Well, it's no secret that I'm a fan of the demon rum. Unlike yer average pyrate, however, I don't just go for any common grog - I'm fond of the finer rums. Rumors you may have heard about me and a few bottles of "Military Special Rum" are ... well okay, they're entirely true - but I was young. Since then I've grown fond of good rum - and believe me, there's good rum out there, it's not all paint-thinner destined to be mixed with coke.
So now, I will pass onto you my review of three bottles of rum I've sampled lately. None of them could possibly compare to the apotheosis of rum that was the bottle of Don Q Centanno Reserva that I had squirreled away from 1999 until I left Philadelphia in 2004. That rum was all three naval traditions rolled up into one delicious bottle, and wrapped up in a blissful vanilla note that was like getting a blow job from a 'Nilla wafer. Sweet mother of the Almighty, that was the best rum there ever was. Most creditable indeed, sir!
I've been chasing that bottle ever since, and at a recent "sale" at BevMo, I found a super-select bottle called "Flor de Cana" that had a pricetag that indicated that it was at least in the same class. I also picked up a bottle of Captain Morgan's Tattoo, and then later at The Wine House, a bottle of Pyrat XO Reserva mostly because it came with two spiffy glasses that say "Pyrat" on them.
Captain Morgan's Tattoo (~$18.99): There's on indicator on the bottle what makes it "tattoo" or what that even means - but the rum is dark like black strap rum; so out of curosity I picked it up. I'm not a fan of the flavored rums, like cocoribe or whatever that atrocious stuff is.Without some notion of what "tattoo" means this was a purely speculative endeavor. The bottle instructs one to serve it neat, or with ice - perhaps with a squeeze of lime. These instructions are not remiss - the rum is heavy and has an oily mouthfeel, but it has a lot of flavor that makes it excellent for sipping. It's quite sweet, with a strong flavor of tamarind and a hint of cherry or black cherry and a bit of tobacco and sandalwood. The taste is complex enough that it's worth savoring, and if one were to mix it with coke, the tamarind and other complexities would be completely lost. Coke is sweet enough, if you're going to dilute your rum, don't waste a nice, tasty rum like this. Don't bother with the lime either, it doesn't need it.
Flor de Cana ($32.99) I suppose I should have been suspicious of a Guatemalan rum, but I had high hopes for this one because it billed itself like a boutique rum. It has, however, more sodomy and lash than rum; particularly the lash. It is so raw that it's more like sugar-cane brandy than rum, frankly. It's very harsh, with almost no complexity of flavor. I like a good single-malt scotch, too (which is harsh but complex) - but give me something that has something to taste under the bite. A good rum should be like a rough lover - the kiss is long and lingering and multi-layered even if it's preceded by a bite. This is all bite, and no kiss. I bought the most expensive bottle of paint-thinner in the world. Call this one a must-miss. Though if you want to come over and drink it be my guest. I imagine I can use it suitably masked in some sickly-sweet rum punch - or perhaps I'll put it in a hummingbird feeder. Oh, the laughs the cat will have then!
Pyrat XO Reserva ($19.99) Anything that names itself after piratical rum can't be too hoity-toity, and the XO lives up to it. It comes in a fancy bottle though - low and stout like a decanter with a cork in the top. It has several ribbons around the neck, and a medallion with "Hoti" the Buddha of bartenders and fools. Go figure - guess these pirates are more like Shang-hai pirates than Carribbean. But hey, the most powerful pirate in the history of the world was a middle-aged Chinese lady, so maybe it works out. Anyway, the XO is pretty harsh but not as harsh as the Flor de Cana. It has quite a bit of lash, but a nice sweet sodomy and definitely lots of rum. It's not at all sweet, which is quite nice - and has a smooth, light mouth-feel. There are strong notes of molasses and wheat, with a hint of a citrus and tobacco note. Definitely a fine rum for drinking on the rocks - and it's opened up with a dash of lime, unlike the Tattoo. I tried it mixed with some juice, too (cranberry) and that was less rewarding - this here is a sipping rum.
Of the bunch, I'd say the Pyrat XO is the best, but I'm probably most likely to pick up another bottle of the Tattoo if I want a sipping rum. None of them are even in the same ocean as that Don Q hundred year reserve ... but then, I've never seen another bottle for it on sale anywhere, at any price. I think that was the Brigadoon of rum. If anyone who reads this ever sees a bottle of that, for the sake of all that is good and piratical, buy it and I'll pay you back!