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Plantation Barbados (Grande Reserve) 5 Year Old Rum

Review: Plantation Barbados (Grande Reserve) 5 Year Old Rum   88.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on July 28, 2011

The Plantation Barbados Grande Reserve 5 Year Old Rum is a Bajan rum blend which has been aged for five years in bourbon casks. The rum was transported from Barbados to France by Cognac Ferrand to be placed in used Cognac casks to enhance the rum before it was bottled as part of Cognac Ferrand’s growing line-up of Plantation Rum.

Cognac Ferrand has a special relationship with a variety of Caribbean rum producers. This relationship is based upon the rum producer’s need for quality oak casks to age their rum. Based upon this relationship, Cognac Ferrand is able to acquire certain old and unique batches of rum from various Caribbean sources, which they bring back to France and finish in their own warehouses and of course their own Cognac Casks.

I was given eight sample bottles, each 200 ml in size, which represent a good portion of the Plantation Rum line-up. The Plantation Barbados Grande Reserve is the third of these sample bottles which I have chosen to review here on my blog.

In the Bottle  4.5/5

All of the Plantation Rums arrive in a highly attractive clear glass bottle with a simple uncluttered label. The larger 750 ml bottles are wrapped in netting; however, the small 200 ml sample bottle I was given lacked this frill (see photo below).  The bottle closure is a high density cork which is sure to give the consumer that nice satisfying ‘pop’ when it is first opened. I also should note that the label identifies the spirit as being bottled at 40 per cent alcohol by volume.

In the Glass 9/10

I poured myself a nice glass of the Plantation Barbados 5 Year Old Rum and brought it up to my nose. My initial impression was of a musty leathery aroma accented orange peel and a sweet caramel molasses. I gave the glass the customary tilt and swirl. The spirit deposited light sheen of rum onto the side of my glass, and I watched as the legs formed. They were of an average size and seemed to move at an average pace down the sides of the glass.

As the glass decanted, the leathery mustiness I had noticed initially evaporated into the breezes, and was replaced by a light smell of tarnished blue-green pennies. Perhaps a bit of seaside brine and kelp was rising in the air as well. The caramel molasses I noted earlier began to release baking spices into the air, and some charred aromas of coconut were lifting from the glass along with some banana and vanilla. I like how the complexity continued to build as the glass sat.

In the Mouth  54/60

The rum is much sweeter in the mouth than my nosing of the glass would suggest, as sweet caramel/molasses leads out onto the palate chased by sharp orange peel. That leathery mustiness has reappeared on the palate and I taste a delicate touch of seaside brine as well. Light baking spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and vanilla) seem to evolve from the caramel as the glass breathes.

This evolution continues as caramel and honey begin to play with flavours of banana and orange peel; toasted almonds and charred coconut begin to bring an accents of marzipan and treacle to the glass; and somewhere in the currents of the flavours a hint of fermenting fruit bubbles up and brings in yet another dimension to consider.  All in all I am very impressed with the five year old rum.

In the Throat  12/15

It is in the finish that I find my only hint of disappointment, as the exit is almost cloyingly sweet. Not even the hot spices that heat up the mouth can counter this effect.

The Afterburn 9/10

I continue to be delighted with the Plantation Rums from Cognac Ferrand. The Plantation 5 year Old Barbados Rum appears to be a step up from the previously reviewed Plantation Barbados 2000 (Old Reserve Rum). It carries a few more subtleties and a firmer impression of seaside brine. I also like how I am not being clobbered over the head with the Cognac enhancement. I can taste whispers of fermented fruit and perhaps a ghost of the cognac barrel, but these flavours stay in the background allowing the fine Barbados rum to shine through.

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)


14 Responses to “Plantation Barbados (Grande Reserve) 5 Year Old Rum”

  1. speedtek said

    I am actually pleasantly surprised at how good this rum actually is. A friend of mine purchased a bottle for me as a gift for Christmas and I wasn’t expecting a whole lot as my tastes tend to lean more towards Zacapa and Diplomatico Reserva exclusiva these days. Color me impressed!!! What a fantastic mixer rum for Rum and Cola, even on the rocks this was very palatable…..A very good “go to” rum for cocktails that I will be very sure to keep on my shelf from now on.

