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Tasting Puerto Rico’s Rarest Rums

Tasting Puerto Rico’s Rarest Rums

This Bacardi Reserva that we got to sample is aged for 25 years before it hits shelves.

Not all rums are created equal. ‘Rum Ambassador’ Eric Morales went beyond the top shelf to show The Daily Meal staff some of Puerto Rico’s finest rums, including the Don Q. Gran Añejo; The Bacardi Reserve Limitada, which is Puerto Rico’s most expensive rum; and the Ron del Barrilito, which is very difficult to find in the United States because it is 43 percent alcohol by volume.

“With aged rum, you taste it like you would any wine,” said Morales. “First you look at the color, then you look at the legs, and finally you smell it with [its] notes of butter and caramel.”

There are only 2,000 bottles of Bacardi Reserve Limitada in existence. Each of the rare bottles, which you can only get at the distillery in Puerto Rico, has a black serial number on the back and costs $2,000.

The Don Q. Gran Añejo is perhaps a little bit less rare, but Morales said he still enjoys drinking it. At $100 per bottle, it is priced similar to Scotch. Finally, Morales showed us the Ron del Barrilito, which packs a punch at 86 proof and has a unique flavor. So what should you pair a good glass of rum with? Morales suggests eating rum cake or coconut shrimp.

Joanna Fantozzi is on Twitter. Follow her @JoannaFantozzi


Ron del Barrilito: Puerto Rico’s Oldest, Most Beloved Rum

The Peligroso cocktail is my introduction. At Old San Juan, Puerto Rico’s La Factoría— the world’s 45th best bar per Drinks International—I tell bartender Carlos Irizarry that I want a rum drink. Before mixing together Campari, Averna, lime, lavender simple syrup, and Tabasco, he picks up a bottle of Ron del Barrilito rum, holds it out to show me the striking label, and says, "This is the best." In it goes.

Though Ron del Barrilito is Puerto Rico’s oldest rum brand, and one highly esteemed, it came to the States in the ’60s. Lauded for its deep, almost whiskey-like complexity, the rum—aged in the city of Bayamón, located inland and to the west of San Juan—is produced in two age-specific expressions. The two-star rests for three years, and the three-star is a blend of six- to ten-year-aged rums.

Ron del Barrilito has been aging its rum in Spanish sherry barrels for over a century, since around 1880.

As the story goes, in 1871, Pedro F. Fernández returned home to Puerto Rico's suburbs from his engineering studies in France, and took over the property where his father had been producing small amounts of rum for guests, as was customary on sugarcane plantations. Fernández developed the rum formula that his family still uses today, which lends the spirit its character, and expanded production. Ron del Barrilito has been aging its rum in Spanish sherry barrels for over a century, since around 1880. Yet, it was only four months ago that the distillery decided it was time to launch a website.

The company’s non-existent marketing isn’t a ploy for special attention. The rum factory itself is staffed by only nine employees, four of whom are family members. Monica Fernández, great-granddaughter of Pedro, answers the phone Manuel, his grandson, has given sips of over 20-year-old rum to chefs like Eric Ripert on Avec Eric and José Andrés on The Getaway, their respective travel series. "We’re very traditional, but we’re not a traditional company," Monica says, explaining that they’re not seeking endless growth. They only want to make excellent rum.

Rum casks at Ron del Barrilito. [Photo courtesy of Ron del Barrilito]

La Factoría's De Lo Mejor cocktail with Ron del Barrilito, tequila, horchata, lemon, lime, and orange. [Photo via Facebook]

But quality rum is only recently in vogue. For decades, cartoon pirates and high school debauchery have spoiled the spirit with a strange history. "It’s definitely cleaned itself up and proved it can play with all the other spirits," writer Wayne Curtis, author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails, states. Developed by sugarcane plantation owners in the Caribbean as a way to use molasses waste, rum has only recently begun to be seriously explored on cocktail menus beyond tiki kitsch. "It’s had a very downmarket reputation for a while," says Curtis. "People figured out that it’s not all crap."

