Review: PAMPERO ANIVERSARIO – #14 hit

“You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover”, it is said. Well this is exactly what I did with Pampero Aniversario when I first laid eyes on it and I am glad I did. Not only does this Venezuelan gem come in the coolest and most innovative bottle design ever it also delivers one of the most rewarding experiences you can get from a <10 yo spirit.Pampero

It took me 28 years before I discovered the wonderful world of Rum. I still blame my abusive teenage relationship with Bacardi for this but I guess I should just be grateful for eventually stumbling into this beautifully crafted Venezuelan Rum. Pampero Aniversario was my first and set the whole Rum exploration in motion. Let me first point out that this is NOT why I rate it so high (I can’t rule out the influence of the leather pouch though).

Distilled and matured near the Equator, Pampero Aniversario is a blend of rums that have aged between 2 and 8 years in American oak casks. Its name literally translates to “intense storm” which I think fits the description perfectly; this is spicy vanilla mayhem. An later entry of toasted bananas and toffee engage the palate while the upperfront gums are assaulted by a light bite. I know some find it a bit harsh (which is understandably considering its young age). This is of course relative so comparing it to rums like El Dorado and Ron Zacapa this is certainly true. Personally however I don’t mind an alcoholic punch as long as it doesn’t conceal the essence of the rum which is not the case with Pampero Aniversario.

VERDICT: The more I drink Pampero the more I like it. It is neither smooth nor complex but still such a delightful experience that you can’t walk away easily.  Un top of all this you can get it for around 30 dollars which is a real bargain if you ask me.

  (8.3/10)

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Review: CONTESSA RUM – #47 hit

I picked this one up in New Delhi airport. The salesman was very convincing and told me that it was the best rum in Incontessadia. Apparently the competition cannot be that high because Contessa Rum is nothing spectacular. Also the label seems to be a bit outdated since it boasts “Gold 1972 medal, Monde Selection”. A lot has happened since 1972! However, this rum has actually won a Bronze medal at the IWSC 2007 and silver at Monde Selection 2008. I can’t really see why though. I guess if you see past its harshness there is a nice flavor of roasted raisins. It also finishes of with a bit earthiness and nuts mixed with a touch of tobacco. All in all a mildly below average experience.

VERDICT: I have certainly learned one thing from tasting Contessa Rum and that is: NEVER believe a salesperson, especially not in New Delhi airport. Oh well I guess it was worth 7 quids to taste the best rum in India.

  (6.2/10)

Review: ANGOSTURA 1919 – #46 hit

What is all the rave about?Angostura 1919

I had heard so many praising words about this Trinidad rum.  Naturally I had to have it. However, the regrets that followed have led me to wonder whether or not there is something wrong with my taste buds!

It started off good on the nose. Then after having had a sip or two the disappointment came over me. There was something missing. Heaps of delicious vanilla flushes over you yes -in accordance with the nose – but not much else. This is really a shame. You can vaguely discern notes of oak, cocoa, and some exotic spices underneath the bed of vanilla and this gives Angostura 1919 some complexity that it desperately needs, but not nearly enough.

VERDICT: Having tasted Angostura 1919 I was once again reminded about the subjectivity of taste. I do not share the popular opinion about this rum primarily because I find it extremely one dimensional. That said, the vanilla do dominate the palate in a very delicious way. There is no arguing in that. So if you are searching for a simple and light rum this one may be worth checking out.

  (6.8/10)

Review: DICTADOR 12yo – #56 hit

This Colombian rum is named after Severo Arango y Ferro who was nicknamed “Dictador” after his success with establishing trades with Spain in the 18th century. Just like its attractive bottle this rum is very dark both in taste and color. I would even go as far as to say that this is definitely the “darkest” rum I have tasted. When I say dark I refer to a very piercing taste of burnt cocoa and oak. Still it is uniquely balanced with a delightful taste of caramel and as it drools down the throat it leaves traces of toasted nuts, tobacco leafs, and creamy toffee that fades away slowly. I love this rum not only for its unique taste but also dictador-12for its darn cool bottle design.

VERDICT: I can sincerely say that I have never tasted rum more roasted and burnt than this one. The flavor is unique and I warmly recommended this rum to people who don’t mind going beyond the beaten path. I should mention though that some friends of mine (who love Zacapa 23yo and El Dorado 12yo) did not fancy this one at all for some reason. Personally I can’t wait to taste its eight year older brother!

  (8.1/10)

Review: MATUSALEM 15yo – #49 hit

The company behind this rum introduced Matusalem in 1792 but was forced into exile after Castro gmatusalem-15-yo-gran-reserva-cuban-rum-70cl-40-abvained power in Cuba. In 2001 the brand was relaunched and achieved Double Gold Medal at San Fransisco World Spirits Competition in 2008. I am not as overly enthusiastic about this rum as most people are. It reminds me of the 21 year old Malecon; predominated by toasted flavors, a bit dry and spicy and with an oaky finish. As this might sound good my biggest concern is its lack of character which makes it come across as a bit indifferent.

VERDICT: Despite all the fine medals and reviews this rum has received I have yet to call it a personal favorite.

  (6.3/10)

Review: PLANTATION 20th Anniversario – #28 hit

Okay I admit, this review is extremely biased by the fact that I am a complete sucker for coconuts. When that is said, I still believe that most people would enjoy this rum (unless you don’t like coconuts of course). Let me start by clearing something out this is NOT a 20 year old rum as many mistake it to be. The 20th refer to the number of years Alexandre Gabriel had been president and owner of Cognac Ferrand. The rum itself has Plantation barbados 20“only” matured around 10 years in bourbon casks and then about 2 years in Pierre Ferrand – Grande Champagne – Cognac Casks. Not surprisingly it enters with waves of sweet coconuts almost concealing everything else. At the same time your mouth is coated with brown sugar while traces of vanilla, orange marmalade and cinnamon linger on the palate. This is coconut rum at its best! The only concern I have is that it becomes too sweet if you drink too much (which I have a bad tendency to do by the way). Therefore I would suggest savoring this in moderate quantities.

VERDICT: This is one of the more sweet coconut rums I have tasted but it still manages to keep within an acceptable range. A must buy for coconut enthusiasts!

  (7.8/10)

Review: RON ZACAPA Centenario 23yo – #23 hit

At 2,300 meters above sea level close to the Pacific coast of Guatemala you will find the origin of this high quality rum. Here it matures for up till 23 years in casks that previously stored bourbons, sherries, and wines. My expectations were extremely higron-zacapa-solera-centenario-23-gran-reservah for this one. A rum that can claim the first place five years in a row (International Rum Festival : 1998-2002) must be close to perfection. For some reason I do not share the popular opinion here. Yes this is certainly good rum. I would even say great rum. But a masterpiece? Well not if you ask me. But then again I like rums with more edge and character; smooth rums are good but kind of dull in the long run I think. It should be mentioned that my review is based on two or three tastings. Maybe this is just one of those rums that will grow on you with time. We shall see.

VERDICT: This is a wonderfully smooth and delicious rum but lack complexity in my opinion.

  (8/10)