The Scarlet Ibis

The Scarlet Ibis

Trinidad Rum, 3-5 Years, 49% ABV, $27

This rum has a beautiful golden amber color that I really like. I tend to overlook this characteristic in most spirits, but it’s very noticeable with this one.

It amazes me that the alcohol doesn’t overpower the aroma at nearly 100 proof, but it really is nicely under control. It’s fairly easy to pick out the toffee, honey, grass, tobacco and overripe banana. With some work, I can detect charred oak and a faint smell of ripe plum and cherry.

My mouth is immediately taken with a tangy and spicy experience. There’s a woody, slightly bitter aftertaste that lingers while the pepper fades ever so slowly. Up front the tangy taste is of orange and grapefruit while a blast of white pepper and ginger appear. There’s also vanilla, raisin, honey, banana and an ever-present oak that starts early and persists throughout. There’s a good bit of dry bitterness and only a mild sweetness here. This reminds me of a fairly young rye whiskey with a bit more sweetness and wood (like its aged more with some young character). It’s the fruity vanilla flavors that give away the fact that this is rum. This is definitely the spiciest rum that I’ve tasted and I’m a big fan of spicy spirits. The bitterness is more controlled as I drink more and more of the sweeter flavors endure longer. Still, after it’s all said and done, the remaining artifact is pepper and wood… not the greatest finish.

The Scarlet Ibis is a unique rum that I’ll definitely come back to (I have another bottle). It’s unlike other rums and that’s enough to peak my interest, along with the rye resemblance.

Rhum Barbancourt Five Star Réserve Spéciale

Rhum Barbancourt Five Star

Rhum Agricole, 8 years,
43% ABV, $22


I’m finishing off my bottle of this one and decided to give it a closer look before its all gone. My Barbancourt experience started off rough and I didn’t care for this one at first, but as time has passed I’ve come to appreciate it more and more. My intent is to determine whether I continue the experience or move on to another Rhum Agricole offering (e.g. Montecristo 12 Year).

The nose is earthy and mildly sweet with notes of sugar cane (I was raised in south Louisiana and know this smell), toffee, honey, prunes and roasted walnut. If you nose it lightly, the aroma takes on a definite woody quality with the sweetness deriving more from caramel. You have to breathe it in deeply to get the details. It’s a light, delicate aroma that I’ve not fully appreciated until now.

The taste is nutty, tart, sweet and peppery and the finish is leathery while the peppery heat dissipates slowly. Up front I taste walnut, persimmon (which I’ve not had in a long time), ginger, black pepper, vanilla and bitter honey. I’ve heard that the flavor has a reedy quality and I think that this may be coming through as nuts in combination with the persimmon and bitter honey. It’s an interesting flavor that you don’t get from molasses based rum. The more I sip on this, the more I detect a brief appearance of tart apple mid-palate. There’s also a mild anise taste on the back of the tongue that lingers long after the pepper fades. This is definitely not a sweet rum and it also avoids the dryness of some Barbadian offerings. It’s not bold, but it offers some nice complexity that keeps me interested. It’s also different enough from other rum styles to provide some useful variety.

It’s clear that I’ve sold this rum short in the past and this detailed tasting has guaranteed a spot in my collection for it. It’s also solidified my decision to not purchase Barbancourt’s 3-Star (4 Year) offering, which is supposed to offer more reedy taste and less wood. I may even opt to go in the other direction and try their reasonably priced 15 Year rum. My thanks go to my mentor, Cap’n Jimbo at The Rum Project, for encouraging me to give this rum another shot. I’m glad I did.