Puerto Rican rum, specifically, is lauded for its lightness. Vodka-clear Bacardi is the established image, though that company has its roots in Cuba it moved over to Puerto Rico in 1936, before Fidel Castro took power. Don Q started producing rum on the island in 1865, but the company’s Bacardi-like range of flavors, ubiquity, and widespread availability have made it incapable of attaining Barrilito’s cult status, though its Añejo aged rum is considered very good. "Barrilito’s got a little more funk to it not as much as what you get in Jamaica or Guyana, but it’s got more flavor than I think a lot of the traditional Puerto Rican rums do," explains Curtis.

And it’s that funk that’s made it the go-to for bartenders on the island, and a cult rum beyond. Barrilito only exports to Spain and a few states, where the three-star goes for around $35. The two star is a bit more affordable, at around $27. "The trend toward fine cocktails has increased demand, but our production depends on what was produced six to ten years ago," says Monica, who notes the company produces 10 to 15 thousand cases per year. David Eber, who runs Ron del Barrilito's New York distribution, says that between Puerto Ricans in the city and bartenders looking for a rum that compares to Scotch and bourbon, they run out of the three star all the time. "It deserves to be on the shelf with other Puerto Rican rums, between Bacardi 8 and Don Q Añejo," says Eber. Still, the rum-focused bartenders in Manhattan are using it whenever they can, poised for rum’s real break-out moment.

On the island today, Barrilito is beloved for being truly local in a place where 80 percent of food is imported.

"I think rum is the next category that’s finally about to be explored," considers Lynette Marrero, cocktail consultant for Brooklyn’s recently opened Llama Inn. Barrilito, which she describes as dry and masculine, could be one bottle that helps raise rum’s status among drinkers. "Rum is completely unique depending on where it’s from it’s very expressive of terroir, just like Scotch," she states. Her family, like Barrilito, is from Bayamón to her, the rum displays characteristics of the region. "It has a really oaky, woody, sort of bourbon quality. Depending on which star you get, it’s a style of rum that really shows how the cane can have very good flavor from the barrels and drink like a bourbon, but without that corn note," she says. "It has a little hint of sweetness, but they balance that really well with the dryness of the oak."

One of her old colleagues is self-styled tiki pirate Brian Miller—formerly of New York’s esteemed cocktail dens ZZ’s Clam Bar, Death & Co., and Pegu Club—who’s also a big fan of Barrilito, when he can find it. "It's definitely in my top ten favorite rums to work with it's really unique," he says. "I love it in a 1934 Zombie and I've had success blending it with bourbons. It has a similar flavor profile."

Ron del Barrilito's two and three star rums. [Photo courtesy of Ron del Barrilito]

On the island today, Barrilito is beloved for being truly local in a place where 80 percent of food is imported, and it’s an old-school example of the small-batch, craft spirit ethos that’s permeated drink culture. When La Factoría opened in 2012, it "completely changed the bar scene," says owner Leslie Cofresí. Cocktail bars have popped up not just in San Juan, but across the island, and everyone has stepped up their game to compete with the bar that’s now considered one of the world's 50 best. That the island has a rum they can truly call their own is an important part of its evolution.

"The bartenders here, they really enjoy having a product that is like so many products in the States, whether it’s Hudson Whiskey or Death’s Door Gin from Wisconsin, where you can take some pride in your product, understand what makes it really special, and present the real idea of what the island is, instead of these major liquor houses and major liquor conglomerates," explains expat George Jenich, who runs the bar at Santurce’s Gallo Negro. "I think it’s important to the bartenders here and helps them show people who come down here what Puerto Rico really is about because a lot of people have no idea." He moved down to the island from Boston because of the emerging cocktail scene and hadn’t heard of Barrilito, but after discovering the spirit, he now uses it in place of whiskey in classic cocktails.

Gallo Negro’s executive chef Maria Grubb chimes in about why the rum is so special. "When someone comes to deliver the Barrilito, it’s literally the son that comes to the restaurant," she says. "When you go buy it, it’s the daughter. It’s our house shot—on your birthday, your anniversary, we cheer with it."

