Friday, February 5, 2010

Rum Reviews: The Second Installment

Welcome to the second entry in my continuing series where I will give you the skinny on the good, the wretched, and the divine concerning what you should be drinking: rum.

It was currency in the Caribbean in the old days, George Washington demanded it be served at his inauguration, Ernest Hemingway lived off a diet of rum and shark flesh during his stint in Cuba, and now I'm here to help you navigate the top, the bottom, and all shelves in between concerning one of the world's greatest treasures.

Nothing fruity here, no flavored spirits to hide terrible production, or inept craftsmanship, just the booze. Feel free to suggest what you will for future installments and liquor representatives are more than welcome to provide me with your product concerning tasting and review.

Ron Barcelo Imperial

This bottle is a gem. Initially, I was gonna try to sound impartial, but I couldn't keep all the positive feelings inside. It's not so thick as to give you problems getting it down, but it does have some texture. It's flavors and richness is balanced by a thin fiery punch that lets you know your drinking. It mixes well in everything, and gives you the impression of drinking something much more expensive than it really is. This one was a gift and possibly the best gift ever; twenty dollars and I'd never heard of it before. Bacardi maybe be more economical at the same price for a handle, but this is something special.

Verdict: Quality for your dollar there may be nothing better. Hell, for many many many more dollars you can do a lot worse. Wow.

Cruzan Aged Rum

It's good… If you take out the cringe inducing quality inherent in Bacardi you'd have this particular Cruzan. To be aged two years there aren't a lot of substantial characteristics to talk about. Pretty middle of the road stuff. Price may be an (good) issue in making the purchase, it cost me $11.99 for a 750ml bottle (awesome). As is evidence of it's two year age this particular rum is light brown in color. There was also a two year old clear rum from Cruzan that I passed on. I guess it had been aged, then filtered and bleached… or something like that. On principle, I'd be wary that bottle. This is a party-starting, budget rum of a slightly better quality than Bacardi but no real renown.

Verdict: No reason to drink it alone, but price is what we're looking at here. It's nothing to write home about, but I'm also not complaining.

10 Canes

I call this "New Age" rum. Much in the same fashion as new New Age wine. There are wines being made with less barrel aging, which lead to decreased tannins which ultimately leads to sooner approachability. Consumers don't have to buy their vino and put it in a cellar for years, before they attempt to enjoy a drink, it's ready to go much faster. The final product is also a bit lighter and less intense in flavor and the cost is generally more favorable than the traditional "Olde World" vino. End wine tangent.

In terms of rum, this is lighter than a typical aged rum and a bit cleaner in taste without so many flavors going on. It's not so aggressive on the palette. This new style is not really my thing in general, but to the goal the producers were trying to reach, I'd say they succeeded. In the case of 10 cane, there is not a lot--if any--barrel aging going on.

At first taste I felt it had more in common with cachaca (a Brazilian stepchild) than rum. I think it's well done for what the manufacturer is trying to achieve, but it's not to my liking. It's in the style and flavor of the Depaz but done to a much better extent across the board. It's a bit too light, too much alcohol taste, and not enough flavor for me. Drinking it alone you may not think you're drinking rum and mixed it has a very peculiar aftertaste that isn't altogether unpleasant but is a distraction from the enjoyment of your beverage.

Verdict: If it weren't for the price ($35) I'd say, "meh." All things considered, it cost too much to be only what it is… "Stay away." Perhaps if it had nine canes, or eleven canes…

You'll want to check out last month's highlights if you missed them and be sure to check back next month as I will bring you more of the best, worst, and the in between. I promise to even feature a high end product worth the price. All things concerning rum: what you should be drinking.

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