With two more months in the rearview mirror, it’s time for another methodic scan of the TTB site for new rum releases–or more accurately, TTB approvals for new releases. The list at the end of this post contains my curated picks for new rums with a good chance of appearing on U.S. shelves and in your local watering holes later in 2016. I’ve previously written about searching the TTB site for recent label approvals; if you’re not familiar with the TTB and/or the approval process, that post is a good place to start before diving in here.
To construct the list below, I query the TTB database, constraining the results to the past two months. I then exercise editorial prerogative to cherry-pick label approvals likely most interesting (in my opinion) to the rum community. The original list I harvested from the TTB for July and August was substantial – well over a hundred approvals–and I’ve made sweeping cuts to bring the list down to the fifty or so here. Unfortunately, this meant eliminating all but one domestically produced rum. Not that there aren’t great rums made here in the good old U. S. of A., but finding the worthwhile rums out of a ton of “me too!” releases can be a needle in the haystack situation. (Also, smaller distilleries put out lots of rum with very limited distribution.) I also eliminated a few imported rums of dubious heritage and interest–typically silver or gold rums at 40 percent ABV from no-name brands, with no source given other than “West Indies” and without meaningful age statements.
Before getting to the highlights of the new rums, here are my standard disclaimers for these TTB posts:
Reader beware: There’s no clear way to determine from a TTB label approval if it’s a new product or simply a small change to an existing product’s label. In some cases, producers submit labels for products that may not ever make it to the shelves for various reasons. In other cases, a release is very limited in nature, maybe only a few hundred bottles and destined for a particular store or bar.
I make a best effort to filter out existing products with minor label changes, but I may miss a rum that’s already available. Please let me know if an offering on the list below is already on the shelves. Also, there is often a significant length of time between label approval and bottles appearing for sale. In short, just because you see it on the list below, it’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to purchase it.
New Rum Highlights
Celebrating Joy Spence’s twenty years as their master blender, Appleton Estate is issuing a limited release “Joy” edition, a blend of rums with a minimum age of 25 years.
Fans of Bajan rum powerhouse Mount Gay should be delighted by the release of a cask-strength version of their mainstay XO expression, coming in at a healthy 63 percent ABV. The label says “limited edition” and “Bottle Number 3,000”–but 3,000 bottles would be a surprisingly small turnout for something that’s generating a lot of interest in the rum community.
Although widely available in Europe, Rhum Agricole producer HSE (Habitation Saint Etienne) appears to finally be making a stateside appearance with six expressions. All are in 40-45 percent ABV range, and several feature unusual casking, including Sauternes and Highland. Exactly what Highland means in this context is unknown, but presumably a whisky cask of some sort.
Ron Zacapa continues its trend of limited releases with the new Edicion Negra. Previously available in travel retail, the rum is aged solera style in “double charred barrels for a smoky finish.” Interestingly, the number “23” is nowhere to be found on the label.
Independent bottler Samaroli has a rather intriguing new expression, dubbed 1998 Caribbean Soul. Although the label says “Product of Scotland”, the Scots aren’t traditionally known for making rum. Where might it be from then? A visit to the official Samaroli web site turns up an interesting clue, a 1998 Cuban with astonishingly similar label graphics to the aforementioned U.S. release. Might this 1998 Caribbean Soul also be sourced from Cuba? Enquiring minds want to know.
At the California Rum Festival last month, I was among the first to try the new Limited Edition Real McCoy 12 year, aged in both American bourbon and Portuguese Madeira casks. Hailing from Richard Seale’s Foursquare distillery in Barbados, only 500 cases were produced, and it will be snapped up quickly. I can confirm it’s delicious and noticeably different than the regular Real McCoy 12 year.
Rum distillery geeks will be thrilled to see U.S. availability of Rivers rum from Grenada’s River Antoine Estate. The distillery is noted for being extremely old-school in its production methods. At the distillery itself, you can savor it at a throat-searing 160 proof or so. Here in the U.S., we’ll need to settle for the rather anemic 69 percent ABV version.
Sweden’s Gunroom, which already has their Navy Rum here in the U.S. will be coming out with a 2 Port blend to complement their previously announced 4 Port. Both the 2 and 4 Port will be at 40 percent ABV.
As mentioned in a prior TTB post, Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) seem to be segmenting the El Dorado brand into two pieces. The higher end rums remain under the El Dorado moniker, with the budget-conscious “mixing” rums changing their name to Diamond Reserve. The newly approved 151 proof Puncheon rum appears to be taking the place of El Dorado’s 151 expression. The new label says it’s “A superior blend of full strength Demerara rums.”
The Chicago based BC Merchants are bringing in a number of rums under their Distillery Geeks brand. The rums hail from a number of countries such as Guyana, Fiji, and Belize, and from various producers including Samaroli. Interestingly, the label approval specifies them as 50ML bottles. Further details are sparse at this time.
