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Old 04-07-2009, 11:36 PM   #1
Arctic Wolf
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Wink Thoughts on Rum Ratings

Just thought I'd post my thoughts on rum ratings in general and then explain my own personal methodology.

First off I don't trust reviews from one time tastings. For example some friends and I did some sampling last November in which we tried about 9 different rums. One in Particular caught my palate. Captain Morgan's Private Stock. I quickly bought a bottle when I had the chance and an extra bottle for reserve. Funny thing was, the more I tried it the less I liked it. The reason was the overwhelming flavour of vanilla. At the initial tasting the vanilla was a welcome addition, but familiarity definitely bred contempt such that I finally resorted to using the rum as flavouring in my flapjack recipe to use up the bottle. (Still only half gone and I have that reserve bottle too.)

I have learned that the initial tasting is somewhat misleading.

Another thing about reviews is the biases we inherently have towards age and price. I know I am guilty of this. When I spend a little extra on an older vintage doggone it I want it to taste better and I know I fool myself. So I wonder how many others do this. When I read a review blog and see all the expensive aged rums ranked high I wonder if this kind of bias has crept in. Of course there is no way of knowing and taste is so personal that the only solution to this question is to try the rums yourself.

To overcome these difficulties I have developed my own ranking system in which I never rate or recommend a rum until I have tasted it in a variety of settings. I have found that I will naturally go back to the rums I like over time and the bias I may feel at the initial setting is somewhat muted.

Anyway this is my system based upon a minimum of 5 drams of rum over a minimum of 5 different sessions.

IN THE BOTTLE: 5pts
IN THE GLASS 10pts
IN THE MOUTH 60pts
IN THE THROAT 15pts
THE AFTERBURN 10pts

You may laugh at my first category and I will admit it is a somewhat silly category. But doggone it I enjoy the ambiance created by unwrapping a fine bottle from its packaging and then placing the decanter in front of my friends. I also have a rule that the more I paid for a bottle the harsher I judge this category. Rums under 20 bucks score 5 quite easily, and rums that cost more than 80 bucks must really impress to score 5.

IN THE GLASS is not quite as silly as a lot begins to happen as we open the bottle and pour the rum. Sweet molasses aroma hits the nostrils. Some Rums like El Dorado 21 gain legs in the glass and the expectation of sweet nectar starts the rum drinking experience. I love to nose a glass before I drink and savour the sweetness.

Of Course IN THE MOUTH is the most important category and it is all about taste. Basically this is a "How good does this taste?" category. If I am constantly drawn back to a particular rum I score this very high.

IN THE THROAT is all about that warm feeling you get as the liquid flows down. Important is the Aftertaste left hidden at the back of the palate. Also that nice burn you feel as the liquid goes down. Bitterness left behind always knocks this score down a bit.

Finally the AFTERBURN which is really a catchall category meant to smooth out any inconsistencies. Sometimes a rum is more than the sum of its parts and this is a good area to recognize that. Also this is an area where the rememberance of the flavour is more important that the actual flavour if that makes any sense.


So there you have it my own method of evaluating Rum. Tomorrow I will try to give everyone my own take of ten different rums using this method.


(Note: if this post is in the wrong area please feel free to move it)

Last edited by Arctic Wolf; 04-08-2009 at 10:59 PM.
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Old 04-08-2009, 01:08 AM   #2
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Well Mr. Wolf, my interest is piqued and I look forward to your 10. Are these to be your "top ten" or simply 10 random rums?
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Old 04-08-2009, 02:17 AM   #3
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i am with my good buddy Vic. . . i look forward to the reviews..
i would love to commend you on your 'system'. It seems very well thought out and quite comprehensive.
Nice methodology Arctic Wolf!! Thank you for sharing.
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Last edited by forrest; 04-08-2009 at 12:38 PM. Reason: Blathering
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Old 04-08-2009, 07:02 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arctic Wolf View Post
Just thought I'd post my thoughts on rum ratings in general and then explain my own personal methodology.

