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Best Aged Rum

The Fifty Best Aged Rum Tasting

 

The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a "blind" tasting of 20 aged rums with eighteen members of our spirits judging panel. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Each of the aged rums were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at slightly above room temperature. Only ice water, neutral unsalted crackers and chips were available to cleanse the palate.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the highest. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver are awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no Bronze medals awarded for this tasting.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated. The country/state of origin and ABV are identified for each rum.



DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Rumson's Grand Reserve Rum
(Trinidad) 80 prf
Custom blend of fine barrel aged Caribbean rums.

Nose: Toffee, pralines, peanut brittle, maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, cane sugar, chocolate-covered cherries, cherry vanilla, bold vanilla, honey, orgeat syrup, cola, marzipan, banana, guava, figs, dates, tamarind root, orange rind, honeysuckle, elderflower, almond, nuts, clove, baking spice, spicy oak, toast.

Palate: Caramel, molasses, maple syrup, chocolate, vanilla, cream, nutty candy, marzipan, honey, bananas foster, fig, date, peach, pear, cherries, orange, diced fruit, dried fruit, preserved plums, almond, licorice, jasmine, cinnamon, clove, leather, oak, elegant.

Finish: Butterscotch, caramel, sweet caramel, custard, burnt sugar, maple syrup, fig, date, peach, bitter orange, elderflower, almond, spearmint, light menthol, cinnamon, oak, sauternes barrel, lingering complex flavors, interesting.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

 



Rumson's Grand Reserve Rum




Smugglers’ Notch Single Barrel Rum
(Smugglers’ Notch Distillery, VT) 80 prf
Distilled from molasses. Aged 3 yrs in charred oak
and up to 2 yrs in bourbon barrels.

Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, molasses, buttery, vanilla milkshake, vanilla, honey, banana bread, fig, pineapple, coconut, papaya, light melon, eucalyptus, walnut, biscuit, used single malt casks, oak.

Palate: Caramel, butterscotch, maple syrup, chocolate, cocoa, coconut crème, creamy, buttery, vanilla, candied peanuts, biscuit, oatmeal cookie, marzipan, almond milk, almond, orange blossom honey, papaya, dried pineapple, nutmeg, woody, cedar, oak, smooth, balanced.

Finish: Caramel, butterscotch, custard, vanilla, cornflakes, maple, honey, candied lemon, dried pineapple, almond, anise, baking spice, spicy, pepper, woody, well-balanced, smooth, chewy, beautiful.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal

 



Smugglers’ Notch Single Barrel Rum




GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Motörhead Premium Dark Rum
(Dominican Republic/Sweden) 80 prf
A selection of barrel-aged Caribbean reserve rum,
Solera system bourbon barrel.

Nose: Caramel, extra dark caramel, toffee, dark molasses, burnt sugar, vanilla, buttery, maple, honey, caramelized orange peel, raisin, dried figs, ripe plantain, orange, cherry, black walnut, cocoa, rice, tobacco leaves, smoke, woody.

Palate: Chocolate, molasses, caramelized brown sugar, burnt sugar, maple syrup, honey, apricot, plum, prune, dried fruit, orange peel, black walnuts, herbal, mint, mild cinnamon, spice, oak.

Finish: Caramel, caramelized sugar, sugar cane, molasses, dried dates, orange peel, cinnamon, spice, coffee notes, tobacco leaves, soft tannins, smooth, great neat, for a cold winter night, elegant, yummy.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal

 



Motörhead Premium Dark Rum




Pusser's Rum Aged 15 Years
(Guyana) 80 prf
Historic double wooden pot stills. Aged in charred oak barrels.

Nose: Buttered caramel, dark caramel, burnt sugar, Coca-Cola, custard, creamy, vanilla, pineapple, ripe banana, mango, overripe peach, tangerine, plantain, popcorn, walnut, clove, anise, dill, grassy, herbaceous, green olives, saline, funk, earthy wood, oak, charred oak, agricole.

Palate: Dark toffee, burnt sugar, molasses, chocolate, caramel syrup, orgeat syrup, nougat, marzipan, café au lait, cola, vanilla, honey, banana, cherry, blossom, herbal flavor bomb, ginger beer, grassy, sage, almond, nutty, clove, spice, toast, leather, tobacco, wood, oak, balanced oak, rich sipping experience, comparable to cognac.

