Review: Hispaniola Mamajuana Rum Liqueur 78.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted April 20, 2010
Hispaniola Mamajuana is a liqueur based upon a herb infused rum and wine drink called mamajuana which is indigenous to the Isle of Hispaniola (modern island of Dominican Republic and Haiti). The original mamajuana was a medicinal drink whose roots reach back to the original inhabitants of Hispaniola, the Taino, (who Columbus mistakenly called Indians). This original drink was more of a tea beverage made by boiling local roots and perhaps bark. As the drink evolved, honey was added as a sweetener, and over time rum and wine were added and the drink became the mamajuana known on the Island today.
In doing my research on this unique product, I came across a few suggestions that the original drink has medicinal properties to help with everything from arthritis to toothaches. But the most intriguing suggestion is that it has the ability to increase potency in men, and desire in women. It is playfully called, ‘Viagra Dominica’ by its adherents. This means my review should be most interesting as I, like you, am genuinely skeptical, but genuinely curious about Hispaniola Mamajuana.
Hispaniola Mamajuana is produced by Mardi S.A. made from aged rum and honey as well as a secret recipe of over twenty different herbs and spices. It bottled at 30 % alcohol by volume. My sample for this review was provided by Rum Runner Imports who are bringing the product to market in my home Province.
In the Bottle 4/5
Hispaniola Mamajuana arrives in a clear tall bottle pictured here to the left. The bottle is not fancy, but it serves the purpose for which it is intended. There is a little heritage with the Isle of Hispaniola featured on the label, but I could find no references to the medicinal benefits which my research had suggested I may encounter.
In the Glass 7.5/10
In the glass the rum liqueur has a rich amber colouration with a mahogany taint. The liqueur displays long trickling legs which seem to return grudgingly back to the bottom of the glass.
There seems to be a myriad of aromas trying to escape as soon as the glass is poured. Anise, woody herbs, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, honey, and faint airs of brown sugar all rise up in a stew of exotic aroma. The nose is aggressive and almost seems medicinal with hints of menthol. (I guess I should not be surprised as the original mamajuana is considered a medicine in folklore.)
In the Mouth 47.5/60
Hispaniola Mamajuana is soft with a nice feeling of oil. This is a rum drink which must be sipped very slowly and gently. The flavours are aggressive. It is also a bit of a chameleon in the mouth. Several of my friends were tasting with me, and the impressions were quite different with each person. One tasted primarily black licorice, another, tasted primarily the cloves and allspice. I suspect that this is because of the aggressiveness of the individual flavours, and how these flavours react to different palate conditions.
After several tastings, I found I could discern a large variety of flavours. The sweetness of honey lies on top of other flavours of licorice, cinnamon, and woody tannin. Cloves, allspice and ginger pop in and out at different times each taking their turn catching my attention depending upon my mood and the time of day. There was much more as well, including an undercurrent of bitterness which seemed to stem from woody bark, twigs and dry grassy notes.
In the Throat 12/15
The Mamajuana has a long sweet honey filled finish. Hints of menthol are attached to the sweetness. A fading dry grassy taste somehow manages to creep in right at the very end of the experience.
The Afterburn 7.5/10
In some ways this is the most interesting part of the review. The original recipe for Mamajuana, is supposed to have somewhat magical properties for the libido, somewhat like an aphrodisiac, and somewhat like Viagra. So everyone must be wondering … did it work?
I will only say that the power of suggestion can be a powerful placebo. In the case of Hispaniola Mamajuana, as long the power of suggestion remains strong, I shall keep a bottle on hand.
You may read some of my other reviews of Liqueurs and Flavoured Spirits (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
My Scores are out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret them 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 spirit. 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)