Old Mill Gold Rum

Old Mill Gold Rum is distilled in St. Croix by Cruzan, and then delivered to Oregon where it is aged for 2 to 4 years. The color is a light gold, almost as dark as apple juice, with long legs. The aroma that comes off this rum is a little sweet, with toffee-like smells mixed with a hint of apple. There’s a mild wood smell to it, but one of a light mild wood, not quite the charred bourbon barrel smells that are usually in an aged rum. There’s a touch of alcohol that remind me that I’m drinking straight liquor, but it comes forward as a sweet rum odor so it’s a welcome touch.

When sipped, the rum is initially sweet, but a well-balanced sweetness that blends very well with the wood tastes. Toffee comes across in the taste, there’s a bit of a woody spice burn, and the hints of apple linger. The finish is quick, crisp and very clean, followed by a fairly long, not-too-strong spice burn. Even though the rum doesn’t burn, the spice after the swallow does, but I am mostly surprised at how clean it leaves my mouth.

Sipping for a while, I truly appreciate the cleanliness of this rum. The sweet toffee apple smells are extremely pleasant when I begin a sip, and once inside the mouth it shows off some very nice aging for a 4-year-old rum. The light wood in the taste is very nice, being clear that this is a nice rum without being overburdened by char or leftover bourbon common in many rums. Right after the swallow, my mouth is left clean with a little wood taste and the toffee, with a touch of apple lingering in the air. Then it goes quickly into that spice burn as it slowly flows down the throat.

I like this rum quite a bit – the balance of apple, toffee, wood and rum are very well done. It’s extremely smooth for a 4-year-old rum, and I appreciate the hell out of that. It makes me drool at the thought of a 10- or 12-year-old version of this rum, though Old Mill does not make one available to the best of my knowledge. I certainly wish they did.

The spice burn after the swallow is the only distraction of this rum, since it doesn’t quite fit the rest of the rum. Now don’t get me wrong – the spice is far from overpowering and it is not unpleasant. But since it’s at the very end, it seems to leave a mark stronger than it actually is. It just doesn’t fit all the wonderful smells and tastes at the beginning.

And this spice at the end stops me from considering it to be a true sipping rum – though it comes close. I would have to label this as an excellent mixer, though perhaps a sipper if one were to add an ice cube to possibly dull the spice. Checking the web, I find that this rum can be had for anywhere between $13 and occasionally $20 a bottle. For that price I could easily use it as a mixing rum, though I would not use it in a cocktail that might mask all those good attributes.

All in all, this rum is definitely recommended.

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Castries Peanut Rum Creme Again

Last November I drove down to New York City to attend the Rum Fest. I went down a day early and gave a small rum tasting to a group of folks who were mostly cocktail drinkers. I had brought down a bottle of Castries Peanut Rum Creme, but it was forgotten during the tasting. I finally remembered about it after most of the folks had left, and the six of us left quickly finished the bottle. Delicious stuff.

Since then, I have been without Castries since it’s not distributed – yet – in Massachusetts. Disheartening as this was, it was made much worse because some of the people at that tasting kept mentioning that they had purchased bottles of their own. Out of the 15 or 16 rums we tasted that night, people remembered only two of them – Pyrat Cask 1623 and Castries Peanut Rum Creme.

A couple weeks ago, Joe mentioned that he was coming up from NYC and I asked him to pick me up some Castries and any Brinley rums that he could find. He found three of the Brinley rums – fantastic stuff that I have to review soon – but could not find any Castries in stock. With what can only be described as unselfish benevolence, he brought me his own personal bottle of Castries.

Thanks Joe!

Being the type of person I am – generous but not too bright – I cracked the bottle and shared it with six or eight people the following week. I enjoy sharing a great rum, and all of the folks that tried the Castries loved it. That seems to be par for course with this stuff – I’ve shared it with well over a dozen people and have gotten positive remarks from every single one. Considering that I went nine months without it, I got a bit selfish after a while and put the bottle away. I vowed to finish it alone, which is what I’m doing right now.