Finish: Toffee, molasses, brown sugar, burnt sugar, crème brulee, buttery, vanilla, honey, pineapple, cherry, bitter orange, ginger dust, cilantro, eucalyptus, dry tea, almond, spice, peppery, wood, sherry notes, smooth, sipper, great neat, pleasant.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Pusser's Rum Aged 15 years




Wanderum Premium Cask Rum
(Nordisk Braenderi, Denmark) 84 prf

Nose: Caramel, dark brown sugar, toasted sugar, burnt sugar, caramel apple, maple syrup, vanilla, toasted vanilla, 7 Layer Bars, German chocolate cake, honey, orange, orange peel, blueberry, jasmine, spice, tobacco leaves, dried leaves, wood.

Palate: Caramel, dark molasses, brown sugar, bright sugar, vanilla, maple syrup, honey, burnt orange, tobacco leaves, cinnamon, nutmeg, salty spice, smoky, oaky, cedar.

Finish: Caramel, toffee, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, honey, raisins, ripe plantain, blood orange, cinnamon, spice, tobacco leaves, toasty, oak.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal

 



Wanderum Premium Cask Rum




1 Barrel Refined Old Rum
(Belize) 80 prf

Nose: Caramel, toasted caramel, salted caramel, sugar cane, brown sugar, molasses, intense maple syrup, dark chocolate, chocolate chip cookie dough, tres leches cake, vanilla, French vanilla, honey, dates, fresh roasted coffee, coffee beans.

Palate: Caramel, tres leches cake, pure maple syrup, chocolate, honey, ripe plantain, spearmint, pepper, coffee bean, oaky, bourbon, smooth, rich

Finish: Caramel, burnt caramel, burnt sugar, maple syrup, dark chocolate, vanilla, French toast, ripe plantain, orange peel, hot pepper, medium roast coffee bean, coffee, smooth, delicious.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal

 



1 Barrel Refined Old Rum




Bones Aged Dark Rum
(St. Thomas, V.I.) 80 prf
Aged in French & American oak barrels
for a minimum of 6 yrs.

Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, butter, toffee, fudge, chocolate milk, nougat, molasses, sugarcane, brown sugar, crème brulee, whipped cream, marzipan, maple syrup, mocha, vanilla, guava, dried apples, banana peel, almond liqueur, cola, root beer, sarsaparilla, cinnamon, baking spice.

Palate: Caramel, butterscotch, toffee, praline, molasses, sugarcane, brown sugar, burnt sugar, chocolate milk, creamy vanilla, creamy, custard, lemon, orange, orange blossom, marzipan, almond cake, almond oil almond, nutty, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, bitterroot, oak.

Finish: Toffee, chocolate, creamy, French vanilla, cola, molasses, maraschino cherries, pineapple, baked apple, citrus, ginger, mint, menthol, nutty, cinnamon, baking spice, biscuit, tobacco, bitterroot, woody, oak, Luxardo liqueur, smooth, super-yummy.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Bones Aged Dark Rum




Liberty Tree Founder’s Reserve
American Rum

(Astraluna, MA) 92 prf

Nose: Caramel, extra-dark caramel, toffee, butterscotch, molasses, sugarcane, vanilla, buttery, buttered rum, oatmeal, honey, papaya, pineapple, banana peel, apricot, banana leaves, apple, grassy, allspice, clove, black tea, tannin, oak.

Palate: Caramel, toffee, butterscotch, molasses, burnt sugar, dark sugar, praline, cream, mocha, marzipan, sweet ginger bread, cookie dough, butter, oatmeal, honey, mango, coconut, cherry, orange, diced fruit, hazelnut, almond, walnut, clove, smooth Christmas spices, hot pepper, wood, oak, charred wood, nicely sweet, rich layers.

Finish: Toffee, caramel, butterscotch, butternut bread, vanilla, molasses, mocha, guava, honeysuckle, clove, cinnamon, spicy, pepper, peppery, wood, oak, complex, great sipper, breakfast in a glass.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Liberty Tree Founder’s Reserve American Rum




Neptune Barbados Gold Rum
(Neptune Rum, Ltd., Barbados) 82 prf
Blend of 3,5 & 8 year aged rum.

Nose: Toffee, Werther’s Original, brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, vanilla, burnt orange, Juicy Fruit gum, guava, ripe orange, roasted pineapple, caramelized banana, plantain, banana leaf, herbaceous, cinnamon, brown spices, mocha, tannin, wood, dark wood, mahogany, oak.

Palate: Caramel, treacle, molasses, maple syrup, chocolate, vanilla, tropical fruit, dried fruit, clover honey, banana leaf, Frangelico, hazelnut, coffee, root beer, sweet spice, cinnamon, cedar, oaky, chewy, bourbon-like, classic Caribbean style.