  2. Paul G said

    This just recently came into the Liquor Despot by my apartment building (along with the Masterson 10 yr Rye and a few other products aimed at a more quality market) and I gave it a try tonight. I think I found it a little bit sweeter overall than you did, Chip, but regardless a fine buy for under $40. I suspect this will join rums like the Havana Club 7 or the Mt. Gay XO as go to “affordable” rums.

  3. Ski said

    Just purchased a bottle (Specs cash price of $17.49 plus tax) and am currently enjoying a nice Plantation Rum & Coke. I needed it after just being rear-ended (and not in a good way🙂 on my way home from work today.

    It is very close to Tommie Bahama Golden Sun rum (one of my all time favorites) that has been discontinued. A nice, quality but not too expensive rum that mixes well and gives you a nice even alcohol buzz unlike some cheaper rums (you know what they are and when you drank them).

    A solid B to B+ and maybe after another one, A-

    Good review bro, well said.

    Ski in TX

  4. John said

    My Friend and I enjoy sipping Rum and watching Uconn Womens Basketball. We have tried well over 25 different Rums and PLANTATION BARBADOS (5 Year) is a great sipping rum and the Price $16.99 is even better.Definetly a good rum for new tasters.

  5. Kevin said

    Thanks, John! I happened to find a liquor store (there are a lot of them up here) that carried it in West St. Paul. But more options are better!

    Happy Holidays!


    • John Hill said

      Hello again Kevin,
      just a tip, Surdyk’s sells several highly regarded rums, they have a very impressive selection.
      Only drawback, I live in Buffalo, where finding top quality rum is difficult, so I have to drive 40 miles to Minneapolis to buy! Excellent rum is worth the drive, though!

      John Hill


      • Kevin said

        Thanks John,

        I will have to make the drive there. If I were to pick up a rum, is there one I should get? I am looking for a white rum to try in place of Bacardi but will try anything.

        • John Hill said

          I am not a big fan of white rums. The best I have had, though, is Clement Premiere Canne, good enough to be considered a sipping rum, with a lime or lemon twist. Excellent in cocktails. Surdyk’s had on sale for $24.00 12/26/11. Flor De Cana Xtra Dry 4 year old ($14.50) is good for mixing, also.
          Rums to try: “Best bang for buck”–Plantation 5 year old ($18.00) & Abuelo 7 year old ($20.00). Best I have ever had–Plantation XO 20th Anniversary. Other excellent rums–El Dorado 12 year old, Cruzan Single Barrel, Flor De Cana 12 & 18 year old. John Hill

          • Hi John

            Great List! I haven’t tried the Clement Premiere Canne, (I think it is an agricole Rhum), But the others on your list are certainly well worth looking out for.

            • John Hill said

              Hi Chip,

              Thanks for the response! I absolutely agree with your review of the Plantation Barbados 5 Year Old. I.M.O., it gives rums costing twice as much a run for the money! Also, the Ron Abuelo 7 Anos is an excellent rum for the money. It is fairly difficult to find rums of this quality in this price range($18.00-$20.00), in the U.S.
              Always look forward to your reviews!

              John Hill

          • Kevin said

            Thanks again, John and to you Chip for the great reviews! I should have mentioned I am looking for a mixing rum so will be checking out the Clement Premier Canne, but will put the others on my list to add to the collection.

            So much to drink, so little time!


            • John Hill said

              Do you know of any liquor store in St. Paul that sells Pampero Aniversio rum? It comes in a leather pouch.

              John Hill

  6. Kevin said

    I first enjoyed this excellent rum in a daquiri (the classic version) at a liquor tasting sponsored by Ferrand at Martin’s Wine Cellar in New Orleans and I have yet to find it equal at this price, $14 for 750 ml in NOLA! We promptly bought a bottle and shortly after that another. I am so glad to see that your review found it as pleasing it as much as I did. I just hope it doesn’t cause the price to go up too much but maybe extends its distribution as I cannot find it in Minneapolis yet!

    • John Hill said

      Surdyk’s, in Northeast Minneapolis (Hennepin Ave. East and SE University) sells Plantation Barbados 5 year Old. I bought a bottle 12/17/11. They had it on sale for $15.99!

      John Hill


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