Continuing my episodic pillaging of the TTB site for new releases, the list at the end of this post contains my curated picks for new rums which should be 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 label 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 May and June was huge – almost two 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 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. If you’re after domestically produced rums, it’s easy enough to construct a search on the TTB site, as I demonstrated in the aforementioned post. 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 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. 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
Plantation, the French producer, makes a splash on the vintage rum front with releases from Jamaica, Reunion Island, Belize, Guyana, Barbados, Panama, and Haiti. As usual, they’ve each spent the majority of their time aging in their source countries before being shipped to France for more aging in Cognac (and possibly other) casks. Of particular note is the Guyana (1999, fifteen years in bourbon, two years in “Ferrand” casks), that comes in at 56.3 percent, quite a bit higher in proof than most Plantation vintage releases.
Tiki fans will rejoice over a new addition to the Hamilton “Ministry of Rum” line: A 114 proof blend of Jamaican and demerara rum from Guyana, unsurprisingly dubbed “Navy Strength.” Will it be the house rum of Seattle’s forthcoming Navy Strength bar? One can only hope! Also new from Hamilton, although not included in the list below, is a Pimento Dram liqueur that will go head to head with St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram.
El Dorado jumps into the ultra-premium market with a limited edition (600 bottles) Grand Special Reserve, celebrating fifty years of Guyanese independence. Although “50 years” appears prominently on the bottle, not all of the bottle’s contents is fifty years old. Rather, it’s a blend of rums between 33 and 50 years old, per El Dorado’s statements. Chip over at the Rum Howler Blog has reviewed it already. At over $3,000 U.S., this one may not appear on my shelves any time soon, unless Mrs. Wonk and I start buying Powerball tickets.
Fans of Dos Maderas rum should pay attention to the new Hard Water brand. Dos Maderas is a blend of Barbados and Guyana rums aged for five years in the Caribbean before travelling to Spain for additional aging in sherry casks, giving them a strongly sherried flavor. The two mainstream Dos Maderas expressions are known as “5+3” and “5+5.” When this month’s TTB search picked up two rums branded “Hard Water,” I was immediately intrigued as these two rums are also named “5+3” and “5+5,” and originate from Spain. This seems like too much of a coincidence. Unfortunately, the Hard Water label doesn’t provide any additional back story like the Dos Maderas labels do. I did learn that the importer of the high-end Dos Maderas Luxus expression is the same importer as Hard Water. This may well be a brand renaming in progress. Inquiring minds want to know!
More news on the independent bottler front comes from Scotland’s Duncan Taylor, Italy’s Samaroli, and a new brand, dubbed “The Exclusive Rums,” bottled by the U.K.’s Creative Whisky Company:
- The new Duncan Taylors are all cask strength and include a 2000 Jamaican Long Pond (must acquire!), a 1997 Caroni from Trinidad, and a Panama 1995 from the Don Jose distillery, which is also home to the Ron Abuelo line.
- The new Samarolis are lower in proof (mostly 45 percent), and hail from Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, and Guadeloupe, with two expressions from Guyana. The back label on a few indicates only a few dozen bottles were made, so track them down sooner rather than later if any pique your interest.
- The Exclusive Rums’ starting lineup includes a 17-year Nicaraguan and two Caronis from Trinidad, all at cask strength. The Nicaraguan label doesn’t explicitly mention Chichigalpa, Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua, or Flor de Caña, but there’s no doubt that it’s from the same source. As for the two Caroni expressions, they join a veritable flood of similarly aged Caronis from other independent bottlers. Who’s buying all this Caroni? Asking for a friend.
Another country with no shortage of expressions from various bottlers is Panama. Every day, yet another Panamanian rum seems to pop up, despite only three high volume distilleries operating there. The new Panama Rum line has four expressions, aged eight, twelve, fifteen and twenty-one years. No clear indicator of exactly which distillery it is, but I’d slightly favor Varela Hermanos as the source.
Gunroom, a Swedish company that only recently debuted its Navy rum (a 130 proof blend from five sources), has branched out with a second expression. The Gunroom “4 Ports” is a slightly stripped down blend of rums from Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, and Guyana, at a less throat-searing 80 proof. Like the Navy rum, the 4 Ports is very likely a blend from Amsterdam’s E&A Scheer, a fascinating operation I wrote about recently.
On the domestic front, the newly formed Rational Spirits/Lost Spirits merger has a follow on to their initial Santeria rum. The new rum, named “Cuban Inspired,” has the same moniker as Lost Spirits Cuban Inspired rum from a few years back but looks to be much different. For starters, it uses a much newer iteration of the Lost Spirits aging technology. Although the label approval says 46 percent ABV, Bryan has indicated that it may arrive in several different proofs.
And last, but certainly not least, there’s one very interesting new rum release headed our way that is specifically not included in the list below. A surprise announcement is planned and I don’t want to spoil anything–but you’ll know when you see it!
