El Dorado 12 Year Old Special Reserve
Review: El Dorado 12 Year Old Special Reserve Rum (93.5pts)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Revised November, 2012
Demerara County (in Guyana) is popular across the world for its rich, three hundred year history of rum production. Using a combination of old wooden stills in conjunction with modern stills and distilling techniques, Demerara Distillers Ltd. (DDL) has built a reputation for outstanding quality and consistent production. In fact, Demerara Distillers is the currently the largest supplier of bulk Caribbean rums to Europe and North America.
The El Dorado 12 Year Old Special Reserve Rum is blended from aged stocks (the youngest being no less than 12 years old) from the original Wooden Enmore Coffey still, the original metal Diamond Coffey still, as well as from the ancient Port Mourant double wooden pot still which was used to produce ‘navy’ rum for the English Admiralty. All of the Demerara Rum produced by El Dorado is aged exclusively in American oak (bourbon barrels).
In The Bottle 5/5
The presentation for the 12 yr, the 15 yr and the 21 yr old El Dorado Rums includes a squat smokey opaque brown bottle which has a funky old world charm and which looks great on my rum shelf. I like the fact that each rum in the series arrives in a smartly coloured display box which helps to protect the spirit from the deleterious effects of light. Finally each is closed with a quality cork topper which for me is the final requirement for a quality presentation.
In the Glass 9.5/10
This really is a great rum to nose in the glass. Oak and wood spices provide a nice backdrop for the sweet baking spices (vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves) and rich molasses that rises into the breezes above the glass. There are hints of spicy orange peel, and fresh citrus fruit which appear and disappear within the aroma, and I have a hard time finding fault. All of theses scents and smells deepen as the glass sits. I smell rich tobacco, marzipan and hints of marmalade which have all evolved as the rum breathes. I am tempted to give a perfect score.
In My mouth 56/60
This rum enters my mouth with a spicy sweet baking spice explosion. Deep dark brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and hints of orange peel and citrus fruit lay upon a foundation of oak and wood spices. Rich tobacco accents the flavour and some luscious dark fruit (dates and raisins) finds its way into the flavour profile. The overall flavour is sweet but not overwhelmingly so, and a soft nuttiness lies under the other flavours giving the rum just a hint of bitterness which offsets that sweetness nicely.
What I truly love about this rum is how I seem to like it just a little more every time I pour another glass. The flavours remain rich and strong but never cloying.
In My Throat 14/15
This has a long spicy finish which leaves the mouth and throat heated. The spicy oak, and baking spices last and last in the mouth and throat in a marvelous combination.
The Afterburn 9/10
I have tried this rum in many settings and in many different cocktails, and it pleases me almost completely every time. I find that the sweetness of the rum is perfectly balanced with the spicy oakiness and I also appreciate that the flavour of the El Dorado 12 Year Old remains robust and complex yet very approachable.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
The El Dorado 12 Year Old Rum can and should be sipped neat or with ice. Having said that, there is no reason not to enjoy the spirit in wonderful cocktails as well. Cocktails which I found that enhanced my experience with the rum were ones which used a foil spirit like Amaretto or Grand Marnier to offset the spicy oak of the El Dorado 12 year Old. Here are a few Recipes:
The El Padrino
(Spanish for Godfather)
The name El Padrino fits perfectly as a premium aged oaky rums such as El Dorado 12 may truly be called the Godfather of Rums!
2 oz El Dorado 12 Year Rum
1 oz Amaretto
1/8 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
Build on ice in small rocks glass
Garnish with a thin slice of lemon.
In order to bring this cocktail to the level of quality I was seeking, I used the most excellent Louis Alexandre Grand Marnier in conjunction with the El Dorado 12 Year.
The Royal Batiste
1 1/2 oz El Dorado 12 Year Rum
1/2 oz Louis Alexandre Grand Marinier
Build in a cocktail Glass on one Large Ice Cube
For those who want to know, ‘batiste’ refers to an extremely soft and elegant cotton fabric first produced in France. Baptiste of Cambrai a (13th Century weaver) is credited with its first production. My cocktail thus refers to the soft and elegant nature of the two spirits used which make this a drink fit for Royalty.
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)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)