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Review 11: Brugal – Siglo De Oro

Brugal is a rum that is native to the Dominican Republic and has been since 1888. It is owned by Edrington which also owns other famous spirit brands including The Macallan, The Famous Grouse and Highland Park whisky amongst others. Edrington is a large Scottish distilling company which purchased Brugal & Co on February 6th 2008.

Brugal was founded in Puerto Plata in the second half of the 19th century when Andres Brugal Montaner moved from Spain to Cuba, and then later on to the Dominican Republic. He picked up his rum expertise from his time in Cuba and transferred that to Puerto Plata. Even today, Brugal continues to be run by direct descendents of Andres, the current chairman, George Arzeno Brugal, being fourth generation.

Brugal is a huge spirit and is currently the number one rum brand in both the Caribbean and Spain, quite an achievement given its competition. One part of Brugal which helps them stand out from the rest is the netting which covers the Anejo and Extra Anejo bottles. This was started after a member of the Brugal family visited India and noticed that premium products were distinguished from the rest by being represented in net bags. He returned with this idea and created the unusual process.

This Siglo De Oro was created to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of Brugal in 1988. They age the rum in American white oak barrels for up to eight years. The rum is then blended and then returned to the barrels for eight more years. This is very unique in the rum world to double age rum. The sugar cane used in the rum for Brugal is locally sourced in the Dominican Republic and the rum is double distilled to remove heavy alcohols and enhance the sweet flavour that comes from molasses.

The packaging for the bottle is definitely aimed for the premium end of the spectrum. The bottle is a beautiful decanter style design with a long neck and solid cork to close off. Brugal have gone the extra step however by providing a regal blue display case for the rum. The ‘Brugal’ blue colour that is present on their range of rum, with a gold stamp like feature in the middle where the case opens (the same stamp appears in the middle of the bottle as well as the top of the cork). Inside the case there is a small blurb written in Spanish which roughly translates to:

‘Golden Age Rum Special Selection:

More than a century of time and painstaking efforts are concentrated in this bottle containing the Special Selection Brugal rums chosen by the house to reach the threshold of the new millennium.

Founded in 1888 by Don Andres Brugal Montaner, he has allocated the generations of his family to achieve the perfection of Dominican rum, and to put in the work time and dedication enjoyed by those who truly know of high quality beverages’

A nice tough from Brugal to give a little bit of background on the company and this bottle on the inside cover. This really helps to add to the premium feel and look of this product. But let’s move onto the review.

In the glass this rum has a lovely colour which is slightly lighter than copper and heading towards amber. For a rum aged this long it is definitely a lighter hue than I expected. The liquid itself is slightly more viscous and leaves fairly prominent legs in the glass when swirled. On the nose I immediately get a nice hit of butterscotch and vanilla. This makes way for oak and slight hints of fresh grass at the end. This is an interesting nose which isn’t as sweet as I expected from the previous offerings from Brugal.

On my first sip I notice how thick this Rum is. Any further along and this texture would be heading towards oil. There is the butterscotch which I smelt in the first sip mixed with some caramel. Similar to the nose this sweetness makes way to oak and then into a small taste of aniseed which was very surprising alongside orange. In the throat there is a slight burn which I feel is more than expected for a rum of this age. However the finish leaves an oak and spicy taste in the mouth, but seems to dry out quite quickly, which has you reaching for another sip which is not a bad thing!

After having let this rum sit for about 10 minutes there is quite a change. The rum seems to have thinned out and isn’t anywhere near as viscous as earlier. The sweetness has dulled slightly and the oak has come to the forefront now. The aniseed has disappeared from earlier and the throat burn from earlier also seems to have dulled.

Overall this rum has a slightly bitter side to it rather than being overly sweet. I think this could be due to the length of time it is aged and the oak flavour from the barrels potentially overpowering the flavours in the rum. The end result is a rum which starts off sweet but seems to dry too quickly for my liking, leaving the final taste of the bitter oak in the mouth. This is a real shame as the start is so promising and it falls just short of being something really, really special. The fact remains however that this is a very drinkable rum but for the exclusivity and price point of around £125 (if you can find it) it seems to not quite reach the extremely high standards the story, brand and packaging seem to have set for themselves.

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Review 7: Ron Barcelo – Imperial Premium Blend (30 Anniversario)

Ron Barcelo is a producer based on the Caribbean island of the Dominican Republic. In 1929 when Julian Barcelo travelled from Spain to Santo Domingo he founded Barcelo & Co and began to produce rum. The Ron Barcelo brand was launched in 1950 with Barcelo Blanco and Barcelo Dorado. The rum that made Ron Barcelo famous was born in 1980 and the Ron Barcelo Imperial remains the most internationally awarded Dominican rum. Today Ron Barcelo is sold in over 50 countries globally and is the 4th largest exporter of rum in the world. For a more in depth look into their history please visit there website here.

This particular offering from Ron Barcelo was created to celebrate 30 years of rum production of their signature rum in 2001. Miguel Barcelo kept some private reserves of his rum which he further aged in American white oak and French oak barrels from Chateau d’Yquem in Bordeaux France for a couple of years and then blended to create this premium blend for Ron Barcelo’s production line and is limited to just 9000 bottles annually.

The bottle and packaging are quite exquisitely done. There is a golden tin to keep the bottle safe and the bottle itself comes on a wooden display pedestal. The bottle is a very unique round shape with a short neck that leads to the cork. A huge symbol showing off that this rum is a 30th Anniversary edition is on both the case and bottle. It would be a welcome addition to any shelf and would definitely stand out. The cork is sizeable and gives a satisfying pop when removed from the bottle. Everything shouts out that this is a premium bottle of rum.

After the satisfying uncorking and pouring of the rum, the colour is a deep dark brown in my glass. On my first sniff I get notes of vanilla and to a lesser extent caramel and toffee. Then the nose transitions to raisins and dried fruit. There are also hints of oaks and wood which is to be expected for the length of aging of this production. A complex and well defined nose which increases my expectations.

On the first sip I am met with a wonderfully sweet caramel and toffee flavour which is balanced with an undertone of coffee. Having let the rum sit for a while other flavours of dark chocolate and cherry appear with a small spice hit at the end of nutmeg and pepper. The rum coats your tongue and mouth and leaves a lovely warm finish where the spiciness gives way to a sweetness that leaves you wanting another sip. There are notes of oak and wood throughout the rum, but they remain the background and do not overpower any of the other flavours but rather take the edge off them in a delightful way.

Overall, this is a lovely step up from the Imperial offering from Ron Barcelo. I understand the price point of the rum at almost £80 due to the exclusivity and limited nature of the production of the rum. This offering from Ron Barcelo is a must have for any rum collector/enthusiast. If you can get a bottle, I would say do it. It has the expected lighter style consistent with the Dominican Republic’s Spanish heritage, with some depth and an abundance of flavours which meld together in a lovely concoction of rum-goodness.