Sunday, February 5, 2012

Rum Review: Scarlet Ibis

This is a very special rum, having been originally produced specifically for the bar Death & Co in NYC. Thanks to Haus Alpenz, it is generally available to the public as well. This rum is a blend from Trinidad, made by combining a number of different pot-still rums aged from 3 to 5 years in small oak casks. As an added bonus, this rum is bottled without chill filtration and at a very respectable 98-proof, which means that it is absolutely bursting with flavor.

While I heard about this rum more than a year ago, the initial reviews, while mostly positive, made me somewhat wary. Thankfully I stumbled upon it finally being stocked at a local liquor store again and decided to take the plunge.

Nose: tropical fruits, a bit of brown sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and hogo, which becomes more open and expansive, with some extra hits of lemon and orange peel, after the addition of water

Taste: light honey sweetness up front, with spices, pepper and hogo appearing mid-palate, which opens up to reveal a bit of toasted oak and chocolate with a few drops of water

Finish: light, mostly residual hogo, which also opens up after adding water to give peppery toffee and mocha

On a number of occasions that I've tried this rum neat, it seems very closed at full strength. Almost nothing on the nose and a slightly lackluster palate. However, even the smallest amount of additional water makes this rum absolutely blossom with flavors. Maybe I've just become a little to used to high proof sippers, but I think this rum is just beautiful on its own. The balance and evolution of flavors is incredible, displaying bits from just about every style of rum out there in turn. To make an analogy, this is the Highland Park of the rum world.

However, even though it is magnificent on its own, this rum was designed with cocktails in mind. There are a few drinks made at Death & Co that were designed with this rum in mind such as the Drunken Dodo, the Kerala Cocktail, the Coin Toss, and the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. However, it also makes for a beautiful daiquiri or Mai Tai, as well as this little thing I put together:

Tristan's Trinidadian
1.5 oz Scarlet Ibis rum
0.5 oz lime juice
0.35 oz allspice dram
0.35 oz honey syrup

Combine all ingredients, shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This is just a minor tweak on the classic Jasper's Jamaican. While the eponymous drink obviously calls for Jamaican rum, I think Scarlet Ibis fits into the mold almost perfectly. The cocktail retains the wonderful mocha and vanilla finish of the rum, hooking up with the allspice dram to give it a bit more pep. The honey syrup and lime play counterpoint, giving the drink both smoothness and zing at the same time. The higher proof of the Scarlet Ibis compared to most of the Jamaican rums on the market today (Smith & Cross and J. Wray excepted) also helps to buck it up. Overall, this is a very pleasant little drink.


  1. Wow! That sounds delicious!!

  2. Thanks much for the review and links to other ratings - definitely will have to try it out with a Drunken Dodo! Hope you don't mind but I linked it to the pro reviews section of the Scarlet Ibis RR page :)

  3. Finally a review of this rum with the suggestion to add a little water. Bottled at 49% it needs water to release it's wonderful flavour potential. Also I agree with comparing this to Highland park or a similarly classed single malt. A Great review for a fantastic 10/10 rum. Outstanding proof that rum does not have to be over 10 years old to be of the highest class.