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Rum Review: Plantation Barbados 5-Year Grand Reserve

Plantation 5-Year Barbados

Plantation 5-Year Barbados Grande Reserve Rum

Being a rum enthusiast, I’m oft asked the following question: “If I buy just one rum for my bar, which one should it be?” Plantation Barbados 5-Year, I reply.

If you’ve been following me on Twitter (@inuakena) you may have noticed that I often gush about Ferrand products. I suppose after a few generations of producing and blending spirits, you really get into a groove. But while you would expect to be wowed by a Plantation XO 20th Anniversary rum, no one would blame you for doubting the awesomeness of a mere five year-old rum. One sip later, however, you might find your doubts dashed. Let’s take a look at this young rum and find out why it  occupies a unique niche in today’s rum market.

The Plantation bottle itself is fantastic. Clear, classic, and at a medium height, the glass is wrapped in a loose raffia netting that offers little protection, but generates a  palpable feeling of nostalgia. Adding to the classic look and feel is a tattered ivory label and a proper natural cork stopper. At the bottom of the bottle, the word “Plantation” sits proudly.

Out of the bottle, the rum presents itself in a copper bronze–lighter than its older brethren, but suitably altered by its time in oak, both in Barbados and France (Ferrand typically finishes their rums at home in France in select casks previously used to age whiskey, sherry, cognac, and the like). A swirl in the glass produces an initially razor thin ring that thickens before yielding a number of fat legs that slowly slide downward.

The nose is only slightly astringent, which is pleasantly surprising, given its youth. The first aromas are of lovely treats from grandma’s candy dish: butterscotch, caramel, and toffee. The candies give way to a second wave of wholesome treats from the fruit basket: banana, pineapple and tangerine.

The first taste bursts onto the palate with a rambunctious entry fit for a five year-old, but soon settles in agreeably. The bright beginnings  are spicy but sweet, generating a mouthfeel that is medium in viscosity and perfectly satisfactory.  The flavors closely correlate with the aromas: butterscotch and toffee lead the way with an almost immediate kick of pepper and a slight hint of clove. After the sugar and spice comes the fruit again: banana, pineapple and a bit of citrus on the medium length finish.

As I sip my two-ounce pour neat, I can’t help but reflect on where this rum came from, and the value it represents. I’m sipping an aged rum from Barbados, shipped to France, re-casked and further aged, then shipped to California and sold for $16/750ml at BevMo. I’m sipping a sixteen dollar rum! NEAT!

If you don’t have a bottle of Plantation 5-Year Barbados Grande Reserve, you should definitely buy one. And while it can stand the test of a neat sip,  it goes beautifully with an ice cube,  a splash of coconut water, or any mixed drink. At these prices, you can afford to use it as your “well” gold rum as I do.

On to the scores:

  • Appearance 1/1
  • Aroma 1.75/2
  • Mouth feel 1/1
  • Taste 2.75/4
  • Aftertaste 2/2
  •  Total 8.5/10

Buy Plantation 5 online

What do think of Plantation 5-Year? Have you found a better rum under $20? Tell us about it below!


25 Comments leave one →
  1. January 29, 2013 9:38 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! I keep 5 bottles of it on hand. When one is cracked, the search for its replacement is ON!

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      January 30, 2013 9:12 am

      Great minds think alike! Cheers

  2. February 9, 2013 7:36 am

    I wish someone in Canada (Alberta, actually), would start to import the Plantation line. I’ve only ever sampled two, and this one isn’t one of ’em. Grrr. Now you’ve got me wondering how I can get this, just on the strength of this review.

    • Martini M permalink
      February 13, 2013 2:44 pm

      Ruminsky, we can get it in Manitoba (Winnipeg). My previous favourite, Mount Gay Extra Old, changed their bottling a while back and the taste seems to have changed. since then the Plantation Barbados 5 Year Old Grand Reserve has become my new go to bottle. It’s about $30 here. Maybe get a friend here to send you a few. Good luck

  3. JJ - The Rum Man permalink
    September 15, 2013 1:46 am

    My friend and I have tried over 30 different rums And Plantation 5 year Barbados is by far a GREAT Deal with a GREAT Taste and compares or beats other rums at much higher $$.
    I pay $16 here in Ct. and have turned on many friends to drinking rum with this Great Rum. i have tried all the other Plantation products 5 year the best.

