About twice a month I gather my friends together and I host a Rum Howler Tasting. These are normally informal gatherings where I serve various spirits which have been forwarded to me from industry to review upon my website. I ask my friends to contribute by bringing food and fresh fruit for cocktails and we sample four or five spirits in a relaxed atmosphere where each person can take it as seriously or as casually as they like. Sometimes I gather feedback which makes its way onto my website, and other times it is just about sharing a drink with my friends and having some fun and good conversation.
Occasionally, I receive requests from industry, or from persons who have read my reviews to host a more formal gathering whether it be at a licensed social club, pub or even within a retail liquor store. I have no problem helping out with these events, although sometimes those who request my services are surprised that I actually charge a fee for my time and effort. (I think the fee is reasonable although that sentiment is not shared by all.)
Recently I was asked to host a rather significant event at the Derrick Golf and Winter Club to celebrate one of its member’s 50th birthday. I was given a significant budget for the rum, and told to bring a good range of well aged rums which represented not just the lower priced rums which I considered to be a great bargain, but also would include one or two significantly priced rums one of which should sit atop the rum world as an example of the very best which could be found. I was told that if I felt a particular rum met this criteria, I should bring it along as a salute to the guest of honour.
I gave the tasting some thought and settled upon 5 rums which I believe were not only great examples of the various different styles of rum which can be found in the Caribbean, they also were readily available in my locale such that my guests could search them out after the event. And, I indeed included a particularly worthy rum which I was sure would please our Guest of Honour.
This is the list I came up with, and the order which I served them in:
- Angostura 1919 (Trinidad)
- Brugal Siglo de Oro (Dominican Republic)
- Ron Millonario Solera 15 Reserva Especial (Peru)
- El Dorado 12 Year Old Special Reserve (Guyana)
And the extra special rum which was served at the conclusion of the tasting to salute the guest of honour:
You can click on the links to read my personal reviews of each of these special rums, but I also thought I would provide some feedback from my 32 guests as to how they felt about each rum.
The first bit of feedback I asked my guests to give me was to compare the $50.00 bottle of Angostura 1919 to the $115.00 bottle of Brugal Siglo De Oro. I kept the prices to myself so that this would not influence anyone’s decision. These two rums are each good examples of the lighter Spanish style, and they highlight just how good a rum can become after spending a significant amount of time in the oak barrel. The results were predictable as all but three guests chose the Siglo De Oro as the best of the two. This was expected as the Siglo de Oro had been aged twice as long as the Angostura 1919 and it’s price reflected its longer aging time.
Next I asked the same question of the $50.00 bottle of Ron Millonario 15 Reserva Especial versus the $40.00 bottle of El Dorado 12 Year Old Special Reserve. Each of these rums is from South America. They have a sweeter flavour profile, and each is significantly aged. However, the Peruvian rum (Ron Millonario) is a blend of 7 to 15-year-old rums, whereas the Rum from Guyana (El Dorado) has a true 12 year age statement meaning its entire contents must be no less than 12 years old. This time the room was more equally split, however there was a small majority of guests who preferred the less expensive offering from El Dorado.
Finally, I asked my guests to choose their favourite rum from the first four they were served. The sweeter rums from South America prevailed, and the less expensive El Dorado 12 Year Old Special Reserve was the clear favourite with half of the room choosing it over the other more expensive rums. The Ron Millonario 15 Reserva Especial was a close second. There were a few persons who chose the most expensive of the four, the Brugal Siglo De Oro as their favourite, and one of these persons told me afterwards that he did not think the contest was even close. His palate definitely preferred the drier spirits.
After each had given me their preferences, I told them the values of these particular rums here in Alberta, and the room was shocked that the least expensive, the rum from El Dorado was such a stand-out. (I wonder if the guests would have chosen differently if they had known the prices of the various rums they were tasting?)
I ended the tasting with a salute to the Guest of Honour, and we all toasted him with a sample of a rum from a $380 bottle, the 25 Year Old Panamonte XXV Rum. Because this was the final toast, and I did not want to spoil the event with more questions for my guests, I let everyone savour the Central American rum from Panamonte. I did notice however, as I looked around the room after everyone was gone, that the Panamonte XXV was the only spirit to have been completely consumed by every guest. Apparently it was very well received by all.
Note: If you wish to hire the Rum Howler to add a little pizzazz to your next Tasting Event, you may use my Contact Me page to reach out to me. My fee is reasonable (at least I think so).