If there are, like the politicians say, two Americas, then certainly two Puerto Ricos exist, too. There's the cruise ship stop, as compared to the one discovered by those who look below the surface. There’s Bacardi, and there’s Barrilito. And the island's rich cocktail culture that has begun to develop in the last few years is a way for that more interesting Puerto Rico to show itself to the world, and its growth is timed perfectly with rum’s craft resurgence. Ron del Barrilito is the ideal ambassador find it, or it will find you.


Papa Jac Celebrates 25 Years @ San Sebastian Street Festival

Since the creation of its original formula in 1992, several generations have enjoyed the fiestas of Calle San Sebastián with Papa Jac and its refreshing flavor and distinctive glasses that each year are designed to make this a drink remembered by all.

Several artists such as Bikismo, Sofia Maldonado and Radames “Juni” Figueroa have designed some of the arts that adorned the glasses of the favorite drink of the San Sebastian Street Festival and this year when you buy Papa Jac Original Recipe or the new Sangria flavor in the Sanse 2017, you can get the 25th anniversary collectible glass, so you can take the party back to your house, because Papa Jac is now also available throughout Puerto Rico.

“Recently, Papa Jac began to be distributed in pouches, being more accessible for the consumption of all throughout the year. Papa Jac’s roots are in Old San Juan, between art and music, so we continue with the tradition of the characteristic vessels and what a better time to celebrate its recognized trajectory of quality than in its place of origin, “said Nicole González, brand manager of V. Suárez & amp Co.

Papa Jac is the first cocktail made in a bar of Puerto Rico and distributed commercially and is available in its original flavor and its new sangria flavor

Get your glass, collect it and join the celebration of 25 years of Papa Jac.

History of Papa Jac

In 1991, Juan Pablo Rodríguez, a young entrepreneur and music lover, fell in love with an emblematic local of Old San Juan (now known as Don Pablo). With the original idea of ​​setting up a store, he changed his mind and decided to develop a bar. During his travels to New Orleans, as a university student, he was attracted by a renowned drink from that place, which inspired him to create Papa Jac. A cocktail served in an attractive design glass, with a fun logo and that could be consumed with “refill”, for less cost. An innovative concept never before seen on the island. This combined with a refreshing taste, which includes parsley juice and a blend of delicious liqueurs were the formula for immediate success.

In 1992, Papa Jac had already become the favorite cocktail of the visitors of Calle San Sebastián. It was precisely in that year (1992) that the San Sebastian Street Festival took place, a world-class event that brought together hundreds of thousands of people in San Juan. Papa Jac was the most requested cocktail during the regatta and exposed his quality and sanjuanero spirit to hundreds of thousands of people who participated.

A whole generation grew up with Papa Jac. Synonymous with nostalgia, good times and unforgettable memories. More than 20 years later, Papa Jac is still the favorite cocktail of the fiestas of San Sebastián street and of the visitors of San Juan.

Papa Jac is the first cocktail made in a bar of Puerto Rico, to be bottled and manufactured for the enjoyment of the local public. Today, Papa Jac, in its original flavor and new sangria flavor, is ready to move the spirit of San Juan to the rest of the Island, through its distribution agreement with V. Suárez & Co.


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Tasting Puerto Rico — Your Site Title

  • If you want a unique, festive and VIP experience we can offer you our “Tasting Puerto Rico Tour”
  • On this tour we will fly over the areas of San Juan, then we will take you to 1 of 6 restaurants or attractions to select, with up to 2 hours waiting on land with no extra cost.

Puerto Rico Rum Tours Puerto Rico Rum Tasting Tours 2020

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  • What is the best Puerto Rican rum to try? Don Q is said to be the best rum in Puerto Rico according to locals, while Bacardi is the most famous and is recognized around the world.

