Straight or Swizzled: Rum Tasting Notes

Twelve types of rum for sipping and for mixing.

For Sipping Dos Maderas PX 5 + 5 ($40).
A marriage of Bajan and Guyanese rums, aged for five years in the Caribbean and then shipped to Spain and transferred to sherry casks for another five (hence the "5+5" moniker). A bewitching blend of clove, pipe tobacco, espresso, tawny port, and orange. [Back to Straight or Swizzled: Rum Tasting Notes »
Todd Coleman
Smith & Cross Traditional
($29).
This is how rum tasted before industrialized production filtered out the esters and congeners--impurities that give flavor and depth. Smith & Cross is a brawny blend of Jamaican rums bottled at "navy strength" (114 proof). It's peaty and peppery with a whiff of roasted chestnuts and spiced apple. [Back to Straight or Swizzled: Rum Tasting Notes »
Todd Coleman
Neisson Reserve Speciale
($65).
A beautifully balanced Martinique agricole vieux, with a sensual, silky, elegant charm and a golden hue evoking late-afternoon sunlight; butterscotch and almond predominate. [Back to Straight or Swizzled: Rum Tasting Notes »
Todd Coleman
Rhum J.M. 1997
($120).
A voluptuous 10-year agricole vieux with hints of sage, brown butter, and lemon. A long, spun-sugar finish makes it a perfect dessert rum. [Back to Straight or Swizzled: Rum Tasting Notes »
Todd Coleman
Cruzan Single Barrel Estate
($30).
With its creamy mouth-feel and vanilla accent, this approachable blend of aged Virgin Islands rums just might convert non-rum drinkers. Not only that, but it's a bargain (so much so that mixologists have started using it in drinks, such as See Recipe For Eureka Punch. [Back to Straight or Swizzled: Rum Tasting Notes »
Todd Coleman
El Dorado 15 Year Old Special Reserve Demerara
($35).
Sweet but not cloying, this Guyanese rum plays a symphony of notes: cedar, cigar, praline, fig, caramel, cinnamon. (Choose it over El Dorado 21-year, whose woodiness overtakes other flavors.) [Back to Straight or Swizzled: Rum Tasting Notes »
Todd Coleman
For Mixing Appleton V/X ($20).
A mellow, medium-bodied rum useful for recipes that specify gold Jamaican. Dominant notes of orange and allspice add a welcome layer to cocktails and punches without throwing off the mix. [Back to Straight or Swizzled: Rum Tasting Notes »
Todd Coleman
Lemon Hart 151-Proof Demerara Rum
($30).
You can't make a Zombie without it, or any of Don The Beachcomber's famous concoctions. Its smoky, burnt-molasses flavor was Beach's secret weapon. [Back to Straight or Swizzled: Rum Tasting Notes »
Todd Coleman
Chairman's Reserve Gold
($22).
Though not made in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, this St. Lucian rum is perfect in drinks that call for ron añejo, such as the Chairman's Refresher. A full-bodied but not overassertive blend of aged rums-- some from pot stills, hence its richness. [Back to Straight or Swizzled: Rum Tasting Notes »
Todd Coleman
Rhum Clement V.S.O.P.
($43).
At four years of age, this Martinique agricole is the ideal Mai Tai rum: young enough to avoid absorbing too much oak, old enough to have some character. [Back to Straight or Swizzled: Rum Tasting Notes »
Todd Coleman
Flor de Caña Extra Dry White
($15).
Most contemporary Spanish-style white rum has been leached of flavor by distillers chasing the vodka market. But Flor de Caña's has enough personality to perk up classic cocktails like the daiquiri. Rummy but not aggressively so, with a floral nose. [Back to Straight or Swizzled: Rum Tasting Notes »
Todd Coleman
Appleton Estate Extra
($30).
Expensive but simply the best dark Jamaican rum on the market for tiki drinks. [Back to Straight or Swizzled: Rum Tasting Notes »
Todd Coleman