Every year as the holiday season rolls around I am asked by friends and business associates what rums they should put on their wish-list or consider buying for the rum lover in their lives. I always ask:“what other spirits do they like? Do they drink cocktails? Are they new to rum and a sippable spirit or been a fan of it for years?” Usually the answers to these questions help narrow down what rums to recommend. Luckily in 2017 with some online outlets willing to ship around the globe we have never had a better rum selection available to us. So what better way to surprise the rum or spirit lover in your life than providing them with a new flavor sensation for their palates? Here are six recommendations.
First up is an annual favorite for spirit collectors: Balcones Texas Rum Special Release. The Balcones Distillers based in Waco, Texas make their rum using molasses and then age it in a variety of casks with different woods and levels of toast. During the blending process they create a complex flavor experience that rum fans enjoy sipping neat or serving up in classic cocktails like a Rum Old Fashioned. This special reserve is released once a year at 63.9% ABV and the last one recently won double gold at the 2017 New York International Spirits Competition. Available for around $78 a bottle, this limited release usually sells out fast.
2017 witnessed the release of Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend rum. This rum commemorated Joy Spence’s 20th anniversary as Master Blender of the company. The age of the rums in this blend begins at 25, with the oldest coming in at 35, creating one of the most delicate and complex flavor profiles ever to be delivered by the Appleton Estate Rum company. Blended to 45% ABV, this limited bottling is a special addition to anyone’s spirit collection. Currently available for $250, this product is worth hunting down.
Ron Dos Maderas 5+3is produced by Williams & Humbert in Spain. They are well known in the world of wine and brandy, but surprised rum lovers when they entered the market a few years ago. Recently winning gold at the 2017 New York International Spirits Competition, this product’s dynamic flavor profile has the attention of rum enthusiasts and bartenders. Using rums sourced from Guyana and Barbados, they age their rums in once used American oak casks for 5 years at its island of origin. The rum is then shipped to Spain and aged for an additional three years in Dos Cortados Palo Cortado sherry casks. It is blended to 37.5% ABV and can be enjoyed neat or with an after dinner cigar. Priced around $40, it’s available around the globe.
For those who enjoy flavor-infused rums the answer is surprisingly easy: Siesta Key Toasted Coconut. This rum is hand-crafted in small batches at Drum Circle Distilling in Sarasota, Florida. The distillery uses real toasted coconut flakes and infuses it with the rum which is blended and bottled to 35 % ABV. No artificial flavors are used during the rum’s creation, providing the imbiber with one of the purest flavored rum products on the market today (their tagline is, “A coconut rum that doesn’t taste like suntan lotion!”). Easy to sip, use in a cocktail, or even cook with, this rum is available for $21 and available across the U.S.
Ron Cihuatán Solera 12 Reserva Especial is the second rum to be released by Ignenio La Cabaña of El Savador. Using molasses from their sugar cane mill, the company distills the rum using column stills, then ages it in used American oak bourbon barrels. They use a Solera aging system with the oldest rum in the blend coming in at 12 years old. The rum is then blended to 40% ABV and bottled for the distribution across the Americas and Europe. Premiering in 2017, this rum won gold at the New York International Spirits Competition and is a fine example of some of the best rum Central America has to offer. The rum is recently begun appearing in stores across the United States and can be found for around $40, boxed and ready to wrap.
Criterion is the fifth entry in their Exceptional Cask Selection series from Foursquare Distillery. This rum combines both pot-still and twin column-still rums that have been aged in used bourbon and Madeira casks for 10 years and bottled at 56% ABV. This limited edition delivers a well-balanced flavor profile of tropical fruit, caramel, dark chocolate and smoky tannin notes that wow the palate and demonstrate the skills of the blender. Supplies across the United States were limited, with bottles starting around $86. A must-have for rum connoisseurs, this rum is still available in some stores and online outlets.
Editor’s Note: Another choice gift for the rum lover in your life is the book Spirit of the Cane -all about the history and current culture of Cuban rum – by Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller. Our review is here and you can order it here.
Paul Senft is a Spirits Writer and Reviewer based in Metro Atlanta. His work has appeared in Got Rum? Magazine, Chilled, Distiller, as well as other publications covering a range of subjects related to Spirits, Travel, and the fun world of Tiki. He founded www.RumJourney.com and can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/paul.e.senft.