First off I don't trust reviews from one time tastings. For example some friends and I did some sampling last November in which we tried about 9 different rums. One in Particular caught my palate. Captain Morgan's Private Stock. I quickly bought a bottle when I had the chance and an extra bottle for reserve. Funny thing was, the more I tried it the less I liked it. Thereason was the overwhelming flavour of vanilla. At the initial tasting the vanilla was a welcome addition, but familiarity definitely bred contempt such that I finally resorted to using the rum as flavouring in my flapjack recipe to use up the bottle. (Still only half gone and I have that reserve bottle too.)

I have learned that the initial tasting is somewhat misleading.
Amen, I always do my tastings carefully and patiently over a few days to see whether I still feel the same on the next days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arctic Wolf
Another thing about reviews is the biases we inherently have towards age and price. I know I am guilty of this. When I spend a little extra on an older vintage doggone it I want it to taste better and I know I fool myself. So I wonder how many others do this. When I read a review blog and see all the expensive aged rums ranked high I wonder if this kind of bias has crept in. Of course there is no way of knowing and taste is so personal that the only solution to this question is to try the rums yourself.
I've noticed this phenomenon as well on some reviews sometimes, though I usually find myself in the opposite situation - Usually my expectations are high which can lead to disappointment but I like to think I have managed to keep an objective view on my reviews. My readers can have the final word on whether I am biased or not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arctic Wolf
To overcome these difficulties I have developed my own ranking system in which I never rate or reccommend a rum until I have tasted it in a variety of settings. I have found that I will naturally go back to the rums I like over time and the bias I may feel at the initial setting is somewhat muted.

Anyway this is my system based upon a minimum of 5 drams of rum over a minimum of 5 different sessions.

IN THE BOTTLE: 5pts
IN THE GLASS 10pts
IN THE MOUTH 60pts
IN THE THROAT 15pts
THE AFTERBURN 10pts

You may laugh at my first category and I will admit it is a somewhat silly category. But doggone it I enjoy the abiance created by unwrapping a fine bottle from its packaging and then placing the decanter in front of my friends. I also have a rule that the more I paid for a bottle the harsher I judge this category. Rums under 20 bucks score 5 quite easily, and rums that cost more than 80 bucks must really impress to score 5.
Its not a silly category, I too like a good packaging but I wont really let it affect the final scoring because it is the content that matters in the end.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arctic Wolf
IN THE GLASS is not quite as silly as a lot begins to happen as we open the bottle and pour the rum. Sweet molasses aroma hits the nostrils. Some Rums like El Dorado 21 gain legs in the glass and the expectation of sweet lnectar starts the rum drinking experience. I love to nose a glass before I drink and savour the sweetness.
Personally, if I had to use a numerical system, I would rank up the nose way higher because I feel it is one of the most important aspects together with taste.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Arctic Wolf
Of Course IN THE MOUTH is the most important category and it is all about taste. Basically this is a How good does this taste category. If I am constantly drawn back to a particular rum I score this very high.

IN THE THROAT is all about that warm feeling you get as the liquid flows down. Important is the Aftertaste left hidden at the back of the palate. Also that nice burn you feel as the liquid goes down. Bitterness left behind always knocks this score down a bit.

Finally the AFTERBURN which is really a catchall category meant to smooth out any inconsistencies. Sometimes a rum is more than the sum of its parts and this is a good area to recognize that. Also this is an area where the rememberance of the flavour is more important that the actual flavour if that makes any sense.


So there you have it my own method of evaluating Rum. Tomorrow I will try to give everyone my own take of ten different rums using this method.


(Note: if this post is in the wrong area please feel free to move it)
It is always nice to read how others review rums, everyone seems to have a slightly different methodology. If you're interested to know more about mine, have a read.