I reviewed Castries last year, and just read it again to see if my current thoughts matched my initial tasting. They do, and I can’t augment or add to that initial review. This is a fantastic product, and one of my all-time favorites.

Luckily for me – and any other New Englanders – Castries is coming to Massachusetts! I spoke with the CEO of Team Spirits recently, and they’ll be launching in Massachusetts on October 1, 2008. Excellent!

Castries Creme
My previous review of Castries

4 Dark Rums

I’ve recently been trying to find the formula for my ultimate Mai Tai, and some early experimentation based on Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s $100 Mai Tai left me wanting for a darker, heavier version. I decided to try some dark rums, rustled four bottles out of storage boxes, and was left unpleasantly surprised that I could find only four. I actually found more dark rums, when I was thinking in terms of color, but only four when I was thinking in terms of rum. That got me to thinking, “What makes a dark rum a dark rum?”

A Wikipedia entry about Meyers’s Rum says, “Dark rum differs from gold in that some residual molasses is retained in the final product, in order to slightly sweeten the flavor.” I can go with that. It’s not exactly what I consider a dark rum, but then again I have some odd habits in the way that I categorize things, mainly because I don’t like to categorize so I keep things simple. As it turned out, the four dark rums that I found all fit that description, so I’ll keep it.

Gosling’s Black Seal
I’ve always enjoyed the story of Black Seal rum: In 1806, James Gosling boarded a ship bound for America. The winds did not cooperate, and the ship landed in the port of St. George’s, Bermuda. He decided to stay in Bermuda, and opened a retail shop. Some 50 years later, he and his brother blended rums and sold the finished product in barrels only. After the First World War, they began to bottle this rum in used champagne bottles sealed with black wax. The product became quite popular, and people kept asking for “that black seal rum.” Eventually, the Black Seal balancing a rum barrel on its nose was added to the label. Good story.

The rum itself smells a bit sweet with hints of molasses, and the smell of wood. Mild spices and vanilla linger in the background. There’s nothing remarkable in the smell, except that there’s a nice balance between all the dominant smells, which means that the molasses isn’t too dominant. The taste is heavy – rich and full – and fits the “dark rum” description well. Simply put, it tastes like slightly burnt, woody molasses – though the taste is actually quite better than that description! The balance of all the tastes is quite nice, and some subtle tastes round it out and give it some depth. The finish has a bit of a burn, and some spices come out.

Overall, this is quite good; a solid rum tastes with wood and molasses dominating. It is sweet and decently smooth, though not quite a sipper. I had expected the molasses to linger in a cloying way, but the rum finishes cleanly.

Myers’s Original Dark
The smell is much lighter and sweeter-smelling than the Gosling’s, with some spice and earthy tones typical to Jamaican rums. There are some floral hints that are quite subtle. It has a decent molasses taste, not overpowering at all, and a bit of wood. Some butter or toffee tastes are in here too. This is less “burnt” and less woody than the Gosling’s – more along the lines of a lightly charred wood, rather than the more distinctive burnt oak of the Gosling’s. It’s sweeter and more complex than the Gosling’s, and a lot of this complexity comes from the spice. It’s certainly more distinct than the Gosling’s, with more pronounced tastes, and not quite as well balanced as the Gosling’s. The finish is quick, and mildly spicy, but the smoothest of them all. This is quite good – better than I expected – but distinct enough to save for the cocktails that call for it.

Maui Dark Rum
This is a very dark-colored rum, and the smell of molasses is quite strong with coffee odors not too far in the background, and mild hints of roasted nuts. It smells a bit sweet, but not like the first two above. This has some floral smells, which are quite subtle yet remind me of “heavier” flowers – not the light flowery smells sometimes found in white rums or agricoles. The molasses taste in this rum is quite strong, though not by leaps or bounds above the others. The molasses tastes like it was cooked a bit, almost to burning but not quite. There are distinct coffee tastes, and very mild tastes of roasted nuts. The finish is long and smooth, and a little bit spicy (but nothing like the Myers), leaving a bit of a “charred” taste that lingers.

