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El Dorado 8 Year Old Cask Aged Rum

Review: El Dorado 8 Year Old Cask Aged Rum 91/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted March 23, 2014

The Diamond Distillery sits on the East Bank of the Demerara River near Georgetown, Guyana. The Distillery, originally attached to the now closed Diamond Sugar Estate, is home to Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL). Two years ago, I was invited by DDL and Woodman Wines and Spirits to travel to Guyana for a very exclusive tour of DDL’s facilities with a small group of Canadian Spirits Writers and Restauranteurs.

Some of the ‘Heritage Stills’ I saw in operation were over 250 years old, and they were still producing (as closely as possible) the same historic marques of rum which they had produced over two centuries ago. Superimposed upon the scene of ancient Stills and equipment was the dichotomy of a brand new distillation plant which had just begun to produce its own marques of rum side by side with the ancient historic stills. The new distillation plant represents a bridge to DDL’s future of new technology and methods of production. However, by continuing to operate the old plant and maintaining the unique marques of rum upon which the company built its original success, the foundations for that bridge to the future have been set firmly in their historic past.

According to the El Dorado Website, the El Dorado 8 Year old Cask Aged Rum is blended from selected stocks of rum which were produced from no less than four of DDL’s traditional Heritage Stills including both the original Wooden Coffey Still which was rescued from the Enmore Estate and the Double Wooden Pot Still which was rescued from the Port Mourant Estate. Each of these stills is well over 200 years old and they represent the last of their kind operating in the world today. The use of these ancient stills ensures that the Demerara Rum produced at DDL’s Diamond Distillery is unlike anything produced anywhere else in the world. (For more information on the unique Heritage Stills in operation at the Diamond distillery you may read my first hand account here (Diamond Distillery Tour).

The new 8 Year Old Rum from El Dorado Rum was recently released in Ontario, and I was provided a sample bottle by the distributor Woodman Wine and Spirits.

SAM_1070In the Bottle 4.5/5

The 8 Year Old Rum is part of El Dorado’s Fine Cask Aged series of rums which also includes the El Dorado 3 Year  Old and 5 Year Old rums. Therefore the 8 Year Old shares the same bottle design and a very similar label presentation. I like the wide shouldered bottle which gently curves towards the widened base. The shape of the bottle gives the rums a sexier look than a standard straight tall bar room bottle. However, the curved bottle preserves the functionality of that standard tall bottle. The curved bottle is easy to store on my bar shelf, it is easy for me to grab hold of, and it is easy to pour out drinks for cocktails or for sipping neat. The label is attractive and easy to read yet also has just enough elegance to set it apart from the other bottles on my bar. If the bottle were corked with a quality closure, I might be tempted to award a perfect score for presentation.

In the Glass 9.5/10

In the glass, the 8 Year Old Rum displays itself as a golden brown liquid with reddish tinctures which are visible when the glass is held up to the light. A slow tilt and twirl of the glass deposits a nice moderately thick sheen of liquid on the inside of the glass and the crest of the sheen holds back for a moment or two before dropping an abundance droopy leglets which move at a leisurely pace down the inside of the glass back into the rum. The immediate nose reveals a nice mixture of oak and coarse brown sugar as well as spicy scents of cinnamon and toffee, some luscious vanilla, and some not so subtle hints of orange marmalade.

As I let the glass sit and I enjoy the breezes above the glass, I notice that the oak spices are building and they have begun to meld into the brown sugar and toffee. As I let the breezes drift about, it is almost as though I can smell fresh cinnamon buns baking. I notice a few new nuances in the breezes as well; some mild indications of dry fruit (raisins and dates), the aroma of milk chocolate, and a delicate scent of tar and tobacco. The overall effect is really very nice.

In the Mouth 54.5/60

The rum enters the mouth full of spicy sweetness. There is perhaps just a touch of astringency indicating to me that the 8 Year Old perhaps features some light bodied column still rum which has been blended with the more heavily bodied rum produced by DDL’s ancient wooden pot still. This gives the rum an interesting dichotomy whereby I sense a youthful exuberance within the spirit which is being held in check by a seemingly more complex character filled rum lurking underneath. Both aspects are delightful, and it seems to me that the right balance between the different styles has been achieved.

The rum carries sweet flavours of butterscotch, toffee, and dark brown sugar as well the bitterness of dark caramel treacle. Within the sweet and the bitter, I taste luscious baking spices (vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg) and firm impressions of roasted walnuts and pecans. Marmalade, a ribbon of corn whisky, impressions of cocoa, a touch of leather and brine, and a firm imprint of tobacco rounds out the flavour of a rum which seems to be very easy for me to sip.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The rum exits with a glow of cinnamon and wood spices and flavours of delicious butterscotch. The butterscotch fades to bitter treacle, and the spicy glow remains well after the rum is swallowed. Near the very end of the taste experience, the rum begins to ooze bittersweet chocolate. Although there is a hint of light astringency; curiously, even this light burn serves to give more to the overall character of the rum than what it takes away.

