Rum Review: El Dorado 15 White Port Cask Finish
El Dorado 15-Year White Port Cask Finish Review
It took me a while to understand Demerara rum. It’s a big, bold rum whose rounded edges and nuanced flavors can elude the novice taster struggling to contend with the funkier, more buttery elements. Time and a bit of rum has changed that for me, but nothing helped me to understand this rum more than a pilgrimage to the source. I was fortunate enough to visit the distillery in 2015 thanks to WIRSPA and the ACR program. It was there that I saw the incredible paradox of their operation, running ancient wooden stills alongside carbon capture systems and biogas reactors (I subsequently nominated Demerara Distillers for a Tales of the Cocktail sustainability award [which they won!]). It was a truly unforgettable experience that re-shaped my feelings about DDL’s rums and Guyana itself.
But on to the task at hand. I first saw the El Dorado 15 cask-finishes on my way out of the airport in Guyana. But as much as I wanted to grab the entire line, they were pretty spendy, I was traveling with a small bag, and it was too early to be thinking about rum after staying out late. The night before we had the privilege of dining with some of the DDL execs before partying until the wee hours at the Gravity Lounge in Georgetown with the owner Navin Singh. Suffice to say, Navin will not let you leave his club unless you’ve had a good time! So yes, when I saw the El Dorado cask finishes, I had to pass for a variety of reasons. Thankfully, I was able to procure this bottle along with another in the series from an online retailer here in the US.
The rum is ostensibly a standard issue El Dorado 15 that has been further aged (~1 year) in white Port casks, but how different is it? Let’s get some of this juice in a glass and see how it compares.
In the glass, the El Dorado White Port Cask finish (43% ABV, $120) shows a deep copper mahogany with flashes of gold in the light. A swirl produces an evenly-spaced set of legs that descend willingly.
The nose is more subdued than a typical Demerara rum. It exhibits the familiar chewy bottom end, but that is quickly attenuated by brighter notes including tropical blossoms and citrus zest. In the middle lies key lime pie, Chantilly cream and crème brulee.
The entry shows a moderate amount of heat and a quick and hefty dose of oak and tannins. The mouthfeel is drier than expected—delightfully so, actually. Now with a palate attuned to the spirit, some of the more typical Demerara flavors appear. And as those earthy, chewy, almost subtly unctuous qualities make themselves known and provide a foundation upon which the rest of the rum’s flavors will be built, a licorice component comes into play along with a set of spices including cinnamon and black pepper. Another sip and the bakery notion reappears with crème brulee and dark chocolate, followed by the Chantilly cream and vanilla we noticed upon nosing.
The long, dry finish delights the mid and upper palate with leather and tobacco notes while the chewy, almost vegetal notes keep things well-grounded. Wow, this one has something for everyone–a true delight, and easily the best El Dorado rum I’ve had thus far.