Last edited by Count Silvio; 04-08-2009 at 07:06 AM.
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Old 04-08-2009, 09:13 AM   #5
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Wolfie you're my kinda guy! great post to read over breakfast. I tend to prefer a more subjective approach and not use #'s (just my taste, I know # work very well) because it tends to lead me to compare rums to other ones. I don't like doing this because rums are meant to be different and A LOT depends on the mood I am in at that moment. That being said your system has a ton of merit to it, I might put a little more on the nose but I love to see that you included the packaging. If I break open something exotic and pricey in should have something to impress me. Bonus points if it involves the history or culture. Goslings old rum comes to mind, champagne bottle from back in the day, "black seal" wax top, etc...Strangely enough I've grown not to like corks and instead prefer screw caps. Last I agree with your comment about tasting multiple times. I find the price expectations and joy at a new bottle will corrupt my opinion. Often the 1st tasting is different slightly than further tastings, but so far if I like a rum initially I've liked it on further tastings. Like wise is true for rums I don't like, but the fun with that is finding what to mix with it to make it tolerable. Keep up the posts I love reading them.
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Old 04-08-2009, 09:16 AM   #6
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Except for peaking interest or new exposure, the only rating system I rely heavily on is my own taste and feelings about specific rums.
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Last edited by Matusalem; 04-08-2009 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 04-08-2009, 04:29 PM   #7
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Here are two sets of six rums rated using my peculiar methodology. I know I promised 10 but last night I had some Zacapa and felt that I had tried it sufficiently often to include it as well as well as one other. These are not in any order except that I placed my personal favourite at the top.

1) Flor de Cana 7yr Old ($28.00) (97 pts)

IN THE BOTTLE (4.5) An inexpensive rum in a nice package. Addition of a cork would score a 5.
IN THE GLASS (9.5) A really nice aroma. Sweet but also full of nuts and spice. A hint of vanilla. No burnt or medicinal notes. The colour is rich and vibrant.
IN THE MOUTH (58.5) Absolutely wonderful. This is sweet but not overly so. A hint of almond and hazelnut. This mixes really well with coke on a warm day and goes down straight on a cold day. This to me is the almost perfect mixture of age and sweetness. The gentle spiciness and the warm notes of molasses.
IN THE THROAT (15) A perfect score as this rum feels just right going down. No bitter notes linger and the flavour just gushes and burns in all the right ways.
THE AFTERBURN (9.5) A clean pleasing finish. A gentle burn in the throat.

I will admit this is my favourite rum. I almost always have a bottle ready to go and I have even used this to mix with lesser rums to make them more palatable.

2) Ron Matuselum Gran Reserva 15 yr ($40.00) (93.5 pts)

IN THE BOTTLE (5.0) I like rums in some kind of box to keep light from causing any harm to the liquid. Corks are necessary to prevent evaporation and I Like some attempt to make the bottle unique in some way.
IN THE GLASS (9.0) Very nice aroma from the glass but it is not quite as rich and full as it could be. No off notes at all but the aroma is just a tad muted.
IN THE MOUTH (56.5) Almost as good as Flor de Cana but the richness has been muted by aging. It is very very smooth which makes this a very good rum to drink straight. There is no flaw in the flavour, and on days when I feel like a more mellow drink this really hits the spot.
IN THE THROAT (14.0) Just a little more kick and this would be perfect.
THE AFTERBURN (9.0) I really like to smell my glass after my drink and savour the last moments.

If this Rum had just a little more flavour it would rival for top spot, But definitively a favourite of mine.

3) Appleton Estate Legacy ($90.00) (93.5 pts)

IN THE BOTTLE (3.5) For the cost of this Rum I really expect a better presentation.
IN THE GLASS (9.0) A really nice Appleton. I almost see legs in the glass and the aroma is enticing. A touch of burnt brown sugar in the air and a hint of nutmeg.
IN THE MOUTH (57.5) This is really complex. You can actually taste the younger rums in the blend swirling around the smoother older rum. The battles between the various ages in the blend is a delight in the mouth. This is as smooth as Matuselum and as robust as Flor de Cana. However a hint of bitterness rears up and prevents perfect harmony from being achieved. So close to perfection and yet so far.
IN THE THROAT (14.5) If it were not for that bitter note this would be sublime. I still taste nutmeg and allspice mixed with brown sugar.
The AFTERBURN (9.0) This is so close to being a perfect rum that it is scary. I go back to this rum a lot trying to escape that tiny bitterness. But alas its always there just hiding in the corner spoiling perfection.

