Thanks to the Delta variant, I’ve once again had to cancel a vacation — and this time, it’s a tropical beach that I was supposed to be sitting on. So instead of going to the beach, I’m trying to capture a little of that island essence by bringing the beach to me. Today, I’m going to get my fix of daquiris and painkillers with the help of this Brugal 1888 aged rum.
Andrés Brugal Montaner was born in Catalonia, Spain and moved to Cuba in the mid 1800s. While in Cuba, he learned the art of rum manufacturing and brought that experience to the Dominican Republic where he founded a rum distillery named Brugal & Co in 1888. The brand was successful and over the years has expanded to include a number of varieties of their rum.
The business remained family owned until in 2008, when the Scottish Edrington Group acquired a majority stake in the operation.
- Learn More: What Is Rum?
As with other rums, this spirit starts as a fermented mixture of sugar, water, and yeast. That slurry is then distilled twice to create the new make rum.
For this edition, the folks at Brugal age the rum sequentially in charred oak and sherry casks, hence the name (which literally means “twice aged”). The spirit is aged for a total of between five and fourteen years, and then is blended together to make the final product we’re tasting today.
Overall, the bottle is a very common, general shape for a liquor bottle: straight sides, a rounded body, a gently sloping shoulder, and a rather short neck. The whole thing is topped off with a cork and wax stopper.
What’s really striking (in a good way) is the wrapping. On the bottle itself, the only opaque components are the letters in the brand name and the details in the awards, the rest of the glass is a beautiful transparency that allows you to see the dark liquid inside. What really sets this apart from the pack however is the rope lattice around the outside, which gives the bottle a distinct nautical theme and a tactile texture that makes people want to touch it. It’s a nice touch that works well with the overall style.
The rum is a beautiful dark brown color, and smells amazing as soon as you pour a bit in the glass. It has a lot of the same aromas you’d expect from a whiskey — brown sugar, vanilla, and baking spices — but there’s also a sweetness to the spirit that is well beyond what you get from something like a bourbon.
That sweetness is the first thing you get when taking a sip as well, but it’s more of a complimentary note than it is an annoyance. It lays the ground work for what comes (specifically the vanilla and brown sugar up front), but there are also some delicious banana, mango, and orange flavors that combine with a bit of baking spices to make for a rich flavor profile. The spirit finishes cleanly with a hint of citrus zest lingering onwards.
Usually the addition of a bit of ice is where a rum falls apart for me. It either becomes too sweet, or the flavors get all crazy, or something else unfortunate happens. But thankfully that doesn’t seem to have happened here.
The rum stands up remarkably well to ice, resisting the urge to bring out the overpowering sweetness. Instead, what we get is an emphasis on the vanilla, a little more oak flavor, and only a touch of bitterness on the finish. The fruit is still there as well, if a little diluted.
I still think taking this neat is the better option, but on the rocks isn’t without its merits either.
Usually, a daquiri is a lighter kind of a cocktail, but here it’s almost the color of honey. And I’m not mad.
The aged rum adds some truly unique aspects to the drink, bringing in a depth and complexity that you don’t find with some of the lighter rums. And in addition to bringing this complexity, all of these aged flavors also contribute to the balance of the drink, and make for a result that’s better than the sum of its parts.
Fizz (Dark and Stormy)
I usually like a spiced rum in this cocktail for the unique qualities that it brings, but this particular rum might actually make for a Dark and Stormy that’s as good as whiskey-based Kentucky Mules I’ve had in the past.
The first thing I look for here is a good balance of flavors. The ginger beer can be a bit loud, so finding a spirit that can tame that beast is important. In this case, the sweetness from the spirit and the vanilla and brown sugar flavors from the barrel aging do a great job of just that: bringing everything into balance.
But that’s not all. It’s a good flavor up front, but there’s also an enjoyable fruity flavor that develops here and adds a unique aspect to the cocktail that you don’t normally get. It’s interesting and different, offering a sweeter and more tropical flavor profile.
I’m not usually a person who sips rum all by itself, but this is one bottle where I wouldn’t hesitate. The flavors that are being expressed here are delicious and enticing, and it works just as well as a mixer as it does flying solo. I think the only complaint I have about it is the minor dilution of the flavors when you add a chunk of ice, but that’s just splitting hairs.
|Brugal 1888 Rum|
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $35.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4/5
This is just about everything I would want in a delicious rum, all in one bottle.