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El Ron Prohibido 15 Solera

Review: El Ron Prohibido 15 Gran Reserva   (89/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted February 23, 2018

El Ron Prohibido is an interesting rum produced in Mexico by the same company which produces Tequila Corralejo. There are three rums in the El Ron Prohibito line-up, a Silver Rum, El Ron Prohibito 12, and El Ron Prohibito 15 Gran Reserva.

Although one might assume that the number 15 represents the age of the El Ron Prohibido Rum, this is not the case. The number 15 represents the number of American Oak barrels in the solera aging system used to mature the rum. Giving this rum a different twist is the fact that these 15 American oak barrels were previously used for maturing Raisin Wine. The Raisin Wine Cask leaves its imprint firmly upon the rum giving us a new flavour profile quite different from a typical Caribbean Rum.

The El Ron Prohibido 15 Gran Reserva is not age stated, and it is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

In The Bottle 4.5/5

The bottle presentation for the El Ron Prohibito 15 Gran Reserva is shown to the left. I like the short stubby bottle which looks like a rum bottle instead of a whisky bottle. The corked top and the half ring on the neck of the bottle serve to elevate the presentation as does the professional label with the easy to read letters and fonts.

My only quibble is that number 15 featured prominently at the top of the label. I understand that it represents the number of barrels in the solera which aged the spirit; but many other people will assume that it is part of some sort of age statement. This type of misdirection is rampant in the spirits industry and seems to affect rum the most.

In the Glass 9/10

El Ron Prohibido 15 Solera displays as a rich bronze liquid in the glass. When I tilt my glencairn and give it a slow swirl, a thickish sheen is apparent on the inside of that glass, the crest of which holds back for a moment, and then releases droopy leglets down the side of the glass. The breezes above the glass are restrained initially; but they soon fill with scents of sweet caramel, raisins, and prunes. There are also rich smells of vanilla and baking spices (cinnamon in particular). As I let the spirit breathe I notice the oak spices evolving with dark tobacco and even more raisins in the air. There is a decadence implied. This is not your typical rum, the raisin wine cask has left a firm imprint of it sweetness upon the spirit.

In the Mouth 53/60

El Ron Prohibido 15 Solera sits on the sweet side of the fence due to the impact of the Raisin Wine Cask. Fortunately this sweetness is held somewhat in check which allows us to sip and enjoy the nuances. I taste a lush caramel toffee melded with flavours of raisins, dates and prunes. There is just the right amount of oak to give the rum a spicy push in the delivery which helps to balance the flavour. Dark tobacco, menthol, and a light dollop of both coffee and chocolate complete the flavour profile.

I added a couple of cubes of ice and found myself enjoying the spirit even more. The ice brings the sweetness down just a little, and now I taste a wonderful combination of pungent baking spices, oak spice and raisin which appeals to me strongly.

If I was to classify El Ron Prohibido 15 Solera, I would say that it has been constructed in the style of a dessert rum. When I was doing my sampling sessions I found I enjoyed the rum very much when I limited myself to one small glass (about 1 ounce). If I poured a second glass then (just as when you take that second plate of dessert) I found the sweetness beginning to overreach my palate.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The throat remains lightly heated in a spicy finish which has a surprising amount of chocolate (and coffee thrown in for good measure). The exit is smooth making the spirit very easy to sip with or without ice.

The Afterburn 9/10

I like this rum! And when I finished the bulk of my review, I was curious about the opinions of others so I checked around and read some other reviews. I was rather surprised at the apparent negative reaction some others have had towards the spirit. It seems that my fondness for the light sweetness of the raisin wine enhancement is not universally shared. As I read those other reviews a common thread appeared, and it is an aspect of the rum which I have already touched on. The first glass tastes great. The second glass begins to taste too sweet.

I think the point should be, the first glass tastes great! El Ron Prohibido 15 Solera is meant to be a small indulgence not a main-course meal. That second glass should wait for another day when another small indulgence is desired.

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

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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)

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