    • Nyck permalink
      November 14, 2014 10:59 am

      where did you get it in CT.?

      • Josh Miller permalink*
        November 14, 2014 12:23 pm

        Nyck, you can find this and other Plantation rums at the Total Wine in Norwalk.

      • matt permalink
        November 22, 2014 6:26 am

        I buy it there most of the time. I also get it price matched at amilty wines in new haven and hamden with the totalwine price from my cell phone. they hate to see me coming because im not paying the extra 20-25% they charge over totalwine. it seems pretty widely available in many stores I shop at.

  4. Matt permalink
    September 27, 2014 12:06 pm

    A long time single malt and bourbon drinker here who has just recently seen the light. I have had rum in the last and liked it just fine in drinks. My father in law told me he tried a angostura 1824 (also a tried and seasoned bourbon and cigar guy) and he said it was exceptional.

    It peaked my interest. So I went out with the wife and settled on a Plantation XO 20th anniversary neat at my local Latin restaurant and was blown away. I went the next day and bought a bottle of this 5 year as a start and was again blown away with how good this rum is for only being 5 years of age. It is amazing it is shipped and finished in France in cognac casks. Just love it and I’m hooked on rum.

    Now have this one, dorleys, Eldorado 12 and diplomatico reserva in my stable and looking to expand. Glad to now be in the know of how good complex well aged rum can be.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      September 27, 2014 4:06 pm

      Great stuff, Matt! Welcome to the fold. You’ll find a lot of other god rum suggestions here on the site, but if you have any questions along the way, feel free to shoot me an email. Cheers!

  5. nyck permalink
    November 22, 2014 4:47 pm

    Thank you!

  6. Austin permalink
    April 26, 2015 8:02 am

    Where can I buy please. I’M use to Mount Gay and Wray & Nephew “over proof” but looking for an encore ! Many thanks! Austin

  7. Anthony permalink
    March 11, 2016 5:00 pm

    More of a Bourbon drinker, this is only the 2nd rum I’ve really found I can drink straight, along w/Prichards Crystal Rum. Luckily the guy and the liquor store turned me onto it. It’s everything stated in the review, and 3 years later still fairly cheap at $21.

  8. jeffmartin254 permalink
    February 16, 2017 5:17 pm

    I love rum and this rum is an absolute bargain. Even without the bargain I would always have it on hand. I just lucked out with my pick as I had forgotten my iPhone and could not “vet” the brand in the store. I drink it with a splash of water and a couple of cubes. If I use coke for a mixer I would use Sailor Jerry but most of the time I just want a rum…rum.

  9. Jeff permalink
    March 26, 2017 8:15 pm

    Is there a reason why yours and other blogs review this rum identified as the Plantation Barbados 5 Year Grande Reserve, but the Plantation website identifies two different blended rums, the Plantation Grande Reserve (3 year old) and the Plantation Barbados 5 Year? Which product on the website does this review apply to?

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      March 27, 2017 1:30 pm

      Hi Jeff–this review is from a simpler time when Plantation only had a few marques in the classic range. I was actually unaware of the additions until you mentioned their Web site, which prompted me to take a look. I have not seen those newer editions on the shelf here in CA yet, but I imagine this would be equivalent to the current Plantation 5 Barbados marque.

      • Jeff permalink
        March 27, 2017 5:20 pm

        Awesome, thanks for the response Josh. Love the blog btw, this is how I got into rum.

      • Josh Miller permalink*
        March 27, 2017 5:36 pm

        Thanks for reading! Cheers

  10. Scott T permalink
    April 14, 2018 8:53 pm

    This rum has 20 g/ltr of added sugar. If you want a comparable rum at a fraction of the price with NO added sugar try Doorly’s 5 yr Barbados rum. I can get a 1.75 of that for the same price as a 750 of Plantation.

  11. Justin Romero permalink
    September 8, 2021 9:10 pm

    i went to this after a 8 year barbancourt rum. it hits early like the review says but then leaves your tounge smooth i serve it chilled or ill even have a glass with 3 cubes ice ill pour it swirl it around for 30-60sec and then pour that into another glass to drink 🙂 . i like the aromas and taste and it holds its own to the barbancourt .

  12. bob permalink
    March 14, 2023 4:05 am

    If you can find it, try “Old Brigand Black Label Superior Barbados Rum”. My favorite for $20.


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