4) El Dorado 12 yr ($38.00) (91.5 pts)

IN THE BOTTLE (5.0) I really dig this design.
IN THE GLASS (9.5) The nose on this rum is as good as any. Sweet Elixir just dripping with personality and sweetness
IN THE MOUTH (55.0) This is one of those rums I loved the first time but that become less the next time. I think the sweetness is just too much. Not that this is not a fine tasting rum, it is really good. I just want a touch more balance with other flavours competing with the brown sugar.
IN THE THROAT (14.0) There is an oiliness that coats the throat giving this a long finish.
The AFTERBURN (8.0) Here again that extra sweetness hurts the rum. Like after Halloween when you were a kid and you ate too much candy. I like this rum a lot, but I need it in small well spaced doses.

5) Cruzan Estate Single Barrel ($ 38) (87.0 pts)

IN THE BOTTLE (4.0) Nice.
IN THE GLASS (9.0) A paler rum than I am used to but very fragrant with spices I am unfamiliar with. I like this a lot.
IN THE MOUTH (53.0) I loved this rum on first tasting. On my second try I noticed a distinct coconut flavour lingering in the background. The more often I try this the more I taste the coconut. Unfortunately the coconut note just doesn't appeal to me. This is really one that intially scores high but slowly sinks the more I drink it.
IN THE THROAT (13.0) There is a lot of unique flavours in this one and the final taste in my throat is quite pleasing but again that coconut lingers like a thief stealing my pleasure.
The AFTERBURN (8.0) Lots of people will really like this and I keep it around for my guest who all enjoy it immensely. If you like coconut you probably will rate this far higher than I.

6) Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum ($ 22) (85.0 pts)

IN THE BOTTLE (4.5) Nice pinup girl on an inexpensive bottle. What's not to like.
IN THE GLASS (8.0) This smells like a mild Dr. Pepper. Yum
IN THE MOUTH (52.0) So far my favourite spiced rum. A Cherry coke with lots of zip and pop. I was expecting lots of Dr. Pepper but instead I got a sweet cherry coke. Nice. Not extremely elegant or complex just a nice casual drink for friends.
IN THE THROAT (12.5) More of the same. It's great that the spice is so unique (at least for me). The flavour does not get old in the throat but just sits gently.
The AFTERBURN (8.0) Don't take this as a bad score. Its just that this rum is nice and pleasing but not outstanding in any way. I like it in my hot tub on a cool day.

Last edited by Arctic Wolf; 04-08-2009 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 04-08-2009, 04:30 PM   #8
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7) Ron Zacapa Centrenario 23 yr old ($85.00) (94.5 pts)

IN THE BOTTLE (4.0) I want more bang for my buck here. The Cardboard sleeve falls apart, and the woven grass band around the bottle deteriorates quickly.
IN THE GLASS (9.5) Awesome aroma with spices, nuts and brown sugar. I could sit and smell this all day.
IN THE MOUTH (57.0) The flavour is almost as good as the aroma. I think I am catching a little too much oak flavour making this ever so slightly bitter. There is a lot of complexity here and just the right amount of sweetness.
IN THE THROAT (14.5) More of the same. The burn in the throat is very gentle and a nice touch of oil ensures a long finish.
The AFTERBURN (9.5) The only flaw is the touch of oak bitter at the very end. I can see why many consider this one of the finest rums.