Finish: Caramel, dark chocolate, dark molasses, ripe banana, orange, raisin, coffee, cinnamon, peat, oak, smoky, smooth, great neat, for fireside sipping, perfect.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Neptune Barbados Gold Rum




Pusser's Rum Gunpowder Proof
(Guyana) 109 prf
Original Admiralty Strength.

Nose: Caramel, molasses, burnt sugar, chocolate, nougat, buttery, vanilla, banana, pineapple, orange, raisins, dates, cola, coffee, tobacco, leather ball glove aged oak, cedar, balsamic, sherry, agricole.

Palate: Chocolate, cocoa, molasses, dark sugar, burnt sugar, cola, vanilla, marzipan, honey, tropical fruit, pineapple, concentrated raisins, rich mint, anise, tea leaves, hay, coffee, nutty, almond skin, caramelized olives, spicy, leather, earthy, woody, oaky, cognac-like.

Finish: Caramel, burnt caramel, dark molasses, cola, creamy, clotted cream, honey, pineapple, guava, papaya, dates, fig, sage, tarragon, spicy, pepper, earthy, char, woody, oak, sweet sherry, well-integrated.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Pusser's Rum Gunpowder Proof




El Ron Prohibido 15 Year Gran Reserva
(Mexico) 80 prf

Nose: Caramel, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, molasses, dark sweet sugar, demerara sugar, maple sugar, burnt sugar, crème brulee, buttery, creamy, vanilla, Coca-Cola, orange, black olive, nuts, wood, cedar, oak, sherry.

Palate: Caramel, caramel syrup, milk chocolate, chocolate milkshake, cocoa, molasses, burnt sugar, liquid cane sugar, creamy, vanilla, cola, clover honey, orange peel, dried date stem, violets, anise, licorice, nutty, bitterroot, woody, Amontillado sherry, balanced, elegant.

Finish: Chocolate milkshake, dark chocolate, molasses, smooth cane sugar, burnt sugar, crème brulee, creamy, vanilla, honey, bergamot, bitterroot, hazelnut, woody, oak, well-balanced, perfect.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



El Ron Prohibido 15 Year Gran Reserva




Ron Cihuatán Nahual Legacy Blend
Limited Edition

(El Salvador) 95 prf

Nose: Caramel, toffee, burnt sugar, molasses, maple, maple syrup, milk chocolate, mocha, nougat, vanilla, maple oatmeal, coconut, banana, apricot, orange zest, almond, hazelnut, walnut, buttered rum.

Palate: Caramel, burnt sugar, brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, chocolate, mocha, creamy, vanilla, orange blossom honey, candy corn, very ripe banana, orange Creamsicle, dates, black walnut, almond, nutty, toast, leather, smoky, oak, toasted oak, cedar.

Finish: Caramel, molasses, maple, baked brown sugar, vanilla, marzipan, dried dates, orange, mild cinnamon, spices, anise, peppery, peat, leather.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Ron Cihuatán Nahual Legacy Blend Limited Edition




Liberty Tree Boston Rum
(Astraluna, MA) 86 prf

Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, fudge, praline, sweet cane, clotted cream, vanilla, honey, apricot, banana, pineapple, coconut, papaya, dates, almond, wood, bourbon.

Palate: Caramel, butterscotch, crème brulee, burnt sugar, sugarcane, fudge, vanilla, creamy, whipped cream, honey, tropical fruit, dried figs, raisins, dried fruit, lime, citrus, orange peel, ginger, anise, licorice, almonds, nutty, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, white pepper, musty, woody, oak, smooth, great for sipping.

Finish: Caramel, butterscotch, dark chocolate, molasses, burnt sugar, sugarcane, vanilla, honey, coconut, apple, orange, dry orange peel, grassy, nutmeg, cinnamon, spice, white pepper, pepper, tobacco, wheat, oak, silky, smooth.


Gold Medal
   Gold medal



Liberty Tree Boston Rum




SILVER MEDAL WINNERS

Atlántico Ron Reserva
(Dominican Republic) 80 prf
Distilled from fresh cane juice and molasses.
Aged in American whiskey barrels.

Nose: Caramel, butterscotch, toffee, rum balls, malted chocolate, butter, cream, vanilla, maple syrup, honey, papaya, guava, dates, herbal, anise, almonds, oregano, cloves, spices, light cedar, oak.

