Pyrat XO – Old vs New

Some time ago I came across a post about Pyrat XO on Bilgemunky’s Rum Reviews. In this post he compared the Old Pyrat XO to the new Pyrat XO, which made me quite curious. It just so happened that I soon ran into a bottle of the new Pyrat XO that my friend Phil had procured, and – of course – I drank some. I found it to have a strong orange taste, much stronger than I remembered from a couple years back. I made a note to compare Phil’s bottle to my old near-empty bottle of Pyrat.

Phil wasn’t around this weekend, but I made a Rum Run and came across a bottle of Pyrat XO for $21, so I grabbed it.

Side rant – Why the heck does Pyrat XO cost $36 in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, yet runs about $21 in most other states? That seems crazy. But I’ve paid $36 a couple times, and have seen it as high as $50 in on over-priced Massachusetts liquor store.

I definitely believe that Pyrat XO is worth $21, and my old bottle had very little left, so it was a definite purchase. And it allowed me to compare the old to the new.

Label Comparison
Planters Gold Rum – Pyrat XO Reserve -Anguilla Rums, LTD, BWI
The Hoti medallion says: Anguilla Rums

Pyrat Rum – Pyrat XO Reserve (In a circle around Hoti on the label) Anguilla Rums LTD – British West Indies
The Hoti medallion says: Pyrat Rums

The old says that the sole importer is SMS LTD, Las Vegas, Nevada, while the new lists the sole importer as Patron Spirits Company, Las Vegas, Nevada.

On my old bottle, the hand-written “Certification Of Hand Bottling” lists the number 16737, while my new bottle is numbered 435425. If they number sequentially, that’s quite a difference – though I have no idea of the time involved. It would imply that my old bottle was quite a bit older.

The new bottle still has the little description card around its neck, so I got some interesting facts about the rum. “Pyrat XO is a blend of 9 unique Caribbean rums aged up to 15 years in Limousin oak and American sweet oak barrels.” Limousin oak is generally used for cognac, from what I remember, though it was also commonly used for California wines. I have never heard of “American sweet oak” though it might just be some marketing propaganda to describe white oak, a standard for barrels made in the US.

Taste Comparison
For one thing, the old Pyrat XO seems to be a bit darker than the new stuff. It’s slight, and it might have been the lighting, but there did seem to be a difference. A quick comparison of the smell between the two seemed to be very very close. I couldn’t tell the difference between the two. They both smell like a good hearty rum, a bit sweet, with honey smells and a hint of vanilla. Too close to call, by my nose anyway.

The old has a very nice taste, good basic rum but sweeter. Tastes of caramel and honey came through, with hints of vanilla and a slight orange taste. It’s sweet, but not overly sweet, and quite smooth. It has a slight burn that lasts, and the finish lingers a bit as well. This is an excellent rum.

The new has a distinct orange taste, is definitely sweeter, and has more honey coming through. It’s a bit smoother, with less burn and a longer finish. There’s a small bit of spiciness coming through at the end, leaving a bit of tingling in the mouth. This is also an excellent rum.

There’s no doubt in my mind that these are two different rums.

More Comparisons
These are both excellent rums, and both are quite sippable. The differences in the sweetness and distinct orange taste of the new might turn some people off. I do prefer the old for sipping, as I consider it a truer rum, or a more classic rum one might say. I think the new version has less general use in the world because of it’s orange tastes – it would be fine in basic drinks like a Rum & Coke, but would probably throw off some cocktails. Again, both are excellent for sipping – very smooth and little burn, with great complexity.

For the $21 I paid – not the $36 I used to pay – I’d have to say that Pyrat XO is one of the biggest bargains in the rum world. For this price area, not many other rums are as smooth or as complex. I have happily paid $36 in the past, several times, so to find it for this new low price it’s a bargain in my opinion. More than good enough to sip, yet cheap enough to mix.

Both versions of this rum are sweet, complex, tasty, and very sippable. Again, there’s no doubt in my mind that the formula for Pyrat XO has changed. The new version is sweeter with more orange taste. They are not huge differences, but they are significant since they are quite noticeable. People who don’t like sweet rums, or distinct orange flavoring, will probably not like the new stuff. But if you ever find a bottle of Planters Gold Pyrat XO that is not distributed by Patron then I urge you to grab a bottle and enjoy it. I like them both, but I do prefer the old version.


14 Responses to “Pyrat XO – Old vs New”

  1. John Dough Says:
    PYRAT – XO RESERVE $89.99
    price in British Columbia

    I wouldn’t mind trying this bottle… but not at these prices..

