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The Rum Rats – Arco Seco (The Perfect Barrel)

Review – The Rum Rats – Arco Seco (The Perfect Barrel)   82/100
a review by Chip Dykstra
Posted on April 11, 2022

Arco Seco  is a Panamanian rum brought to you by Rum Rats. a partnership of Shamus Hewitt & Jason Gardner based in Ontario Canada. To bring this rum to Canada, Shamus and Jason have collaborated with renowned Panamanian Master Blender, Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez and Carlos Esquivel of the Pilsa Rum Distillery in Panama.

According to the Rum Rats website, this first rum release from Rum Rats brings a distinct, authentic Panamanian flavour to the Canadian market. It is a single origin spirit aged for 5 years in previously used Bourbon barrels. The rum is column-distilled from black molasses rum processed, fermented, distilled and aged all in the Arco Seco region of Panama. It is non-chill filtered and bottled at 43 % alcohol by volume with with no sugar or additives.

In The Bottle 4/5

The Perfect Barrel Arco Seco Rum arrives in the squat 750 ml bottle shown to the left. The clear bottle showcases the straw coloured liquid inside. The turquoise label is minimalist although it serves to convey the main features of the rum. The back label gives us a little more with a short story about the rum’s heritage and it also tells us that the spirit was bottled by the Last Straw Distillery in  Vaughan Ontario.

In the Glass 8/10

Colour: Pale Straw

Legs:  Slender

Nose: Mild butterscotch and honey combine with vanilla and hints of almond. Orange peel is present as are fine oak spices. As the rum breathes the fine oak spices build up giving us a sort of dry and dusty impression of sandalwood and straw. There are hints of tropical fruit (banana and coconut) as well as vague impressions of baking spices (cinnamon and ginger).

I am sort of torn at this point in my examination; I appreciate the light nuances and mild complexity I am encountering; however I was hoping for a more robust oak character given that the rum has apparently been aged for five years in the tropics. I suppose you could say that I believe the rum hides its age well.

In the Mouth  50/60

There is a little unwanted heat in the delivery as the slightly higher than normal bottling strength combined with the fine spices of the rum give the tonsils a bit of tap on the way down. Fortunately palate is soothed by a light butterscotch sweetness. The light complexity I noticed on the nose is apparent when I sip with vanilla and almond flavours playing nicely with fine oak spices and hints of ginger. Citrus zest adds to the liveliness of the mouthfeel, and this persuades me to add a small ice-cube to the glass to further soothe my palate.

The addition of the ice quells the light sweetness as and bring light chocolate flavours into focus. However it is my impression that the rum appears to be more of an elite cocktail mixer than it is a true sipping rum. To that end I tried a few mixed drinks in the daiquiri style and found myself well-pleased. (See my cocktail suggestion down below.)

In The Throat 12/15

The rum has a light body with a short to mid-length dry finish. Without ice there is a little too much spice and burn to sip comfortably; however when ice is added, I notice a nice trailing impression of milk chocolate in the finish. Hints of cinnamon appear as well.

The Afterburn 8/10

Rum Rats Arco Seco Panamanian Rum has a lively mouthfeel with orange peel zest and lively fine oak spice amplified by a slightly higher than normal alcohol content. I was hoping the five years of tropical oak aging would have been be showcased to a greater degree within the spirit, but as yet this maturity seems a trifle hidden and as a result it has not yet brought the exuberance of the spirit under its control.

However, as a high-end cocktail rum, where the spirit’s light nuanced flavour and lively mouthfeel can be exploited in daiquiri styled cocktails, the Arco Seco excels.

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


Cocktail Suggestion

The Rat Tail Daiquiri

2 oz  The Rum Rats Arco Seco
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Orange Juice
1/4 oz Bols Triple Sec
3/8 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1)
Lemon Peel

Add the ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Pour into a suitable cocktail glass
Garnish with a coiled lemon peel (Rat Tail)

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


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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