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Santos Dumont XO Rum

Review: Santos Dumont XO Rum  85/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Updated February, 2020

Santos Dumont XO Rum is produced by A.H.Riise Spirits in Dragor, Denmark. A.H. Riise, for those who do not know is one of the largest Scandinavian spirits companies which manufactures, sells and distributes brands of whiskey, rum, vodka, gin, bitters and aquavit. The company (established in 2016) is named for it’s most well known spirits brand A.H. Riise Rum which is an homage to Albert Heinrich Riise who established rum production of rum on Saint Thomas in the Danish West Indies  (now the United States Virgin Islands) in 1838.

The subject of this review is Santos Dumont XO Rum a Brazilian spirit made from freshly pressed virgin sugarcane honey, distilled in old potstills and matured in three different types of oak, ex bourbon, ex Port and ex Pedro Ximenez casks. The spirit carries no age statement, however, if the XO designation has been used in the same manner as for Cognac (we are by no means certain of this), then we can expect that the rum has been aged for about 6 years.

Santos Dumont XO is bottled at 40 % alcohol by Volume.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

Santos Dumont XO is presented in the classy rectangular decanter shown to the left. the attractive display box is included in some retail presentations. A heavy glass base gives the bottle added stability and I think the decanter properly dresses up the rum giving it a strong visual appeal. The top closure is corked, and the opening the bottle gives us that nice satisfying ‘pop’ sound that everyone loves.

I would like to see an age statement upon the bottle or at least some sort of explanation of the XO designation on the bottle as it pertains to the age of the rum inside.

In The Glass 8.5/10

The Santos Dumont XO Rum carries a nice coppery hue in the glass and when that glass is tilted and twirled I see medium large droplets forming thick legs as they amble down the side of the glass. The initial nose is quite sweet with scents of vanilla, butterscotch toffee and maple syrup all rising into the breezes. After the glass is allowed to breathe oak spice pushes through the toffee sweetness. I also notice other sweet scents of candied oranges and canned apricots. Coconut as well as some mushy banana finally appear as well.

The scents and smells are enticing, although I am wondering how the overt sweetness will play itself out as as I taste the rum.

In the Mouth 51/60

The rum enters the mouth with a little bite of heated alcohol and wood spice. There is also an overt maple sweetness which is initially quite tasty; but which soon seems out of step with the structure of the rum. I taste peppery oak spice, maple, honey and apricot jam with a touch of sour pineapple. As I sip the oak seems to become sort of woody.

When I add an ice cube and allow the dram to cool, the rum seems find new life. I can now sip the spirit quite easily, and the cloying nature of the sweetness has abated. I am actually increasing the score a little now that I have found a suitable way to enjoy it.

In The Throat: 12.5/15

The rum is full bodied, although I suspect this is more due to added sweetness than to do with the age of the spirit. I taste sweet butterscotch and maple combined with oak and oak spice. Baking spice and cinnamon linger as does a sort of honeyed sweetness.

The Afterburn  8.5/10

Santos Dumont XO Rum looses its appeal if it is sipped neat as the dichotomy of honeyed sweetness with what appears to be more heat from alcohol than spiciness from oak aging leaves me unsatisfied. However, when ice is added more of the sweetness is reined in and  oak flavour is highlighted in a more positive manner.  This is how I suggest you enjoy the spirit..

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


You may (loosely) interpret the scores 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


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