Travel Guide to Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco – Official

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THE BEST Puerto Rico Wine Tours & Tastings (with Photos

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Puerto Rico Rum Distilleries and Tours

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Casa BACARDÍ Puerto Rico Puerto Rico Attractions Rum

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Visit Casa Bacardi one of Puerto Rico top attractions, discover BACARDÍ's history through a guided tour, become a rum maestro with the Rum Tasting Tour, or master …

Specialty Coffee Brands to Taste in Puerto Rico Discover

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Arroz Mamposteao Recipe Tasting Puerto Rico Boricua

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  • Feb 12, 2015 - There are several staple rice dishes here in Puerto Rico and one that is popular in our house is Arroz Mamposteao which is basically a combination of bean stew with cooked rice
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Piccadilly Music Pub (Puerto Rico)

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1st Time trying Puerto Rican Food Mukbang at Sofrito's

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Wine Tasting in Paradise Paradise Ridge Winery

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Ron del Barrilito – Bayamón, Puerto Rico

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A Brief Introduction to Pitorro, Puerto Rico’s Moonshine

Many countries have their own versions of the spirit, however, and Puerto Rico’s is “pitorro.” The production of pitorro dates back centuries to when the sugar …

Pitorro Local Spirit From Puerto Rico, United States of

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  • Often dubbed as the Puerto Rican moonshine, pitorro is a traditional drink that is distilled from sugarcane or molasses
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  • It’s illegal to make pitorro in Puerto Rico, and enforcement of at-home distilling spikes in December
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  • Up in the mountains of Puerto Rico, moonshiners would bury handles of 95-proof pitorro, pure or mixed with fruit, to “cure” underground until they were smooth enough to drink
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  • The bottles brought out in late 2013 read “Shine” instead of “Rum.” Suddenly, PMD wasn’t one among many craft rums, but the only pitorro in the U.S
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  • Don Q is a Puerto Rican rum, distilled, manufactured, bottled, and distributed by Destilería Serrallés from its corporate facility in Ponce, Puerto Rico
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Welcome To Don Q Rum » Home

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  • You do not eat Pitorro… you drink it! From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Pitorro is a distilled spirit from Puerto Rico, referred to as "moonshine rum." Pitorro is usually much stronger than commercial rum
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  • Jun 23, 2017 - O.k., it is part of the Puerto Rican culture and other names given to this moonshine rum are Pitrinche, Canita, Lagrimas de Mangle, and Curao
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Puerto Rican Moonshine Tasting 2021

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Do you like your rum drinks strong and your distillery experiences a little off the beaten path? PitoRico manufactures a modern take on pitorro, the Puerto Rican equivalent of moonshine, at Destilería Cruz in the town of Jayuya, about two hours from San Juan in the very center of the island.Stop in for a brief tour and a tasting of PitoRico’s fruit-infused blends – coconut, passion fruit

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  • Puerto Rico Distillery (PRD) specializes in high-quality artisanal Puerto Rican diaspora rum
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Unfortunately, I’ve never heard the sound file the Penargilon Kangaroo is named for. It is the name of a sound effect used in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy tv show. Moxxi’s verison of the drink gives you a bonus to your weapon swap speed, fire rate and reload speed, so our version uses alcohol and caffeine. Tattoo is a citrusy tasting Puerto Rico spiced rum made by Captain Morgan. This drink will not taste the same with other rums. If made properly, this drink should taste sort of like a sweedish fish.

  • Fill a 12 oz glass with ice
  • Add 3 oz Tattoo rum
  • Fill with Mountain Dew (approx 6 oz)
  • Stir
  • Garnish with an orange, if desired

Best for Eggnog: The Real McCoy 5 Year Rum

The name of this bottle is a node to Captain Bill McCoy, one of the most infamous rum runners of the Prohibition era. He was regarded as having the best rum around, which drinkers began dubbing “The Real McCoy.”

While alcohol is legal now, today’s bottles (made in partnership with Foursquare rum distillery) are still top-quality with round flavors of butterscotch, caramel, baking spice, and honey wood. The 5 Year is made from a blend of pot- and column-still rums aged in ex-bourbon casks for five years. All rums are sourced from a veteran, fifth-generation distiller in Barbados. Sip it neat, on the rocks, or let it shine in a rum old-fashioned or seasonal eggnog.


Day 1: Old San Juan Food Tour and Bar Hop

One of the best ways to get a crash course on Puerto Rican cuisine and explore Old San Juan at the same time is to take a food tour. A local guide takes you on a walk around the old city, stopping at different coffee shops, restaurants, and stores to sample local dishes while also visiting key landmarks and covering the history and culture around them. Tour companies, including Flavors of San Juan, Spoon, and Get Shopped, offer morning and afternoon tours as well as evening cocktail tours. Be sure to ask the tour guide for recommendations of where to go after, they usually have great tips!

