by Robert Plotkin
|THE NEW DARLING OF THE SNIFTER SET
Not everyone can jaunt off to the Caribbean, but sipping a fine old rum may be the next best thing. Añejo rums are lush, elegant spirits similar in complexity and depth of flavor to well-aged brandies. Equally attractive is that they’re surprisingly inexpensive. Spirits mature faster in the heat and humidity of the Caribbean basin, as a result, rums barrel-aged for 12, 18 or 21 years often cost about half of what a comparably aged single malt or alembic brandy would.
And then there’s rum’s romantic allure to consider. These tropical gems are imbued with tantalizing aromas and rich palate-pleasing flavors. The combination can be rather intoxicating.
And We Sipped . . .
Mount Gay 1703 Old Cask Selection is another world-class offering from the oldest distiller of rum on the planet. Retailed for around $100, this ultra-sophisticated spirit is a blend of rums ranging in age from 10 to 30 years drawn from the impressive Mount Gay cellars. Its bouquet alone is well worth the price of admission, which means that the lingering finish of oak, caramel, ripe banana and spiced fruit is thrown into the deal for free. Clearly a rum created with a snifter in mind.
The same can be said for Gosling’s Family Reserve Old Rum. It’s crafted from a premium blend of continuous- and pot-distilled Caribbean rums and marketed in hand-numbered champagne bottles sealed with black wax. Extended aging imbues the rum with a luscious bouquet and a bittersweet palate of chocolate, butterscotch, honey and baked apple pie. Little wonder why the Gosling family reserved it for themselves.
Comprised of a blend of older reserves, Brugal Extra Viejo from the Dominican Republic makes it easy to understand why sipping rums are so popular. The top-shelf añejo immediately commands attention with its bouquet with notes of raisins, toasted oak and pipe tobacco. It delivers a payload of mouthwatering flavors including roasted coffee, hot cocoa with hints of nutmeg and anise. Priced in the mid-$20s, Extra Viejo is a shinning example of affordable luxury.
Flor de Caña Grand Reserve is distilled from estate-grown sugar cane and aged in charred American white oak barrels for 7 years in the often oppressive heat and humidity of Nicaragua. Flor de Caña does not blend its rums, so each marque is aged for the exact amount of time stated on its label. The mahogany colored Gran Reserve has a generous, semisweet bouquet of vanilla, caramel and molasses.
Equally engaging is Haitian Rhum Barbancourt Estate Réserve, a museum-grade agricole rhum double-distilled from fresh cane juice and aged in Limousin oak for 15 years. Best sipped neat, the rhum is a delectable postprandial dram graced with a voluptuous body and Mata Hari–like charms. What a sublime way to go. Salud!