Stalking the TTB:  Upcoming U.S. rum releases from Plantation, Hamilton, Samaroli, El Dorado, Rational Spirits and more!  May and June 2016

Stalking the TTB - May - June 2016

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 NameFanciful NameOriginNotesTTB ID
The Exclusive RumsNicaraguanNicaragua17 year, ex-bourbon, 57.4%Link=16153001000486
The Exclusive RumsCaroniTrinidad19 year, 58.1%Link=16153001000479
The Exclusive RumsCaroniTrinidad17 year, 54.9%Link=16153001000476
Duncan TaylorLong Pond Rum 2000 Cask #76Jamaica13 year, 54.8%Link=16153001000424
Duncan TaylorCaroni Rum 1997 Cask #87Trinidad16 year, 55.1%Link=16152001000647
Duncan TaylorDon Jose Rum 1995Panama1995, 17 year, 54.4%Link=16152001000637
AD RattrayCaroni 18 YearTrinidad18 year, 55% (2 different casks)Link=16118001000735
Don ReyesBlancoDominican RepublicLink=16169001000089
Don ReyesAnejoDominican RepublicLink=16140001000391
PlantationGrand TerroirJamaica2002, 42%Link=16153001000156
PlantationReunionFrance13 year ex-bourbon, 2 year Port ruby finish, 46%Link=16152001000441
PlantationSingle Cask Belize XOBelize6 year ex-bourbon, 2 year Ferrand, 43.1%Link=16140001000033
PlantationSingle Cask GuyanaGuyana15 year ex-bourbon, 2 year Ferrand, 56.3%Link=16140001000032
PlantationSingle Cask Barbados 12 YearBarbados8 year bourbon, 4 year Ferrand, 44.1%Link=16140001000031
PlantationSingle Cask Panama 8 YearPanama6 year bourbon, 2 year Ferrand, 44%Link=16140001000029
PlantationSingle Cask Haiti XOHaiti8 year bourbon, 3 year Ferrand, 41%Link=16139001000417
El Pasador de OroXOGuatemalaLink=16120001000474
Rational SpiritsCuban InspiredSouth Carolina46%, Lost Spirits agedLink=16111001000437
El DoradoGrand Special ReserveGuyanaBlend of rums between 33 and 50 years, 43%Link=16106001000406
Endless SummerEndless SummerBarbadosSilver rum, 40%Link=16146001000505
Gunroom4 PortsBarbadosGuyana, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, 40%Link=16139001000295
DictadorBest of 1986Columbia29 years, 43%Link=16049001000062
VoomBlancBarbadosSilver aged rumLink=16015001000436
MacroixOcho – 8 – EightDominican Republic40%Link=16131001000347
HamiltonNavy StrengthWest IndiesJamaica, Guyana, 57%Link=16146001000408
Strong Water5+3Spain40%Link=16127001000435
Strong Water5+5Spain40%Link=16127001000434
Saint AubinGoldMauritiuscolumn still, 2 years, 40%Link=16098001000627
Saint AubinWhiteMauritiusColumn still, 50%Link=16098001000624
Saint AubinBlackMauritiusColumn still, 3 years, 40%Link=16098001000633
Sol TarascoCharanda Extra AgedMexico40%Link=16137001000225
Sol TarascoCharanda SilverMexico40%Link=16137001000217
El TarascoCharanda Extra AgedMexico40%Link=16137001000189
El TarascoCharanda Gran ReservaMexico40%Link=16137001000173
UruapanCharanda SilverMexico40%Link=16138001000131
Panama Rum21 Year Grand ReservePanama21 years, 40%Link=16132001000673
Panama Rum15 Year Special ReservePanama15 years, 40%Link=16133001000016
Panama Rum8 YearPanama8 years, 40%Link=16133001000014
Panama Rum12 Year Special ReservePanama12 years, 40%Link=16133001000013
IbiturunaCachaca Carta PrataBrazilLink=16137001000193
IbiturunaCachaca Carta OuroBrazilLink=16137001000185
Samaroli1992 Jamaica RumJamaicaDistilled 1992, bottled 2016, 54%Link=16138001000059
Samaroli2002 Demerara RumGuyanaDistilled 2002, bottled 2016, 45%Link=16138001000029
Samaroli1999 Trinidad RumTrinidadDistilled 1999, bottled 2016, 45%Link=16138001000023
Samaroli2000 Barbados RumBarbadosDistilled 2000, bottled 2016, 45%Link=16138001000019
Samaroli1998 Guadeloupe RumGuadeloupeDistilled 1998, bottled 2016, 45%Link=16138001000017
Samaroli1990 Demerara RumGuyanaDistilled 1990, bottled 2016, 45%Link=16138001000049
CacheMamajuanaDominican Republic40%




2 thoughts on “Stalking the TTB:  Upcoming U.S. rum releases from Plantation, Hamilton, Samaroli, El Dorado, Rational Spirits and more!  May and June 2016”

  1. This looks to be a fantastic summer with all these new expressions. Looking forward to trying as many in that Plantation line as I can get my hands on!

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