Cruzan Blackstrap
This rum is almost as dark as the Maui, but just a bit lighter. Molasses and sweetness are the two predominant smells here, and it’s a very nice molasses smell. Whereas the Gosling’s molasses smell charred, and the Maui’s burnt, the Cruzan has a very clean and sweet molasses smell. A bit of a buttery smell comes out, and some charred wood, but both are very far beneath the molasses and sugar smells. It seriously reminds me of pancake syrup – not the maple smell of pancake syrup, but rather the overall smells and butteriness. The molasses is very strong when tasting, and the sweetness lingers afterwards – almost, but not quite, cloying. The butter comes out a bit, and the wood comes forward with a lightly charred taste. The burn is slight, but long and lingering, to the point of where it felt like it was numbing my tongue. The molasses is the strongest of the four rums tasted, and the finish is the longest.

Summary
The Cruzan had the most molasses taste of the bunch, and the longest finish. The Myers’s was the spiciest – it’s Jamaican heritage – and was the most distinct, though the strong molasses taste of the Cruzan makes it a close second. The Maui came close in distinctness, due to its burnt molasses and coffee tastes. The Gosling’s had the best balance, and seemed to be the most versatile for cocktails. None were quite sipping rums, though the Maui comes the closest in this regard, for both smoothness and taste characteristics.

Overall, I’d have to choose the Gosling’s as the winner of this taste test, though I didn’t really mean this to be a contest but just a comparison. I guess that if I had just one dark rum in my cabinet it would be the Black Seal, thanks to its versatility.

Rum Season 2008 Started

It’s been a while since I posted, and that was a bit of a cheap post, really. I kinda had a crappy winter – not a horrible one, just one of those winters when lotsa stuff went wrong. The worst thing about it was that I was not able to build my Tiki Bar due to the fact that several more necessary things which decided to crap out, requiring every penny in my Tiki Bar fund. Oh well, there’s always next year.

Summer is here now, the “summer home” is opened for the season, which means that my Rum Season has started. I’ve certainly had plenty of rum over the winter, generally in the form of tiki cocktails with the FOM ohana, but Memorial Day is when I get together with Phil and we start our summer-long concentrated effort of rum exploration. This year has been no different, and the last three weekends have had a good deal of rum. So far I’ve tried 5 or 6 new rums, made a few syrups for tiki cocktails, explored a bunch of cocktails from the Beachbum books, and put some time and effort into perfecting my Mai Tai. It will take a few posts to catch up on all this, so bear with me.

Pyrat Pistol
Once the summer home was opened and cleaned up, I grabbed several bottles of rum and headed over to Phil’s. Over the course of the next few hours we shot the breeze, caught up on each other’s winters, and sipped rum. We started the night with an old favorite, the Pyrat Pistol. One of the first excellent rums that Phil and I found, many years ago, was Pyrat XO, and Pistol is its little brother. Well, the bottle is smaller – 375ml – but the price is not much smaller at all . The tastes are very similar, but I find the Pistol to be a small step up in quality and smoothness. I’d say that you’ll like the Pistol if you like sweet, apricot/orange tastes of the XO, and want to go a little better and a little smoother. However, I have to say that I don’t find the price difference to be worthwhile. I’ll generally pay $36 for a bottle of Pyrat XO in Massachusetts, and the Pistol is generally about $30. These prices are insane, since they’re about 2/3 the price in the rest of the country ($22 and $13 respectively). The bottle of Pistol is half the size of the X0 (375ml vs 750ml) yet the price difference makes the Pistol 1.5 times more expensive for me. I don’t think the price difference is worthwhile – stick with the XO – but I’d have to say that I’d buy a lot more Pistol if I could find it for $13.