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|
|The Exclusive Rums||Nicaraguan||Nicaragua||17 year, ex-bourbon, 57.4%||Link=16153001000486|
|The Exclusive Rums||Caroni||Trinidad||19 year, 58.1%||Link=16153001000479|
|The Exclusive Rums||Caroni||Trinidad||17 year, 54.9%||Link=16153001000476|
|Duncan Taylor||Long Pond Rum 2000 Cask #76||Jamaica||13 year, 54.8%||Link=16153001000424|
|Duncan Taylor||Caroni Rum 1997 Cask #87||Trinidad||16 year, 55.1%||Link=16152001000647|
|Duncan Taylor||Don Jose Rum 1995||Panama||1995, 17 year, 54.4%||Link=16152001000637|
|AD Rattray||Caroni 18 Year||Trinidad||18 year, 55% (2 different casks)||Link=16118001000735|
|Don Reyes||Blanco||Dominican Republic||Link=16169001000089|
|Don Reyes||Anejo||Dominican Republic||Link=16140001000391|
|Plantation||Grand Terroir||Jamaica||2002, 42%||Link=16153001000156|
|Plantation||Reunion||France||13 year ex-bourbon, 2 year Port ruby finish, 46%||Link=16152001000441|
|Plantation||Single Cask Belize XO||Belize||6 year ex-bourbon, 2 year Ferrand, 43.1%||Link=16140001000033|
|Plantation||Single Cask Guyana||Guyana||15 year ex-bourbon, 2 year Ferrand, 56.3%||Link=16140001000032|
|Plantation||Single Cask Barbados 12 Year||Barbados||8 year bourbon, 4 year Ferrand, 44.1%||Link=16140001000031|
|Plantation||Single Cask Panama 8 Year||Panama||6 year bourbon, 2 year Ferrand, 44%||Link=16140001000029|
|Plantation||Single Cask Haiti XO||Haiti||8 year bourbon, 3 year Ferrand, 41%||Link=16139001000417|
|El Pasador de Oro||XO||Guatemala||Link=16120001000474|
|Rational Spirits||Cuban Inspired||South Carolina||46%, Lost Spirits aged||Link=16111001000437|
|El Dorado||Grand Special Reserve||Guyana||Blend of rums between 33 and 50 years, 43%||Link=16106001000406|
|Endless Summer||Endless Summer||Barbados||Silver rum, 40%||Link=16146001000505|
|Gunroom||4 Ports||Barbados||Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, 40%||Link=16139001000295|
|Dictador||Best of 1986||Columbia||29 years, 43%||Link=16049001000062|
|Voom||Blanc||Barbados||Silver aged rum||Link=16015001000436|
|Macroix||Ocho – 8 – Eight||Dominican Republic||40%||Link=16131001000347|
|Hamilton||Navy Strength||West Indies||Jamaica, Guyana, 57%||Link=16146001000408|
|Saint Aubin||Gold||Mauritius||column still, 2 years, 40%||Link=16098001000627|
|Saint Aubin||White||Mauritius||Column still, 50%||Link=16098001000624|
|Saint Aubin||Black||Mauritius||Column still, 3 years, 40%||Link=16098001000633|
|Sol Tarasco||Charanda Extra Aged||Mexico||40%||Link=16137001000225|
|Sol Tarasco||Charanda Silver||Mexico||40%||Link=16137001000217|
|El Tarasco||Charanda Extra Aged||Mexico||40%||Link=16137001000189|
|El Tarasco||Charanda Gran Reserva||Mexico||40%||Link=16137001000173|
|Panama Rum||21 Year Grand Reserve||Panama||21 years, 40%||Link=16132001000673|
|Panama Rum||15 Year Special Reserve||Panama||15 years, 40%||Link=16133001000016|
|Panama Rum||8 Year||Panama||8 years, 40%||Link=16133001000014|
|Panama Rum||12 Year Special Reserve||Panama||12 years, 40%||Link=16133001000013|
|Ibituruna||Cachaca Carta Prata||Brazil||Link=16137001000193|
|Ibituruna||Cachaca Carta Ouro||Brazil||Link=16137001000185|
|Samaroli||1992 Jamaica Rum||Jamaica||Distilled 1992, bottled 2016, 54%||Link=16138001000059|
|Samaroli||2002 Demerara Rum||Guyana||Distilled 2002, bottled 2016, 45%||Link=16138001000029|
|Samaroli||1999 Trinidad Rum||Trinidad||Distilled 1999, bottled 2016, 45%||Link=16138001000023|
|Samaroli||2000 Barbados Rum||Barbados||Distilled 2000, bottled 2016, 45%||Link=16138001000019|
|Samaroli||1998 Guadeloupe Rum||Guadeloupe||Distilled 1998, bottled 2016, 45%||Link=16138001000017|
|Samaroli||1990 Demerara Rum||Guyana||Distilled 1990, bottled 2016, 45%||Link=16138001000049|