If you're still hungry, enjoy dinner at one of Old San Juan's gorgeous restaurants, offering both wonderful food and great ambiance. Princesa Gastrobar on Paseo de la Princesa is great for large groups. Bari Handcrafted Pizza's dining room is a picturesque courtyard where they serve Argentinean-style pizzas as well as mofongo and other Puerto Rican dishes. For live jazz and fine dining, reserve a table at Carli's Fine Bistro and Piano.

After dinner, explore Old San Juan's bar scene. Local favorites include La Factoría (once again voted one of the top 50 bars in the world), La Cubanita, The Mezzanine and Al Fresco Wine Bar (occupying the second and third stories of the same building), La Taberna Lúpulo which offers the largest selection of craft beer in the Caribbean (including several local microbrews), or go bar hopping along Calle San Sebastián where you'll find many interesting dive bars with great deals and even better music.


The Best Sipping Rums from Around the World

We took a rum tasting tour with Kenneth McCoy, owner of The Rum House and Ward III in NYC.

Life is hard for lovers of rum. Nine times out of ten, all they can expect to find at the local watering hole is Bacardi, Captain Morgan and Malibu, while their whiskey-swilling compadres can count on a wide selection of bourbons, ryes, single malts and so on, whether the walls of said watering hole are lined with flat screens or &ldquoreclaimed wood&rdquo. Is there no place for connoisseurs of whiskey&rsquos older sibling? Whither dwell the single-estate rums? The agricoles? The demeraras? The soleras? The black straps?

The answer, it turns out, is just beside the blinding billboards of Times Square. Down the street from the heart of the neon mess is The Rum House, an innocuous little rum and cocktail bar connected to the lobby of the Edison hotel. Owned by Kenneth McCoy (who also owns Ward III in downtown Manhattan), the bar renews the Prohibition-era rum cocktail while offering an extensive tasting menu for the appreciation of aged and rare rums on their own merits.

Naturally we jumped at the chance to take a globe-trotting tour of rums with the expert by way of an extended tasting session. With a notebook and a pen between us, we jotted down our tasting notes as we ventured, bottle by bottle, from Brooklyn to Barbados, then hopped along from Antigua to Cuba we ventured to Scotland by way of Guyana, and had a brief stay in Mauritius. Those of you still sipping Bacardi (like it&rsquos your birthday) ought to disembark from the cruise ship there&rsquos a lot to see &mdash and taste.

Europe

Bruichladdich Renegade Rum

From Scotland (by way of Guyana): Bruichladdich&rsquos Master Distiller Jim McEwan struck a tricky balance with this bottle, a rum distilled in the agricole style &mdash that is, from sugar cane juice rather than molasses &mdash and aged in French oak barrels on the Scottish isle of Islay. The intuitive combination of pot still distillation (later supplanted by column distillation, this was the method by which rum was originally produced) and agricole style (through which the terroir of the cane bears significant influence over the final product) suggests a coming rum renaissance &mdash a return to, and a refinement of, the foundational method of rum distillation, through which all of the spirit&rsquos varied forms can finally be recognized. This is both cause for celebration amongst rum lovers, and an interesting avenue for fans of single malts.

Tasting Notes: The nose exudes earth and grass, lightly underlined by more typical notes of ripe and fecund fruit. But the taste is anything but typical: the first blush is an overwhelming gust of sea air, salt, brine and kelp, undoubtedly drawn into the barrel from the winds of Islay. A surprisingly light finish reminds you that this is an agricole-style rum, as does a slow-blooming layer of caramel and prune, uniting the spirit&rsquos homeland with its adopted guardians.

Black Tot Last Consignment British Rum

From Britain (by way of the greater Caribbean): From 1655 to 1970, sailors in the British Royal Navy received a ration of rum. Known as &ldquotot&rdquo, the black strap rum was born of the sparest of distillation methods &mdash meaning the liquid was every bit as pernicious in taste as the day it was invented. The Black Tot line is as rare as rums come &mdash it&rsquos the very last reserve of that consignment rum (the rum ration was cut in 1970). Bottles go for near $1,000, and they&rsquoll surely creep over that horizon as those bottles vanish.