    I have really noticed whacked local pricing for other brands also.

  2. Greg Gregory Says:

    As an aspiring rum snob, I would only add that the new Pyrat XO has an aftertaste that was familiar to me, not disagreeable, but distinctive. Then I recalled what this flavor is: It’s like Angostura bitters! I agree with the author’s impression of orange. So much so, it’s as if the rum has been flavored with Grand Marnier. I’m having a neat pour right now. It’s nice for variety, but my favorite so far is Zaya Gran Reserva, followed by Ron Zacapa Centenario. Both Zaya Gran Reserva and Ron Zacapa are made by the same company. Zaya is dangerously seductive, and if you’re not careful, you can sip your way through more of a bottle than you would have at first guessed. Ron Zacapa Centenario has a lighter, sweeter, more floral taste – too sweet for me to enjoy more than a few. When I think how much some of the “premium” tequilas cost (marketing scam), the price of these fine rums is a real steal, given their careful aging and premium ingredients. I’d suggest buying these up before the fools who chase trends catch on!

  3. Dave L. Says:

    I purchased some of the Pyrat XO Reserve today based on what I’ve read and I have to say I’m EXTREMELY disappointed. This stuff is absolute crap and I will be dumping the rum (but saving the cool bottle). It has a very nasty aftertaste, almost like a passion fruit or rancid butter flavor. I normally drink Cacique500 (Venezuela), Capt. Morgan Special Reserve, or Goslings Black Seal. If you like any of those three, you’ll hate the Pyrat. I finished my ONE drink of it about 40 minutes ago and I still have this rancid butter taste in my mouth. Maybe the older version was good stuff but the new stuff…steer clear.

    Sorry for the harsh review…but I’ve since talked with a couple of friends who had also tried it and they came up with the same comments. If you want to spend $35 for a cool glass bottle with a nice cork & ribbons, go for it…just be sure to dump the contents of said bottle in the sink before it gets to your mouth. I’ll be back at the liquor store tomorrow and will go back to my normal Goslings.

  4. Dale Says:

    I have about 15 bottles of the “old” XO…numbered in the low 50000’s…I compared the old with the new and agree that there is a difference in taste…the new is still very good…I emailed Patron and asked them why did they change the rum…no answer to date.

    • Kingston Bruce Says:

      Would you be willing to sell 1 or 2 bottles of your old Planters Gold XO? I would love to compare it with the current Pyrat XO Reserve formulation. Thanks!

  5. Chris Says:

    I tol love the old Planters Gold. The new Pyrat XO is not worth drinking at least for someone that prefers their rum served neat.

    I contacted Patron and they tried telling me there is no change it’s the same rum blned, Guess they think us rum snobs are as easily fooled as tequilla drinkers, lol!

    I know there has to be some stores out here that don’t sell alot of rum and still have cases in the back. My goal is to find them.

  6. Paul Says:

    According to the description I think I have the new rum packaged with the old medallion. At any rate, it is just plain bad. I’m half way through a Cuba Libre and I don’t think I should finish it. I can, but I don’t think I should. It tastes so wrong that the word ‘sabotage’ comes to mind. If so, I know it’s not antifreeze because that supposedly tastes good. For any beginner reading this, develop a basic palate from commonly available stuff like Barbancourt and Ron Pampero and then venture out from there. They are decent and consistent reference points.

  7. Jonathan Lima Perez Says:

    hi, i`m in spain and pay € 41 per pyrat xo.
    my impression about this rum it`s a very orange and sweet smell, so it`s not my kind of rum but it`s a good one, at first i said wwaaooo!!! it`s amazing the deep smell it had but then you can be saturated, i think can be a good pairing with some desserts!!

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I think it is great!!

  9. Steve Humes Says:

    My old bottle, COHB 139745 is almost gone. There is a distinct difference between the old and the new, but the new is what we get, and it is acceptable. I also enjoy the Zaya.

    • Joe Says:

      Does anyone know where I can obtain an original unopened bottle of Planters Gold Pyrat Rum? I have been searching the ends of the earth for quite some time with no luck. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  10. Joe Says:

    Would you be willing to sell one bottle of you Planters Gold Pyrat Rum trove? I would be forever indebted to you…

  11. Anonymous Says:

    joe, i have some of the old Planters Gold Pyrat Rum, i would love to sell a bottle to you, contact me at Put planters gold on the title.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    I used to LOVE it years ago . NOW OT SUCKS , and I do not buy it …..

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