Thursday, February 7, 2013

Rum Review: El Dorado 3 Year

I've reviewed other rums from El Dorado before, but this one is a bit different. El Dorado 3 Year is, like all their rums, produced in Guyana from their amazing collection of stills. ED3 is a blend of rums distilled in two different four-column Savalle stills, Skeldon and Blairmont, then aged in ex-bourbon casks for at least three years. The trick with this rum is that the color is stripped out by double charcoal filtration. While that also removes some of the flavor, ED3 is still more flavorful than most white rums you will find on the market these days. Bottling proof is, like most rums, at 40%.

El Dorado 3 Year

Nose: light, clean, creamy molasses, savory vanilla

Taste: lemon/orange peel and cane sugar sweetness up front - which continues through the sip - becomes bittersweet mid-palate, slightly tannic, tropical fruit and berries, a hint of cacao and bitter molasses at the back.

Finish: fruit/berries, bitter wood, slightly floral, savory vanilla

Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of overlap with the flavor profile of El Dorado 5 Year. However, ED3 is lighter and a bit more crisp, with flavors that edge towards savoriness, rather than the sweeter profile of ED5. Though not the first thing I would reach for as a sipping rum, it is quite balanced and approachable, while retaining a solid flavor density. Best of all, ED3 is an excellent value, usually running under $20 for a 750 mL bottle. All of that makes it perfect for cocktails where you want the rum to be present without overwhelming the other ingredients. For instance...

1.5 oz rum
0.75 oz dry vermouth
0.25 oz orange liqueur
0.5 tsp grenadine (sub raspberry syrup)

Combine all ingredients, stir with ice for fifteen seconds, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The nose is a delicate melange of the vermouth's aromatics, some floral notes, orange peel, raspberry, and rum. The sip begins fairly neutrally, with depth building as the drink progresses across the tongue. Mild sweetness comes in first, with vanilla and orange, then trends a bit more bitter as the vermouth takes over, supplemented by the rum. The finish is pure dry cacao.

The history of this drink is debated, but the established facts are that it was created in Cuba around the time of Prohibition, when numerous Americans would sail to the island for a drinking vacation. I can see why it was such a smash - the drink is simultaneously ethereal and hard-hitting. While containing naught but booze, but it still manages to sneak up on you. It's fruity, but not overly so. Sweet, but not overly so. Bitter, but not overly so. Everything is in perfect tension. And the choice of rum feels spot-on for this drink.

In a daiquiri, ED3 produces a fairly delicate nose, with gentle vanilla and a hint of lime. The vanilla comes in sweetly at the beginning of the sip and carries through. Lime hits mid-palate, giving the drink crispness. Near the back, the sweetness fades a bit towards light bitterness and becomes more rounded, with rummy depth. Overall, I would say this is an exceptional daiquiri - every element hitting with supreme poise.

I don't know how much of a wrap-up I need. Go buy this rum. Right now.

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