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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.

Bacardi 8 Anos SAM_2679In 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.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Suggested Cocktail

Hemmingway DaiquiriIt 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.
Enjoy Responsibly

Note: According to the Bacardi company website, this cocktail was created for Hemingway by bartender Constantino Ribalaigua of the El Floridita in Havana.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Treacle SAM_2599I 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.

Treacle

2 oz Bacardi Gran Reserva 8 Años Rum
1 tsp Sugar Syrup
1 oz Fresh Apple Juice
2 dashes of Orange Bitters
ice cubes
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.

Enjoy Responsibly!

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)

 

 

28 Responses to “Bacardi Gran Reserva 8 Años Rum”

  1. Hans said

    Hello,

    Just tried the 8Y and agree with your review about it. The oaky and smokey aftertaste is almost as if I’d been sipping a glass of smooth, triple distilled Irish whiskey, very impressive and remarkable…After warming up in the glass for a while it seems to me as if the smokey undertone gains strength, could you agree with this?

    Kindest Regards,
    Hans (Belgium)

    • Hi Hans

      It’s been a few years since I last tasted the Bacardi 8, so any comment I make regarding how the smokiness changes with temperature would be stretching my memory cells a little too much. However, if that is your experience, I certainly cannot disagree.

      Take care and welcome to my website!

  2. Branko said

    This review….its like not only reading my mind, but put those exact words on paper. I’m impressed by the way you describe this suburb rum.

    I still remember when I bought this rum. It was on discount, and after a long hesitation, (some people can stand for an half hour in front of a butter stand, It’s me, but then in front of A rum selection.) I purchased this bottle, with the thought “It would be piss anyway, but at least I gave it a try. Man, I was wrong. I’m not going to explain what I felt, because that is closely written in this review. But, this rum is in my selection, and its a though one to beat when i’m in the mood for a cigar and some outstanding blues music on a late summer night!!!

    O, yeah…one more thing. I love your website and the rum reviews in particular. You’re my hero, I met some new rum’s due to your reviews!

  3. Jason said

    One of my favorites. i actually wait until Christmas and buy the boxed set with the glasses.Very good rum. I have recently been drinking Blackheart Spiced rum. Better then Captain Morgan especially mixed with Cola. Hope you have a happy new year.

  4. It’s good to know we agree on almost all of my reviews, Only 2 disagreements out of over 400 reviews is pretty good!

  5. Josh said

    I really disliked this which is the first time I’ve really disagreed with one of your reviews maybe its my taste buds but this rum tasted weird, the whisky like touch to it rubbed me the wrong way and I like whisky. It had this bitter cherry like after taste to it which reminded me of cherry cough syrup. It was decent when I mixed it but it wasnt really doing it for me I like rich and sweet flavors in my rum and I didnt get that outside of the smokey whisky touch and a little cherry. Maybe I’m not as advanced tasting wise but I couldnt taste any fig, nutmeg, or cinnamon . But hey thats just me, I’ve never liked Bacardi and figured this would be different and it was but not in a really positive way. At max I personally give it a 80

    • You are not the only one to disagree with this review. The dry whisky-like features of this rum are not for everyone. I like it, but I respect that others have different taste preferences. slainte

      (Interestingly enough though, when I was judging rums at an event a couple years ago, I was given grief by a couple of the judges over my scoring of this rum. I got the last laugh when they each scored it higher than I did when we sampled the rum blind later that day.)

  6. Tommy Mac said

    I just cracked a bottle of this rum. I was liiking to replace my bottle of Ron Bacardi Reserve and discovered it’s no longer made. Note: saw a bottle for sale online for over $200! I like the 8 Anos much better. Agree with the whiskey-like character of the rum (that’s a good thing). The Ron Bacardi was much smooth as silk and much sweeter but could never be mistaken for anything but rum.

    I’m not a big rum fan but this 8 Anos is good enough to enjoy neat. This is high praise from a guy who only buys rum to have on hand for guests.

    • I suspect what you saw online was not the Reserve but instead the super limited Bacardi Reserva Limitada. I am glad however you found enjoyment with the 8 Anos.

      Cheers

  7. fretmonger said

    I discovered this rum about 4 years ago… I must admit that it is clearly the best bang for the buck. I was pleasantly surprised that you gave it such a high rating as truly beleive its a winner. This is my everyday rum…

  8. Mitch said

    I recently tried this rum, and I found it had a very unpleasant taste of plastic – I thought maybe it was just something weird going on with my taste buds, so I tried it again a few days later and had the same experience. This off-taste is strong enough that I can detect it even when I make mixed drinks with the rum. One thing I noticed that may be causing this is that the “cork” is not an actual cork, as it sounds like it was on your bottle – it’s made of rubber. Maybe the alcohol leeched some of the chemicals from the “cork”? I tried to give the bottle to a friend, but he tasted it and detected the same flavor and didn’t want it. I’m thinking about just pouring it out, it’s that bad!

    • Hi Mitch,

      I have noticed a trend towards synthetic cork toppers, but I have not noticed any sort of a correlation between a ‘plastic’ taste and these toppers. It is significant to me that your friend noticed the off taste as well, as this lends credence to the notion that something is amiss. If I was you I would return the bottle to the place of retail from whence it came. It is likely you would receive a refund.

      Chip

    • Holly said

      Hi Mitch,

      I have the same problem. I have been a fan of this Rum for years, but I recently bought a bottle and have experienced the horrible “plastic taste”, I thought maybe it was just me, but apparently not! I am going to return this to the store I got it from as I think maybe it is a bad batch. My batch number is L1023215114PR5380, I wonder if it is the same as yours?