Panamanian rum bottler Malecon offers some well-regarded expressions, which unfortunately aren’t available in the U.S. However, their new twenty-year expression should be hitting American shores soon. I have the twenty-five year bottling, acquired in London, and have found it to be extremely enjoyable.
Duncan Taylor collectors will find an additional four new single barrel expressions — two from Trinidad, one from Guyana, and one from Jamaica. As usual, each is limited to a few hundred bottles from a single numbered cask, e.g. “Monymusk 2003 cask #21.”
Updates on Prior TTB Posts
In my prior TTB roundup, I teased a particular label approval without disclosing what it was, in advance of its formal announcement. I can now reveal that it was the Plantation O.F.T.D. Overproof, which you read about here first!
In my January–April 2016 roundup, I referenced new pot and column still releases in the Mount Gay Origin series. The company has since issued a press release stating that the two expressions will be sold as a set for around $95.
The Approvals List!
The list below includes a lot more interesting releases, including some cachaças. Do check out their TTB labels and let me know if you find anything else worth talking about!
To see more information about a particular bottle in the table below, simply click on the “Link=” in the appropriate row. The label imagery is always at the bottom of the page that comes up. Enjoy!
|Brand Name||Fanciful name||Origin||Notes||TTB ID|
|Ad Rattray||Distillery Geeks||Trinidad||19 year, 63.2% ABV||Link=16228001000019|
|Appleton Estate||Joy||Jamaica||25 year||Link=16168001000564|
|Crucial Drinks||Distillery Geeks||Grenada||Grenada||Link=16228001000021|
|Diamond Reserve||Puncheon||Guyana||75.5% ABV||Link=16175001000079|
|Dictador||Amber||Colombia||100 Months aged||Link=16210001000482|
|Duncan Taylor||Uitvlugt rum 1998 cask #91||Guyana||1998, 16 year||Link=16159001000001|
|Duncan Taylor||Monymusk rum 2003 cask #21||Jamaica||2003, 10 year||Link=16159001000002|
|Duncan Taylor||Trinidad caroni 1997 cask #115||Trinidad||Caroni, 1997, 16 year||Link=16159001000003|
|Duncan Taylor||Trinidad rum cask #2467||Trinidad||Trinidad distillery, 1991, 20 year||Link=16159001000004|
|Gunroom||2 ports||Trinidad||40% ABV||Link=16139001000586|
|HSE||Black sheriff||Martinique||American barrel, 3 year, 40% ABV||Link=16182001000470|
|HSE||Rhum blanc agricole||Martinique||40% ABV||Link=16182001000492|
|HSE||Sauternes finish||Martinique||18 months in Sauternes, 41%||Link=16182001000479|
|HSE||World cask finishes||Martinique||Highland Cask, 44% ABV||Link=16182001000473|
|Isla Grande||15 years old||Martinique||40% ABV||Link=16188001000135|
|Isla Grande||18 years old||Martinique||40% ABV||Link=16188001000171|
|Isla Grande||21 years old||Martinique||40% ABV||Link=16188001000175|
|Lucky bastard distillery||Distillery Geeks||Canada||Canada||Link=16228001000026|
|Maggie’s farm||La Revuelta||Pennsylvania||50% Maggie’s Farm, 50% Trinidad rum||Link=16215001000692|
|Malecon||Rare proof||Panama||1996, 20 year||Link=16168001000107|
|Mount Gay||XO cask strength||Barbados||63% ABV||Link=16181001000282|
|Regatta||12 years old||United Kingdom||Solera Navy Rum, 40% ABV||Link=16218001000357|
|Regatta||15 years old||United Kingdom||Solera Navy Rum, 40% ABV||Link=16189001000045|
|Regatta||18 years old||United Kingdom||Solera Navy Rum, 40% ABV||Link=16218001000362|
|Regatta||21 years old||United Kingdom||Solera Navy Rum, 40% ABV||Link=16218001000370|
|Rivers||Royal Grenadian rum||West Indies||River Antoine, 69% ABV||Link=16229001000046|
|Ron Zacapa||Edicion Negra||Guatemala||Solera, double charred barrels||Link=16203001000532|
|Samaroli||1998 Caribbean Soul rum||Scotland||1998 Caribbean blend, 45% ABV||Link=16202001000095|
|Samaroli||Caribbean rum||Scotland||Caribbean blend, 45% ABV||Link=16138001000051|
|Samaroli||Distillery Geeks||Trinidad||Trinidad, 17 year||Link=16228001000055|
|Skotlander||Rum v||Denmark||61.6% ABV||Link=16217002000015|
|Stolen||Overproof||Jamaica||61.5% ABV, 6 year||Link=16230001000270|
|The Real McCoy||2016 limited edition||Barbados||12 year, 46% ABV. Madeira cask.||Link=16181001000286|
|West Indies||Distillery Geeks||Belize||Belize||Link=16228001000071|
|West Indies||Distillery Geeks||France||French Islands||Link=16228001000083|
|West Indies||Distillery Geeks||West Indies||West Indies|