Sometimes I like to wander through the rum section of a new store I’m visiting and see if I’ve missed anything I should be checking out. Usually I walk away with nothing, but this time I saw a manager’s recommendation raving about El Dorado rum from Guyana.
I had to get it and see if he was right. I mean Guyana? Really? I’m not sure more than half the population of any country besides Guyana could circle the place on a map. It’s a small country on the eastern coast of South America that has one of the largest unspoiled rainforests in the the world.. It also has some sizable sugar cane plantations, apparently.
This is no upstart spirits company though. The El Dorado rum lineage goes all the way back to 1670, a good 100 years before before the 13 colonies up north declared independence. This is actually one of the oldest active distilleries in the Americas.
I picked up the 12-year version of El Dorado rum, not ready to risk 50% more for the 15-year one. Now that I’ve tried this one, however, I’m ready for the splurge. This beats nearly every Caribbean rum I’ve tried and is worth being considered along with the best in Central America. It’s complex, well-balanced, and downright pleasurable from start to finish. It’s a gorgeous reddish amber in the glass and comes in a box adorned with an old sailing vessel, making it look classy enough for a gift.
Tasting El Dorado From Guyana
The initial nose is slightly more alcoholic than some others I’ve tried, but don’t let that sway you. The overwhelming notes are caramel and vanilla that will make you salivate and nothing seems out of place. The first sip explodes across the tongue like a toffee bath, lighting up the taste buds without the backbite or burn so often encountered in lesser rums sipped neat.
The pleasurable next sensation is heavy on the sugar, a lot like Centenario in Costa Rica, then the finish is smooth and warm, without any bad surprises. The whole experience is surprisingly balanced. It’s as pleasurable on the 10th sip as it was on the first. There are the sweet and fruity rum impressions tempered by years in oak barrels, 12+ in this case giving it plenty of heft.
Here’s how Demerara Distillers describes it:
A blend of specially selected aged rums, the youngest being no less than 12 years old, it is a combination of the Enmore and Diamond Coffey stills and the Port Mourant double wooden pot still, blended to perfection and aged in old bourbon oak casks.
You know a master distiller is serious when he starts talking about which stills he uses.
As when we reviewed the excellent Ron Pampero Aniversario from neighbor Venezuela earlier, you might want to put aside any judgment about the rum just based on where it’s from. If you’ve heard of Guyana at all it’s probably from the Jim Jones cult mass suicide/murder in the history books. This was a British Colony until 1966 though (it’s now a Commonwealth country) and is the only English-speaking nation in South America.
And it produces some mighty fine rum. I paid less than $25 for this 12-year bottle and they also make a 15, a 21, and a 25-year version. I hope to try more from Demerara Distillers in the future. If I ever make it to Guyana, their visitors’ center will be high on my list of stops. See more info on their website here.