Tag Archive: Rum Reviews

Appleton Estates XV Rum

Appleton Estates XV Rum

For some people growing up as the second or third (etc) child in the family, there was sometimes a tough go of it when following the footsteps of a high or overachieving sibling.  The neighbors, your relatives, school teachers, coaches, ad nauseum were all quick to point out how the older sibling was so smart, well-behaved, fast, quick-witted and “practically perfect in every way”.  It was hard to find your own path and pursue your own goals while having the looming shadow of the past around every corner.

Such is today’s review of the Appleton Estates VX Jamaica Rum.  Previous readers may note that Appleton Estate Plantation  Grand Reserve is currently listed as #5 in my Top Ten Rums.  So how does “little brother” VX Jamaica Rum fare?


Well, let’s talk about the bottle.  Pleasantly hefty, with a beautiful red and gold label with an embossed V/X the picture features a mule-drawn cart in front of a distillery surrounded by mountainous jungle. The label states the 80 proof rum is hand blended and also, distilled, blended and bottled in Jamaica.  The outstanding website states that all Appleton Estates Rum come from the 11,000 acre estate in the Nassau Valley of Jamaica.  The estate dates back to 1655, when the British captured Jamaica from the Spanish, and is mentioned as a rum producer as far back as 1749.  This is no new debutante at the party.

Opening the screw top and letting the rum breathe for a moment, then pouring it into a glass brings little aroma.  The first neat sip is unimpressive, a little cocoa and earthiness, a touch of oak with a dry mechanical finish.  Not a good sipping rum.  Mixed with cola and diet cola  it is merely average.  It does not blend well with fruit juices.  This rum is like going to the school dance and seeing all the good dancers out on the floor and you end up with a partner who is earnest, but not very good looking and has no rhythm.  At $25 bucks a bottle, this rum should hear that dreaded refrain, “Why can’t you be more like your big brothers?”

This rum gets 3.5 corks out of ten.

The Rum Quest continues!

—-The Rum Guy


To all the Vodka fans on this site, and there are many, I apologize for:

  1. the lack of posts……..it seems I have drank tooo much vodka since this is not some auto generated site.  We really do review the vodkas on this site….
  2. well, I am not going to apologize for the rum posts on a vodka site.  Bottom line, my liver can only dissect so much vodka in a extended period pf time.
  3. So here is another excellent rum review from the Rum Guy, who apparently has an iconic liver that will not fail…….

Vizcaya Rum

In the continuing search for the best rums for the best value, today’s candidate is Vizcaya VXOP  Cask 21 Rum from the Dominican Republic.  This 80 proof concoction is labeled VXOP, which usually is attached to Brandy as “Very Extra Special (or superior) Old Pale”  depending on the source.  Their well-done website states the rum is distilled from pure cane juice and aged in oak bourbon barrels using Cuban distilling methods.  While this sounds exotic and is meant to invoke some secret process only the Cubans know and must be therefore known only by a few high-priest distillers  due to the current political situation, this is mostly a marketing handle.   While most Americans cannot travel to Cuba, other nationalities can, and any “secret” Cuban manufacturing process has long been released into the rum world.  However, aging rum in oak barrels that previously held bourbon is a relatively new step.  One assumes this was made for financial reasons at first,  but the result, called “methode agricole “  creates a rum with more complex flavors, smoothing the texture and taste and increasing the sensory experience with up front bouquet.  This product is marketed as a sipping rum.


The bottle clear-glass, hip-flask shaped, although only NFL linemen would have hips big enough to carry this bottle.  The brown and gold label match perfectly with the golden elixir inside.  The “Vizcaya” is in gold script at the lower third of the bottle—unusual, and eye-catching.


Removing the gold handle attached to the cork, the rum emits a gentle fragrance of chocolate, cinnamon, and fresh-cut flowers.  Pouring the syrup-colored liquid into a glass, the odor becomes more pronounced and greatly increases the anticipation of the taste.  You can almost hear a faint Samba beat coming from the bottle, as if from a radio down the block.  The rum is mild and smooth, with some afore-mentioned chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla and fruit—mango? Papaya?   You can taste the sugar cane-which is not that frequent in rums.   There is very little after-taste.  Poured into a brandy snifter and allowed to warm by holding it in your hand, this is a good sipping rum, but perhaps a little too mild for me.  It is a better sipping rum than it is mixed with cola or diet-cola.  The gentleness of the rum unfortunately makes it unsuitable for frozen “boat drinks” as it disappears in the mixture to the degree that you wonder if there is rum in the drink.  For frozen drinks, you want a rum that enhances the fruit flavor with its own individual personality, combining into a  party.


