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Juan Santos 9 Year

Review: Juan Santos 9 Yr Reserva Especial Rum   89/100
A review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on November 2, 2009

This is the next review I am doing on a series of new Colombian rums that are entering the Canadian marketplace via my home province of Alberta.  Allow me to introduce Juan Santos 9 Year Old Rum.


In the Bottle 4/5

The rum bottle and label have not changed significantly from the previously reviewed spirits (the Juan Santos 5 Yr Old and the Juan Santos Coffee infused Rum).  I prefer in the case of more premium rums for the bottle and label to reflect the more expensive nature of the spirit.  But the presentation is in no way inferior.

In the Glass  8.5/10

This rum looks essentially the same in colour as the five year old, a pale brown with reddish highlights.  I do not see legs in the glass but as I swirl the contents but I do see a shiny oily film left on the sides of the glass after swirling. The aroma is mild rummy caramel with hotter spices rising reminiscent of Canadian Whisky.

In the Mouth  54/60

This rum feels more crisp than the previously reviewed 5 year old rum. The rum flavours and spice I taste are indistinct, as if they are melting into the oak.  I taste soft notes of caramel, light touches of hotter cinnamon, and a faint hint of hazelnut and nutmeg.  As in the 5 year old Juan Santos, I taste the distinct presence of whisky. This time it is a mild Canadian whisky taste reminding me of Crown Royal.  The whiskey influence does not dominate; but it is there, influencing the rum flavour demanding to be appreciated.  My feeling is that this whisky-like character of the Juan Santos Rums must come from the barrels they use for aging.

In the Throat  13.5/15

The rum has a nice crisp finish with a little soft oil giving it a nice length. There is a satisfying burn in the throat but no overt harshness. Whereas the five year old Juan Santos was a rum fit for any pirate, this rum would belong in the Captain’s cabin hidden away from the crew upon whom the smoother nuances would be lost.  (I may be seriously misjudging the average pirate’s palate of course.)

The Afterburn 9/10

The progression up the line of Juan Santos rums from five year old to nine year old has been a pleasure.  I notice a distinct progression of smoother flavour and a moving together of the whisky influence into the rum flavour.  In the nine year old,  the distinctiveness of individual flavours has lessened and more balance is apparent.

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


Suggested Recipes

In keeping with the whisky like feel to this rum I decided to do a take on the old Manhattan Cocktail.

Arctic Wolf’s Colombian Rum Manhattan:

2 oz of Juan Santos Rum
1/2 oz of Sweet Red Vermouth
Dash of Angostura Bitters
3 Large Ice cubes
Maraschino Cherry
Twist of Orange Peel

Add the Juan Santos Rum, the Vermouth, and Angostura bitters with 3 large ice cubes in a Martini Shaker.  Shake gently to chill the mixture. Spear a cherry with a long toothpick and place it in a chilled glen cairn glass.  Strain the mixed ingredients over the cherry but do not add the ice. Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink.  (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink) Discard the peel.



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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