Tasting Notes: Everything you&rsquod expect from the high seas &mdash an extremely hot and peppery rum, abrasively at first, that coats the tongue with deeply bitter molasses and a prevailing sense of burnt leather that grows more distinct with each sip. Once that initial sting softens, dried prunes and apricots settle in, at odds with a bitterness not unlike Malta. Is that lime in the finish, or just the ghostly memory of a mug of grogg?

Samaroli Demerara 1988

From Scotland (by way of Guyana): A legendary Italian whisky bottler, Silvano Samaroli is one of the forerunners of the deindustrialization of Scotch, championing small batches and world-traveling barrel aging. Having &ldquoreached a limit&rdquo for whiskies, Samaroli turned his attention to rum, focusing largely on demerara styles (made from sugar cane grown in Guyana). Each rum is aged in a single cask in Scotland starting from the year on the bottle &mdash 1988 in this case. Scotland&rsquos lighter climate slows down the aging process, which occurs much more quickly in the Caribbean, for a distinct profile all its own.

Tasting Notes: The demerara style distinguishes itself in an immediately more watery mouthfeel, in contrast with the often silky, syrupy texture of other rums. This makes the rummy dark fruit flavors more contained and less intense, though no less expressive: figs and honey play on the entire tongue rather than just the rear of it, colored just slightly by allspice &mdash and an impressive, barely there hint of bitter mamey. Leather and cinnamon assert themselves in a pronounced-yet-refined finish.

Samaroli Caribbean 2003

From Scotland (by way of Cuba): Samaroli&rsquos other sought-after bottle of rum goes by the name &ldquoCaribbean&rdquo only in the US. Elsewhere? It&rsquos called &ldquoCuba.&rdquo Same bottle &mdash same label, even, save for the one word. But what&rsquos in a name? As with the Demerara, the rum was distilled in the country noted by the title &mdash so we&rsquoll say &ldquothe Caribbean&rdquo, for Signori Samaroli&rsquos sake &mdash and aged for 7 years in casks in Scotland.

Tasting Note: Not unlike the Samaroli Demerara, the Caribbean is lighter, with a less overpowering mouthfeel than most, with a pleasing and paradoxically light earthiness balancing out sweet, subtle notes of banana and vanilla. All this, and just a touch of spice.

North America

Privateer Amber Rum

From Ipswich, MA: But if you&rsquod prefer to keep it in the homeland, look no further than Privateer International. Based just outside of Boston in Ipswich, Massachusetts, Privateer seeks to restore and renew Colonial rum aesthetics. The &ldquoTrue American&rdquo aged rum is made from grade A American molasses and boiled brown sugar, double distilled, aged in French, American and Hungarian oak barrels and finished in Bourbon, brandy and sherry casks. Learn more about their methods here.

Tasting Notes: This is the rum for reluctant converts, its first sip bearing oaky, leathery notes more common to single malts. Gradually the molasses comes forward, the leather and oak slowly relegating to the finish rather than the fore. Then, caramel, cola and hazelnut join in, easing the drinker from refined simplicity to the versatility and variety of flavor that makes rum special.

Owney&rsquos NYC Rum

From Brooklyn, NY: Distilled from grade A, non-GMO molasses in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Owney&rsquos Rum harkens back to the prohibition era, when rum distillation was not uncommon in New York City. The Noble Experiment NYC, founded by Bridgit Firtle, is currently the only rum distillery in Brooklyn. (We&rsquoll see how long they can say that.)

Tasting Notes: A fine argument for the simplicity of clear, un-aged rum, this will put your memories of Bacardi Silver far behind you. More pleasant memories of carnival popcorn and fresh vanilla ice cream play on the nose like a blissful summer. What you see &mdash or smell &mdash is what you get: lightly buttered popcorn and vanilla, nary a hint of paint-thinner harshness to be found. Dangerously easy to sip.

