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Hispaniola Mamajuana

Review: Hispaniola Mamajuana Rum Liqueur  78.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted April 20, 2010

Hispaniola Mamajuana is a liqueur based upon a herb infused rum and wine drink called mamajuana which is indigenous to the Isle of Hispaniola (modern island of Dominican Republic and Haiti).  The original mamajuana was a medicinal drink whose roots reach back to the original inhabitants of Hispaniola, the Taino, (who Columbus mistakenly called Indians).  This original drink was more of a tea beverage made by boiling local roots and perhaps bark.  As the drink evolved, honey was added as a sweetener, and over time rum and wine were added and the drink became the mamajuana known on the Island today.

In doing my research on this unique product, I came across a few suggestions that the original drink has medicinal properties to help with everything from arthritis to toothaches.  But the most intriguing suggestion is that  it has the ability to increase potency in men, and desire in women.  It is playfully called, ‘Viagra Dominica’ by its adherents.  This means my review should be most interesting as I, like you, am genuinely skeptical, but genuinely curious about Hispaniola Mamajuana.

Hispaniola Mamajuana is produced by  Mardi S.A. made from aged rum and honey as well as a secret recipe of over twenty different herbs and spices. It bottled at 30 % alcohol by volume.  My sample for this review was provided by Rum Runner Imports who are bringing the product to market in my home Province.

In the Bottle 4/5

Hispaniola Mamajuana arrives in a clear tall bottle pictured here to the left.  The bottle is not fancy, but it serves the purpose for which it is intended.  There is a little heritage with the Isle of Hispaniola featured on the label, but I could find no references to the medicinal benefits which my research had suggested I may encounter.

In the Glass 7.5/10

In the glass the rum liqueur has a rich amber colouration with a mahogany taint.  The liqueur displays long trickling legs which seem to return grudgingly back to the bottom of the glass.

There seems to be a myriad of aromas trying to escape as soon as the glass is poured.  Anise,  woody herbs, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, honey, and faint airs of brown sugar all rise up in a stew of exotic aroma.  The nose is aggressive and almost seems medicinal with hints of menthol.  (I guess I should not be surprised as the original mamajuana is considered a medicine in folklore.)

In the Mouth 47.5/60

Hispaniola Mamajuana is soft with a nice feeling of oil.  This is a rum drink which must be sipped very slowly and gently. The flavours are aggressive. It is also a bit of a chameleon in the mouth.  Several of my friends were tasting with me, and the impressions were quite different with each person.  One tasted primarily black licorice, another, tasted primarily the cloves and allspice.  I suspect that this is because of the aggressiveness of the individual flavours, and how these flavours react to different palate conditions.

After several tastings, I found I could discern a large variety of flavours. The sweetness  of honey lies on top of other flavours of  licorice, cinnamon,  and woody tannin.  Cloves, allspice and ginger pop in and out at different times each taking their turn catching my attention depending upon my mood and the time of day.  There was much more as well, including an  undercurrent of bitterness which seemed to stem from woody bark, twigs and dry grassy notes.

In the Throat 12/15

The Mamajuana has a long sweet honey filled finish.  Hints of menthol are attached to the sweetness.  A  fading dry grassy taste somehow manages to creep in right at the very end of the experience.

The Afterburn 7.5/10

In some ways this is the most interesting part of the review.  The original recipe for Mamajuana, is supposed to have somewhat magical properties for the libido, somewhat like an aphrodisiac, and somewhat like Viagra.  So everyone must be wondering … did it work?

I will only say that the power of suggestion can be a powerful placebo.  In the case of Hispaniola Mamajuana, as long the power of suggestion remains strong, I shall keep a bottle on hand.

You may read some of my other reviews of Liqueurs and Flavoured Spirits (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My Scores are out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret them 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 spirit.  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)

7 Responses to “Hispaniola Mamajuana”

  1. kalembu said

    Hi Chip,
    As I saw you and your followers being interested in the mamajuana theme I would like to present to you the site of
    mamajuana Kalembu

    This site contains more detailed information about the aphrodisiac effects of mamajuana.

    Also some interesting
    cocktails made with mamajuana.

    • Hi Kalebu,

      I think that in the interests of science and further research we will have to arrange for samples to be forwarded so that the Capn and I can continue our important research.