Brinley Gold Coffee Rum
I had high hopes for this bottle from St. Kitts, since I had heard good things about the entire Brinley line. When I first heard about this rum the idea of mixing coffee and rum seemed a little strange, but I started to think about some of the coffee tastes that linger in background of some older, fine rums. Some rums – Khukri and Maui Dark come to mind immediately – have very noticeable coffee tastes, and it works quite well. I was able to find this rum last November, when I attended the Rum Fest in New York.

This rum has some mild coffee aromas lying behind a stronger toffee smell, and the combination certainly smells delicious. The first sip shows a lot of sweetness, buttery toffee tastes, very little rum, and a finish that contains hints of coffee. It’s is very smooth, mainly due to the sweetness and the fact that it’s only 72-proof. Well, that’s really not very far off from the 80-proof that I’m used to, so this is still a strong rum, though your tongue and throat will never realize that. This goes down very easily, and is practically a dessert. Sweet, smooth, butter toffee and hints of coffee… Yep, “dessert” fits the bill quite nicely. This is definitely a delicious rum, and is highly recommended as long as you like sweet rums. But I have to say that I have a hard time calling this a “Coffee Rum” since the coffee tastes are so mild. I’d lean more towards calling it a “Butter Toffee Rum.” Whatever it’s called, this rum is highly recommended.

Brinley Gold Vanilla Rum
Given how much I love vanilla, I was really looking forward to this rum. I came close to cracking this bottle over the winter, but I held back – several times – and I’m not sure why. When Phil and I cracked it, the first smells and sips made me realize that somehow I subconsciously knew that this rum is meant to be shared. Keeping this rum to myself would go against everything I strive for in my attempts to evangelize rum.

The initials smells are of of sweet vanilla, rum and – get this – coffee. Yep, this has more coffee smell to it than the Brinley Gold Coffee Rum, easily. A small sip is thick with sugar and sweetness, coffee, dark rum and hints of vanilla after the swallow. I find this to be a little more harsh than the Coffee Rum, but we are splitting hairs since they are both very smooth. The flavor lingers for a while in the mouth due to it’s thickness, and this is a very nice taste. In a nutshell: Delicious. Like the Coffee Rum, the tastes of rum are very mellow in this, but there is no doubt in my mind that Brinley has created a fantastic product here.

Phil and I stayed on this rum for about an hour, sipping, pouring, sipping and talking. Generally we will go through all the rums, one at a time, slowly tasting and enjoying each rum in its time. Eventually we’ll go back and hit a couple again, or compare a couple side-by-side. Not with the Brinley Vanilla. I think we ended up having 4 shots each, and finally had to put it away or we would have finished the bottle. This extended tasting was a first for us – we have simply never had a rum hit us like this. I think some of our desire to continue sipping was due to the way the taste lingers after the swallow – it must cause a type of addiction.

The next night I brought this rum up to the weekly dance at the campground, and offered it to people that I knew would appreciate it. It was a unanimous hit. About half of the people liked it a lot, and the other half loved it. One couple was not too happy with the idea that it was only available in New York City, so they went online and found a website that would ship it. They bought a bottle based on a single sip. I love this job.

Pango Rhum
I bought this bottle last fall, when I was hunting for Foursquare Spiced and developing an unusual yearning for spiced rums. I got into a conversation with the owner of a large liquor store, and we spent 15 or 20 minutes talking about rums. We somehow got on the subject of spiced rums, I mentioned Foursquare, and he showed me the Pango Rhum and told me that some rum connoisseur always bought it. I almost never buy a rum on a whim, but the recommendation seemed sound. I was also intrigued by the words on the label – “Pango Rhum – Rhum Barbancourt – Rum With Natural Fruit & Spice Flavors.” So I bought it.

My hankering for spiced rums went away for several months, but I saw this bottle when I was packing stuff for the summer home. I generally try to bring a variety of rums for opening day, so this ended up in the box with the others.

