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Murray McDavid Nicaraguan Rum C.L.D.N.

Review: Murray McDavid Nicaraguan Rum (2006) C.L.D.N.   (84.5/100)
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
June 14, 2017

The 2006 bottling of Murray Mcdavid’s C.L.D.N.  Nicaraguan Rum was distilled in Nicaragua at the at the Flor de Cana (Compañia Licorera de Nicaragua) Distillery in 1995 and set down to age in bourbon casks. At some point in the history of this rum, several casks (perhaps seven or eight) were purchased by the private bottler Murray McDavid. These casks were chosen for their character, and at some further point (approximately 2005) they were re-casked in re-used white wine (Quarts de Chaume Chenin Blanc) barrels to undergo a short period of flavour enhancement. The final rum was blended and bottled in a Limited Release Bottling numbering only 1500 bottles in 2006.  Two of these bottles found a way into my possession, and I am pleased to review the contents of one of them and share the results with you.

This rum was bottled at 46% alcohol by volume.

murray-mc-david-nicaragua-sam_3026In The Bottle 5/5

A sleek metal canisters houses the rum with an impressive selection of information available for the purchaser.  Each canister (and bottle) clearly identifies the distiller of the rum and the year of distillation, they type of still (column), the type of cask used to age the spirit, the finishing cask,  the year of bottling, the bottling proof, and the number of bottles produced in the release.

As you can see the bottles are protected from the light by the attractive stainless steel canister. The labeling on the canister is repeated on the bottle. The bottles are clear so you can observe the spirit inside. And the bottle is topped off with a proper high density cork topper.  A perfect presentation.

In the Glass 9/10

When I poured a small sample of the Nicaraguan Rum in my glencairn, I found the colour of the rum was a pleasing copper with a light reddish tint. I took a little time to tilt my glass and gave it a slow swirl. A slick oily sheen was apparent which held back for a moment, but then released stubborn leglets back into the rum.

This is an overproof rum with an alcohol strength of 46 % which causes an initial push of alcohol heat to rise into the air. However this push doesn’t last for long, and so we are able to enjoy sweet scents of butterscotch, oak spice, vanilla, and a very persistent grape-like aroma drifting upwards into the air above the glass. As the glass breathes I begin to notice additional smells of Turkish Delight, and light but firm indications of dark brown sugar and baking spices (cinnamon and hints of clove).

The rum continues to evolve bringing fruity scents of apple and pears into the fray along with grilled pineapple and a building grassy quality which threatens to overwhelm the fruit. I am scoring the rum high for complexity, although the menagerie of impressions seems slightly out of sync with the underlying rum.

In the Mouth 50/60

The rum being bottled at 46 % alcohol by volume brings a bevy of spice and alcohol heat across the palate. I can taste oak spice, poplar sap, touches of cinnamon and firm orange peel within the spicy construct. Alongside that heat are two opposing flavour forces which compete for my attention. Rum-like butterscotch and vanilla seem at odds with the building fruit flavours of the wine enhancement. (pears, apples, green grapes, and a light touch of vinegar). Again I am scoring high for complexity, but this time the disharmony I sense is keeping the ceiling on my score at a lower level.

The rum takes to ice in a major way, and that is my preferred manner of sipping. The ice quells the heat and keeps those building fruit flavours at bay letting me taste the rum underneath much more clearly. It also brings out light flavours of Turkish Delight and soothing milk chocolate.

In the Throat 12.5/15

There is a distinct grassy quality in the exit with tastes of green grass and hay alongside sharp wood spice and fruit (pears and green grapes). A touch of menthol-like flavour helps the finish, but ice helps it more.

The Afterburn 8/10

Murray McDavid was owned by the same group who later bought and re-started the Bruichladdich Distillery. The company (with slightly different ownership) was later launched as Renegade Rum. Both Renegade Rum and Murray McDavid were known for their practice of re-casking selected Caribbean Rums in exotic wine barrels to bring new flavour profiles forward. The results (in my mind) were mixed as the rums they blended were always high on complexity, but generally weak on harmony (there were a few notable exceptions).

I view the Murray McDavid Nicaragua Rum along that same vein. The rum showcases a highly complex flavour profile; but ultimately the white wine enhancement tends to smother the underlying rum. The union is awkward rather than elegant.

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


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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