Five rums to which you would never add Coca-Cola by: Warren Bobrow

October 26, 2011

Five Rums to which you would NEVER add Coca-Cola was originally published in the Daily Basics.  I wanted to include it here (with their kind permission) because it has been such an informative piece.  Just by way of the background. You can mix any of these rums.  I just say don't mix them with corn syrup cola that's all.  Legions of mixologists and bartenders would occupy my front door if I said don't mix them with anything.  Good cocktails are made with GREAT ingredients, like freshly squeezed fruit juices and interesting rum. 

I wasn't absolutely clear about that in the original piece.

There is something to be said for the ability to weave cocktail -driven memories through the liberal application of exceptionally flavorful and highly intoxicating liquors.

The rums that I enjoy the most are at the mid to high end of the equation.  These are more akin to fine spirits like Cognac or Scotch Whiskies.  Rums at this part of the scale are serious after dinner drinks, not at all like the industrially -made casual, “get out the soda” type quick “day” drinks.  Unless you want to waste your hard earned money please follow my easy to understand steps to these great rums, one sip at a time.

1.      Murray McDavid Guyana Rum.  They find used Bourbon casks that utilized for the production of Laphroig Scotch.  These twice used Bourbon and Scotch casks are then filled with hand made, pot-still Uitvlught-Port Morant Guyana Rum.  This ancient rum which was made by men long gone is allowed to rest within the charred walls of the used casks for another thirteen years or so- soaking up the salubrious flavors from the twice seasoned oak.  Then if this is not enough barrel aging, the rum is enhanced for a certain period of time in casks that formerly held Grand Cru Classe Sauternes. The secret?  Chateau D'Yquem Casks.  The aromatic nose of this spirit is pure smoke and earthy peat, fire and spice.  There is a saline bite and a chewy-bitter chocolate finish. I’ve never tasted anything like this rum; it’s elegant and quite sophisticated.  If you even try you mix it with common, sugary soda, the plank is over there.  Walk it!  Source: Scotland and Guyana.  46% alcohol.

2.    Rum Angostura 1824-further enhanced by myself with a whole organic vanilla bean. The Angostura Rum is pure lust in your snifter.  I learned years ago to add a split vanilla bean to the bottle; seal it up and forget about it for a few months. This rum takes on flavors of a spicy rum cake, dripping with more of the Angostura rum.  Then the flavors of tobacco smoke finally show themselves. This rum is anything but sweet, but the sheer power of the spirit belies the twelve years it has rested in used American Bourbon oak barrels.  The rum reveals itself with a slow burn on the back of your throat.  The savory characteristics of tropical fruits charred over an open charcoal fire burst forward on the tongue with a five minute long finish.  Utterly delicious in a snifter. I used a cube of coconut water ice to further enhance this spirit.  This is a gorgeous slurp of historic rum made in the old style.   Keep your candy soda away from this rum at all cost otherwise it’s the lash for you and a bucket of salt water! Source- Trinidad, WI.  40% alcohol

3.    Vizcaya Cuban Formula Rum, Cask 21.  The Vizcaya is a trip to old Cuba via a sailboat on a dog day. (No wind)  It’s noticeably thicker on the tongue with a carrot cake and Virginia tobacco leaf nose.  This rum finishes sweet on the palate- it is similar to the rums that are produced in Cuba, hence the name Cuban Formula. Recently a kind friend brought me some Havana Club via Canada.  The Vizcaya is a snapshot of Cuba.  I imagine that this rum is drawn from the bottom of the cask by the thickness on my tongue.  I wouldn’t add anything other than a cube of coconut water ice and maybe in a pinch a slapped piece of Kentucky Colonel Spearmint.  Vizcaya VXOP rum should be served in a snifter.  Used American Bourbon casks are used to age this rum.  I also envision this rum soaking a slice of bread pudding, with another glass on the side to wash down the rich ingredients.  Thinking about making a rum and tonic?  Does a keel haul through the fire coral heads interest you? Source: Dominican Republic 40% alcohol.

4.    Ron (Rum) Abuelo Aged Twelve Years Gran Riserva.  Sipping little mouthfuls of this rum brings to mind that specific flavor that you get from drinking a glass of the very rare and expensive, Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Whisky.  Research on the Ministry of Rum website reveals that this rum is made from estate grown sugar cane juice then aged in used Scotch Whisky and Bourbon casks for just over a decade.  It is most elegant in a snifter as an aromatic digestif after a fine meal.  Flavors of white flowers, bittersweet chocolate cake, tropical nuts and fruits reveal themselves- leading to a massive five minute finish that just goes on and on.  Thinking of mixing this rum with cola? Like heights? Get to the top of the mast in a storm! Source: Panama 40% alcohol.

5.    Brugal 1888 Gran Reserva Familiar.  Noticeably drier in nose than the other offerings in this tasting.  This rum is more akin to the flavors that reveal themselves when drinking Woodford’s Bourbon.  The finish is aromatic yet pungent with banana esters and a creamy raw cane syrup finish.  The initial nose reminds me of the Vietnamese Sugar Cane smeared with slices of barbequed shrimp.  A cognac nose gives way to a Tempranillo nose from the use of used Spanish oak casks that formerly held this powerful Spanish wine.  The initial aging takes place in used American Bourbon oak casks. The label reads Edicion Limitada which simply means limited edition.  You should never even consider adding corn syrup soda to a glass of this sophisticated liquor. If you insist on adding that soda to your rum a swim with the sharks is ahead of ye! Source: Dominican Republic 40% alcohol.


I don't say in the article to use no mixers, I just say use less mixer and more rum when savoring these five unique and wonderful rums.  Also, please ALWAYS use freshly squeezed juices.  Cheers! wb




Marnely Rodriguez's picture

Love that Brugal is on the list! Dominican Republic has some great rums!

Javier Alejandro's picture

It is very good list, but it is missing a big Cuban rum, not "formulas" or inventions allegedly similar to the original Cuban, I personally think that it is impossible to imitate, if there are no conditions and the raw enjoyed in Cuba.

For example, a Santiago de Cuba Extra Añejo 25 Years, one of the best rums in the world, and in my opinion next to the maximum of Havana Club and Edmundo Dantes Extra Añejo 25 Years, the best rum from Cuba. One could also speak of a Havana Club Gran Reserva 15 Years to complete a group of names for quality and prestige deserve to be on any list that boasts of appointing big rums.

He could not speak of quality and excellence in rum without talk of Cuba and its products, but not rum produced outside Cuba, in some cases they live of the prestige it won when they were on the island, or other alleged that use formulas or ways of doing that apparently, according to their history they were born in Cuba, but which cannot be considered in any way, examples of Cuban Light Rum. The island of Cuba is unique and inimitable when speaking of its rums, as also are the rums of Martinique, the Barbados or those in Haiti. Simple and simply Cuban Light Rum only there is one, and its capital and city badge is called Santiago de Cuba.

Warren Bobrow's picture

perhaps you've heard, Cuban rum is illegal in the United States. Oh sure, I have a bottle next to me that I brought from France, but since it's illegal, I won't be writing about them here.