Phil and I cracked it, sipped, and we both sat back for a moment in pensive silence. I finally broke the thoughts and said “This is weird.” Phil agreed quickly, and wholeheartedly, and we both talked about it for a bit trying to figure it out. We even poured some more, trying to dive into the rum and identify the tastes. We couldn’t. Even now, sipping it again, I can’t think of a way to properly describe Pango Rhum. Sweet and smooth at 70-proof, there are definitely some mild spices in there, and at least a fruit or three. But all I keep thinking is “mango.”

Don’t get me wrong here – this is most certainly a quality product, just one that I can’t describe. The flavors in this rum are high quality – there’s no cheap artificial flavors here. The spices are mild and complement the fruitiness. The balance of those background flavors is great, but the mango dominates too much. I have to admit that it doesn’t suit my tastes, and didn’t suit Phil’s, but this is not unexpected with such a unique product. If you get a chance, try it, but I can’t recommend buying a bottle.

Santa Teresa Rhum Orange Liqueur
This is another rum that I got in NYC last fall. As you might know by now, I love orange liqueurs, and this makes #14 or #15 or something mildly ridiculous like that. Initial smells showed a lot of orange flavor, almost no rum, and a good deal of sweetness comes through. The orange is strong, but not quite to the level of some of the bitter-orange liqueurs that I have. It certainly does have a taste of bitter oranges, and is sweet, leaving a bit of stickiness on the lips. It’s not quite as smooth as the Senior Curacao, or so my taste-memory seems to remember. I let some linger in my mouth before swallowing, trying to get a better idea of the rum underneath, when Phil blurted out that it tasted like Chinese food.

Well, that did it for me. All i could think of was General Gao’s Chicken, and that line of thinking simply destroyed my concentration.

Whatever Phil might think, I definitely do not consider this to be any less than excellent. It’s definitely a high-quality product. I like it a lot and it’s definitely on my “Recommended” list of rums. But, due to Phil’s silly comment, my concentration was destroyed – it still is – and I can’t give this a thorough review at this time.

I do plan on re-visiting my “Orange Curacao-type” liqueurs soon, since I also managed to find some Marie Brizard Orange Curacao over the winter, and some Bols. I only had 3 “Orange Curacaos” when I did my Orange Liqueur Throwdown review a year ago, and I know have 7 it seems. An “Orange Curacao Throwdown” is imminent.

Temptryst Cherrywood Reserve
I tasted this rum last fall, and gave it a quick review in an early post, A Rum Tasting at the Desmond Aloha Lounge, but Phil had never tried it so I brought it up for him to try. Tasting this rum after trying all those flavored ones was not the correct thing to do, though. All those varying tastes threw off our palates, and we had a hard time diving into it to discover all its nuances. There is no doubt that this is a superlative rum, but saying more than that would not be fair. This needs a proper tasting with a clean palate, and I will certainly return to it soon since I truly love this stuff.

In The Upcoming Week Or Two…
I have many other posts floating around in my head right now, and a lot of notes to go through. It’s actually been over 2 weeks since Rum Season 2008 actually Started, and I have a lot to cover. I’ve made Orgeat, Passion Fruit Syrup, Rock Candy Syrup, several Grog Log drinks. I bought some new bar tools, started a serious expedition trying to find my perfect Mai Tai, and I’m sure I’m forgetting 2 or 3 smaller things right now. I’ll do my best to cover this stuff this week… Hopefully.

5 Quickies From Saturday Night

I went out Saturday night with a group of friends, and we broke out some rums….

Thomas Tew, from Newport, Rhode Island
Not a winner. 4 of us all agreed that it was a little off. It did have quite a bit of bourbon tastes, presumably from the barrel, but also something else that was somewhat unpleasant. After many sips and some thoughts, it was decided that this unpleasantness was best described as “apricots gone bad.”