  2. Capn Jimbo said

    Intriguing post. Here in Fort Lauderdale/South Florida we are quite blessed in having a significant Dominican population.

    According to several associates of mine, the aphrodisiac qualities are quite real, and can be demonstrated by sharing a glass with an unknowing friend. As a reviewer, you owe the reading public a professional examination.

    We await, lol.

    The real first – and totally competent examination of rum (other than historical and economic accounts) – might be accorded to Luis Ayala of “The Rum Experience” (whose book I treasure). He states the ingredients:

    “# Albahaca (Basil),
    # Anamú (Guinea Henweed),
    # Anis Estrellado (Star Anis),
    # Bojuco Caro (Princess Vine),
    # Bojuco Chino (China Root),
    # Bojuco de Palo Indio (Chew Stick),
    # Bojuco de Tres Costilla (Basket Wood),
    # Canela de Tierra (Cinnamon),
    # Clavo (Whole Clove),
    # Guauci (Minnie Root),
    # Hoja de Canelilla (Rose Wood Leaf),
    # Juana La Blanca (Button Weed),
    # Manzanilla (Chamomile),
    # Marabeli, Nigua (Cornutia),
    # Osua (Bay Rum Tree),
    # Palo Brasil (Brazil Wood),
    # Raiz de Coco (Coconut Palm Root) and
    # Timacle (West Indian Milkberry)”

    “The process of making the drink involves introducing the ingredients, cut into small pieces, into a large glass bottle, then curing the ingredients by soaking them with cheap wine or rum and a bit of honey for a couple of days (up to a week or two, depending on how fresh or bitter they are), then discarding the liquid and re-filling the bottle with better quality rum. Once properly cured, the ingredients stop imparting bitterness into the liquid they are mixed with and start infusing it with more delectable aromas and flavors.”

    For purely sexual purposes I also recommend Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva, and Santa Teresa Anejo with a good medium bodied cigar (which need not be smoked)…

    • The list of ingredients you post are consistent with the ingredients I found listed for the locally made ‘Dominican’ Mamajuana. These ingredients vary from locale to locale. My understanding of Hispaniola Mamjuana is the the main ingredient of wine is absent from their recipe. It is entirely rum based as far as spirits are concerned. As for the other ingredients you mention, they may or may not be included as I was unable to obtain verification of any of the ‘secret herbs and spices’.

      As for your suggestion of additional research, I must advise you that a thorough case study is ongoing. This is project which will require years of study and it is not clear to me when I will have enough data to draw any conclusions.

      I have been advised by a medical practitioner that the use of Grapefruit juice in my my cocktail may have the effect of intensifying any such medicinal benefits that the Mamajuana may have. Grapefruit juice has been linked in studies which demonstrate that it amplifies the effects of medicinal products. Please be advised that the consumtion of the Grapeshot Cannon is entirely at your own risk.

  3. André said

    Great to see you review a Dominican classic. I’m disappointed in the overall score as I truly enjoy this rum liqueur. Of course, I’ve never tried this specific concoction (brand), and the recipes to make mamajuana are never the same when you ask different individuals. I for one, make my own with a bottle of twigs I bought in the DR. Not as good as some I’ve tasted down there, but not bad considering I can’t get anything remotely close around here.

    • Hi Andre

      Good to hear from you again.

      The review was very hard to write and I am conscious of the score which was not as high as some may like. My score has to reflect my own enjoyment and impressions, and while I definitely think this is a worthy product, I had to honestly reflect how it ranked in enjoyment relative to flavoured rums and spiced rums I have tried. To be fair to the Hispaniola Mamajuana, The Beverage Tasting Institute gave it an 88 with a “Highly Recommended” rating. This is a great score from a group of people who know what they are doing.

      Perhaps instead of focusing on my score, focus on my tasting notes and impressions, I believe my descriptions are always more important than my scores.

      • Andre said

        Thanks for the reply Chip.

        I can see how my comment may have been interpreted as a critique. I actually appreciate the review very much. I want honest reviews I can depend on, and you sir are on the top of the list when it comes to that. If ever I get a chance to try this version of mamajuana I’ll most likely agree with you, as I seem to agree with most of your reviews so far.

        Keep the up the good work!

        André

 
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