The Rums

Deciding which rums would make the list of 32 was a bit more difficult than I thought it would be.  I wanted to cover a good variety of styles while making sure that all the major rum-producing countries (and many minor ones) were represented.  I also needed to set some basic rules on how a rum would qualify for competition.

After playing around with the rules a bit I came up with the following criteria:

– All rums must be aged – not so strict about how long they are aged as long as they are meant to be sold as an aged rum.

– No light/white rums – nothing against them at all, I just feel they are made to have different taste profiles that don’t compare well with gold/dark aged rums.

– No spiced rums – I just don’t usually like them.

– At least 24 countries/territories must be represented.

– No more than 2 rums from any one country/territory will be allowed.

– Must not cost more than $50 (including any shipping, processing, duty, etc.) for a 750 mL bottle.

I gathered the rum I had on the shelf and picked up a few more bottles and came up with 29 different countries/territories represented (some of them took some creative interpretation of where the rum was from):

Anguilla             Pyrat XO
Antigua              English Harbor 5
British V.I.           Pusser’s Blue Label
Bahamas              Bacardi 8
Barbados              Mount Gay XO
Bermuda               Gosling’s Old Rum
Colombia              Viejo de Caldas
Costa Rica            Centenario 25
Dominican Rep.  Matusalem Gran Reserva
France                   Plantation XO
Grenada               Westerhall Plantation
Guatemala            Zacapa Centenario 23
Guyana                 El Dorado Special Reserve
Haiti                     Barbancourt Reserve
India                    Old Port
Jamaica               Appleton Estate 12
Martinique          Clement VSOP
Mexico                Mocambo Art Edition
Nepal                   Khukri
Nicaragua           Flor de Cana Centenario
Panama               Zafra Master Reserve
Peru                     Millonario Sistema Solera
Puerto Rico        Don Q Gran Anejo
Spain                   Dos Maderas P.X. 5+5
St. Lucia             Chairman’s Reserve
Trinidad             Angostura 1919
US V.I.                Cruzan Single Barrel
USA                     Prichard’s Fine Rum
Venezuela           Santa Teresa 1796

That left me with only 3 spots to give to rums from countries/territories already on the list, and I had quite a few I wanted to include (Abuelo 12, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, Zaya, Cockspur 12, etc.  In the end I ended up going with these three:

R.L. Seale’s 10 Year Old    Barbados – It’s a modern classic from the (alleged) birthplace of rum.  I felt Barbados needed more representation and I think R.L. Seale demonstrates all that is good in rum: tradition, integrity, and value.

Brugal 1888  Dominican Republic – While Matusalem is among my favorite rums, I wanted to include something that was truly Dominican and not just a Cuban replacement (darn embargo).

Botran Solera 1893 Guatemala – I put this one in mainly because I was curious how it would measure up in real competition against its more decorated cousin, Zacapa.  Everyone loves an underdog story, right?

And there it is:  32 rums ready to do battle.

To set up the actual competition match-ups I turned to the FIFA World Cup Final Draw process (why reinvent the wheel when they have such a great system in place), which involves dividing the competitors into 4 pools and then randomly drawing one from each pool to form a group of 4.

Pool 1 – In soccer these are the seeded teams.  They represent the favorites to win the Cup and therefore are spread out in different groups to prevent them from eliminating each other in the first round. For the rum competition I chose 8 rums that I feel represent either a) the best in a particular style of rum or b) my own personal bias (hey, it’s MY competition):

Mount Gay Extra Old – The oldest rum still made today. A piece of history

Appleton Estate Extra – Representing one of Dave Broom’s four basic styles, Jamaican.

Clement VSOP – Representing another of Dave Broom’s basic styles, French.

El Dorado Special Reserve – Yet another basic style, Demerera.

Matusalem Gran Reserva – The fourth of Dave Broom’s four basic styles, Cuban.

Bacardi 8 – This is also Cuban style, but as the world’s largest producer and seller of rum, I felt they deserved a place in here with their foray into premium rums.

Zacapa Centenario – This rum has earned more awards than any other in recent years, and while some may argue that is just hype, or that the awards don’t actually mean much, there is no denying that this rum should be taken seriously.

Flor de Caña Centenario – Here’s where my bias comes in.  I am Nicaraguan, so therefore this rum makes the top group.  I don’t have a lot of power in my life, so I need to abuse it every chance I get.

Pool 2 – Latin America

Santa Teresa Antiguo de Solera, Mocambo 20 Years Art Edition, Viejo de Caldas 8 Years, Brugal 1888, Zafra Master Reserve, Centenario Gran Reserva 25, Millonario Sistema Solera 15, Botran Solera 1893

Pool 3 – (Mostly) Commonwealth Caribbean Islands

English Harbour 5 Years, Westerhall Plantation, Gosslings Old Rum Family Reserve, Chairman’s Reserve, R. L. Seale’s 10 Year Old, Pusser’s Blue Label, Angostura 1919, Pyrat XO

Pool 4 – The Rest of the World

Prichard’s Fine Rum, Plantation 20th Anniversary Extra Old, Don Q Gran Añejo, Dos Maderas P.X. 5+5, Old Port, Cruzan Single Barrel, Khukri, Barbancourt Estate Reserve

3 responses to “The Rums

  1. As a Jamaican, I must cheer for the Appleton – even if I find it a bit sweet myself. Congrats on a fine field of contenders. Enjoy, my friend!

    • Hmmm. If you find Appleton Estates to be a bit too sweet, then I’m not sure you’ll find many rums that aren’t… maybe the Barbados rums.

      • I think all rum is too sweet…I prefer whiskey. But I should give rum more attention. This competition is making me think I am missing something.

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