Review: Doorly’s XO Rum

The weather is warming up here in Texas, so more often than not lately, I find myself reaching for spirits that get me into that tropical mood for the coming blaze of summer. You know the type: something fruity and delicious that tastes like the beach — which usually means rum. And with a giant parrot on their bottle, I simply couldn’t say no to trying Doorly’s rum.


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History

Martin Doorly & Co was founded in the 1920’s by Martin Doorly on the island of Barbados, producing and bottling a series of rums under their own name and reportedly producing the first bottles of Barbados rum for export from the island. The popularity of the brand took off, and the marketing department decided to slap a macaw on the label to create Doorly’s Macaw Rum (which was the name it traded under for many decades).

The brand was eventually purchased by the Seale family, who had been purchasing rum from Barbados distilleries and bottling it for sale since about 1926. In the 1990’s, the fifth generation of Seale family rum runners funneled their profits into opening a brand new rum distillery on the island, dubbed Foursquare Rum Distillery, which is where they make a number of their brands including Doorly’s.

R. L. Seale remains a family owned private distilling company, and one of the largest in the world.

Product

First things first: there is no age statement on this rum. You might think that the “XO” on the bottle is some kind of statement about how long it sat in a barrel, but for Barbados rum there is no legal (or recognized) definition for that mark. It’s simply branding. Some other reviewers have noted that this rum has been bottled anywhere from 6 to 10 years after it went into the barrel, so there’s probably some variation even within the brand itself.

As a rum, sugar is used as the raw material for this spirit. According to sources, most of the sugar for the Foursquare Distillery is imported as molasses from Guyana — molasses being the unusable byproduct of sugar processing, containing a bunch of impurities but just enough sugar to be useful to distilleries. That molasses is added to a vat of water which is then allowed to ferment into a mildly alcoholic mixture.

That alcoholic liquid is then distilled both through pot and column stills, the former creating a much more characterful spirit than the latter. The results are blended together and placed into previously used American oak casks for an undisclosed period of time, before being re-barreled into Spanish Oloroso sherry casks for finishing.

Packaging

It’s not a bad shape for a rum bottle, but it is a pretty common one. You’ve got a bulbous body with a larger bead of glass around the bottom, walls that taper outwards towards the rounded shoulder, and then a medium length bulged neck for pouring. It’s capped off with a nice wood and cork stopper, and draped with a wax sealed ribbon.

For the label, again, it’s not much to write home about. The paper itself has a faux weathered aesthetic for that aged look… an effect that is reduced a bit by the shiny gold border. I do enjoy the parrot illustration though, and I appreciate the historical throwback to Doorly’s Macaw Rum that comes with it.

Neat

This is a beautifully dark colored rum, a rusty brown or dark amber color with a bit of orange mixed in. It smells amazing as soon as you pour some in your glass — I get that grassy raw sugar note clear as day, but there’s more to it. There’s caramel, vanilla, and brown sugar that you’d expect from the barrel aging, but there’s also some fruit in there. Raisins are the clearest note in that category, with some ripe banana as well. Add in a dash of baking spices and the end result is a spirit that smells very much like freshly baked oatmeal raisin cookies and I’m 100% here for it.

Not all of those flavors translate into the actual taste, though. Coming across the clearest are the fruity banana and raisins, now being backed up by some citrus orange and mango. Those flavors are quickly supported by some brown sugar, baking spices, and vanilla, which eventually fades back into that grassy raw sugar note from the raw materials. The spirit finishes lightly, with that grassy sugar note and some vanilla lingering on for a bit.

On Ice

Even with the added ice, the aromas are all still there. That “oatmeal raisin cookie” impression is alive and well here, which I appreciate. Usually, the ice has a negative effect on the aroma but it hasn’t made a dent here.

The same can be said about the flavor, as well: I don’t really notice all that much of a change. Ice usually dilutes and degrades the flavors in a spirit, changing the flavor profile in ways that are often unwanted. But here, the flavors in the spirit are holding strong. There’s some attenuation, especially to the fruit notes in the front, but they still exist.

It isn’t quite on the level of a spiced rum or a dark rum when it comes to standing up to ice, but it sure puts up a good fight.

Fizz (Dark and Stormy)

I came into this part of the test expecting that the rum wouldn’t necessarily thrive in this environment. This seems like much more of a sipping rum than a cocktail rum. But after my first sip, I changed my tune.

The fruit is back and beautiful. Those bananas and raisins do a fantastic job of balancing out the bright and powerful ginger beer, and it gives the cocktail a very tropical feeling that’s necessary in such a quintessential island concoction. The brown sugar sweetness also helps in that balancing act, but it’s the baking spices that really kick things into high gear. While not a huge component of the flavor profile, those baking spices add just a little bit of depth to the cocktail that take it to the next level.

I’d classify this as a bit of a lighter take on the cocktail, but a good one nonetheless.


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Overall Rating

I’ve had better rums in my life, but not many at this price point. Doorly’s does a pretty good job of packing a lot of interesting flavors into this bottle, including some tropical fruity notes that are particularly welcome.

I could see this being enjoyable both as a sipping rum or as a mixing rum, however you want to use it. It’s not quite as mixable as a dark or a spiced rum, but all things considered it’s a solidly good all-around option.

Doorly's XO Rum
Produced By: Doorly's
Production Location: Barbados
Classification: Rum
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $19.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating:
All reviews are evaluated within the context of their specific spirit classification as specified above. Click here to check out similar spirits we have reviewed.

Overall Rating: 4/5
A classic rum flavor profile, delicious and enjoyable no matter how you want to take it.


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