I give this rum a solid  6 corks out of 10, slightly above better than average.  This was an expensive rum at almost $40 a bottle, and while being a smooth rum is important, more substance is expected at that price.  It does not make my Top 10.



The quest goes ever on.


The Rum Guy




I have been short on Vodka reviews lately while I drain my backlog, so here is yet another rum review from our Rum Guy. Enjoy.

Today’s review of the latest Rum adventure is The Kraken (Black Spiced Rum).  This rum, brought to us via import from  Proximo Spirits, Jersey City, New Jersey.   The website is somewhat contradictory, which is becoming more and more common with some rums. At one spot it states the rum is distilled from Sugar Cane Molasses from The Virgin Islands. At another place is states the base rum is from Trinidad and Tobago, aged 12-24 months in oak barrels and the various spices are added.  The website states the rum is all-natural, gluten-free and vegan.  But is it any good?

The bottle itself is a contradiction.  The glass itself is quite attractive , solid, with handles on either side of the neck for carrying.  The label is black and white , much too busy with the hand-drawn logo of a huge sea creature like a cross between an octopus and a squid enveloping a large three-masted sailing ship.  The art style is as if taken from the old sailing maps from several hundred years ago.  The label is not impressive, but may catch the eye from a marketing standpoint.  I have bought rums previously based on the attractiveness of the bottle/label/contents.  But I won’t buy that rum again, unless it’s a good rum for the value.


Opening the screw-top of the bottle to let the rum breathe a little, I find my first concern.  No cork in the top—just the screw-top.  Upon pouring straight into a glass, the rum is dark, but not what I would call “black”, more of a dark brown, hmmm another concern.     The first taste offers a basic rum, with a touch of cinnamon, earthy chocolate, and perhaps clove, but all are very feint, and are more a vague echo then actually notes.  This is a 94 proof rum, much higher kick then most rums which are around 80 proof, but you can’t tell that by the taste, or the kick.  The rum mixes relatively well with regular and diet cola, not as well with fruit drinks.  For a spiced rum, this is very bland stuff, like a Disney Afternoon Special for kids.


Overall, I give this rum only a disappointed three corks out of ten.  Not a terrible rum, but for approximately $18 a bottle, I expect black spiced rum to taste like a dark, spiced rum, not a basic rum with some spices dipped in briefly like a tea bag.   This  wild sea creature of a rum is more krill then Kraken.


OK, so we have been doing rum reviews here lately instead of Vodka reviews.  We will get back to vodka reviews shortly, as soon as I finish all my dead soldiers I have been reviewing. in the mean time, another rum review from our ‘Rum Guy’.  And yes, as one comment stated, he does taste the rum mixed with soda…..as well as straight.  In case you have not heard, most of the rum marketplace use it for mixing………..

Today’s candidate for election into the Rum Guy’s Top Ten rums is  “Cayman’s Reef Barbados Rum”.  This is a mysterious rum, as the bottle indicates it is imported and bottled by the Cayman Reef Rum Company in that famous rum hotbed of Princeton, Minnesota just a few miles north of Minneapolis.  This town of less than 4,000 sits on the appropriately named Rum River.  However, web searches for the name of the company, and/or the name of the rum are fruitless.  It is evidently connected to World Spirits, LTD in Princeton, but there the search dies as World Spirits is privately owned and evidently doesn’t release much information about itself.


The clear-glass bottle is attractive with the name and two palm trees etched in gold offsetting the darker amber liquid within.  It states it is aged five years in oak casks.  Pulling out the cork, the rum aroma is quiet but flavorful.  Sipping straight, you can taste a hint of chocolate, and a brief kiss of blackberries.  This 80 proof rum mixes very well with both regular and diet colas with very little back-bite.   The finish is very smooth.  While it is not a perfect match for fruit juices it does not clash either.  It is good for frozen Boat Drinks.  This rum is soft and easy, like old comfortable house shoes, but like house shoes, you wouldn’t take them to a party.


At under $20 a bottle, this is a good rum for the price.  As a candidate for the Top Ten, however, it does not win the election.  It is not a great rum,  but I could see buying it again.


