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Rum Review: El Dorado 21-Year

El Dorado 21-Year Old Special Reserve

El Dorado 21-Year Old Special Reserve Rum

Up for review today is a rum that’s old enough to drink itself: El Dorado 21-Year. Unlike some of the other producers and blenders that pull numerical shenanigans on their labels, this one from the fine folks at Demerara Distillers Limited is a blend of rums *at least* twenty-one years old. From what I understand, the oldest rum in the blend is 35 years old. Not too shabby for a bottle that costs about $60 online. In-store prices range anywhere from $70-$95.

The bottle itself is the same style and shape as the 12 and 15 year products from El Dorado, sporting gold foil and the tall ship on the label. The closure is a proper cork stopper with a plastic top. Let’s crack this bottle open and see what’s inside.

I poured a few ounces into my tasting snifter and swirled. The color is a brilliant copper bronze. The viscosity appears to be fairly high given the slow pace of the droplets’ fall to the bottom of the snifter.

The aroma is delightful. Virtually no astringency—I would expect nothing less from a rum of this age, but one never knows. As I take it all in, I’m sensing a smooth, non-assertive oak foundation with caramel crème just above. Hints of vanilla and banana conjure up images of banana crème pie. We’re off to a good start here, folks.

Now for a taste. As the rum hits my mouth, I’m a bit surprised by the level of heat and spice I’m getting from such a smooth smelling character. The creamy texture has coated my mouth and tongue, and I’m sensing a little sweetness, but it’s overmatched by the spice. The initial flavor is decidedly oak. The flavors initially run together in a fairly busy mélange and I’m having trouble picking out the individual components. Let’s try another sip. The caramel is back now, but it’s combined with a molasses flavor at mid-palate, and on the round periphery, I’m sensing a bit of citrus for the first time—almost like a blood orange—tart and sweet at the same time with just a hint of bitterness. The spice notes include cinnamon and nutmeg. Further tastes reveal a smoky quality that is pervasive in the extremely long finish. As I continue to sip, the smoky quality is really striking. I could see a peated Scotch drinker really loving this rum. Not that it’s that smoky, mind you, but the potential for crossover here is intriguing, as I’m always looking to convert folks into rum drinkers.

Without a 15-year El Dorado in stock, I can’t make a direct comparison, but out of curiosity I poured a bit of the 12-year to see how it stacked up to its older brother. It’s definitely a younger tasting rum, but it’s still delightful. A little sharper than the 21, but many of the same flavor components are here save for the smoke. It’s also a bit hotter and just a tad more astringent.

In summary, this is another fine sipping rum from DDL, and if you can grab a bottle, you should definitely do so. Here are my scores:

Appearance 1/1
Aroma 2/2
Mouth feel 1/1
Taste 3.5/4
Aftertaste 2/2

Total 9.5/10

Buy El Dorado 21 online

What’s your take on El Dorado 21? Please let me know in the comments section below.


10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2012 12:12 am

    Another great review.
    This is one of my favourites, it’s extraordinary in the literal sense of the word. I love the smokiness and complexity. It is out of ‘regular buy’ price for me but is my go to rum when I have a few extra pennies to spare.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      September 11, 2012 7:30 pm

      Mahalo, MJ! Definitely a rum for special occasions.

  2. September 11, 2012 6:23 pm

    For its price the only other rum in its class I ever found was the Rum Nation Panama 21 year old, and that also costs less than a hundred. Brilliant products, the both of them.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      September 11, 2012 7:31 pm

      Ruminsky, I’m intrigued! I have never heard of the Rum Nation Panama 21, but I’ll definitely keep an eye out for it. Cheers!

      • Lance R. permalink
        September 12, 2012 5:22 am

        At the risk of shilling for my own site, I do have the review up on Liquorature if you’re interested. Rum Nation is an Italian outfit formed in 1999 and produce limited edition bottlings – I was so impressed with the few I tasted, I bought their entire line in one go. Their Demerara 23 year old and Jamaica 25 year old are simply stunning rums. As for another good 21 year old, the Juan Santos 21 from Columbia is lighter than you’d expect (diametrically opposed to the El Dorado, really) , but smooth and complex and subtly awesome. Hope you have the chance to sample one of these days.

  3. Josh Miller permalink*
    September 12, 2012 7:55 am

    Thanks for that, Lance — I’ll be sure and check out your site!

  4. Justen permalink
    October 4, 2012 8:11 am

    Loving it. Whilst reading I sip the 12 yr old and it’s making me ever so curious about the 21 yr.

    Good stuff for a good price.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      October 4, 2012 8:27 am

      Nice! I have yet to have an ElDo product I didn’t want more of. Cheers

  5. Sonny permalink
    December 23, 2015 7:00 am

    I wish you would have had a bottle of El Dorado 15 to compare. I find the 15 very superior to the 12 year old. And the price jump from 15 to 21 is quite significant.


  1. New Rum Review: El Dorado 21-Year Old Special Reserve « Inu a Kena

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