Merrimack Valley Whiskey Review
Welcome! My qualifications as a sommelier? I know what I like – and the science & pseudo-science of spirits tasting. Tools of the trade: a Glencairn (nosing glass designed for whisky) or the old fashioned rocks glass tumbler. I review any kind of rum, or whiskey: Single malt, Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, Irish, Canadian, etc.
ברוך אתה ה’ א‑לוהינו, מלך העולם, שהכל נהיה בדברו.
Papa’s Pilar Dark 24
A rum inspired by the great American writer Ernest Hemingway; he a 12 m fishing boat named Pilar – which was a nickname for his wife, Pauline. This is a photo of Ernest Hemingway and Carlos Gutierrez aboard the Pilar in 1934.
This rum was sourced from 5 different Caribbean and Central American distilleries (pot and column distillation) with 8 different ages. Brought to Florida, where it was fractionally Solara blended in Bourbon, Port and then Sherry casks. Some sugar was added, and the result is unlike any rum I have tasted before. Delicious notes of cocoa, maple and caramel. Reminded me of a full flavored bourbon like Michter’s.
As for the curious shape of the bottle, the company states
“If the shape looks familiar, that’s because it’s styled after the aluminum canteens carried by US infantryman for most of the 20th Century. The bottle pays homage to Hemingway’s duty as an ambulance driver in Italy during World War I and his exposure to the Normandy landings in World War II. Why the chain? US infantry canteens used a chain to tether the screw cap to the bottle. The cap could be left slightly loose on the march – allowing drops of water to slosh out and soak the canvas covering. Evaporation kept the contents cool. Last but not least, etched into Pilar’s bottle cap is a compass – the simple yet indispensable tool that provides comfort and direction to adventurers on land and sea. The compass on Pilar Dark’s cap has the African Sun logo in its center, signifying Hemingway’s adventures on land.”
La Caña Grande Gold Rum
Supposedly distilled in the Caribbean Rum, Barbados. Appears to be a Total Wines house brand; can’t find it sold anywhere else. 80 Proof
Nose. They say “Mild aromas of caramel cream.” I detect ethanol.
Palette – well, better than the disappointing nose. The body is thin, watery, a bit of meaningful authentic rum taste for sure, a dash of pepper, in a slight sweetness. No bitter aftertaste. I could see someone purchasing this for use as a cheap mixer. But nothing special worth drinking straight. Tasted like it could rum flavored vodka. Just meh.
First made in 1879. A of up to 9 Jamaican rums, in small oak barrels for a number of years. Made by National Rums of Jamaica and Myers Rum Company in Nassau, Bahamas.
Oh my goodness, my first thought is that they put Coal tar in here? This is foul smelling. I’m trying to detect something pleasant in the nose, but it makes me gag. Never experienced anything like this in a spirit before. But in for a penny, in for a pound – let’s taste this. And…. my adventuresome spirit has been richly rewarded by the taste of asphalt and perhaps shoe rubber. Honestly this is the first spirit that has made me gag. But wait, I’m a newbie to this. Had some water, waited, tried again – but it never got better.
What do other people experience? On his review, the cocktail geeks says that those has “aromas of stewed prunes, manure, apples, plump raisins, butter toffee.” – whoah – manure?! Ok, it’s not just me. But then I saw other reviews,
From what I have read it is “supposed to taste like this” as it is used in some exotic cocktails. But that doesn’t save it for me. Verdict? Requires an exorcism.
Mount Gay Barbados Rum Black Barrel
Small-batch handcrafted rum. Est. 1703. 86 proof.
A blend of double distilled pot and single column distilled rums, finished in an ex-bourbon barrel.
Sweet nose and a hint of caramel, rich and promising – but wait, what is this funky additional note? I can’t name it, but I’ve read that this is characteristic of some Jamaican rums – although this is from Barbados. You can taste the molasses and spice, in some ways perhaps like a light whiskey. The finish is slightly astringent, but not unpleasantly so. Maybe something like anise? I admit that I’m disappointed not to pick up any bourbon notes. As a whiskey drinker, this isn’t something that I would enjoy straight, but it would be nice in a cocktail.
Gosling’s black seal Bermuda black rum.
80 proof. Product of Bermuda.
Beautiful dark amber color. A rich rum nose. Dark and complex. Upon tasting there are some pleasant caramel notes, but it’s a bit harsh and astringent, I’m getting more ethanol and bite then I would like. The finish is unfortunately a bit unpleasant..
Doorly’s XO Fine Old Barbados Rum
Aged in Oak barrels, followed by a second aging in barrels that formerly held Spanish Oloroso Sherry. A light amber color. The nose is pleasant but very mild. I actually got a bit more ethanol then flavor. Now, here’s the good part – the taste exceeds the nose. The flavors are warm, bright, gentle – you can drink this straight with ice, or use as an excellent quality mixer. I’m actually shocked at how good this is. Until recently this was sold for around $33 in the USA, but apparently do to various trade incentives, the American price dropped to just $17/bottle, sold at Total Wine. This is an amazing value.
Coconut Jack rum
Produced by White Rock Distilleries – but “produced” does not mean distilled. Where is it from? USA, or Carribean? No idea. What kind of still was used? No information available. What we can say is that it is obviously adulterated with artificial coconut flavors and sugar (if it had had natural coconut flavors then they would have said so) I couldn’t find any information about the added sugar content. How to review something like this? There is no pretension of this being a fine rum, nor was it intended as something to sip straight. This is made cheaply to be used for cocktails. Goes well with Coca Cola, pineapple juice, or Cran-raspberry. Great for parties, especially given it’s cheap price point. Yet when sipped straight or on the rocks? Nope. Too sweet – all coconut and sweetness, very little actual rum flavor.
I was reading about adulterated rums. Although they are supposed to be an analog of whiskey, many have a lot of added sugar. Just read about one which has 30 grams per liter. But it’s not disclosed on the label.
Even Papa’s Pilar 24 Dark Rum has only 15 g/liter. ( that’s a favorite of mine.) If I understand correctly, for comparison, Coca-Cola has about 95 grams of sugar per liter.
So if we drink a 50 ml serving of Papa’s Pilar, that translates to less than 1 gram of sugar. That’s cool – but also about the max I would want in a rum.
Too much sugar is a big reason why I don’t drink cocktails anymore. They’re often huge amounts of sugar, glycerin, and artificial flavorings and colors , disguising low quality grain neutral spirits.
Main page: Merrimack Valley Whiskey Blog
Page 6 whiskey reviews
Page 5 Irish whiskey special
Page 4 whiskey reviews
Page 3 Flavored whiskies, other spirits
Page 2 whiskey reviews
Page 1 whiskey reviews
Useful articles on whiskey
Is all whiskey and Scotch kosher?