Bacardi Gran Reserva 8 Años Rum
Review: Bacardi Gran Reserva 8 Años Rum (87.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Original Posting April 25, 2010 (Revised July 23, 2016)
In 1862, Facundo Bacardi and his brother José bought the Santiago de Cuba Distillery and began to distill what would become the most popular commercial rum in the world. Using a method of charcoal filtering, and oak barrel aging along with a still of copper and cast iron, Facundo Bacardi created a smoother more refined version of the locally made rum. His smoother version of the spirit became local favourite, and over time, an international sensation. Of course, Bacardi Rum is not made in Cuba anymore, the Ron Bacardi Company left Cuba in the wake of Fidel Castro’s plans to nationalize all private property and privately held bank accounts on the Island. The Bacardi family moved important trademarks out of Cuba, and using a Bacardi owned plant built in Puerto Rico, were able to continue to build their company. Bacardi is now the largest family owned spirits company in the world.
The Bacardi Gran Reserva 8 Años Rum is produced using column still distillation and oak barrel aging. This rum has been aged for a full 8 years in ‘hand selected’ oak barrels. According to various sources, at least part of the rum was aged or perhaps finished in sherry oak barrels.
In the Bottle 4/5
Bacardi has updated the look for their 8 Años Rum (see photo to the left). The bottle now has a slightly more masculine look than before (older bottle is pictured in the cocktail section below). The new labeling clarifies the age statement such that it reads ‘aged 8 years’ in English as well as Spanish. The overall presentation however, remains simple and understated. It is as if to say the iconic Bacardi name and logo as well as the 8-year-old age statement are sufficient enough to catch the consumer’s eye. The solid cork topper serves to distinguish the 8 Años rum from its younger cousins in the Bacardi line-up.
In the Glass 9/10
The care with which the rum was aged becomes apparent as soon as the bottle is opened. The aroma is gentle, inviting, and very well-balanced. As I poured the bottle into the glass, I was enticed by soft fragrances of dried plums, soft caramel, bits of vanilla, and a wonderful fine oak spiciness. Hints of baking spice drift in the air, some cinnamon and a few indications of nutmeg and allspice.
Once the rum was in the glass and I swirled it, I noticed a light sheen of oil which dropped long slender legs down towards the rum. I will confess that I like long slender legs; it indicates a light to medium bodied rum which usually has a crisp entry and clean finish.
In my Mouth 52.5/60
The delivery of the Bacardi 8 Años rum is very similar to the delivery of a really good column distilled grain whisky. I am not talking about flavour mind you, I am talking about style. The rum carries a lovely light smoke, and a firm oak spiciness which provides foundation and character. This is not a sweet rum dripping with honey. It is a well aged rum with a firm backbone of fine oak spice. There is also a slightly heavy, slightly smoky presence which stems perhaps from a sherry influence from at least some of the finishing barrels. This smokiness helps to blend and carry the other flavours. I taste hints of raisins, dates, and dried plums. There is also a nice mellow Apricot Brandy-like impression which weaves in and out which adds a delicate sweetness. Nutmeg, allspice, and a gentle cinnamon accent the spicy flavour beautifully. Although the rum is not sweet, there nevertheless is just enough caramel-like sweetness within the flavour profile to bring everything together.
The rum is definitely a good sipping rum especially with an ice-cube or two added. I also found the rum worked well as a high-end cocktail mixer, and found a great recipe on the Bacardi website which I chose to make one of my recommended servings. (See recipe below)
In the Throat 13/15
The exit is medium-length and perhaps a touch on the dry side. There is a lingering spiciness which puckers the palate intensifying the dryness of the finish. Oak flavours linger with just a hint of sweetness and a few whispers of sherry-like smoke.
The Afterburn 9/10
The Bacardi 8 Años is one of the great rum bargains, at least in my marketplace. In fact, it is such a bargain that, although I consider the rum to be elite in many ways, it is still a rum which I feel no guilt about mixing with cola to make long tall deck drinks in the summer. Having said that, I have found that I am sipping this particular dram much more often than I am mixing it.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
Note: If you are astute, you will notice that the sample bottle in the picture alongside my cocktail below is an older version of the Bacardi Gran Reserva 8 Años Rum than the bottle which is the subject of this revised review (see photo above). I had noticed that my score for this rum had dropped a few points from my original review published in 2010. I decided to taste my older bottle side by side with the current batch after writing my review. Interestingly, I did indeed find a discernible difference with the older bottling scoring better.
It is said that Ernest Hemingway preferred his daiquiri to be made with Bacardi White Label rum. I have chosen to kick things up a few notches and have made this Hemingway Daiquiri with the Bacardi 8 Años Rum. The proportions may not be exactly as per the original Hemingway Daiquiri, but I have come across many different “original” Hemingway Daiquiri recipe suggestions, and I do not know which the true original is. For that reason, I chose a formulation where no fruit would be wasted. (This keeps my wife happy.)
Hemingway Daiquiri (with Bacardi 8 Años Rum)
2 oz Bacardi Gran Reserva 8 Años Rum
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur
Juice from 1 Fresh Lime
Juice from 1/2 Grapefruit
Add the ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a chilled large highball glass.
Note: According to the Bacardi company website, this cocktail was created for Hemingway by bartender Constantino Ribalaigua of the El Floridita in Havana.
I found this recipe upon the Bacardi website in their cocktails section. It is apparently a variation of the classic Old Fashioned Cocktail created by Dick Bradsell. Dick manages several bars in London (England) including: The Colony Room, Zanzibar and The Pharmacy. I have modified the cocktail using sugar syrup instead of caster sugar, but otherwise the recipe is unchanged.
2 oz Bacardi Gran Reserva 8 Años Rum
1 tsp Sugar Syrup
1 oz Fresh Apple Juice
2 dashes of Orange Bitters
Orange Peel Garnish (optional)
Place the sugar and the bitters into a rocks glass
Add 2 ice cubes and one half of Bacardi 8 Años rum
Give it a stir
Add some more ice cubes and a second part of rum.
Pour in the apple juice
Garnish with a strip of orange peel (optional)
Stir gently and serve.
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)