Rum Review: El Dorado 21-Year
El Dorado 21-Year Old Special Reserve
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:
Mouth feel 1/1
What’s your take on El Dorado 21? Please let me know in the comments section below.