Spirits Confidential with Max Solano
Make Way For Rum Part 2
Last month, we got on the topic of how amazingly well-valued rums are as a category and some of the rum history and generalities, as well, as the emergence of the sipping and luxury rum sub-category over the past decade. Well, I thought that this month I would discuss a few of these gems that would most certainly would be best enjoyed unhindered. On top of enjoying these drams on their own like you would a fine whisky or brandy, one could also perhaps pair a fine rum with foods, or, dare I say, a fine cigar? Hell, yeah!! There are so many different well-produced rums from many countries that warrant mention, but unfortunately there’s only so much room, so, my apologies in advance.
The first brand rum that I have to recognize for its delicious Spanish-style is from Peru–yes, Peru! Typically, a land reserved and known for centuries for its rich wine and brandy production. Ask any Peruvian and they will tell you that without question, Peru, not Chile, is the birthplace of Pisco. From the northern area of Santiago de Cao, Peru, lies the Cartavio rum distillery since its inception in 1929. Even though Brazil produces Cachaca, which is typically made from distilled sugarcane juice, Ron Cartavio makes its rum strictly from distilled molasses. The full line of the Cartavio rums are not just exceptionally well-made, but the value for the quality is very difficult to compete against. However, since we don’t have room to discuss each of the marks, we have to make room to speak about the Cartavio X.O. This beautifully rich and mahogany-colored sipping beauty is made from some younger column distilled-aged rums and mostly older pot-distilled rums up to 18 years old using a solera aging process reserved for their higher-end expressions. Lastly, Ron Cartavio utilizes four different types of used casks: ex-Bourbon, ex-Spanish sherry, Slovakian and French, creating a slightly sweet, silky, elegant and very complexed sipping rum. In this case, the accolades awarded to these rums speak for themselves! SRP $75.99.
Dos Maderas rum is a tale of two cultures. The history of the parent company, Bodegas Williams & Humbert goes back nearly 130 years. They participated in the creation of the Jerez-Xérès-Brandy Quality Demarcation and are now considered to be one of the world’s most prestigious wine producers. The winery was founded in 1877 by Sir Alexander Williams, a great admirer and connoisseur of sherry products, and Arthur Humbert, a specialist in international relations. Eventually, rum became part of the business. “Dos Maderas” literally translates to in Spanish as “Two Woods,” hence how this rum is produced. This company will source Caribbean rum, specifically from Barbados & Trinidad & Tobago that are traditionally aged in ex-American whiskey casks, then, after a minimum amount of required time, the barrels are shipped to Jerez, Spain, where that rum is dumped into Pedro Ximenez sherry casks for another minimum length of time before being bottled. The Dos Maderas Luxus, in particular, tasks its Caribbean rums to properly mature in their original casks for a minimum duration of ten years before being aged in two types of Don Guido sherry butts for another five years. The delicious and rich fig, ripe date and sultanas notes from the sherry casks really complements the deliciously semi-sweet style of the rum beautifully! SRP $159.99
Lastly, I would not be doing this category any justice if I did not include a rum from arguably the oldest operating distillery in the Western world: Mount Gay. Located and founded in Barbados in 1703, the namesake was adapted by the company in the turn of the 19th century after one its managing partners, Sir John Gay Alleyne. Mount Gay Rum is made from molasses and water that has been filtered through natural coral. This mix is fermented using an exclusively selected yeast and then distilled in both copper pot stills and column stills, before being aged in ex-American whiskey barrels. One of the most unique and complexed rums I have come across in recent years is the Mount Gay XO peated cask finish. Mind you, I am a whisky drinker to the core, and, in my experiences from seeing different brands incorporating a cask finish in which a peated whisky was once aged, typically resulted in unimpressive experiments. Absolutely, NOT the case, here! The first few seconds of sipping on this rum, the sweet molasses and vanilla notes come through right away, then, the peat smoke slowly starts taking over and gradually builds up and beautifully integrates onto the palate with tobacco ash and dark cacao notes. And, the finish is long and luscious! What a treat if you want to splurge and experience something unique! SRP $225.99.