The Afterburn 9/10

The folks at El Dorado have yet another superb rum within their strong portfolio. Their 8 Year Old rum carries aspects of both youthful exuberance and aged pot still character through the taste experience, and the balance between those aspects is spot on.

I found the El Dorado 8 Year Old Rum to be a more complex and elegant rum than the previously reviewed El Dorado 5 Year Old, and perhaps the rum even approaches the same territory of enjoyment as the wonderful El Dorado 12 Year Old.  I wish the rum were available here in Alberta, as I would surely add a sealed bottle to my collection of fine spirits.

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.

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Suggested Cocktail

The Rob Roy Cocktail is usually reserved for Scotch whisky, but I had an idea that the recipe would work very well for an aged rum such as the El Dorado 8 Year Old. Of course, the Rob Roy is a variation of the classic Manhattan made with sweet vermouth. When I substituted out the Scotch Whisky for the El Dorado rum, what I had really created was a Rum Manhattan.

Rum Manhattan SAM_1077The Rum Manhattan

2 oz Well Aged Dark Rum
1/2 oz of Sweet Red Vermouth
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Ice
Brandied Cherry
Twist of Orange Peel

Add the first three ingredients with ice in a Martini Shaker.
Shake vigorously to chill the mixture.
Add a cherry and place it in a chilled glass.
Strain the mixed ingredients over the cherry but do not add the ice.
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink.
(This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Discard the peel.

Enjoy!!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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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)

10 Responses to “El Dorado 8 Year Old Cask Aged Rum”

  1. SeldomSeen said

    I 2nd your review Chip. Simply delicious as are most of El Dorado’s line up. This and the 12 yr. are “must have” staples in my galley. And the 8 yr. outshines anything else in the sub $20 range which makes it perfectly priced…..i.e. I’ll buy it before anything else in that price range. It’s a favored regular sipper for me and when paired with Bacardi 8, makes a killer Mai Tai. As for the discussion about Vermouth,…. try what I do with most of my spirits that won’t be consumed relatively immediately. Decant a freshly opened bottle into several small 6-10 oz. bottles leaving no air space. The smaller stored bottles maintain the integrity of the spirit held in reserve until your ready to use them.

  2. I liked the dark the first ime I tried it. I have to say I like almost all the El Dorado products. Once I got around to trying them all, I had a hard time choosing between the 8 and the 12 as my favorite. I’m not much of a sipper, but the 12 is better for that I guess.

    I think your reviews are great and wondered if you had the same thoughts comparing the 8 and 12. Looks like you do, did. The 12 may be a bit more of a sipper, but the price of the 8 makes it a no brainer for a mixer. The price points for both of these make it easy to enjoy both as often as I want.

  3. CBrown said

    Well, I’m gobsmacked! I had never really considered the shelf life of vermouth. Although I quite enjoy a variety of cocktails Vermouth is not high on my list of ingredients.t I’ve just kept my bottle in the back of the liquor cabinet ready and available for friends and family who want a martini etc. Too bad but thanks for twigging me to this.

    Great review as always and I see we have the 12 and the 15 here in B.C. From your very positive reviews of those vintages it sounds like a great introduction to El Dorado while I hopefully wait for the 8 to arrive on our shelves

    Chris

    • Hi Chris

      I notice that Vermouth seems to develop a lot of vinegar in it’s flavour after it has been opened, and I basically have to throw away a bottle if it has sat for more than four weeks (even refrigerated). Like you, I do not mix with Vermouth much, and I seem to never use up more than a quarter of a bottle.

      Thanks for the kudos on the review, and do try the El Dorado 12, it is one of my very favourites!

  4. Aldo said

    Chip,

    first of all let me tell you that I am constantly checking your blog for suggestions, recipes and new ideas. I really love it..great reviews and great recipes. I just bought a bottle of this El Dorado and I want to try your Rum Manhattan. Do you have a recommendation for the sweet red vermouth? Red Martini? Antica Formula? Punt e Mes?

    • Hi Aldo

      I think you are the very first person to tell me my recipes are great, thank you. What are some of your favourites?

      As for the Vermouth, to be honest, I usually avoid using the stuff because it goes bad so quickly. When I do use Vermouth rather than looking for a specific brand, I try to find the smallest bottle possible so as not to have to dump out most of it because I cannot use it fast enough. For the cocktails I have been constructing lately, (the Rum Manhattan and the Rob Roy) I used Martini and Rossi Sweet Red Vermouth. When the bottle becomes unusable (in another week it will start to taste like vinegar) I will switch to Ruby Port Wine for these recipes. The flavour is slightly different; but Ruby Port is much more forgiving after the bottle is opened.

      • Aldo said

        Ciao Chip,

        I love your Old-fashioned Jamaican Punch, A Sloe walk in the Jungle (the version with orange juice) and many of your Daiquiri versions. I tend to have the same problem and I simply don’t get why Martini doesn’t sell smaller bottles for non-bar use. I have a bottle of the Sweet Red Vermouth, so I’ll try to mix a couple of Rum Manhattans this weekend with my girlfriend..

 
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