Review: Doorly’s Fine Old Barbados Rum (91/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted April 14, 2010
I did something a little different for this review in that I gathered a few of my good friends to help me sample the Doorly’s Fine Old Barbados Rum (the rum can interchangeably be called Doorly’s X.O.). We sampled four spirits that evening, three rums and one whisky. I can say with complete confidence that the Doorly’s X.O. was the most favoured spirit by everyone who attended (six persons in all). Everyone commented on the light sweet taste and the remarkable smoothness, both of which were unexpected, considering this is a Bajan rum. This initial first tasting with friends allowed me to garner tasting notes from a variety of persons, and thus my review write-up owes a little bit of love to my friends.
Doorly’s XO, (the XO stands for Extra Old) is a product of R. L. Seale & Co. Ltd. , distilled in Barbados. There are several rums in the Doorly’s family of rums with the XO sitting at, or near the top of their portfolio. The rum does not have an age statement on the bottle, but I did a little checking on a few websites and most seem to agree that Doorly’s is about six to ten years old probably blended from several rums in that age range. The rums in the blend are first aged in American Whiskey Barrels and then finished in Olorosso Sherry barrels.
I was asked by a local importer (Rum Runner Imports.ca) to review the spirit, and anyone reading this review may assume that I did not pay for the bottle of rum used in this review.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
In doing my research, I stumbled upon some pictures of Doorly’s XO which show the rum displayed with a very eye catching canister. I love to display my premium spirits in the protective canisters on my shelf. It just adds so much to the overall presentation. I would have shown you the pictures; but, I was unsure of the copyright implications, so I decided to err on the side of legality; and you will have to trust me that these canisters do exist, and that they look quite fine.
I also like a little story on the label, and the Doorly’s X.O. comes with just such a story. The label reads:
“From the house of Martin Doorly, has emerged a rum without equal. To produce the unique character of Doorly’s X.O., some of the oldest rums are carefully selected for a special second maturation.
The second Maturation is carried out with the oak already seasoned in the aging of the Spanish Oloroso Sherry. The result is a delicate fusing of complex flavours giving rise to a rum of unparalleled excellence.”
The only drawback to the presentation was the pressed on metal screw cap. I was forced to deduct half a point from what was otherwise a perfect presentation. (By the way, the bird on the label is the beautiful Blue Hyacinth Macaw.)
In the Glass 9/10
The rum, when poured into my glass, immediately put forth a nice updraft of sweet dark molasses. Light scents of cherries, vanilla, and oak spice provide support for the molasses, and the immediate nose is mild and pleasant. I like to wait with the rum in the glass to see how the nose changes with a longer exposure to air. In the case of the Doorly’s X.O., my reward for patience was marvelous. The light scents on the original nose coalesce into rich baking spices. Deep dark brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a light citrus wound their way into the nose which also became filled with a more pronounced spicy oak.
When I swirled the glass I was greeted with a contradiction. Immediately after the swirl, I saw long legs running down the sides of the glass. But… after waiting a few more moments I saw larger fatter droplets crawling down. My sense here is that the rum is a blend of at least two distinctly different styles of rum, each imparting their own characteristics separately onto the sides of the glass.
In the Mouth 55/60
Over a period of two weeks, I sipped Doorly’s X.O., and I was captivated by contradiction. The first flavour I noticed was a sweet mild caramel toffee, yet in spite of the mild flavour, my tongue was also greeted with a tart orange peel and oak tannin. Apricots seemed to dance in the flavour profile with whispers of cherries, only to turn into bananas and raisins when I take the next sip. The addition of an ice cube tames the tartness almost completely, and the result is a more definite expression of banana and a milder toffee profile.
The rum is sweet yet tart. It is soft and rich; yet it has a crispness I normally associate with spirits that have less oil. These contradictions reinforce my opinion that we have a distinct duality of rums in the blend. I seem to be able to taste the different rums in the blend at different times. The first rum is a mild sweet rum full of toffee, and the second is almost an Appleton style rum full of oak tannin and 0range peel. A mild smokey nuttiness acts to bridge the gap between these two styles but does not quite manage to harmonize the flavours. In spite of this apparent lack of balance, and a lack of robustness of the flavour profile, I find myself constantly drawn back to take the next sip to see which style of rum I taste next.
In the Throat 13.5/15
The rum has a mild smooth finish with absolutely no burn. Sweet caramel sits in the back of my mouth after the exit of the rum, and orange peel zest spices my throat. The orange peel seems to gain a little strength and then fades. I taste a touch of smoke in the exit which must be the Olorosso Sherry casks having the last word.
The Afterburn 9/10
It occurs to me that the duality I saw, smelled, and tasted in this rum may have come from not just the different rums in the blend, but also from the two different styles of wood used for aging. The Olorosso Sherry Casks which were used to finish the rum must have imparted a light smokiness and perhaps added a dash of fruit and berry into the flavour profile.
But whatever the cause, it is this duality which has raised Doorly’s Fine Old Barbados Rum from the level of a nice rum to the level of an outstanding rum. It was a treat to taste the different nuances, and allow the contradictions to play with my taste buds.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
Let me say that I find this rum very easy to sip neat. Adding a touch of ice makes it even more smooth and pleasant. Doorly’s X.O. does not need to be mixed to be enjoyed thoroughly.
But by now everyone knows that I love to mix premium rum. The greater the rum….the better the cocktail. I have no guilt over mixing even the finest rums, as this is the way that I have found my best cocktails.
I will suggest three cocktails for Doorly’s X.O.; the first is a simple cocktail, based upon the Commodore (which is a whisky cocktail which I happen to enjoy). I decided it would be appropriate keep with the Commodore them and so I named this cocktail after a Commodore’s song called Easy.
a cocktail by Chip (AKA Arctic Wolf)
2 Oz Doorly’s Xo
1/4 Oz Lime Juice
1/4 Oz Lemon Juice
dash of Orange Bitters
Sugar Syrup to taste
Mix a metal cocktail shaker with ice
Shake it up until the shaker frosts over
Strain into a fancy glass of your choice
You may garnish with a small strip of orange peel
(P.S. I do realize that the Whiskey cocktail was not named for the music group, The Commodores, but the song sure fits the mood of this cocktail, especially on a Sunday morning.)
My next suggestion is taken straight from the pages of my handy dandy cocktail book, 1001 Cocktails: 1001 Recipes for the Perfect Drink (Hardcover) ~ Alex Barker (Compiler) On page 562 is a recipe called, The Rum Swizzle. I made only minor modifications and call this:
The Doorly’s Rum Swizzle
2 oz Doorly’s Fine Old Barbados Rum
1 oz Chilled Lime Juice
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup
a dash of Orange Bitters
1/2 cup Crushed Ice
Thoroughly chill all ingredients
Mix in a tall glass with crushed ice
Stir with a swizzle stick until the outside frosts
The final cocktail I shall suggest was forwarded to me by the local Importer for Doorly’s XO, Rum Runner Imports.
Bajan Bay Punch
2oz Doorly’s XO
1/2 oz Amaretto
Mix in a metal shaker and strain into your serving glass
dust with nutmeg for garnish
Always remember, my aim is not to have you drink more…it is to have you drink better!
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)