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Berrys’ Finest Panama Rum (Aged 11 Years)

Review: Berrys’ Finest Panama Rum (Aged 11 Years)     89.5/100
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published May 11, 2018

Berry Bros. & Rudd is one of London’s oldest Wine and Spirits Merchant with over 300 years of experience and tradition from which to draw upon. The company began its operation at 3 – St. James’s Street (in London, UK) in 1698, and still operates from that same location today. Although they are primarily merchants of wine, the company has a strong presence in the sale of distilled spirits as well. And in fact, this presence within the spirits industry had its beginnings approximately 100 years ago. (The Cutty Sark brand was developed by Berry Bros & Rudd in 1923.)

Today Berry Bros & Rudd acts as an independent bottler of Whisky, Cognac, Armagnac, and of course Rum. A few of their rum offerings are available in my locale, and I was able to obtain a sample of the 11 Year Old – Berrys’ Finest Panama Rum. The rum is bottled at 46 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 4/5

All of the rums in Berrys’ Finest Selection arrive in the tall, slender, long-necked bottle shown to the left. I like this bottle as it seems to exude masculine elegance. Tall slender bottles are sometimes unstable, but this particular bottle has a heavy glass base which helps to give the bottle a lower center of gravity. The label is quite satisfactory with a colour scheme that works well and implies professionalism. A corked closure finishes the look. Unfortunately, my bottle had a minor corkage issue as the wooden cork left remnants on the inside of the neck when I opened it which had to be cleaned up. When I inspected the cork, I found it rather spongy indicating that perhaps it was of low quality. (I am really leaning hard towards the use of synthetic cork stoppers rather than natural cork as my preferred closure.)

I should note that I appreciated the brief tasting notes on the back of the bottle which highlighted the main flavours I can expect to find within the rum.

In The Glass 9/10

When I poured the rum into my glencairn, I saw the spirit had a nice lush amber colour with the hue just turning the corner towards copper. When I tilted the glass and gave it a slow twirl I saw that the spirit was a little reluctant at first; but after a few moments small to medium-sized droplets formed which dropped as slender legs back down into the rum.

The breezes above the glass form a nice mixture of vanilla, almond, butterscotch and fine wood spice. I also receive appealing notes of orange peel and marmalade. I could be imagining it; but soft scents of corn whisky seem to be rising into the air as well (perhaps a remnant of the used bourbon barrel). When I give the glass more time to breath some nice grassy notes well up bringing me impressions of mint/menthol and dry tobacco. The wood spice has been building throwing out bits of ginger and cinnamon. All in all this is a very nice beginning.

In the Mouth 54/60

The first sip brings rich flavours of vanilla and butterscotch forward which are accompanied by marzipan and fine wood spices. Ginger pops into the mind immediately as does cinnamon and orange peel. There is a light bitterness underneath which seems to be part of the light flavour of oak sap which runs through the rum. A distinct fruitiness is evident and my mind conjures up images of canned apricots and orange marmalade. Although I have used a lot of descriptors which might imply the rum is on the sweet side, it definitely is not. This is a dry rum with fine wood spice dominating. By the time my glass is emptied those fine wood spices have begun to taste like dry tobacco tinged with menthol. As you can imagine, I am enjoying the rum immensely.

The rum is certainly of sipping quality; but as part of the review exercise I thought I should make at least one cocktail. Since this is a sipping rum, the cocktail I chose was in the style of a Rum Old Fashioned (see recipe below). To be honest, as much as I like the rum neat, the delicious cocktail was my preferred serving.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The Panamanian Rum has the feel of a column distilled spirit which means the body and finish are medium rather than long. Fine oak spices and flavours of tobacco dominate the exit, but their is just enough vanilla and butterscotch lingering to balance this dryness.

The Afterburn  9/10

The only thing preventing Berrys’ Finest Panama Rum (11 Year Old) from hitting a score in the 90s was a spongy cork which left pieces behind on the neck of the bottle when I opened it. Everything else indicates attention to detail and craftsmanship. This is an outstanding rum with excellent balance and character.

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

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Suggested Recipe:

Aztec Rum Old Fashioned

2 oz Aged Rum
1 tsp Bols Triple Sec
2 dashes Fees Aztec Chocolate Bitters
Ice cubes
Twist of Orange Peel

Add the first three ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
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)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

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!

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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.)

 

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