Flor De Cana 18-year-old
Damn fine rum, quite dry, that comes out a bit after resting. Alas, nobody was enamored with this rum. It was good, but not immediately remarkable. I’m not about to write this rum off though, since I feel it needs some resting and some proper exploration.

Havana Club 7-year-old
Very nice, with a great complexity once it rested for a few minutes. There was a slight tinge of something a little weird – not enough to destroy this rum, but it was a taste that was simply out of place. All in all, it was very very good, and would certainly get a spot on my shelf if I could manage to get a bottle.

New Orleans – gold, amber, premium, whatever they call it
This rum was amazing. In it’s burn and harshness. Wow. I seriously think they added stuff to make this taste worse. I am *so* glad that I didn’t buy this one myself.

Santa Teresa Gran Reserva
The winner of the night. Although nobody really approached this as a contest, this rum easily got the most accolades and positive comments. A mix of 2- and 5-year-old rums, this was surprisingly smooth for such a young rum. It had some nice complexity for a young rum, too. It does benefit from a little bit of a rest before drinking, as the initial smells are quite medicinal. But 2 or 3 minutes later and one can find different smells and tastes, a touch of sweetness, and a citrus that I though hinted at apricot. Considering that I paid $18 for this I am quite happy with it.

Oronoco

Last week at a rum tasting the presenter opened with a line designed to get everyone’s attention. “I’ve yet to find a white rum that I like,” he said, and proceeded to pour one of the smoothest, most refined white rums available today. But that was last week, and things change – or sometimes they simply appear to change, for it was simply a lack of experience that brought about that sentence.

For I have found a white rum that I like. Oronoco.

Now that sentence from the tasting is harsh and it was used for dramatic effect, but it’s not a complete lie. The white rums of my past have primarily been mixing rums, yet sipping rums are my true passion. Out of the 25 or 30 white rums that have passed my lips neatly there’s only one other that could be called a sipping rum, Prichard’s Crystal. But Prichard’s lacks any extreme rum tastes and gets its “sipping” title because of it smoothness and refinement. Oronoco, on the other hand, has a pleasant aroma and slightly fruity, floral tastes followed by a relatively clean finish spiked with flavor.

Oronoco Rum

This rum is produced in the mountains of Brazil from fresh-cut sugar cane juice distilled in a traditional copper pot still. It is further refined with multiple passes in a column still, and then mixed with aged Venezuelan rum which gives it a slight tint. Finally, this mix is married by resting in casks of native Brazilian hardwood called Amendam. This intricate process brings this rum several fine highlights: the crisp tastes and aromas typical to cachaça, sweet flavors and finish from the aged rum, and some unique undertones from the unusual wood used for the final resting casks. The final product is quite unique as a result, smooth enough to sip and tasty enough to enjoy.

An Initial Taste

The initial smells are slightly fruity with hints of floral tones and slight whiffs of molasses and vanilla underneath. The fruity and floral aromas hint of cachaça rather lightly while still allowing Oronoco to possess natural rum characteristics. This rum would not surprise someone who’s not used to cachaça – in fact such a person would probably accept these smells naturally. A small sip shows a slight sweetness and a touch of peppery spiciness, but little heat from the alcohol. A larger sip continues these trends and shows a nice balance since everything is quite clean and light in the mouth. The finish is a little short, but this is relative because it seems somewhat long for a white rum. A bit of wood appears in the finish along with reminders of vanilla again.

Summary

This is a very unique rum, and one well worth sipping. In fact it’s been sipped quite a bit tonight, since it’s a white rum that I like. Though pricey at $35 one must remember that this is a full liter, which brings it down to approximately $26 for 750ml. At this price Oronoco is most certainly worthwhile. While expensive for a mixing rum this has the potential to make some exciting cocktails. I would not think twice about using it in a daiquiri or another drink which would let the rum shine.

In any case, at any price, it’s an exquisite white sipping rum which holds an esteemed place on my shelf.