  9. William said

    I just purchased this and was surprised that says made in the Bahamas. I was expecting Puerto Rico, I didn’t even know the Bahamas had a distillery. Not that I’m complaining, it’s actually very good rum for the price. Any info though on this anomaly?

    • I turned this bit of information up, The Bacardi facility in the Bahamas was built in 1965 on New Providence, the capitol island of the Bahamas. I believe it recently closed as Bacardi has completed the transition of moving most of there Caribbean production to Puerto Rico. Bacardi still has (I believe) facilities in Mexico as well.

  10. Jed said

    I love your review and responses also as I am but a mere mortal amateur in the realm of liquor tasting and more over, describing what I taste. Very interesting.

    • Hi Jed

      Thanks for being a frequent visitor to my blog. I deleted the second part of your comment as I have recently made the decision not to get involved in any way with helping people to sell their spirits/collectibles through my website. This is based upon legal advise have received. Sorry.

  11. Yello to Mello said

    Hi chip, I agree with you on this one. I got 2 samples of this when I bought some bacardi white for some mojitos. Usually I never get to a lot of my samples and they ended up accumulating and was looking for disappointment as well.

    I had some of this at a BBQ a few weeks ago along with some cohiba cigaritos to keep the ‘skeeters away

    • I think that the Bacardi 8 is the best that Bacardi has released to date but I wait in anticipation of a new rum that Bacardi may release next year. I tasted it in a blind run against other premium rums, Zacapa 23 Solero., Pampero Anniversario, et cetera. The New Bacardi was every bit as nice as the others, in fact on my sheet it was the highest scoring of the flight.

  12. howardwalton said

    I am not a big rum drinker, but thought since I am here in Cuba (GTMO, with the Navy) I might try some with a (non-Cuban) cigar. Bacardi 8 seemed like the best option at the base exchange. I admit I was intially brought down that a Bacardi product would be the only premium choice, as they do get bashed a lot for being “the rum of the masses,” and the other Bacardi products I have tried have not done much to overcome that bad press in my eyes (and mouth). As it turns out, I needn’t have worried, as I find Bacardi 8 absolutely delicious. Obviously well crafted, and with a variety of flavors, I drink it straight over the rocks or with a little water. A great companion for a nice cigar, it has opened my eyes to the possibilties of rum, and I will probably keep a bottle in my liquor cabinet for the forseeable future. I am glad to see that someone who knows a lot more about rum than I do feels the same way.

  13. kumaresh said

    Hello there….well, to start i thought the bottle/packing was very impressive. But in terms of taste, i felt it had a strong wood finish perhaps too strong bourbon finish to it which overpowers the other characteristics….
    I also felt it was too light bodied lacked the depth of a good rum, the rum taste to it was rather mellow….

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Kumaresh. I guess we disagree somewhat on this one, I happen to like the Bacardi 8 a lot and find many nuances that interest me. But its good to disagree a little, else life would start to become boring.

      Cheers!

  14. DanB0y said

    I live in Quebec (Canada) and the variety of rhum at our liquor stores is somewhat limited.. So I have tasted about 10 different rhums over the last 2 years and Bacardi 8 is simply the best to me. Very nice reviews, im bookmarking this blog.

  15. Hi Chip

    I’ve been getting conflicting feedback from all my research on the Bacardi 1873. Some say it’s discontinued and replaced by either the Reserve or the 8yr old; others only mention it as a solera (my bottle makes no such claim on the label); overall, here seem to be few reviews out there. Yet just last week, Co-op pushed a whole raft of them on to their shelves, in more than one store, which makes it unlikely (to me) to be a discontinued product. Anything you can tell me based on your own knowledge?

    Lance

    • Hi Lance

      The Bacardi 1873 used to be bottled in Puerto Rico and then it was labeled as a Solera Product. The production was shifted to Mexico and the word solera was dropped from the label. The product reportedly tasted much different after the switch. I have no information as to its status other than to say that I have read reports of the bottle being discontinued in some markets. That could be a purely regional decision.

  16. Jeff Kiess said

    I totally agree with your review. Bacardi 8 was recommended to me by the spirits specialist at my local liquor store and he didn’t steer me wrong. Like you, I was prepared to pass up “Bac 8” out of snobbery to the Bacardi name, but I was intrigued and glad I moved on the suggestion. It is, dare I say, superior stuff that delivers a textbook rum flavor. I have had Ron Barcelo Imperial, Pampero Aniversario, Cruzan Single Barrel, and Ron Zacapa Centenario and I must say that Bacardi 8 is better than all but Ron Barcelo. Hell, it might even beat it if I ran a head-to-head taste test. (Ron Zacapa is actually too smooth, for my taste. It seemed to lack the complexity of Bac 8 and had a mouthfeel more like thin syrup than a spirit with presence. I know, insane words to seasoned rum aficionados, but I can’t help what my senses tell me). Indeed, Bac 8 has a whisky element to it. I was sipping it one night and thought the same thing. (Single malt scotch and bourbon are my favorite spirits). I think the packaging designers at Barcardi got the bottle design and presentation just right, it’s one of the best-looking bottles out there, IMHO. To think it can be had for under $25 is all the more amazing.

    This review was my intro to your blog. It looks like a great one with diverse reviews. Bookmarking!

    Cheers,
    Jeff

  17. pkazimir said

    hey Chip,

    nice review. I have to say this rum is one of my favorites for sipping after a hard day. You mentioned the smoke taste and I totally agree with you!

    Looking forward to read more posts like that.

    -pkazimir

 
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