Bill Dowd photoWhile in Frederikstedt, St. Croix, to meet with master distiller Gary Nelthropp at Cruzan Rum, I had the opportunity in a converted 19th Century carriage house on the Cruzan complex to do a blind tasting of nine 80-proof rums of varying style: Cruzan, Bacardi, Pyrat and Myers's. The tasting was led by Jim Beam Brands' master mixologist Bobby "Bobby G" Gleason.
• Bacardi Superior: A honey fragrance with a surprisingly lingering finish atop banana and apple notes and the characteristic Bacardi mild burn.
• Cruzan Estate Light: A gentle nose with honey and applesauce notes, then elements of caramel, vanilla and sweet apple in the mid-range and finish.
• Bacardi Reserva: More of the honey nose, but with the added element of butterscotch, which made the slight acidity of the taste a surprise. A round, structured mouth-feel.
• Cruzan 2-Year Dark: Here we moved into softer, more refined fragrances of brown sugar and tropical tastes of coconut and pineapple. A very agreeable product.
• Bacardi 8: Fragrances of almonds and creme brulee precede a spicy, nutty rum with the tropical notes of pineapple and toasted coconut. Complex and pleasing.
• Pyrat XO: This is a blend of rums from nine different pot stills. The strong aroma of orange peel creates an expectation of something like a Grand Marnier, and that's what comes through along with touches of anise and cinnamon. A nice dessert offering.
• Cruzan Single Barrel: Vanilla, almonds and allspice all compete in the nose, but the taste is dry, soft and Scotch-like with a hint of orange. Very nice sipping rum.
• Myers's Origional Dark: Notes of maple and chocolate in the nose, which match up with the dark color, then more chocolate, plus coffee and some molasses in the haste and finish.
• Cruzan Black Strap Navy Style: This two-year-old is flavored with dark molasses, and that's what comes through in the nose and in the initial taste. It quickly softens, and coffee elements come through, leading to a long, smooth finish.
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