Palate: Butterscotch, caramel, toffee, molasses, burnt sugar, clotted cream, milk shake, vanilla, vanilla frosting, vanilla cream, honey, papaya, pineapple, banana, tropical fruit, apricot, spearmint, peppermint, grassy, anise, licorice, pepper, clove, oak, soft, smooth.

Finish: Caramel, creamy, praline, toffee, molasses, burnt sugar, powdered sugar, milk chocolate, honey, coconut, orange, orange blossom, nutty, nutmeg, clove, baking spice, spicy, oak, well-balanced, velvety, soft, smooth, tasty.


Silver Medal
   Silver medal



Atlántico Ron Reserva




Atlántico Ron Gran Reserva
(Dominican Republic) 80 prf
Distilled from fresh cane juice and molasses.
Aged in American whiskey barrels.


Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, praline, molasses, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, creamy, pancake batter, buttered rum, cola, honey, Bazooka Joe bubblegum, sweet cherries, guava, pear, light banana, dried fruit, citrus, orange blossom, tea leaves, pecan, nutty, peppery, oak.

Palate: Caramel, caramel cream, dark molasses, burnt sugar, maple syrup, crème brulee, cream, light vanilla, sugar cookie, marzipan, honey, orange, sweet orange, banana, peach, warm cherries, honeydew melon, dried apricot, dried fruit, pecan, almond, nutty, minty, cinnamon, peppery, creamy smooth, solid.

Finish: Caramel, toffee, dark molasses, brown sugar, vanilla, whipped cream, Nilla wafers, banana milkshake, pineapple, orange, ginger beer, sarsaparilla soda, floral, pecan, cinnamon, bitterroot, oak, elegant subtle wood finish, buttery, creamy, soft, lively, pretty.


Silver Medal
   Silver medal



Atlántico Ron Gran Reserva




Sebago Lake Portland Barrel Rested Rum
(Sebago Lake Distillery, ME) 86 prf
Distilled from American sugar cane molasses
and Blue Ridge Mountain water.

Nose: Caramel, sugarcane, sweet brown sugar, creamy, vanilla, honey, figs, guava, sweet potato, dried apricot, citrus, ginger, honeysuckle, jasmine, rose, chamomile, mint, grass, tarragon, spice, peppery, tobacco, buttered popcorn, wood, oak.

Palate: Crème brulee, cookie dough, creamy, vanilla, cream soda, chocolate, sugarcane, guava, mango, dried fruits, buttered bread, cereal, buttered popcorn, olives, grassy, green leaves, herbal, mint, hazelnut, creamy cinnamon, tarragon, light spice, white peppercorn, cedar, well balanced, velvety, soft, extremely smooth, a good mixer, perfect for sipping.

Finish: Molasses, burnt sugar, marzipan, honey, fresh fruit, zesty orange, herbal, almond, nutmeg, clove, spices, peppery, tobacco, extracted wood, woody, oak, cedar, whiskey-like.


Silver Medal
   Silver medal



Sebago Lake Portland Barrel Rested Rum




Travellers 5 Year Old Aged Rum
(Belize) 70.2 prf

Nose: Caramel, toffee, salted toffee, buttery, butterscotch, molasses, cane sugar, marzipan, raisin, orange zest, vanilla, pastry, blue cheese, toast, coffee, vegetal, pepper, seawater.

Palate: Caramel, Skor bar, toffee, blackstrap molasses, dark molasses, brown sugar, maple, chocolate. cocoa, nutty, Kahlua, coffee, Bailey’s, milky, vanilla, honey, tea, orange zest, roasted tobacco leaves, oak, pine, bourbon-like, nicely balanced.

Finish: Caramel, vanilla, chocolate, sweet Turkish coffee, mocha, pumpkin seeds, mint, oaky, cedar, soft, beautifully smooth.


Silver Medal
   Silver medal



Travellers 5 Year Old Aged Rum




El Ron Prohibido Solera 12 Year Reserva
(Mexico) 80 prf

Nose: Caramel, caramel candy, toffee, Snickers bar, burnt sugar, molasses, demerara sugar, nougat, vanilla, vanilla cake, buttercream, crème brulee, cherry vanilla, raisins, dried fruit, plum, plum wine, clove, nutmeg, weed, leather, toasty barrel, dark wood, oak, deep cedar, sherry.

Palate: Caramel, burnt caramel, toffee, dark molasses, dark sugar, burnt sugar, Coca-Cola, vanilla, honey, overripe banana, roasted figs, raisins, apricot, peach pit, orange, citrus, plum, plum wine, flowery, herbal, bitterroot, hot pepper, red wine, balanced, rich, creamy, smooth.

