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Pumpkin Face 23

Review: Pumpkin Face 23   (92/100)
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published January 16, 2014

Pumpkin Face Rum is a new brand of rum being distributed in Canada by Pure Global Imports. The rum inside the cool looking pumpkin shaped bottles is apparently a blend of selected rums from the Dominican Republic. I was curious about those pumpkin faced bottles and I found this statement on the Pumpkin Face Rum website:

“The pumpkin is a symbol of celebration to people around the world. The origin of the pumpkin can be traced to North American seeds dating back to 7000 BC. The word pumpkin comes from the word “pepon”, which is Greek for “large melon” and later changed by American colonists to “pumpkin”. Colonists would often slice off the pumpkin top, remove the seeds, and fill it with cream, honey, eggs and spices. They cooked the pumpkin in hot ashes until blackened then enjoyed its contents.”

pumpkin line-up

I was able (through the good folks at Pure Global Imports) to secure samples of all three Pumpkin Face Rums. According to the brand owner (Itsko Imports Inc. of Beverly Hills, California), Pumpkin Face 23 is an ‘ultra premium’ Dominican rum which was produced in 1980. The rum was aged in oak for 23 years, however it was also at some point during the maturation process ‘rested’ in stainless steel vats for 10 years before being bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

Just so we are clear, there may be additional benefits gained by resting a spirit in airtight vats; however, it is widely accepted that no further maturation of the spirit occurs in an airtight container. Pumpkin Face 23 is (according to the information provided) a 23 Year Old Rum based upon how long it was resting in oak barrels; the 10 years the rum spent in the stainless steel vats are not included in the age statement.

Pumpkin 23In the Bottle 5/5

The Pumpkin Face 23 is displayed in a dark coloured pumpkin shaped glass bottle with a Jack-o-lantern face. The dark colour of the bottle hints at the more deeply coloured well-aged rum inside. Just as I was well pleased with the bottle presentation for the previously reviewed Pumpkin Face White Rum, and the Pumpkin Face Reserve Rum, I am just as happy with what I see for the Pumpkin 23 Rum. As you can see from the photograph above, all three rums create quite a visual display.

I also appreciate the well constructed synthetic ‘cork’ closure which seals the spirit and gives me that satisfying ‘pop’ when I open the bottle.

In the Glass 9.5/10

I poured a small sample of the medium-dark 23-year-old rum into my glass. The colour resembles a darkened penny, and the initial aroma is rich with smells of chocolate caramel and oak spices. I decided to allow the glass to breathe and was delighted at how the oak spices seemed to meld into the chocolate caramel as the rum decanted. Rich toffee and tobacco aromas evolved from the glass with hints of treacle, brown sugar, and baking spices straining to push through as well. I sense whispers of vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg within the toffee-like aroma as well as an underlying nuttiness which resembles fresh roasted walnuts. All in all, the Pumpkin Face 23 rum is a treat to sniff!

In the Mouth 55/60

The nose translates very well into flavour, as almost all of the olfactory sensations I noted in the glass carry through to the palate. The flavours are melded together very well, and it is difficult to decide just which aspect of the rum is dominant. At first I want to say that chocolate and caramel hold sway over the rum; but as the liquid crosses my palate, spicy oak and flavours of roasted walnuts flavours slide alongside the chocolate and caramel with equal vigor. Within this menagerie of rum goodness are lovely baking spices rich with vanilla and brown sugar spices. Some dried fruitiness appears as does impressions of canned peaches and apricots. The rum is rich in complexity yet it does not overwhelm the palate. The rum remains approachable and delightful to the last drop in the glass.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The rum finishes with a bit of heated oak spice mingling with sweet chocolate and caramel. The chocolate in particular delights me as does a mild walnut-like bitterness which seems to be providing just the right counter-balance to the sweet chocolate and caramel.

The Afterburn 9/10

The Pumpkin Face 23 is a rich wonderful rum! Had my schedule had allowed me to publish this review earlier, then I surely would have placed the this rum into my list of the World’s Top 30 Rums of 2013. Since I was not able to publish sooner, I guess I will have to content myself with knowing it will be a strong candidate for my list in 2014.

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)


One Response to “Pumpkin Face 23”

  1. Jason Snider said

    I got this wonderful l rum as a gift in the fall. It is one of best rums in my collection.

    Nice to see your review. Appreciated as always.

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