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.
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.
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.