Another post for the rum wonks out there…
On the heels of my earlier posts (here and here), the list below contains my curated picks for new rums which should be appearing on U.S. shelves and your local watering holes 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 label approval process, those posts a good place to start before diving in here.
To construct the list below, I queried the TTB database, constraining the results to the past four months. I then exercised editorial prerogative to cherry-pick the label approvals likely most interesting (in my opinion) to the rum community. The original list I harvested from the TTB was huge – several hundred entries–so I made sweeping cuts to bring the list down to a manageable size. Unfortunately, this time around that meant eliminating domestically produced rums. Not that there aren’t some good ones made here in the good old U. S. of A., but finding the worthwhile rums can be a needle in the haystack situation. Also, smaller distilleries may put out lots of rum, but they often have limited distribution.
Before getting to the highlights of the new rums, here are the standard disclaimers for my TTB lists:
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. 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.
On to the fun part!
Barbados is well represented this time around. The Mount Gay Origin series contains limited edition releases; the label implies 24,000 375ml bottles. There have been several prior Origin releases that focus on a particular dimension of the rum making process, but none have been sold in the U.S. For these first U.S. releases, it’s pure column still vs. pure pot still expressions. This is significant because the artful blending of pot and column stilled rums is something Barbados is well known for. On the Foursquare front, Richard Seale has brought forth two new limited releases (2004 Single Blended Rum, and a Zinfandel Cask Blend). Also from Foursquare is the Doorly’s Eight Year, previously available in the UK. It presumably occupies a space in-between the Doorly’s XO, which is aged for six years in oloroso casks, and the Doorly’s Twelve Year.
Big news for Tiki drink enthusiasts comes from the reappearance of Lemon Hart 151, a staple of many tropical concoctions that’s been absent from U.S. shelves for several years. Alongside the 151, the Lemon Hart 80 proof also returns, which is nice, but not nearly as pressing as there are already a number of 80 proof Guyanese rums available.
Lemon Hart is just one part of the Demerara Distiller Limited (DDL) lineup, and there are big moves across the range of DDL rums. What first caught my eye in the search results is a new suite of Diamond Reserve branded rums, the name having been used by DDL outside of the U.S. in the past. The three Diamond Reserve expressions–Superior White, Gold, and Dark–align closely with the existing El Dorado white, gold, and dark rums, also made by DDL. I wouldn’t be surprised if El Dorado takes the same path as Appleton, splitting their unified house brand into separate value and premium lines, i.e., Diamond Reserve for value rums and El Dorado for premium product.
Speaking of El Dorado, the slow emergence of their specialty casked age rums continues. By this point it’s clear that El Dorado’s plan is to take their core 12- and 15-year bottlings and apply a number of cask finishes to both of them–red wine, ruby port, Sauternes, etc… On this list of new rums, it’s the 12 year that gets both Madeira Sweet Cask and Madeira Dry Cask versions, bringing the full set of 12-year finishes into alignment with the existing 15-year finishes.
If that weren’t enough Guyanese rum for you, independent bottler Blackadder adds a 12-year, cask strength “Guyana Diamond” bottling. Another treat from Blackadder is a Caroni 18 year, also at cask strength. We’re lucky these days to have several good independent bottlers trolling the waters of DDL and Caroni rums, but new expressions like Blackadder’s are always a welcome addition.
Diplomatico makes a surprising appearance with their Planas rum, which the label refers to as a white sipping rum. I unfortunately cannot find anything about this new expression online, so we’ll have to wait and see what the rest of the story is.
Having recently traveled to Jamaica and written extensively about their rums, I’m all about adding more Jamaican rums to my collection. Two new brands have received TTB label approval since the start of 2016: Jamaican Lion and Royal Jamaican. The Jamaican Lion releases encompass white, gold, dark, and overproof. Their labels don’t provide any helpful hints about the source distillery, but they’re all imported by the same company handling the Royal Jamaican bottlings.
With the Royal Jamaican rums, there’s a bit more backstory to latch on to: The Royal Jamaican lineup is made by National Rums of Jamaica (NRJ), and there are already a few Royal Jamaican offerings available in the U.S.–Gold and Legacy White. The forthcoming new expressions are a blackstrap molasses and a twelve year. Given that Royal Jamaican is from NRJ, I’m curious to see how close, if not identical, the twelve year is to my beloved Monymusk Special Reserve, also from NRJ.
For fans of the premium Angostura lineup, such as the 1824 and 1919, there’s a new even more exclusive release on the horizon: Angostura 1787. A fifteen year aged expression per the label, it’s the first official Angostura product with an age statement as such. It will be interesting to try the 1787 side by side with the Afrohead XO, also sourced from Angostura with a fifteen year age statement, and which I reviewed previously. Per a conversation with an Angostura representative, I’ve learned that the 1787 may take a while to find its way to U.S shelves, so don’t look for it in early 2016.