8) Renegade Rum Panama (Don Jose) 1997 ($75.00) (96.5 pts)

IN THE BOTTLE (5.0) Probably the nicest Rum decanter I have seen
IN THE GLASS (9.5) Awesome aroma with oriental spices, and brown sugar. Like the Zacapa I could sit and smell this all day.
IN THE MOUTH (58.0) The flavour is really really nice. At first this was my favourite rum. However I have found that this rum really changes a lot based on what you have eaten and what the weather is like. On hot days it really cannot be beat, but there have been times when I notice the balance between the spice and the sweetness is just barely off.
IN THE THROAT (14.5) So so nice. There is a real oriental flair to this one. I`m thinking of the Oriental 7 spice mix I use in the kitchen. Very unique and yet completely in balance.
The AFTERBURN (9.5) I almost always want a second glass. Almost.

9) Santa Theresa Ron Antigua de Solero ($45) (91.0 pts)

IN THE BOTTLE (5.0) This one even has a wax seal over the cork.
IN THE GLASS (9.0) A really different reddish tone to the rum. A new fragrance I cannot quite place. Tart and spicy almost like cinnamon.
IN THE MOUTH (55.0) The new spice and flavour is really good but again I found I wanted it less and less as time progressed. Like the El Dorado I really like the flavour but I only want it occasionally.
IN THE THROAT (13.5) The flavours really swirl and compete as the rum hits the back of my throat but somehow the balance is never really achieved.
The AFTERBURN (8.5) Another Rum that dimished in appeal over time. I will return but not often.

10) Captain Morgan`s Private Stock ($38) (63 pts)

IN THE BOTTLE (5.0) So much Promise
IN THE GLASS (9.0) The Vanilla begins its assault
IN THE MOUTH (40.0) Vanilla overwhelms all other aspects of this Rum. Pity
IN THE THROAT (8.0) My gag reflex is very close to being affected
The AFTERBURN (1.0) Other than as a substitute for vanilla in my pancake recipe I never want to taste this again.

11) Ron Barcello Anejo ($35) (60 pts)

IN THE BOTTLE (4.5) This is as good as this gets. (The rating that is)
IN THE GLASS (6.5) A smell of turpentine mixed with molasses
IN THE MOUTH (40.0) Absolutely dreadful. The rum tastes like it has been mixed with paint thinner.
IN THE THROAT (10.0) Not as bad as the flavour. However a very bitter elixir.
The AFTERBURN (5.0) Slowly over time I have tried to mix this with Coke and finish the bottle. One day I will finish this bottle and that will be a happy occasion

12) Appleton Estate 12 yr ($38) (88 pts)

IN THE BOTTLE (4.5) Decent
IN THE GLASS (8.5) Typical Appleton aroma with a rich look to the rum.
IN THE MOUTH (53.5) The rum tastes very good but just a tad bitter. I think that this must be the younger base rum used in the Legacy as it has that same flavour profile but a more pronounced bitter note. The molasses has a slightly burnt taste and overall there is a woody note stemming from the time in the oak.
IN THE THROAT (13.0) On hot days this really feels nice with coke. It quenches the thirst and leaves a nice flavourful feel in the mouth.
The AFTERBURN (8.5) Definitely a good rum on a hot day and a real pleaser with my friends.







Well there you have it. These are the Rums I have tried over the past year in sufficient quantity to have a real opinion on. In doing this I noticed that I seem to favour the Central American Rums. The rums from South America fall in next with the more bitter Carribean rums being my least favourite. A lot of rums in the list were ones that I tried based upon feedback in this forum so I guess I am returning the favour.

Oh and I do agree that numerical ratings are never intended to be more than a guideline.

Last edited by Arctic Wolf; 04-08-2009 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 04-08-2009, 06:37 PM   #9
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Wow. Probably just me, but I'm a little surprised how well regarded you find the Flor de Cana 7.

I agree it is a perfect cola accomplice and I'd gladly take a supply if stranded.
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Old 04-08-2009, 06:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arctic Wolf View Post
I have learned that the initial tasting is somewhat misleading.
Getting to know a new rum is like getting to know a new lover. Spend the night with it, indulge. And in the morning you will know if this is something to pursue or put back on the shelf.

More than a few of us has been seduced by a nice package, but disappointed after sipping what we thought was going to be the nectar of the gods.
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