Maui Gold And Dark Rums

I got interested in Maui Rums when I saw a post on Tiki Central that managed them. As I had never heard of them I was curious, especially since they’re made in Hawaii from Hawaiian sugar cane. Alas, I could not find them anywhere around and it seemed that they were not available anywhere in New England. Come to find out they are only available in Hawaii, or through their Internet store.

Well, I managed to obtain 3 – the Gold, the Dark and something called “Braddah Kimo’s Da Bomb Extreme Rum” which most certainly caught my attention. It’s 155-proof – yes 155-proof – which won a Gold Medal from the American Distilling Institute in the category of Over-Proof Rum. Nice. And scary at 155-proof. Since I always try the rums neat, I think this one is going to have to wait for another night since I just finished tasting the first two.

Haleakala Distilleries
Haleakala Distillers was apparently founded in 2003 when Braddah Kimo, the distiller, built the entire distillery himself. Braddah Kimo, a man of mystery, has 33 years experience as a distiller, starting as an Apprentice Distiller at E&J Gallo making brandies in 1974. In 1977 he spent 3 years making rum at Port Morant Distillery in Guyana, and by 2002 he was a Master Distiller making scotch at Glenlivet. In 2003 he moved to Maui and built the distillery now making Maui Rums.

The rum is made in a tiny distillery using molasses made from Maui cane sugar and Maui rainwater. After being double-distilled in copper stills the rum is aged in used Jim Beam bourbon casks. The entire process is done 2000 feet above sea level, adjacent to the Haleakala Ranch, a 30,000-acre cattle ranch which borders the Haleakala National Park.

The distillery is a small family-owned business dedicated to making fine rums and contributions to Maui and its non-profit organizations. They’re very environmentally-conscious, as proven by their delivery van and sales vehicles which run on bio-diesel. The fuel is made from recycled cooking oil from around the island, and their delivery van gets 26 miles per gallon from the stuff while their modified VW Jetta gets 40mpg. Way to go guys!

Maui Gold Rum
This is a very plain bottle with a very plain label. The bottles look like they were sealed by hand using the PVC shrink-wrap one would use for home bottling. The web site says that this is because they care more about what’s inside the bottle, not the bottle itself. Though I do find the bottle to be rather boring, it’s not really that important, and I certainly do like the implications. This was done by hand, not by a massive bottling machine, and I like that kind of attention. Each bottle comes with a small, very colorful lei around the neck, and I like that quite a bit. Maybe it’s the Tiki in me, but I love the significance of that lei and its symbolism of Hawaii.

The rum itself is a medium-gold color, a little on the light side. I could smell the rum as soon as I started to pour it. It wasn’t overpowering, just strong and it carried to my nose. When I brought the glass closer I could smell the molasses, though it leaned more toward a dark sugar, like demerara, rather than straight molasses. It smells rather sweet, and some hints of vanilla and a little bit of fruit come out, too. Strangely, though pleasantly, I could detect some hints of spice. Since I’ve been drinking a lot of spicy gold rums lately this was quite apparent once I got past the sugar and vanilla aromas.

A tiny sip finds this rum to be extremely smooth, fairly sweet with sugary overtones, with a touch of spice on the finish. But otherwise this rum seems somewhat simple and doesn’t have complexity like I always desire. But this was a small sip, and none of those things should be judged from such a small amount, so I dove in for a larger sip. This sip shows less sweetness than the smell, a bit of fruit comes out, and it finishes with some spice but not too much. I have to say that I am fairly amazed at how smooth this rum is. Braddah Kimo has done a very nice job of producing a very smooth rum, especially considering that this could not have been aged too long.

And I love the touch of spice at the end. This isn’t an overpowering assault of spice like Gosling’s Gold or the Mount Gay Eclipse. This is just a touch, and it’s quite pleasant. The finish is somewhat quick, which is not a surprise since this is a young rum and the spiciness doesn’t linger like some others. The mouthfeel is just a touch on the thick side, but it finishes very clean and leaves the palate quickly.

