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Rum Review: El Dorado 15

El Dorado 15 Year-Old Rum Review

If you’ve been with me for a while, you may have read my reviews of other El Dorado rums including the 12 Year and the 21 Year. Today we add the 15 year to the mix to see how the “middle child” stacks up to its siblings. The last time I tried each of the three blindly, I picked the 21 as my favorite; let’s see if a more in-depth look at the 15 changes that opinion.

The El Dorado 15 arrives in the same manner of tan glass bottle as the other two age expressions: short and round, topped by a plastic stopper holding a natural cork. According to the label, the rum inside is at least fifteen years old. Let’s pour a dram.

In the glass, the color appears as a rich mahogany with copper highlights glinting in the light. A swirl yields an extremely thin ring atop the snifter from which droplets begrudgingly creep downward. The nose is mildly astringent, and the initial aroma is of charred oak. After the heavy wood is a dose of candied orange slices and vanilla bean pods. With the rum sitting in the glass for a few minutes, the astringency is non-existent and additional aromas spring forth including fresh pear, ripe plum, and a bit of raisin. There is also a hint of cinnamon and molasses. Let’s taste.

As the rum washes over the palate, candied orange imagery persists, as does the spicy cinnamon and sweet molasses. The mouthfeel is round and fairly thick. A second sip yields a flash of Scotch-like oaken dryness mixed with a heavy dose of cane syrup. Now it’s as though the underlying complexity is being muted by the sweetness. As I continue to sip, the sugary oranges dominate. The finish is long and sweet, but not terribly interesting over time, save for the oaken smoke notes.

After finishing my tasting notes, I pulled out the 12 and 15 to do a quick comparison. Whereas the 12 is bright, sweet and flirty, the 21 is much drier, oaky, and complex. The 15 certainly seems to be a combination of the two, but with the benefit of tasting the 21, the 15 seems like a transitional period that is somewhat unremarkable. It’s sweet and oaky, but not dry enough to be the deeply complex older brother that is the 21. Off to boarding school for you.

On to the scores:

  • Appearance: 1/1
  • Nose: 1.75/2
  • Mouth feel: .75/1
  • Taste: 3/4
  • Aftertaste: 1.5/2
  • Total Score: 8/10

Buy El Dorado 15 Online

What are your thoughts on El Dorado 15? Have you tried a blind vertical tasting of their aged rums? Please share your comments below.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2013 3:33 pm

    Comparing El Dorados is always great fun, but especially because no two ED rums are really made or aged the same way. Here’s just a few of the stills they use:

    # 1x Wooden Coffey Still by Enmore Sugar Estate
    # 1x Single Wooden Pot Still von Versailles Sugar Estate
    # 1x Double Wooden Pot Still von Port Mourant Sugar Estate
    # 2x French Savalle Four-Columns Still von Uitvlugt Sugar Estate
    # 3x Two-Columns Metal Coffey Stills
    # 1x Two-Columns Metal Coffey-like Still
    # 1x Five-Columns Metal Continuous Still
    # 1x Re-Rectification Still
    # 2x Metal Pot Stills

    Now as far as the three you compared:

    The 12: Predominantly two column, metal Coffey still. Secondarily wooden (2 col) Coffey still rum. Essentially a 2 column Coffey stilled rum.

    The 15: Predominantly double wooden pot still blended with the two column metal Coffey still rum. Secondarily a blend ofl single wooden pot still, with the wooden (2 col) Coffey still rum. A strong pot still influence.

    The 21: Predominantly 4 column French Savalle rum. Secondarily a blend of single wooden pot still, with wooden (2 col) Coffey still rum. A thin column stilled rum, with a touch of pot stilled product.

    Keeping in mind the very different stills used to make these three, it’s no surprise that they don’t seem to be the same rum. They aren’t, and it’s not possible to do a veritical flight with these. A terrific vertical would be Barbancourt because it’s the same stills, same output, same rum only aged more or less. This latter is a super way to understand the effect of wood. What’s would be interesting Josh is for you to sip them againg, but this time trying to see how the the stillage expresses itself. If anything the 12 and 21 are more similar, as are the 15 and 25. Keep it up, nice stuff…

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      June 14, 2013 9:07 pm

      Very interesting! Great notes on the stills and methodology. Thanks for the feedback.

  2. December 22, 2014 1:46 am

    El Dorado 15 remains one of my favourite rum’s. The 8 probably comes in as my second favourite.

    In terms of overall profile I find the 5 and 12 match up as do the 8 and 15.

    The 5 and 12 are lighter and sweeter. The 8 and 15 darker and more complex.

  3. December 22, 2014 6:32 am

    FatP… there are some similarities, particularly in your comparison between the 8 and 15 year. The 8 is dominantly made from their two Coffey stills – one wooden and one a very old metal one. However the 15 is much heavier as it is a blend of Coffey output with just as much wooden pot still output. So these two are really rather different, based on the very heavy pot stilled elements.

    The comparison of the 5 and 12 again may be similar in terms of lightness, but again they too differ importantly in that the 5 is entirely made from an old 4-column French Savalle still with just a bit of Coffey output, while the 12 is entirely made from the Coffey stills.

    In terms of lightness the 4 column French Savalles are the lightest, with the Coffey’s being heavier, and of course the pot still heavier again, by far.

    Comparing El Dorado’s is a bit of a foole’s errand, as its like comparing different distilleries using very different stills in very different ways. DDL’s products are in truth, very different from one another. The best way to make even rough comparisons is this chart of how each one of their different blends are made:

    To make matters much worse, the El Dorado products are now of notably less quality. The recent ALKO database from Sweden revealed that the ED 12 & 15 are heavily altered with massive amounts of sugars, at the very least. The ED’s of even 5 or 10 years ago were very different rums of much higher quality.

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