El Dorado 25 Year Old 1980 Vintage

El Dorado 1980 25YO-RG1

Product of:  Guyana.
Aged:  25 years
Price:  $410 (on Antigua)
Alcohol: 40% ABV 
 41-45g/L (estimate)
Context:  Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 10 

Tasting Notes
Pull the glass topped cork to unleash a powerful bouquet of sweet molasses dunder, smoky caramel and vanilla, then come rich aromas of oak, old leather, orange mango and banana, pipe tobacco, and brown/maple sugar.  Those notes almost cover over the softer spices of fennel, nutmeg, and cardamom.  But this rum just smells … old.  

Pour, and take a moment to appreciate the pure visual joy of this aged beauty.  El Dorado 25 Year Old 1980 Vintage proudly displays a shining deep garnet brown color, with legs galore dripping slowly after swirling – some just never complete the long journey back to the rum, preferring to linger on the inside of your tasting glass to full aromatic effect.  

El Dorado’s 1980 25 year old is an ultimately delicious rum.  Suffice it to say the flavors are an highly complex yet integrated whole, greater than the sum of its aromatic parts.  A medium-heavyweight body is exactly what you hoped for, as the incredibly smooth, sweet milk chocolate finish remains consistent from tongue to throat and seemingly never ends - no matter how long you wait to take another sip.  

El Dorado 1980 25 YO Cylinder Top-RG1

The 1980 25 year old is a different bottling from both the earlier 1975 Millenium Edition (released in 2000 and reviewed here) and the later 1986 vintage (released in 2014).  Millenium was the first time El Dorado made a 25 Year, and it was bottled for the Millennium, meaning it’s roughly a vintage 1975.  It is likely the same blend of pot and column as the 1980, but somewhat different tasting.  

At one time, 384 sugar estates were all producing their own rums in Guyana.  Through consolidation of Guyana’s many distilleries into one company, Demara Distilleries Limited (DDL) now operates a dozen different stills sourced from distilleries previously located in different regions of Guyana.  Some of the stills date back over 200 years, and include column stills, wooden coffey stills, and the only surviving wooden pot still in existence (heated by steam pipes in the still).

The true aficionado of Guyanese rum will appreciate the beginnings-to-modern-day history and explanation of the many and varied stills used to produce El Dorado’s portfolio of rums, found at Cocktails Old Fashioned.  

El Dorado 25 @ Tapas Bar, Barbados-RG 2011

El Dorado limits production of their treasured 25 Year Old rums to small quantities.  The 1980 edition is no exception.  It always was an expensive, inherently collectible, incrediblly rich rum at the top of it’s spirit pyrmaid, and worth every penny.  The 1980 edition is an endangered species, having been superceded by the latest 1986 edition.  Find it, buy it.  No, buy two.

How the Vintages compare:  1975 vs 1980.

1980 is slightly darker with more dense wood aromas than the 1975, whereas the 1975 delivers sweet raisins in place of the tropical fruit aromas found in the 1980.

1975 flavor = really nice caramel milk chocolate.

1980 flavor = noticeably sweeter, more like dark cocoa than caramel, more wood presence on the palate

in general, the 1975 presents slightly mustier aromas, whereas the 1980‘s flavors are more immediate.

I am glad they are slightly different, yet clearly as related as two siblings can be.  Though they are from the same parents, each rum developed different personalities that can best be discerned when you meet them observe at a party.

A Note of Caution:  The corks on both the 1975 Vintage Millenium edition and the 1980 25 year old version leaked a few ounces (approximately $50 worth) during their air transit from the Caribbean to The Rum Gallery, USA.  Blame lower atmospheric pressure in the cargo area of an aircraft, but still, it shouldn’t happen to these rums.  Apparently the classy cork stoppers are inadequate to seal in a liquid that’s been waiting 25 years to be unleashed.  Others have reported leakage and deteriorated corks.  Sad, yes, but the loss is not reflected in Rum Gallery’s evaluation of either rum.  Both are truly exemplary.

Reviewed: November 2014 at The Rum Gallery, USA.  In October 2011, I shared a glass of the 25 year old 1980 vintage with Bob “The Rumelier” Davies at Tapas Bar on Barbados (see photo above) and vowed then to find a bottle.  

Charts: The two matrices below are key to understanding El Dorado’s rums. (Click to enlarge).  Each age-branded version is a blend of rums sourced from different stills.  Those stills give the spirits unique flavors, like a signature or fingerprint.  For example, El Dorado’s 12, 15, 21 and 25 year olds are blends of rums produced in different stills, and the flavors of each rum have less to do with the difference in barrel aging years and far more to do with the unique characteristics imparted by the various stills.  As such, El Dorado’s various aged rums are not simply aged for more or fewer years, they are different rums to begin with.  

The charts were created by Stefanie Holt, International Brand Ambassador for El Dorado rums.

El Dorado Stills & Product Blends-RG
El Dorado Stills, Marks & Types-RG

© Dave Russell 2017