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Old 01-28-2008, 12:19 AM   #1
Solomon Grundy
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Default Rum and Expectations

A couple of threads below (e.g., When less is more; the El Dorado 15 thread)lead me to ask this question:

How much do expectations about what a rum should taste like influence the experience of tasting a rum?

Personnaly, the first time I tried Ten Cane, I was underwhelmed, the "green" taste of the raw cane overwhelmed everything else for me. The second time I tried it, expecting the green taste, I enjoyed a nice smooth drink with a sweetness I hadn't noticed before. I don't think it was the bottle sitting with a couple of ounces gone that changed the taste so.

For me, the Angostura 1919 was the first "good" rum I ever tasted. It will always be what "good" rum tastes like, no matter how much I enjoy any other rum.
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Old 01-28-2008, 12:59 AM   #2
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I typically have high standards when it comes to tryng something new, and Im often let down. I think its very important to try something twice or three times before giving up on it.

Example being, when you get a CD and you listen to it once and you feel like it was, okay at best. Then you hear it two more times, and now its your favorite album.

Perhaps I should take my own advice and try that Grand Havana rum again... err maybe not
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Old 01-28-2008, 01:00 AM   #3
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Default It's so subjective

If we have 40 people at a tasting event, we'll get a least a dozen opinions on which rum was the best. It so subjective. Our own taste in rums changes depending on the context in which they're enjoyed.

Ed likes to say his favorite rum is the one in front of him. My favorite is a little taste of each one. I almost never drink a full shot of rum. I like them in combinations. Depending on the order you taste them, your perceptions can be influenced by their contrasts and similarities.
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Old 01-28-2008, 11:45 AM   #4
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One reason I've never been able to compile lists of what the top selections are is because I'm unable to say what a favorite is more than a few days in a row. In terms of expectations, I think with some experience we are all able to discern what tastes like good effort, decent distillate and proper management to the bottle, as well as the opposite of those. The expectation beyond some of those more basic 'recognizations' dives into personal taste and preferences.

As far as taking opinions on anything as open as rum, (cigars, too for example), for more than merely personal opinions - is not a very realistic thing to do IMHO. We will each like or dislike something for our own reasons, unless it is obvious garbage.

For example, if in our past, one of us had a terrible experience with black liquorice or butterscotch we're likely to be turned off at the slightest hint of notes in either of those directions. The next person doesn't even notice them. This in itself is enough to trigger an "I don't care for that one" even if we can't say for sure we know it is the specific tastes of either of the two examples I offered - we are likely to recognize that there is something there that puts us off.

In short where my expectations begin are in assessing the quality of a spirit and then placing it in a category or categories I identify with or don't. From there I assess whether it has a place with me and work at proving my theories.

What complicates or frustrates that concept and why I might sometimes be a stock whore (or as Edward said, the lady with a thousand pairs of shoes but none on hand to wear), is the fact that like most spirits, rum is an evolving concept that I'm not going to rely on today's product to be 100% the same as tomorrow's. Volume seems to be the only way to adequately hedge against the future of potential consistency and inevitable change, sometimes referred to as evolution.
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Old 01-28-2008, 11:52 AM   #5
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I have learned not to have any expectations when tasting a new rum. Mount Gay XO is an excellent rum, one that I like very much. Do I compare other rums to it? No. I think with time, as you experience many rums, you will see that the variations are so great that you will look at each one as a different experience. Sometimes certain types of rum can give you certain expectations. Is it a Demerara?, Agricole?, etc. I would love to taste all my new rums blind, if I could, because we gain expectations from seeing the bottle.
But I have taught myself to approach each one as a seperate entity. When I do comparison tastings, that is all I do is compare. I may like one more than the other, but that would be just personal preference. It is so subjective, it is hard to set any general standards.
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Old 01-28-2008, 02:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matusalem
For example, if in our past, one of us had a terrible experience with black liquorice or butterscotch we're likely to be turned off at the slightest hint of notes in either of those directions. The next person doesn't even notice them. This in itself is enough to trigger an "I don't care for that one" even if we can't say for sure we know it is the specific tastes of either of the two examples I offered - we are likely to recognize that there is something there that puts us off.
I enjoy the process of tasting new rums and like many more rums than I dislike. I realize that I have a number of flavor biases, though. I do not particularly like the tastes of coffee, tobacco, or anise/licorice. On the other hand, I really enjoy citrus, vanilla, cinnamon, coconut, chocolate, and most spices.

As a result, my listing of favorite rums is likely to be quite different from the average cigar-chomping coffee addict. :eek: (not that there's any of those around here)

My off notes usually won't keep me from finishing the glass, but may keep me from ordering a second one.

And the RZ 23 is still at the top of my list of rums deserving a second (and third) glass.
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Old 01-29-2008, 10:40 PM   #7
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Expectations are everything.

I expect a light rum to be somewhere between fire and delicately bland. I expect dark rums to be molasses (meyers), or dark toasted oak to the point of bitterness or burnt flavor (pussers). Amber rums are somewhere in between. I expect a range of molasses to caramel that speak to me about the base material while not whacking about the head with a particular direction.

This is why I rated Pyrat as a personal low in ericK's blind tasting. It tasted good and I'll drink it again, but it doesn't taste like rum to me. I expect some form of burnt sugar flavor to tell me that it is rum, not orange-blossom-candy-baby-aspirin. In the same way that bourbon has a distinct flavor from the corn I want something that expresses the sugar cane in the rum.
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Old 01-30-2008, 07:37 PM   #8
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Capn Jimbo, I think I understand what you are getting at. While it is difficult to say what a rum should taste like, most of us have a rum that serves as the gold standard. Often times, this is the first good rum we've had. Other times, this standard rum becomes apparent after trying quite a few. Along these lines, my standards are Mt. Gay, Cruzan Diamond Estate, and Flor de Cana Gran Reserva. That said, I still have a hard time saying X is what rum should taste like. Good question.
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Old 01-30-2008, 07:54 PM   #9
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I have always wondered about the standards myself. What do the experts at the Beverage Tasting Institute use as thier standards? Does it just come from experience, and how does much personal preference come into play? I understand the question you ask Capt Jimbo, and for me it raises some more questions. I look for that good balanced rum taste. The sugar cane and/or molasses are represented, as is the wood, and some added flavors for complexity. My first experience with rum beyond Bacardi was Ron del Barrilito, many years ago. I remember how I was overwhelmed at the smooth, rich complex taste. I just don't think I have one rum or a few that sets the standard for me.
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Old 01-30-2008, 09:29 PM   #10
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first of all, sorry for my bad english
I believe that we all recognize rums because we have built, with experience, our personal borders about "what's rum", how it taste. For example I imagine a person that have drinked only cuban rum, and don't know nothing about agricole rhum. If that person order a rum in bar, and the bartender serve him an agricole, surely it say something like "that's not rum! you're an idiot!"
that's because his expectations about rum are based in his (little in this case) cumulated experience.
Personally, I use my expecations (my borders) to find rum that doesn't respect my expectations...but give me emotions
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