The Caribbean

Havana Club Añejo

From Cuba: Let&rsquos get back to that earlier question: what&rsquos in a name? The Havana Club brand is a gold standard for rum everywhere in the world &mdash so much so that Bacardi has been trying to poach the name &mdash except for the US. The distillery was founded in 1878, received its iconic name and logo in 1934, and in 1960 was nationalized by the newly minted Castro administration, who made the rum a hot commodity among the Soviets. So naturally, this is forbidden fruit &mdash one that you can find with ease and attain for reasonably cheap at any duty-free store outside of the US (provided it&rsquos all right between you and your god). For McCoy&rsquos sake, we note that the Rum House does not offer tastings of this bottle. As diplomacy runs its course, time will tell whether that remains the case. (It probably won&rsquot &mdash what with Paris Hilton partying with the Castros and all that.)

Tasting Notes: Right on the nose is that elusive, forbidden scent, the one that beckons cigar-lovers to the Caribbean like cartoon characters gliding toward a fresh pie: Cuban tobacco. Once you&rsquove been lured into that first sip, it&rsquos clear that Havana Club is everything it&rsquos said to be. There&rsquos salted caramel, somehow stripped of any sweetness orange peels and cereal steeped in spiced amber and then there&rsquos that tobacco, overhanging like a cloud without obscuring everything underneath. The finish, light in texture but rich in flavor: bergamot, ripe plantains and a chocolate syrup that&rsquos mostly cacao. It&rsquos otherworldly on every level.

Ron del Barrilito

From Puerto Rico: Edmundo Fernandez&rsquos Ron del Barrilito (or &ldquorum from the little barrel&rdquo) is a secret treasure among rum drinkers &mdash and in Puerto Rico, where older citizens consider Bacardi an &ldquoimport&rdquo, it&rsquos the true gold standard for rum. Fernandez buys up a quantity of Bacardi&rsquos raw rums straight after it&rsquos distilled, and blends them in a large wooden vat according to his grandfather&rsquos closely guarded recipe &mdash whereas most rum makers blend rums after they&rsquore aged. The blended spirit is aged in charred sherry wine barrels the &ldquotwo-star&rdquo bottle is aged for three years, while the more sought-after &ldquothree-star&rdquo bottle is aged anywhere between six and ten years. At last report, the rum maker produces around 12,000 cases of the spirit annually &mdash that, along with its remarkably low price for such a fine spirit, makes it a tough find throughout most of the year. So it&rsquos wise to snatch it up as soon as you see it.

Tasting Notes: Initially, the nose presents an inviting bouquet of oranges and papaya, with just a trace of banana. But shortly you&rsquoll note more austere notes looming just out of reach: pungent molasses and a distinct smokiness. The latter of the pair will sneak up on the unsuspecting drinker, a mouthful of toasted oak, smokiness masking the fruit that was promised so deceptively and razing the throat on its way down. But the sweeter notes return when you breathe, as though salving the burn, and gradually the two merge and compromise: the fruit matures into orange zest and licorice the smoke mellows into a pleasantly strong tobacco with just a hint of leather and that wildfire finish gives way to a firm but good-natured cinnamon kick.

South Bay Rum

From the Dominican Republic: South Bay is a newcomer to the contemporary rum market, though their master distillers aren&rsquot &mdash they&rsquore Cuban distillers who migrated to the Dominican Republic. (If you&rsquove ever had tobacco grown in the DR from Cuban seeds, you get the idea.) South Bay Rum is solera blended and aged in Bourbon, sherry, port, wine and single malt barrels. South Bay doesn&rsquot specify an age, so it&rsquos likely a young spirit. But this makes it a fine, gentle sipper for beginners and a quality mixer.

Tasting Notes: South Bay is about as sweet as people expect rum to be, which is characteristic of a younger rum. But its slight immaturity is also its boon the rum&rsquos lightness makes for something of a solera 101 bottle, highlighting the qualities of each barrel. The nose is unthreatening, with just vanilla and caramel on display each subsequent sip reveals butterscotch, black cherries and cola, with a finish that calls to mind vanilla and ginger.

