If this competition were about bottles, I think few would hold a candle to the Mocambo 20. It really is a work of art, and worthy of a place on any collector’s shelf. With its tall, slender shape and its Amate tree-fiber cover, it is bound to catch your eye immediately. By contrast, Bacardi 8 has an understated design that exudes old world class. Much shorter than the other Bacardi bottles out there, the Bacardi 8 seems to want you to part with your expectations of the name from the start. Not a bad move on the part of Bacardi since its product is often seen as more a spring break chugger than a quality sipper. But bottles mean little here, it’s what they hold that we are after. So on with the battle.
The set up, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is simple: I label the underside of two tasting glasses “A” and “B”, then I pour each of the battling rums into one of the glasses, I note which is which on a piece of paper, and then I mix up the glasses until I don’t know which “A” and which is “B”. Ready for battle.
The first glass hit me with a bit of sweet tobacco over the usual caramel smell, with a slight hint of spice. The taste started with a syrupy sweetness and spicy accents that quickly built to a warm feel, but never quite getting hot. I think I could pick up some tobacco and maybe leather, but it was subtle. It felt like more complexities were building but never quite got there. There was hardly any presence in the throat and very little aftertaste, which I found myself waiting for after it’s strong entrance.
The second glass had a much sweeter smell, with some fruity notes and almost nothing of spice. The taste of sugar was also much more prominent in this one, there was dried fruit in there, maybe raisins, and a slight licorice taste appearing every now and then, but not quite able to break through the sugar for very long. What it really reminded me of was a sugar water concoction that my mom used to give me when I was little and wasn’t feeling too well. “Aguanita” I used to call it.
The first glass definitely showed a more complex profile, though I feel that it may have opened too strongly for its own good. The second glass was consistent in its delivery, if a bit one dimensional in its sweetness. Although I gave the second glass nostalgia points for bringing up fond childhood memories (and on Mother’s Day, no less), the battle had to go to the firwash lass, which I assumed to be the Mocambo.
Turning the glasses over, I found I was right; the first glass was the Mocambo. As usual I poured another tasting of each to confirm my findings. I did notice some more flavors appearing in the Bacardi that time, some more fruit and a bit more of the oak base, but nothing that would come close to overturning my decision. The winner was Mocambo 20 Years Art Edition.
Next up: Group A Battle – Cruzan Single Barrel vs. Gosling’s Old Rum