Alas, I still find the overall rum taste to lack complexity, and the molasses doesn’t come across as much as I’d like. Even after letting it sit for a bit, the taste is more like a dark cane sugar than a molasses. This has a very good flavor, even though it’s somewhat simple, though with a unique twist that makes it interesting. But I’d love to find more flavors underneath the basic rum, but there’s not much there. As a result, I don’t find this to be a sipping rum, though the smoothness and hint of spice would imply. This is quite sippable thanks to the fine crafting by Braddah Kimo, but the lack of complexity lends it towards some fine mixing. And it should excel at mixing, and I’d recommend its use in lighter cocktail when one doesn’t need a blatant rum taste.

Overall, this rum is very good and extremely smooth for a young gold. I like it quite a bit, and I look forward to an bottle of this that has been left in the cask for a few more years.

Maui Dark Rum
The bottle is similarly simple, but with a black label and black shrink-wrap at the top. After tasting the Gold this means nothing, as it’s apparent that they do put good stuff inside a simple bottle. This rum is very dark – espresso dark – in the bottle. But holding it up to the light shows some brown tinged with red, and it’s more of a very dark mahogany color. Still, even with only a half-inch of rum in the glass I could not see through it.

The smell isn’t as strong as I had expected, though it’s certainly no weakling! It smells primarily like a burnt dark sugar mixed with dark-roasted coffee beans, though there’s some molasses and a touch of alcohol, along with some faint aromas of over-roasted nuts. This stuff smells thick and heavy, that’s for sure.

The taste is all about coffee, almost like an espresso sweetened with brown sugar. But it’s not really a direct taste of coffee, more like my mind smells coffee and expects it to taste like coffee, even though there’s more going on. It took me a bit to get through that expectation, and I can detect the molasses (or burnt sugar?) easily, and roasted nuts take a bit of concentration. Like the Gold, it lacks complexity, but it’s certainly not boring since it’s bold with the coffee and burnt sugar tastes. At the same time, though, it’s not an overpowering taste – just bold. The finish is almost as smooth as the Gold, and almost as clean, but lasts a bit longer with a bit more spice. Again, hat’s off to Braddah Kimo for making such a smooth, clean rum.

Another larger sip has more of the same, though my brain is easing off the coffee expectations and letting more come out. Alas, what comes out is more of the same – burnt sugar, roasted nuts, and nothing much more than that. It is extremely well-crafted, but just not exciting as I always hope when trying a new rum.

I have to admit that this rum is not meant to be a sipping rum, but I always like to taste them neat to make sure that I experience the rum itself. I will have to go back to this one and do a comparison against some other darks, like Myers’s and Black Seal and the Cruzan Blackstrap. A better comparison would be to make a number of Dark & Stormies and see how they compare in their natural environment. Or a Jamaican Coffee – I wonder if the Maui Dark would complement or disappear in a cup of Starbucks?

Summary
Overall, I find that the Maui Dark leaves me with the same feelings that I had about the Gold – both rums are extremely well-made and very smooth – especially considering that they’re quite young. I’d love to try either one after a longer aging – perhaps some more time in the cask will produce more complexities. And that is the rub with both – though they posses many characteristics of fine sipping rums they both lack the complexities that I always wish for. But I really don’t think that sipping is the intent of these rums – they are obviously mixing rums, and I’m sure that they’ll be damned fine ones. The Dark requires a bit of exploration to find the correct cocktail, but the Gold is extremely versatile though I’d lean towards lighter drinks. As a general mixer this would do quite fine, but I think it deserves better than general mixing, and I’ll look forward to finding an appropriate cocktail for it.

For now, one can’t get Maui Rums on the mainland, but they can be ordered over the Internet from their store. These are both $20 each.

Haleakala Distillers: http://haleakaladistillers.com/index.html
Their Store: http://haleakaladistillers.com/_wsn/page18.html