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Rum Nation Barbados Anniversary Edition (12 Years Old)

Review: Rum Nation Barbados Anniversary Edition (12 Years Old)    91/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published May 8, 2014

Rum Nation is an Italian rum company created by Fabio Rossi, who began his life in the spirits trade as a Oenologist (one who has studied winemaking). After his studies, Mr. Rossi left the wine business and started up a whisky company in Edinburgh (Wilson and Morgan) acting as an independent bottler of Single Malt Scotch Whisky. His interest turned to rum and in 1999, Fabio Rossi founded Rum Nation. His company is headquartered in Italy; but Fabio purchases select rums from various distillers in the Caribbean and the Americas. As a result Rum Nation provides a rather unique assortment rums from various Caribbean producers. His Rum Nation Barbados Anniversary Edition (12 Years Old) celebrates the first 15 years of Rum Nation (2001 to 2014) as an independent bottler of unique Caribbean Rum.

The Bajan rum was distilled from sugar cane molasses upon a column still in Barbados (R.L. Seale) in 2001 (Batch Number L14/059). It was matured in the Caribbean (in Ex American Bourbon casks) for the majority of its aging life. However the rum was transported to Italy to be finished in Piedmont (Italian area of the Nebbiolo Wine) for the last 18 to 24 months. For finishing, the rum was transferred to Ex Spanish Brandy and Ex sherry Oloroso casks before being bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

In ThRum Nation Barbados 12e Bottle 4.5/5

The Rum Nation Barbados Anniversary Edition arrives in an elegant tear drop decanter with a plastic topped cork stopper. The label is actually made of a cloth-like material with the label information printed in gold ink. It looks quite smashing. However, I am not nearly so fond of the display box. The display is made to resemble a large book with a stack of brown cardboard panels which are glued together on the inside to resemble pages. These cardboard panels are cut out on the inside to provide a place for the rum decanter to fit in snugly. It was a good idea; but the execution of that idea is lacking. Instead of looking great on my shelf the faux cardboard book looks large and unwieldy. I admit I tossed the book-like display very quickly so that I could admire the decanter instead.

My suggestion is that Rum Nation should toss it as well.

In the Glass 9/10

When I poured the Anniversary Rum into my glass, I was pleased with the bright copper colour I saw, and when I tilted my glen cairn and twirled it, the liquid deposited a slightly thickened sheen on the inside of the glass the crest of which laid down medium thick legs which traversed leisurely back down into the glass. The initial breezes rising from the glass bring a mixture moderately spicy oak and rich tobacco scents into the air. Butterscotch, toffee and dark brown sugars follow with hints of black licorice and treacle melding into the sweet and spicy scents.

As I let the glass sit, the aroma from the glass deepens bringing lush scents of vanilla and baking spices (nutmeg and cinnamon in particular) into the air above the glass. Hints of marmalade are apparent and the brown sugar, oak and the baking spices keep growing in strength. I notice bits of cola and milk chocolate and perhaps just a touch of sea brine and menthol. All indications are that this is a rich indulgent rum.

In the Mouth 55/60

Here is a word of advise for you, allow this rum to breathe a full fifteen minutes before you take your first swallow. I unfortunately, did not follow this advise when I sampled the spirit the first time, and when I poured my initial glass, I took a swallow almost immediately. The result was a discouraging experience where the flavour of the rum seemed discombobulated and somewhat harsh. I mixed that first glass with cola and wondered to myself if Rum  Nation had blown it. However, when I poured my second glass a few days later, I allowed the rum to breathe, and the flavour of the decanted spirit caused a complete reversal of my initial opinion. Instead of a disconnected flavour profile with no anchor, the Barbados Anniversary Edition Rum now demonstrated balance, harmony, and great flavour. I spent the rest of my afternoon just enjoying that glass slowly as I sipped it without water, ice or cola.

Within the rum, flavours of oak spice and dark brown sugar take center stage with wonderful accents of vanilla and baking spices. Butterscotch, toffee and molasses lie underneath. My palate was also tickled by black licorice, hints of salt, some zesty orange peel and a dollop of marmalade. There is a soothing quality reminiscent of (but not nearly as intense as) menthol which seems to cool the palate just as quickly as the oak spices heat it up. Rounding things out are impressions of roasted walnuts, milk chocolate, cola and a smidgen of espresso coffee. The nose did not lie, this is a rich indulgent rum!

In the Throat 13.5/15

The finish is medium long featuring a rush of baking spices and oak which is followed a soothing sensation of light menthol and licorice. Bits of cinnamon and brown sugar are left behind with a scattering of roasted walnut providing just the right counter punch of bitterness to balance out the sweetness of the brown sugar.

The Afterburn 9/10

Once I took the time and allowed the Rum Nation Barbados Anniversary Edition to properly breathe, I found the rum had much more to offer than I had initially believed. In fact, it features a full flavour profile which is not only robust, but also very well-balanced. This is yet another winner for Rum Nation, and I hope this expression makes it to Alberta so that I can add another full bottle to my collection of prized rums.

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


Suggested Recipe

Just because the Rum Nation Barbados Anniversary Edition 12 Year Old Rum is a wonderful sipping rum, it does not mean that we cannot find joy in the cocktail format. The trick is to use other ingredients sparingly such that they serve as an elegant accent to the rum’s flavour and not as a distraction. I think the cocktail I constructed below strikes the right balance.

SAM_1126 FINE DALLIANCEA Fine Dalliance

2 oz aged Rum Nation Barbados Anniversary Edition
1/4 oz Drambuie
dash Orange Curacao
few drops Fee’s Cocktail Bitters
crushed ice (1/3)
ice cubes (2/3)
Lime slice

Add the first four ingredients into a metal cocktail shaker
Add both crushed ice and ice cubes
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with a slice of lime

(This cocktail is truly a fine dalliance!)


My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret that 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)



2 Responses to “Rum Nation Barbados Anniversary Edition (12 Years Old)”

  1. Robin said

    “I spent the rest of my afternoon just enjoying that glass slowly as I sipped it” How big was that glass? 🙂

    Anyway, very interesting tip about letting your rum rest for a while so the general taste starts to evolve. Do you think this is with more rums the case? What does this actually do to a rum?

    • A good rule of thumb when drinking a distilled spirit is to allow the drink to sit one minute for each year it is aged (This tip comes from Master Blender, Jim McEwan of Bruichladdich). I am not certain of the exact science behind the statement, but oxidation in the glass is sure to be part of the reason for the rum’s evolution in the glass over time. The more complex the spirit, the longer we should wait before we take that first sip. (A lesson I forgot in my initial eagerness.)

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