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Rum Review: Treaty Oak

Treaty Oak Rum Review

Treaty Oak Barrel Reserve Rum and Silver Rum

Hailing from Austin, Texas comes Treaty Oak rum—a rum from a small distillery that has been generating considerable buzz for its artisanal spirits. While not yet widely available on the West Coast, I was fortunate enough to receive samples recently from the distillery. Let’s get into them!

Treaty Oak Rum arrives in thick glass bottles of medium height with a classic shape and plastic-topped synthetic corks. The labels are elegantly understated, and bear the image of (wait for it) an oak tree. The rum is made from Texas molasses, sourced from the last sugar mill in the state in a small town near the southern tip of Texas called Santa Rosa.

We’ll begin at the beginning, with their unaged rum fresh from the still (proofed down to 40% ABV). In the glass, the rum is perfectly clear, and a swirl produces the thinnest ring atop the glass from which droplets eventually form and descend. The nose is only mildly astringent, and the aroma is earthy and sweet. There is a hint of vanilla and banana, but there is also a bit of funky grass and a round phenolic note. I’m officially intrigued! Let’s have a taste…

The rum enters very smoothly—only after breathing in does the spice make itself known. The taste is quite unique among light molasses-based rums: it’s earthy and vegetal, yet sweet and quite round in its mouthfeel. Subsequent sips yield molasses, allspice, pepper and a hint of dried fruit–dates, mostly. The banana is still there, but it’s the earthy qualities that ultimately win out in the finish, which is quite long for such a young rum.

We’re off to a good start—let’s take a look at their aged rum: the Treaty Oak Barrel Reserve Rum. The Barrel Reserve has rested in first use American oak barrels for about two years in the Texas sun. The color imparted by those new barrels is a deep copper with flashes of bronze.

The nose is delightful. There is virtually no astringency here, and the aromas immediately presenting themselves are reminiscent of a bakery filled with just-baked pies: ripe apple, cooked pears, vanilla, and caramel all come together with incredible synergy. Just beyond the bakery is the suggestion of a wood-fired oven. I can’t wait any longer; let’s taste.

The rum enters with a spicy kick that I didn’t see coming, but at the same time is quite welcome. There is definitely a heavy oak character here, but it’s quickly backed by the sweet fruit pie flavors we found on nosing. The baked apples and pears are here, but it’s as though they were cooked over an open fire in the Texas hill country. Digging deeper, there is a hint of banana, allspice, and pepper. The medium-long, semi-sweet finish is ultimately dominated by the charred oak notes. The mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I expected, but it all works quite well overall.

Having enjoyed a few glasses of Treaty Oak Rum now, I am pleased to call myself a fan. It’s not easy to compete as an artisanal rum maker in the United States, so I am always eager to promote the ones doing it well. Well done, Treaty Oak!

On to the scores:

Treaty Oak Rum

  • Appearance 1/1
  • Aroma 1.5/2
  • Mouth feel 1/1
  • Taste 3/4
  • Aftertaste 2/2
  •  Total 8.5/10

Treaty Oak Barrel Reserve Rum

  • Appearance 1/1
  • Aroma 2/2
  • Mouth feel 1/1
  • Taste 3.5/4
  • Aftertaste 1.75/2
  •  Total 9.25/10

Buy Treaty Oak Rum online

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2013 7:31 am

    Sue Sea and I are big advocates of the small and independent distillers, on whose success rides the hopes for a return to real and unaltered rums. We are certainly interested in these, based on your reviews. Surprisingly this distiller has a minimal web presence (they do have computers down thataway, si?), so we’re unable to find any real information regarding their raw materials, fermentation, type and size of oak (beyond “first use”), distillation details, or aging proof or methods, additives and the like.

    It’s like buyin an unbranded steer, lol. Josh, it thus falls on you: can you please share any other details of production, and oh, we’d be curious as to the proof of these bottles. Thanks. One final note: Treaty Oak has the same problems of any distiller and that is financial survival, usually pursued by producing white spiris first (they have), while a bit of product (and money) is set aside for aging.

    First use oak (and sometimes smaller barrels) is a bow to the need to be able to sell the aged product sooner – your review indicates they may have pulled it off, at least for a 2 year product. After that the rum either must be sold, or transferred to less aggressive cooperage. If I understand you they may have reached the limits of fast (but incomplete) aging, would you agree?

    Thanks again.

  2. July 21, 2016 7:14 pm

    Great review! Big fan of Daniel Barnes’ rums, his aged gin and blended whiskey is also fantastic. I’ve been using their white rum in my cocktail book recipes since 2011 and it mixes extraordinarily well.


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