Rum selection can be rather subjective, but there are certain guidelines to follow. Light-bodied rums, either white or gold in color, are best when mixed with subtle ingredients such as fresh squeezed lime in a Daiquiri or mint and lime in a Mojito.
Dark rums complement big tropical flavors like mango, coconut, or pineapple—perhaps in a Mai Tai. Spiced and flavored rums work well in a fresh, whimsical libation, like a Cable Car or a twist on a Cosmopolitan.
For this tasting we’ll focus on white rums, which are generally dry and lighter bodied and lend themselves very nicely to crafting cocktails. But don’t let the lack of color fool you: Just because they are white in color does not mean they don’t often spend time aging in oak barrels.
Banks 5 Island Rum (West Indies)
Nose: Orange blossom and gardenia floral notes, sugar cane, vegetal, tropical fruits—pineapple, citrus of both lemon and orange, spice, chocolate, ginger, pepper.
Palate: Rich, creamy mouth feel revealing molasses sweetness, vegetal—green bell pepper and jalapeno, tropical fruits—coconut, ripe papaya, and banana, with a touch of lime zest, toasted hazelnuts, caramel (burnt sugar) and dried fruits—apricot.
Finish: Medium, warm with a spicy white-pepper reminder.
Matusalem Platino (Dominican Republic)
Nose: Alcohol slightly pronounced revealing vegetal notes of green bell pepper and asparagus, wet-stone minerality, vanilla with a hint of brown sugar.
Palate: Rich, creamy texture coats the palate with chocolate, vanilla and the memory of citrus leading to light acidy.
Finish: Medium length, dry with a hint of cocoa and vanilla.
Atlantico Platino (Dominican Republic)
Nose: Clover honey, fresh-cut grass, candied orange peel, marzipan, saltwater taffy, white pepper and vanilla spice.
Palate: Rich, full mouth feel, big vanilla flavor—vanilla bean ice cream, taffy and nugget sweetness, with hints of citrus—orange and lemon.
Finish: Medium in length, pleasant and slightly sweet.
Shellback Silver Rum (Barbados)
Nose: Huge notes of vanilla, cream soda, rice pudding, toasted nuts with a slight hint of cinnamon, toasted marshmallow and ripe cantaloupe.
Palate: Rich and full-bodied, slightly sugary, vanilla crème brûlee—tres leches, tropical fruits—coconut and mango, orange zest, blanched almonds with a touch of minerality.
Finish: Medium in length with the lingering memory of sweet vanilla.
Mount Gay Eclipse Silver (Barbados)
Nose: Complex with big sweet vanilla, caramel, candied pecans, toasted marshmallow, nougat, hints of cane syrup, and bananas foster.
Palate: A very clean palate with subtle hints of peppermint, citrus, and banana giving way to caramel sweetness, toasted hazelnuts, cinnamon-and-sugar toast with light acidity.
Finish: Medium in length, with a slight hint of licorice.
Flor De Cana Extra Dry (Nicaragua)
Nose: Very layered with a blast of sweet orange, orange marmalade, tropical fruits—mango and papaya, toasted nuts, buttercream, cinnamon and vanilla spice.
Palate: Soft, medium-bodied revealing coconut, egg cream, white chocolate, marzipan, vanilla, and black licorice with medium acidy.
Finish: Medium in length, clean with a memory of vanilla.
Brugal Especial Extra Dry (Dominican Republic)
Nose: Burnt sugar, toffee, peanut brittle, candied apple, and freshly cut grass.
Palate: Full-bodied, almost chewy with a slight alcohol burn softening to present a caramel-toffee sweetness and orange peel, with mild acidy.
Finish: Medium in length, warm and finishing dry.
Diplomatico Reserve Blanco (Venezuela)
Nose: Intense, with notes of lemon peel, brown sugar, cocoa, ground coffee, cream soda, dried fruits, buttered toast.
Palate: Medium-full bodied, creamy, ripe peaches, baked apple, giving way to rich chocolate and mocha sweetness with medium acidity.
Finish: Medium to long in length, balanced and lingering, finishing dry with the memory of vanilla and chocolate.