A long time ago I happened upon a liquor store that had a bottle of Pyrat Cask 23 (aka Cask 1623). I looked at the $240 price tag and drooled, shook my head and bought a lottery ticket. I lost, and went home without that bottle of rum.
Last summer I happened to be chatting with a co-worker and found that we had a common interest in our love of rums. I mentioned the story about seeing the Pyrat 23, and he showed a particular interest in it. So much interest that he wanted it, so I offered to pick it up for him if they still had it. I eventually did get it for him, and we tried it and loved it.
Last week this co-worker announced that he was moving on, going to another job. Yesterday I asked if I could borrow the bottle. Well this brought a round of laughter from all sides – how does one “borrow” a bottle of rum? I promised that I would drink as little as possible – just enough to do a review for this site. He agreed, still shaking his head.
With friends like this, how can you go wrong? Thanks Chris!
Pyrat Cask 23 is a blend of pot-still rums of up to 40 years old, made and blended by Anguilla Rums, LTD. It comes in a hand-blown glass bottle with some antique-looking labels, a couple ribbons around the neck, and of course comes with a Hoti medallion dangling from a thick black string. There’s a small label on the bottle (it actually fell of this one) that is a hand-written serial number and signature from the bottler. The bottle is packed in a cedar box with a Hoti medallion inset in the front. All in all it’s a heck of a presentation.
I had promised myself that I would pour only a finger of this borrowed rum, so I grabbed the widest glass I could find and poured a small amount. (Just kidding Chris – it was half a finger in a double old-fashioned glass.) This is a very dark rum – not dark like Myer’s but a very dark golden color. The initial smell is sweet with a faint orange tinge that seems typical with Pyrat rums, and delicately charred oak. It has some tones of very refined molasses, fruitiness, and a touch of honey. There are some other smells in here that are very faint and take some concentration to find. They’re so faint that all I can think is “fruit” but I get no further.
The initial, tiny sip is rich and full, sweet and a bit thick. Too small to really explore, this sip is predominantly sweet, faint molasses, and a bit of spiciness in the finish. The next, larger sip is more of the same – rich and sweet and excellent, but not a lot of flavors are coming out yet. This is most likely because I’m afraid to drink this up and leave Chris nothing, but I’ve got to bite the bullet and take a full, proper sip…
Wow, that fills the mouth with flavor! But again it’s more of the same tastes as before, with no other tastes really coming out. But this large sip certainly shows a few tricks in its finish. It’s got a long, wonderful finish that stays in the mouth for a very long time. This might have to do with its thickness coating the mouth – luckily that thickness is not cloying but has a rather silky mouthfeel to it. Tones of licorice come out at the very end, and some slight barrel – the best barrel tastes I’ve ever experienced. Though slight, they show off a delicate but beautiful balance of licorice vanilla, and oak.
It’s extremely smooth, but not quite the smoothest rum I’ve ever had. But the taste keeps coming long after the burn fades to nothing, so I can deal with what little burn it has.
I left a very tiny sip in the glass, just enough to coat the tongue. And I’m glad that I did, for it is very pleasant. And it keeps me from pouring another finger just to make sure…
This is certainly an excellent rum. Sweet and fruity, smooth and with an amazing finish – it might be the longest finish I’ve ever experienced in a rum. It’s certainly the best finish, by far, of any rum I’ve had. And that’s what takes this rum all the way, since it lacks the complexity that I’d expect in a blend of very old rums. The initial rum tastes themselves are simple – sweet molasses rum with orange tones and a touch of fruit. If that were all this rum had to offer then I’d certainly stick with the much sweeter Pyrat XO at one-tenth the price. But the back half, starting just after the swallow, really bring out the care and craftsmanship that went into this rum.
Money aside, this rum is outstanding and goes to the top of the list. But at $240 a bottle you have to be fully prepared to appreciate this rum. Don’t just take a sip and expect magical things to happen – get your money’s worth and pay attention and concentrate.
But I have to admit that even after this tasting I am not even thinking about spending $240 on a bottle of Pyrat Cask 23. That is the same amount as 6 bottles of Zacapa 23-year-old. But if I had the expendable income I would certainly buy one. And I would not share – except with Chris.