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El Dorado Grand Special Reserve (50th Anniversary) Rum

Review: El Dorado Grand Special Reserve Rum     (91.5/100)
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Guyana’s Independence from Britain
Review by: Chip Dykstra (Aka The Rum Howler)
Published June 23,  2016

El Dorado Rum has recently announced the release of a new special edition rum which celebrates the 50th Year Anniversary of Guyana’s Independence from Britain. This Anniversary Rum is produced from a blend of rums aged 33 to 50 years, and finished with a soupcon of aged pot still rums surviving from El Dorado’s heritage Double Wooden Pot Still and a since-discontinued John Dore Copper Kettle Still.

50YO Presentation box_retouched

The completed rum is bottled at 43 % alcohol by volume and presented in a distinctive crystal decanter adorned by an 18 carat gold collectible medallion. Only 600 bottles will be produced, each individually signed and numbered by the El Dorado Master Blender.

El Dorado 50th Anniversary RumIn the Bottle 5/5

I was sent a smaller media sample of this rum rather than a full bottle (not even the Rum Howler gets a full bottle of this special rum for review purposes), and so my judgement of the presentation is based upon the bottle shots sent to me by the Ontario distributor (Woodman Wine and Spirits) of El Dorado Rum.

The rum arrives in a gold coloured gift box and crystal decanter as shown to the left. The gift box has two front door panels with circular windows positioned such that the 18 Carat Gold collector’s medallion which adorns each bottle is visible in the window. When these door panels are swung open, each panel contains a separate certificate, the first identifies the rum as being produced to celebrate Guyana’s fifty years of independence, the second verifying that the rum is produced from a blend of spirits which have all been aged for up to half a century. The second certificate is individually numbered and signed by the El Dorado Master Blender.

I like the decanter especially as it has a longer neck than many such bottles. The medium long neck will make pouring easier, and since the rum costs $3500.00 per bottle, saving every drop is important. The double certificates which come with the bottle seems to be a little strange as the information upon the first certificate could easily have been added to the second which is signed by the master blender. However, overall the presentation seems quite nice. A rum which celebrates 50 years of independence and features rum within the blend which was distilled in the same year as which that independence was granted is a very cool idea.

In the Glass 9.5/10

When I poured a portion of the Grand Reserve rum into my glencairn, the well aged rum showed me a nice rich coppery hue. The rum is slightly thickened, and when I tilted my glass and swirled it, I saw that the spirit had left an oily sheen on the inside of the glass the crest of which was very reluctant to give up any droplets at all. The rum finally lays down thick leglets which drop slowly down the inside of my glass.

The initial aroma is rich and intimidating with dark caramel and treacle aromas rising laced with the smells of oak sap, tar-like asphalt and gluey resin. Wisps of dry fruit (raisins and dates) and hints of licorice and menthol mingle within as do a impressions of vanilla, dark brown sugar, and cinnamon. As the glass sits the complexity builds with damp cigar tobacco, espresso coffee and sweetened canned fruit (peaches and apricots).

In my opinion, this is an almost perfect nose.

In the Mouth 54.5/60

If I was to use only one descriptor for the Fifty Year Independence Rum it would be, spice bomb!

This is a well aged rum with much of the blend having spent 50 years in the tropics aging in oak barrels. Within those oak casks, the sweet caramel flavours of the charred barrels would have been given to the rum early, and then the next flavours to be exhausted from the barrel would have been the vanillans, nutty almond-like flavours and some fruity flavours resembling apricots and pears. When those earlier flavours were exhausted within the oak barrels, a fine spicy, woody sap would have been all that was left to be given to the rum. The trick when aging a spirit for such a lengthy time is to make sure that enough of the early flavours are imparted such that the fine spicy sap which continues to be drawn from the oak does not overwhelm the final spirit.

In this case, the balancing point is precarious, for every time I sip the rum, spice threatens to overwhelm me. But, tempering that spice is that lovely underlying caramel sweetness and a warm vanilla presence, and somewhat surprisingly, a soothing menthol that cools the palate with each sip. The rum is not too sweet, nor is there too much vanilla or menthol; but there is just enough of these flavours such that I can revel in the spice without being engulfed.

There are of course oodles of other flavours to pique my interest: soothing eucalyptus, bits of cinnamon, a touch of salty sea brine, hints of iodine and tar, camphor, and a huge floral component which I can only describe as an explosion of lilac and hyacinth. The rum is a spice bomb; but it is also much more.

In the Throat 13.5/15

I am impressed by the smoothness which the rum displays in the finish. All that spice in the delivery threatens to deluge my senses, yet I can take a liberal swallow with nary a hint of burn. The mouth and throat are left heated by wood spice, yet at the same time they feel the gentle coolness of vanilla and mint. The finale features additional trailing flavours of maple and butterscotch accented by cinnamon, menthol and licorice. My final impressions are of a light saltiness and gentle tar-like impression which lingers within the wood spice.

The Afterburn 9/10

The El Dorado Grand Special Reserve Rum was produced to celebrate the 50 Year Anniversary of Guyana’s Independence from Britain. In my opinion the spirit produced is a fitting tribute in terms of both flavour and character. The well aged rum is full of hot spice and fine sap; however, it is also full of the rich character of the Demerara countryside from which it was born.

Note: The El Dorado Grand Special Reserve is available in Ontario, the last price quoted to me was $3500.00 per 750 ml bottle.

You may read some of my other Rum Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


As always you may interpret the scores I provide 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 more 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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