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Brugal XV Ron Reserva Exclusiva

Review: Brugal XV Ron Reserva Exclusiva    85.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on June 1, 2014

The Brugal Distillery was founded in 1888, by Andrés Brugal Montaner. Over the next one hundred and twenty years the company grew steadily, and it is now one of three large rum distillers in the Dominican Republic. Although the Edrington Group now controls the company, George Arzeno Brugal, is the current chairman, and most of the current board members are direct descendants of the original company founder.

According to the Edrington Website, Brugal makes their rum in a traditional manner (from molasses) and ages it on site in Puerto Plata in American white oak barrels. My sample bottle of Brugal XV Ron Reserva Exclusiva arrived to me direct from the Dominican Republic via my young newlywed daughter who recently returned from her honeymoon with her husband in the Caribbean. This rum was bottled for the domestic market, and thus it is a 37.5 % alcohol by volume offering and is sold in a 700 ml configuration. Although the label implies the rum is may be aged for as long as 15 years, the reality is that this rum does not carry an age statement. The large XV on the label is simple that, a large XV. My research indicates that this particular rum is in fact a blend of rums which vary in age from 3 years to 8 years.

Brugal XV SAM_1159In the Bottle 4/5

The Brugal XV Ron Reserva Exclusiva arrives in the tall slender bottle shown to the left. The label is clear and easy to read. and the glass bottle narrows (looks pinched in actually) towards the bottom of the label making it easier to grab and hold. The bottle is sealed with a metallic cap which disappoints me, as does the diffuser inside the bottle which makes pouring the rum slightly more difficult. Because the rum was not an expensive purchase for my daughter (she spent about 25 bucks on it), I am not unduly concerned by these minor disappointments.

In the Glass 8.5/10

When I pour the rum into my glass I see it has a nice amber gold colour which is just starting the journey towards copper. When I tilt and twirl my glass, I see about what I would expect from a spirit with an average age of about 4 to 5 years and an alcohol content just below 40 per cent as the liquid sheen which has been deposited on the inside of the glass almost immediately releases a multitude of slender droopy leglets from the crest which run rather quickly back into the rum.

The breezes rising from the glass are very pleasant. I sense a mild oak presence with woodspice and notes of honey and butterscotch lying within the oak. An impression of almond comes forward as do bits of banana and orange peel zest. Giving the rum time in the glass allows me to notice some cinnamon accents and an underlying mustiness in the breezes. This mustiness is typical of the Brugal family of aged rums. Hints of seaweed and brine lie within this mustiness, and I wonder if this is a reflection of the Caribbean Ocean impacting itself upon the Brugal Rum aging barrels in Puerto Plata.

In the Mouth 51.5/60

There is good translation from the nose to the palate as my first sip brings forward impressions of light sandalwood and oak spice which again carry firm accents of honey, butterscotch and orange peel. There is perhaps a touch of youthfulness being expressed in the rum as the oak and spice have a bit of a jagged edge which heats the palate a little more firmly than what one would expect from an aged 37.5 % abv. rum. Allowing the glass to breathe, I notice an evolution of the orange peel moving towards marmalade and perhaps some grassy tobacco flavours forming. Again one cannot help but notice the underlying mustiness within the rum. It is not unpleasant and my sense is that this mustiness adds to the intrigue of the spirit.

Although I can easily sip the rum and enjoy myself, I do feel more inclined to try a few cocktails. Cola is a natural for this Brugal rum, and I found myself mixing at a 1:1 ratio in order to give the rum more expression in the bar drink. I also experimented very successfully with fresh squeezed orange juice and lemon, and the fruit punch cocktail I created is shown below.

In the Throat 13/15

The rum has a medium to light body which is reflected in the finish which I would describe as light, but engaging. The oak and orange peel spices heat up the palate and throat just a little more with each sip. There appears to be the correct amount of butterscotch sweetness and hints of tropical fruitiness to counterbalance the spiciness making the rum a pleasant sipper.

Afterburn 8.5/10

My only criticism of the Brugal XV Ron Reserva Exclusiva would be in that I found the large ‘XV’ printed upon the front label to be somewhat misleading.  I do not believe this is a true a fifteen year old rum (and as I said my research indicates the rum may actually be a blend of 3 to 8-year-old rums). Having said that, this is nonetheless a well constructed spirit. Although it is not a complex rum full of aged character, it is a relatively smooth rum which I found to be a relaxing indulgence. It works great as a high-end mixer and is a pleasing sipper as well.

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.


Suggested recipe

Peurto Plata Punch SAM_1158Puerto Plata Punch
(a modern punch style cocktail)
by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)

1 1/2 oz Brugal XV Ron Reserva Exclusiva
1/2 oz Southern Comfort
1   oz Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1/3 oz Luksusowa Wisniowa (sub cherry flavoured liqueur)
1/4 oz sugar syrup
Lemon slice

Place the first five ingredients in a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with a slice of lemon floating on the cocktail

Note: If  you are interested in more of my cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


You may (loosely) interpret the scores 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)

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