El Dorado 8 Year Old Cask Aged Rum
Review: El Dorado 8 Year Old Cask Aged Rum 91/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted March 23, 2014
The Diamond Distillery sits on the East Bank of the Demerara River near Georgetown, Guyana. The Distillery, originally attached to the now closed Diamond Sugar Estate, is home to Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL). Two years ago, I was invited by DDL and Woodman Wines and Spirits to travel to Guyana for a very exclusive tour of DDL’s facilities with a small group of Canadian Spirits Writers and Restauranteurs.
Some of the ‘Heritage Stills’ I saw in operation were over 250 years old, and they were still producing (as closely as possible) the same historic marques of rum which they had produced over two centuries ago. Superimposed upon the scene of ancient Stills and equipment was the dichotomy of a brand new distillation plant which had just begun to produce its own marques of rum side by side with the ancient historic stills. The new distillation plant represents a bridge to DDL’s future of new technology and methods of production. However, by continuing to operate the old plant and maintaining the unique marques of rum upon which the company built its original success, the foundations for that bridge to the future have been set firmly in their historic past.
According to the El Dorado Website, the El Dorado 8 Year old Cask Aged Rum is blended from selected stocks of rum which were produced from no less than four of DDL’s traditional Heritage Stills including both the original Wooden Coffey Still which was rescued from the Enmore Estate and the Double Wooden Pot Still which was rescued from the Port Mourant Estate. Each of these stills is well over 200 years old and they represent the last of their kind operating in the world today. The use of these ancient stills ensures that the Demerara Rum produced at DDL’s Diamond Distillery is unlike anything produced anywhere else in the world. (For more information on the unique Heritage Stills in operation at the Diamond distillery you may read my first hand account here (Diamond Distillery Tour).
The new 8 Year Old Rum from El Dorado Rum was recently released in Ontario, and I was provided a sample bottle by the distributor Woodman Wine and Spirits.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
The 8 Year Old Rum is part of El Dorado’s Fine Cask Aged series of rums which also includes the El Dorado 3 Year Old and 5 Year Old rums. Therefore the 8 Year Old shares the same bottle design and a very similar label presentation. I like the wide shouldered bottle which gently curves towards the widened base. The shape of the bottle gives the rums a sexier look than a standard straight tall bar room bottle. However, the curved bottle preserves the functionality of that standard tall bottle. The curved bottle is easy to store on my bar shelf, it is easy for me to grab hold of, and it is easy to pour out drinks for cocktails or for sipping neat. The label is attractive and easy to read yet also has just enough elegance to set it apart from the other bottles on my bar. If the bottle were corked with a quality closure, I might be tempted to award a perfect score for presentation.
In the Glass 9.5/10
In the glass, the 8 Year Old Rum displays itself as a golden brown liquid with reddish tinctures which are visible when the glass is held up to the light. A slow tilt and twirl of the glass deposits a nice moderately thick sheen of liquid on the inside of the glass and the crest of the sheen holds back for a moment or two before dropping an abundance droopy leglets which move at a leisurely pace down the inside of the glass back into the rum. The immediate nose reveals a nice mixture of oak and coarse brown sugar as well as spicy scents of cinnamon and toffee, some luscious vanilla, and some not so subtle hints of orange marmalade.
As I let the glass sit and I enjoy the breezes above the glass, I notice that the oak spices are building and they have begun to meld into the brown sugar and toffee. As I let the breezes drift about, it is almost as though I can smell fresh cinnamon buns baking. I notice a few new nuances in the breezes as well; some mild indications of dry fruit (raisins and dates), the aroma of milk chocolate, and a delicate scent of tar and tobacco. The overall effect is really very nice.
In the Mouth 54.5/60
The rum enters the mouth full of spicy sweetness. There is perhaps just a touch of astringency indicating to me that the 8 Year Old perhaps features some light bodied column still rum which has been blended with the more heavily bodied rum produced by DDL’s ancient wooden pot still. This gives the rum an interesting dichotomy whereby I sense a youthful exuberance within the spirit which is being held in check by a seemingly more complex character filled rum lurking underneath. Both aspects are delightful, and it seems to me that the right balance between the different styles has been achieved.
The rum carries sweet flavours of butterscotch, toffee, and dark brown sugar as well the bitterness of dark caramel treacle. Within the sweet and the bitter, I taste luscious baking spices (vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg) and firm impressions of roasted walnuts and pecans. Marmalade, a ribbon of corn whisky, impressions of cocoa, a touch of leather and brine, and a firm imprint of tobacco rounds out the flavour of a rum which seems to be very easy for me to sip.
In the Throat 13.5/15
The rum exits with a glow of cinnamon and wood spices and flavours of delicious butterscotch. The butterscotch fades to bitter treacle, and the spicy glow remains well after the rum is swallowed. Near the very end of the taste experience, the rum begins to ooze bittersweet chocolate. Although there is a hint of light astringency; curiously, even this light burn serves to give more to the overall character of the rum than what it takes away.
The Afterburn 9/10
The folks at El Dorado have yet another superb rum within their strong portfolio. Their 8 Year Old rum carries aspects of both youthful exuberance and aged pot still character through the taste experience, and the balance between those aspects is spot on.
I found the El Dorado 8 Year Old Rum to be a more complex and elegant rum than the previously reviewed El Dorado 5 Year Old, and perhaps the rum even approaches the same territory of enjoyment as the wonderful El Dorado 12 Year Old. I wish the rum were available here in Alberta, as I would surely add a sealed bottle to my collection of fine spirits.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
The Rob Roy Cocktail is usually reserved for Scotch whisky, but I had an idea that the recipe would work very well for an aged rum such as the El Dorado 8 Year Old. Of course, the Rob Roy is a variation of the classic Manhattan made with sweet vermouth. When I substituted out the Scotch Whisky for the El Dorado rum, what I had really created was a Rum Manhattan.
The Rum Manhattan
2 oz Well Aged Dark Rum
1/2 oz of Sweet Red Vermouth
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Twist of Orange Peel
Add the first three ingredients with ice in a Martini Shaker.
Shake vigorously to chill the mixture.
Add a cherry and place it in a chilled glass.
Strain the mixed ingredients over the cherry but do not add the ice.
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink.
(This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Discard the peel.
Note: If you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)