English Harbour 5 Year

From Antigua: You wanna talk &ldquosmall batch&rdquo &mdash how about a distillery from Antigua? Unlike Barbados, which still plays host to a plethora of distilleries and sugar cane plantations, Antigua has just the one: Antigua Distillery Ltd., founded through a mass merger of rum shops in the early 20th century. Of their English Harbour rum series &mdash each bottle of which is classified single estate, matured from 220-liter charred oak barrels over various time periods &mdash the 5 Year stands out as a balanced and accessible entry.

Tasting Notes: Antiguan rum distinguishes itself with a uniquely light mouthfeel and flavor profile, and the English Harbour 5 Year is no different. Aromatic spice on the nose belies the dryness of the spirit apple and cinnamon present themselves, but the primary player here is the oak, which stands on the tongue rather than coating the mouth, as is common. This dissolves into spices and cinnamon as it develops, all wrapped in a smoky finish.

Plantation XO

From Barbados: Plantation is one of the premier Barbadian rum companies you could say they epitomize the form, with smart, balanced blends that never mask and muddle natural flavors, instead highlighting the most unique ones. The XO honors Plantation&rsquos 20th anniversary with a blend of the distillery&rsquos oldest reserves, aged a second time for 12 to 18 months in French oak casks.

Tasting Notes: A pleasant bouquet of figs and caramel gives a straightforward hint towards what&rsquos in store: In typical fashion for a Barbadian rum (think Mount Gay), dark and pleasant flavors play within a creamy mouthfeel that sits nice and cozy in the rear palate &mdash highly characteristic of double barrel finishing. Those fig and caramel notes dissolve into candied citrus and vanilla, which a sherry-smooth finish envelopes in coconut and oak.

The Real McCoy 5 Year

From Barbados: If it&rsquos not pirates and privateers, it&rsquos rum-runners and gangsters. The Real McCoy takes its name from one such fella. &ldquoThe Real McCoy&rdquo is what Prohibition-era drinkers called rum distilled by Bill McCoy, which was revered for lacking additives like turpentine or prune juice. Similarly, this rum, distilled at Foursquare Distillery in Barbados, is praised for foregoing additives that lesser distilleries rely on (caramel, sugar, etc.). Their rum comes in three age statements &mdash 3, 5 and 12 &mdash and is single distilled in a combination of pot and column stills, then aged in heavily charred American oak barrels. (You&rsquoll want to go for broke and shoot for the 12 Year &mdash but the 5 Year is a good compromise for the budget-minded.)

Tasting Notes: This rum is the flipside to Plantation&rsquos blended offering, heavier and darker in a typical prohibition style, with notes of candied (but not overly sweet) molasses offset by brighter fruits and florality both on the nose and in the mouth. It&rsquos thick and rich, with a spicy finish that readies the palate for the next sip.

The Far East

The Other Side of the Equator

Pink Pigeon Spiced Rum

From Mauritius: Based upon the isle of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, the Medine Distillery names this bottle for the endangered pink pigeon of its homeland. It looks like it would be perfectly at home in a Victoria&rsquos Secret gift bag, but the spirit inside is not quite so tacky. It&rsquos a quadruple-distilled single-estate rum, meaning its molasses came from sugar cane grown on a single estate, and infused with hand-picked, wood-matured Bourbon vanilla (ie, vanilla grown on an island in the Indian Ocean) for six months.

Tasting Notes: It&rsquos an unabashedly sweet spirit &mdash one that could easily replace your go-to dessert wine or port. Uncorking the bottle releases the most distinct scent of vanilla you&rsquoll ever come across in a rum. The flavor of vanilla bean is well represented alongside ripe banana in a densely creamy, port-like mouthfeel, flowing freely and easily into a white chocolatey finish. A buttery cream soda coats the throat, foreshadowing more astringent cola and seltzer notes that cut the sweetness in subsequent sips. Note this bottle for next year if your Valentine&rsquos Day was missing something.


Watch the video: ΔΟΚΙΜΑΖΩ ΠΕΡΙΕΡΓΑ ΓΕΡΜΑΝΙΚΑ ΤΡΟΦΙΜΑ + ΤΙΣ ΠΙΟ ΞΙΝΕΣ ΤΣΙΧΛΕΣ ΤΟΥ ΚΟΣΜΟΥ l Tsede The Real (January 2022).