Finish: Molasses, dark molasses, burnt sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, crème brulee, honey, banana, pineapple, plum, rose, jasmine, wintergreen, grassy, vegetable, nutmeg, spice, pepper, oak.


Silver Medal
   Silver medal



El Ron Prohibido Solera 12 Year Reserva




Hazel 63 Rum
(H&H Distillery, NC) 80 prf
Distilled from sugar cane molasses and North Carolina mountain spring water. Finished in new French & American oak barrels.

Nose: Caramel, sugarcane, light brown sugar, buttery vanilla, candied ginger, shredded coconut, banana, guava, passionfruit, pineapple, mango, fig, apricot, peach, lemon, peppermint, eucalyptus, sandalwood, thyme, leather, oak, agricole.

Palate: Caramel, molasses, creamy. vanilla, bananas Foster, dates, dried fruit, banana, apricot, pear, red apple, orange, melon, minty, walnut, dry cut hay, sage, nutmeg, allspice, pepper, peppery, funky, tannic, smoky. charred oak, woody, aged reposado notes, tasty.

Finish: Molasses, vanilla, hint of cream, fig, orange, dry violets, grassy, nutty, nutmeg, cinnamon, light spice, sandalwood, leather, hints of smoke, woody, dry oak, well-balanced, smooth.


Silver Medal
   Silver medal



Hazel 63 Rum




Rumson's Rum
(Trinidad) 80 prf
Custom blend of barrel aged Caribbean rums.

Nose: Sugarcane, cane sugar, brown sugar, molasses, honey, vanilla, marzipan, light sarsaparilla, mango, coconut, pineapple, dried pineapple, dried figs, musty figs, orange syrup.

Palate: Sugarcane, brown sugar, molasses, marzipan, custard, vanilla, guava, mango, mandarin orange, orange peel, fig jam, dried figs, dried fruit, almonds, mint, anise, cinnamon, spice box, pepper, tea leaves, peat, woody, oaky, sherry.

Finish: Vanilla, burnt sugar, dates, fig jam, dried figs, dried fruit, lemon candy, lemon peel, herbal, pepper, cinnamon, clove, leather, tobacco, musty, smoky, char, cedar, oak, nice finish.


Silver Medal
   Silver medal



Rumson's Rum

 


 

A Brief History of Rum

 

Rum is the second largest selling spirit category in the U.S., but most people have the impression that rum should only be used in cocktails. Aged rum offers a full spectrum of flavors ranging from butterscotch and cinnamon to tropical fruits and tobacco— best enjoyed straight or on the rocks for casual sipping.

Rum is a sugar cane distilled spirit that is directly influenced by terroir, tradition and technique. Most rums are bottled directly from the still, but some are aged in charred oak barrels. Typically, these barrels were previously used to age bourbon (from the U.S.) or scotch, cognac and sherry (from Europe).

In some cases, the rum is allowed to blend and mature in another barrel for a second maturation. This rum is designated as “single barrel”. Occasionally distillers will top off their barrels with rums of the same age. Or in the case of a “solera”, with rums that is one year younger. Bottling occurs straight from the barrel. In the U.S., the age is determined by the youngest spirit in the bottle, and must be indicated by an age statement.

The distillation process, the barrels, and warm climates produce rums that are darker color and richer in flavor, mellower and more aromatic than clear rums.

The spirit of choice by pirates and princes, rum has earned its place in history:
In 1493, Columbus brought sugar cane to Hispaniola.
140 years later, in 1636 - Sugar became the chief crop of Barbados and of all the Caribbean islands.
Soon after, in 1687 - Rum is officially adopted as the daily ration for the Royal Navy.
50 years later (1740) - The Royal Navy’s dilutes rum rations with water, calling it “grog”.
At that time, Massachusetts had 63 distilleries that produced rum made from molasses. (Another reason why the British colonies in New England were very important to Britain.)

After the American Revolution, the British enforced a naval blockade to the Caribbean, restricting access to sugar plantations in the West Indies. So what did the American colonists do? They used their chief crop corn to make bourbon, marking the beginning of bourbon's popularity and the decline of distilleries in the Northeast.

Flash forward to 1980– when rum outsold vodka in the United States and outsold whiskey for the first time since the early nineteenth century.

 

 

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Please drink responsibly!

Comments or questions welcome, please e-mail to: editor@thefiftybest.com

 



 
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