Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A Tropical Flight: El Dorado Rum (Part 1)

One of the most interesting and educational ways to drink alcohol is in 'flights', trying several one after the other from a certain region or producer. This allows you to get a real feel for the particular style and analyse the differences in flavours, quality levels, any stylistic differences and the effects of age etc.

I was lucky enough recently to be sent a selection of rums from El Dorado, ranging from a 3 year old white rum up to a 21 year old special reserve dark rum, and of course couldn't pass up the opportunity to try these as a vertical tasting.

El Dorado is a very respectable rum brand from Guyana that is produced by Demerara Distillers, a distillery that is backed by 300 years of history and heritage in the making of sugary, tropical spirits.
Demerara itself as a region is well established as having produced great rums for hundreds of years, but El Dorado is more than qualified to be considered part of that heritage having scooped awards for pretty much every rum in their range at any competition they attend - the list is as long as your arm.

Now all of the other distilleries have closed, but Demerara Distillers remain, and they are producing great stuff - no one can deny that, and nobody does - they have been voted best in the world!

I feel that due to the range and quality available I would be best to present my very scientific findings to you in two parts (I reeeeally had fun), starting with the entry level range, their Fine Cask Aged Rums which have been provided with suggested drinking recipes...

El Dorado 3 Year Old White Rum

The 3 yr white rum is of course an award-winner, having taken silver on numerous occasions at the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC). This rum is filtered through charcoal to smooth and mellow the spirit before ageing in old bourbon casks for at least three years.

On the nose, this rum jumps out at you with tropical notes of bananas mixed with cocoa and mocha, and a massive slap of vanilla across your chops. A tiny bit of toffee brings up the finish.

On the palate, this rum is soft, rounded and mellow, especially for one presented as a mixing rum, with very little fire and heat coming off the alcohol. There are notes of coconut, plus vanilla again, and it's fruity, with some slightly caramelised sugar thrown in there too.

This is a great mixing rum, it's fantastically fresh and crisp. The 3 yr won't keep you interested if you're looking to sip a glass, but that isn't what it is about. This will be perfect for the neverending list of rum cocktails - the quality is undeniable.

Available for £19.72 at Master of Malt.

Signature Drink:

Passion Fruit Swizzle
Glass: Collins
Ice: Crushed
Garnish: Lime wedge
Method: Add ingredients to a highball glass and fill with crushed ice. Swizzle (churn), top with crushed ice and garnish with a lime wedge.
50ml El Dorado 3 year old
20ml fresh lime juice
15ml sugar syrup
30ml cranberry juice
Contents of 1 passion fruit

El Dorado 5 Year Old Gold Rum

This rum again comes highly commended, having won bronze, silver and gold medals. This is a golden rum that - like the 3yr - has been aged in bourbon barrels, but this time for a minimum of (you guessed it) 5 years.

On the nose, the first thing to come out reminded me of golden caster sugar based fudge simmering on a stove. This is followed by vanilla, dried fruit and tropical fruit. You can really see the difference between the 5yr and 3yr immediately on the nose - a switch from more upfront fruit and vanilla to some more developed aspects.

On the palate this is really mellow, rich, has a velvety soft, oily mouthfeel, and a complete lack of heat that had me checking to see that it really was bottled at 40%.  The 5 yr arrives with nice spicy tastes that develops into slightly burnt sugar, caramel and coconut.

This is a really top-notch dark mixing rum (although it's more than pleasant straight) - I honestly haven't tried better. It's a really nice, natural, complex and not overly sweet rum. You hear of rum connoisseurs, and you really begin to understand why when rums can taste like this. What you need to remember too is that this is at the bottom of El Dorado's totem pole, I can't wait to get onto the top shelf stuff.

Available for £23.55 at The Whisky Exchange.


Signature Drink:

Golden Demerara Swizzle
Glass: Collins
Ice: Crushed
Garnish:  Lime zest/wedge
Method: Add all the ingredients to the glass except the soda water, half fill with ice and swizzle with your swizzle stick or ‘agitate’ with a bar spoon. Fill the glass with ice and top with soda.
50ml El Dorado 5yo
20ml lime juice
10ml sugar syrup
25ml pineapple juice
dash The Bitter Truth Old Time Aromatic Bitters
Top up with soda water

El Dorado 8 Year Old

This rum is a relatively new addition to the El Dorados range, but most certainly has its place and its admirers, and is unsurprisingly a winner at the IWSC having received a gold medal.

On the nose, caramel and toffee jump straight out of the glass. These mix with vanilla, coffee and pipe tobacco (I'm thinking Frog Morton's Cellar if you're interested) with some coconut and orange peel. This is a much heavier nose - it truly smells weightier and thicker - and it's actually a bit of a beast compared to the 3 and 5 year bottles.

On the palate, the soft and smooth nature surprise again - the quality of the spirits really astounds - and this is wonderfully oily and mouthfilling. The 8 yr kicks off with spice again, but then the caramel and molasses come in to take over, with the coffee and mocha in the background and the slightest hint of top quality dark chocolate (akin to Willie's Delectable Cacoa).

This rum is a fantastic all-rounder, covering both mixing and sipping, and it is a true revelation for me personally. I've never had such a well put together rum, and one that tastes the way that you think rum should, as it doesn't seem over-produced or tampered with. Love it.

This is a real steal at a £26.85 price tag from the Whisky Exchange.

Signature Drink:

The Yacht Club
Glass: Martini
Ice: Straight up
Garnish: Lemon zest
Method: Add ingredients to a Boston tin or mixing jug and stir over ice until chilled.
50ml El Dorado 8yo
30ml Red vermouth
15ml The Bitter Truth Apricot Liqueur

I hope I have got you significantly excited about this distillery. This is the first time I've tried anything El Dorado and I'm now completely besotted, I cannot get over how this isn't stocked everywhere with people always asking "Have you tried that El Dorado stuff?"

Damn, it's great, and I cannot wait to try out the 12, 15 and 21 years! Join me at the same time next week...

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