The Quest Continues……


The Rum Guy

On the never-ending road to seek out the world’s best Rum and best Rum values, today’s entry is Pecan Street Rum, from that noted Rum hotbed that is Pflugerville, Texas.   Produced by Spirit Of Texas Distillery, this company began in 2010 as the result of three friends in the high-tech industry were looking to stretch their wings and try something new.  Rumor has it the basic business plan was hatched in a sauna.   The first product released was Pecan Street Rum and they have now added Spirit of Texas, a white dry rum.


The Pecan Street Rum bottle is a pleasingly squat, clear bottle that amply shows the golden-brown  mixture within.  The cream colored label is simple with filigree in each corner and the name written across a bronze metallic pecan nut, with a five-pointed Texas star underneath.  Upon opening slowly to allow the bottle to breathe, the cork pulls gently.  The aroma is quite impressive, pecans, molasses, hint of orange.   You can tell it was aged in oak barrels.  This rum is made from scratch from molasses and pecans are added for flavor.  And what flavor.  Pouring it into a glass the color promises a new adventure.  The initial flavor is quite surprising, as the pecans are out in front but not overpowering.  Surprisingly, this is a good sipping rum.   Mixing it with cola or Coke Zero, it keeps a consistently good flavor and texture.  However, mixing it with fruit juices or Boat Drinks the pecan flavor does not play well with others.

 Photo courtesy of Juan Gonzales/ Lime Fly photography 

I am not a huge fan of most “flavored” rums, indeed I have to be in a particular mood for them, but this rum is an exception to the rule.  This is a good rum.  At approximately $20 a bottle, this is a great value and a truly unique product.  It may not be a rum for the weekend party, but definitely a rum for a sunset watching from the porch.



As I have not listed my Top Ten rums in a while, I thought I would list them below.  They are almost all dark or golden rums as that is my preference these days.  Of course, as with most Top 10 lists, it may vary from week-to-week depending on mood, money, madness, and cosmic debris…..


1)      Pyrate

2)      Plantation Grande Reserve

3)      Old Monk

4)      Mount Gay Extra Old

5)      Flor De Cano 7 yr

6)      Railean

7)      Pecan Street Rum

8)      Gosling’s Black Seal

9)      Tropic Isle Spiced Cask

10)   Bacardi Gold (Yeah, I know—I am slumming)



The Quest Continues!


—The Rum Guy

In my continuing search for the world’s best rums and rum bargains, this entry reviews Rhum Barbancourt, a sugar cane dark rum from Haiti.  The rum is produced by one of Haiti’s oldest companies, Société du Rhum Barbancourt, T. Gardère & Cie in Port Au Prince.  The company began in 1862 by a Frenchman Dupre Barbancourt.  Currently the fourth generation of the family still runs the company.  The bottle states it is pot-stilled from 100% cane juice, aged in imported white oak casks for eight years.  Rum, like most wines, generally age well and improve with age and Eight years is longer than most rums are aged and should produce a fine product.  We are trying the Five Star Reserve Speciale.


Given Haiti’s long tragic history, I was hoping for a rum of good quality and a good bargain.  Spreading the word of a great product that could help the economy an impoverished country would be a positive outcome.


The bottle itself is dark, with a wheat colored label with a female figure (goddess?) in front of a blue star.  The company’s website did not explain the history of the label.  Upon opening the bottle, I was concerned with the fact that it was a screw-top.  In the few years I have been reviewing rums, there have been some good rums with a screw-top, but no great rums with one.  The great ones have a cork stopper.  Letting the rum breathe before tasting straight up, I found the aroma to be very chemically strong, almost like dry cleaning fluid.  The rum was dark as it should be, with a good dark rum texture.  However, the first taste did nothing to dispel that mechanical flavor.  Over several weeks of mixing it with Coke, Coke Zero, and various fruit juices, the rum was a great disappointment.   It reminded me of old school Ben Gay sports ointment: not a good experience.  Some rums may present better than others with soft drinks or perhaps fruit juices or boat drinks, but this rum didn’t blend well with anything.  Unfortunately, the only recommended uses for this rum would be for cleaning carburetors or perhaps pouring on fire ant mounds and lighting them on fire.


At approximately $25 a bottle, I was extremely disappointed in this product.  It may be the worst rum I have ever had.


The Rum Quest continues….


The Rum Guy



Now that title is a mouthful.  The Rum Guy jumps into obscurity with his latest entry.

