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Juan Santos 5 Year

Review: Juan Santos 5 Yr Old Rum   88/100
By Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on October 26, 2009

Here is my review of the Juan Santos Five Year Old Rum based upon a sample provided by the Liber Group:


In the Bottle 4/5

The presentation in the bottle is adequate.  A nice Flagon style of bottle with a solid cork topper.

In the Glass  8.5/10

In the glass one definitely gets the impression that there is a strong whisky influence to this rum both in looks and aroma. The colour is a pale brown with reddish highlights.  Rising into the air, with the smell of light toffee and brown sugar, is a light touch of bourbon vanilla and flashes of hotter rye like spices.   The toffee/rum aroma is pushed backward a bit by these whiskey-like fragrances.

In the Mouth  53/60

The rum has a nice soft texture and buttery feel in the mouth.  Flavours of creamy mild caramel seems to melt on the tongue with traces of nutmeg, and a hint of cinnamon.   Wrapped around this caramel/toffee like flavour is the unmistakable presence of a soft bourbon and a hot peppery rye.  The bourbon seems to impart an oily smoothness, while the rye kicks at the tonsils demanding to be noticed. The contrast shows good complexity in flavour; and yet, a nice balance is achieved between these flavours that is delightful. In spite of the dual whisky presence in the mouth, the dominant feature that pushes through the two opposing whiskey forces is a mild delicious rum.

In the Throat  13/15

In spite of the mild flavours, this is not a gentle rum, it is a knock your teeth down your throat kind of rum.  The buttery finish is long, and the peppery rye like burn is satisfying.  I am left with a slightly sweetened palate, with no bitter aftertaste.  In my imagination this is a rum any self respecting pirate would love. It kicks… but it tastes good!

The Afterburn 9/10

Juan Santos 5 Year Old Rum is such a wonderful paradox. It is remarkably complex, yet maintains a fine balance of flavours.   A rum with whiskey overtones which first melts a mild sweetness on your palate, then toasts your throat with a superb rye-like burn.  I found the contradictions to be delightful.  Sipping the rum was a real pleasure,

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


Suggested Recipes

Although a good sipping rum, I found Juan Santos 5 Year Old to be a great mixing rum,  It works well in daiquiris, and makes a wicked rum and coke.  But, perhaps because this reminded me so much of whiskey, I enjoyed it best mixed with Canada Dry Ginger Ale like this:

Arctic Wolf’s Rum & Ginger on Ice

In a mixing glass:
lots of ice
1 part Juan Santos Five Year Old Rum
3 parts Canada Dry Ginger Ale
Make sure you pour the rum over the ice, then add the Canada Dry Ginger Ale.  Cheers!


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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