful and mildly hot. Initially sweet, the flavors arrive in waves of fruit followed by waves of spice as you anticipate the transition to a slightly leathery, fruity finish with a bit of musty bitterness. The first wave brings sweet tobacco, caramel, prunes and honey followed by a wave of pear, molasses, vanilla, bitter orange, overripe banana and fresh straw. Next a wave of charred wood, ginger, plantain and white pepper overlap the previous wave and then both fade into the finish. It’s really interesting to note the arrival of the flavors with each sip and this experience keeps the entire pour desirable and pleasurable. The sweetness is noticeable, but not objectionable. I just wish I could experience it without the added sugar.
At the current $32 per bottle, this is truly a bargain for a masterpiece of history and flavor. Of all the rums that I’ve tasted, this is the most alluring… almost calling me whenever I glance at the bottle. There are better rums for sure, but this is definitely a favorite. If you want a cheaper introduction to El Dorado Rum, then give the 8 Year Old a try at less than $20… you’ll be amazed! I hope to give the sweeter 12 Year Old a try this year.
Update: I’ve received some offline comments from my good friend, Cap’n Jimbo, so I’d like to offer some clarifications.
- The fact that Demerara Distillers adds sugar to a premium offering like El Dorado 15 Year, especially 31 g/l (among the highest in the industry), is truly disheartening. This is effectively a pollution of the Demerara style which they represent and a sad omen for things to come with respect to their products (I hope I’m wrong about this, at least for their premium offerings).
- I still think that El Dorado 15 Year is a great tasting rum and has some complexity and flavor robustness that is rare in the $30 range; however, it is no longer representative of the Demerara style of rum that it once was. I say this because I have it on good authority that the addition of sugar is a recent change and, in my opinion, a sad one. I’ll be on the lookout for good examples of the Demerara style, which is my favorite so far. At this point, my reference is Flor de Caña Centenario Gold 18 Year.
- El Dorado 15 is now officially my favorite flavored rum.