Today’s featured rum is from the lower price range of the spectrum.  The ultimate goal is to try every commercial rum and to find the best rum values on the market.  While some of my top rums are indeed in the upper cost tiers, not all have been a good value for your hard-earned cash.  So today’s entry, “Tropic Isle Palms—Spiced Cask Rum” addresses the other end.   While research found very little information about the company, the bottle states it is imported from Barbados, where “modern” rum is thought to have been originated.  The origin of the word “Rum” is lost to the mists of time, and several different linguistic experts disagree on that origin.   One item we can agree on, good rum means good times.  The island of Barbados makes a number of rums, some better than others but all are worth trying.  Historically, I have never been a huge fan of the “spiced” rums.  I have to be in a certain mood, and generally that happens only a couple times a year.  Purchases therefore have been few and far between, as I hate to spend the money on a rum and have it sit, lonely and ignored for months at a time.  That would not be a good rum bargain.  Having said that, I tried this Tropic Isle Palms.  The bottle has an appealing picture of two coconut palm trees and underneath that two barrels, to induce that impression of having been aged in barrels.  The rum itself is yellow-gold in color, similar to a beer when poured.  Upon opening the top, the aroma of fruit and spice rises gently to the nose.  Pouring a straight shot, this 70 proof rum is lighter than most I have tried.  The first taste on the tongue takes me to the tropics, with banana and vanilla overtones with a hint of cherry.  The spices seem to include a touch of cinnamon, cardamom, and light black pepper, but are subtle not overpowering.  It has a very smooth finish, perhaps due to the lower alcohol content but also to the right mix of spices.  While this is not a rum for drinking straight up, it mixes very well with both regular cola and Cherry Coke Zero.  With fruit juice it is a refreshing mix for a hot summer day.   Tropic Isle also sells a number of flavored rums if you are so inclined.   I am not a fan of flavored rum, but obviously people like it, as all the major rum distillers sell their own versions.   The texture and flavor of this Palms rum hold together, even if the drink sits unattended for a few minutes, which some rums do not do.  At about $12 a bottle, I was very pleased with this rum.  If you like spiced rums, or are looking to try one, I can recommend this rum, especially for summer outdoor social occasions.

redd granite 2 Tropic Isle Palms Spiced Rums Review   The Rum Guy


Does it make my Top Ten Rums?  No, but a very good rum for the price.


OK. We are a Vodka site.  So why the rum reviews?  Honestly, I have been drinking rums for much longer than vodka (see half story under marketplace page).  Our very own Rum Guy tastes and reviews rums so you do not have to.  I just happen to put them up here and on sister site REDDGRANITE. So go with it.

Flor De Cana

The latest in my attempt to find the great rums of the world, brings me to an almost-repeat.  Like dating a pretty girl then going out with her sister. Similar, but not the same.  I am referring to Flor De Cana, a rum from the Central American country of Nicaragua.  The name means Sugarcane Flower in espanol.  Based in Managua,  this 80 proof rum (which means 40% alcohol by volume) was originally introduced in 1890.  They state their product line has won over 100 awards since 2000.


From a marketing standpoint, the bottle is a standard-make bottle, not eye-catching at all.  The label is appealing with black and gold print on a pale yellow background, which accentuate the light amber color of the rum.  This time I am trying the 4-year old gold rum, versus the 7-year old Gran Reserva (Grand Reserve) I had tried earlier.  A younger sister, as it were.  The logos of each of their various products have their own similar but distinctive styles.  The more expensive the rum, the more elaborate the label.  Go figure.


Opening the screw-top, pouring it straight into a glass and watching the almost-gold liquid slide into the glass you can let the rum breathe.   The first flavor that catches your attention is vanilla.  Not as robust (or as overwhelming depending on your taste) as the 7 year Gran Reserva, this rum is subtle, like just a hint of perfume behind a woman’s ear.  The taste gives a moderate initial “burn” then quickly dissolves into a warm, mildly pleasant finish.  The flavor is slightly woody, like the smoke of a fireplace drifting a long way on the wind.  And that is the problem with this rum.  It is not “too” anything.  Not too much vanilla, not too much color, not too much smoke, not too much bite. I like my rums to have personality, and this one just doesn’t have much of one.  Sort of like the high-school science club.  Nice folks, but not exciting—no “oomph” as it were.  This rum doesn’t mix with cola well, either regular or diet cola.  Perhaps the vanilla distracts it.  It does mix with fruit juices quite well, which was a pleasant surprise.  Again, the subtle flavors enhance the fruit juice and do not overpower it, which many darker rums will do.


Would I try Flor De Cana again?  Perhaps, but only the older versions. At approximately $15 a bottle, it is not a bad rum, but there are better rums out there for the price.  It does not make my Top 10.


The Quest Continues…..


The Rum Guy