Hardcore aficionados of vintage cocktails and punches know about Batavia Arrack, a highly funky, pot stilled Indonesian rum that includes red rice in the fermented mash. However, for many years there was no readily available Batavia Arrack on U.S. shores until Haus Alpenz introduced Batavia Arrack van Oosten a few years ago. That product has burbled along as a slightly esoteric ingredient in the craft cocktail moment since then with no real competition. A new brand, By the Dutch, is introducing their own Batavia Arrack into the U.S. If you’ve read my post on E&A Scheer (and really, you should), you’ll recall that the Amsterdam-based rum-blender dominates the international market for Batavia Arrack. As such, it’s no surprise that “Amsterdam” appears on the By the Dutch label, making it a virtual lock that it’s sourced from E&A Scheer, like the Haus Alpenz version likely is as well.
On the Cachaça front, there are two brands making their U.S. debut: 100 Limite and Spiral. What I’m particularly excited about though is a new expression from Avua, which I’ve written about previously. The new Tapinhoa-casked bottling joins the existing Prata, Oak, and Amburana.
There are lots more interesting releases in the list below. Do check out their TTB labels and let me know if you find anything else interesting!
Complete List of New Rum Labels
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|
|Bundaberg||Small Batch Vintage Barrel||Australia||link|
|John Watling’s||Amber Rum||Bahamas||ex-bourbon, up to 3 years||link|
|Doorly’s||8 year||Barbados||American white oak cask||link|
|Foursquare||2004 Single Blended Rum||Barbados||11 years ex-bourbon||link|
|Foursquare||Zinfandel Cask Blend||Barbados||11 year||link|
|Mount Gay||Copper Column||Barbados||Origin series. 24,000 bottles (?)||link|
|Mount Gay||Copper Pot||Barbados||Origin series. 24,000 bottles (?)||link|
|Tiburon||Reserve Blend||Belize||8 years (?)||link|
|Avua||Tapinhoa||Brazil||Cachaca, Tapinhoa cask||link|
|Happy Buddha||Brazil||Boubon Barrel aged 10 year||link|
|Bacoo||5 Year||Dominican Republic||link|
|Bacoo||8 Year||Dominican Republic||link|
|Bacoo||12 Year||Dominican Republic||link|
|Gran Latino||Dominican Republic||link|
|Cihuatan||Gran Reserva||El Salvador||“Solera 8”||link|
|Distillerie de Paris||Ambre||France||link|
|Distillerie de Paris||Galabe||France||link|
|Kaniche||Perfeccion||France||Double Wood, by Maison Ferrand for Total Wine||link|
|Saint James||Rhum Blanc Agricole||France||Martinique/France||link|
|Saint James||Rhum Agricole||France||Martinique/France||link|
|Saint James||Rhum Vieux Agricole||France||Martinique/France 3 years in small oak casks||link|
|Blackadder||Guyana Diamond||Guyana||12 years||link|
|Diamond Reserve||Demerara Dark||Guyana||link|
|Diamond Reserve||Demerara Gold||Guyana||link|
|Diamond Reserve||Demerara Superior White||Guyana||link|
|El Dorado||12 Year Madeira Dry Cask Finish||Guyana||link|
|El Dorado||12 Year Madeira Sweet Cask Finish||Guyana||link|
|Lemon Hart & Son||Overproof 151||Guyana||link|
|Lemon Hart Demerara||1804 Single Estate||Guyana||link|
|Contessa||Gran Anejo||India||12 year||link|
|By the Dutch||Batavia Arrack||Indonesia||very likely from E&A Scheer||link|
|Royal Jamaican||Blackstrap Molasses Dark Rum||Jamaica||link|
|Royal Jamaican||Legacy||Jamaica||white rum||link|
|Royal Jamaican||12 year||Jamaica||pot stilled, aged in oak||link|
|Admiral Blake||Premium White Rum||Mexico||link|
|Cumaya||Solera 15 years||Mexico||link|
|El Ron Prohibido||Solera 15 Finest Blended||Mexico||link|
|El Ron Prohibido||Solera 12 Blended||Mexico||link|
|Flor de Cana||Blanco Reserva||Nicaragua||“7 year” (?) white rum||link|
|Ron Cartavio||Black Barrel||Peru||“A base of rum aged 10 years”||link|
|Havana Club||Anejo Blanco||Puerto Rico||Bacardi-made, in Puerto Rico||link|
|Havana Club||Anejo Clasico||Puerto Rico||Bacardi-made, in Puerto Rico||link|
|Cana del Caribe||Anejo||Spain||link|
|Cana del Caribe||Blanco||Spain||link|
|Blackadder||Trinidad Caroni||Trinidad||18 years||link|
|Royal Standard||United Kingdom||Trinidad/Barbados/Jamaica||link|
|Diplomatico||Planas||Venezuela||white sipping rum||link|