Extremely Smooth. El Dorado 25 Year Old exhibits its age proudly, the color of dark bronze. There’s also a faint a green tint where the upper edge of the rum touches my glass, the telltale of prolonged oak aging. Legs are slow to form and drip reluctantly; it seems another 25 years is required to coax them back into the bowl of rum at the bottom of my tasting glass.
El Dorado 25 is perhaps the best smelling rum I have ever experienced, I sniff and am greeted with a densely hypnotic bouquet as if I’m sampling directly from the barrel. I cannot fully articulate the utter harmony of its aromas. Balance, Intrigue, Complexity; they’re all here. A bouquet of smokey charred and fresh oak intoxicates, then follows aromas of baked apples, oily pipe tobacco, caramelized brown sugar, molasses, orange peel, rich with sweet spices (fennel, licorice, lesser notes of nutmeg, and cardamom), and a final note of dry leather. There’s so much complexity to explore, that when it comes to sniffing El Dorado 25 Year Old, patience is a virtue. The initial taste is powerful yet gentle, completely enveloping your tongue with the same flavors as you sensed earlier. Much of the rum’s balance lies within the firm body. It coats the tongue in successive layers of flavor without being overweight or cloying, and introducing mildly sweet new flavors and Demerara brown sugar on the delectable finish.
The lion’s share of spirit for El Dorado 25 was produced in DDL’s ex-Enmore (EHP) wooden Coffey still and their ex-Le Bonne Intention (LBI), four-column French Savalle still. Spirit is also contributed by the distillery’s ex-Port Mourant (PM ) double wooden pot still and ex-Albion (AN) four-column Coffey still. I’m quite familiar with El Dorado’s luxurious portfolio of aged and single-barrel rums, so I was expecting an incredible tasting experience. Yet even for the prolific artisans at Demarara Distillers, the 25 year old is a unique blend of spirits. This combination of stills is not found in any of El Dorado’s other rums.
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).
Mr. Kanto adds: “Fermentation is important in creating the flavours …. Unique environmental properties [also] influence the quality of the rum. The micro flora that are cultured in the soil and atmosphere of the Guyana coastal plain lends to the production of flavours and aromas that give Demerara rum its distinctive characteristics that have made it so special throughout the world. … Guyana molasses is used elsewhere in the Caribbean, but these distinctive characteristics of the Demerara rum have never been achieved in these adapted environments.“
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 Year Old is simply outstanding. I cannot overvalue the experience it delivers. Numerically rating a rum so great as this is an fool’s insult – such scales are for relative comparisons, yet El Dorado 25 is in a class all its own.
Reviewed: Millenium in October, 2012 at The Rum Gallery, USA. Exactly one year earlier, in October 2011, I shared a glass of the 25 year old version distilled in 1980 with “The Rumelier” Bob Davies at Tapas Bar on Barbados (see photo at right). The Millenium 25 year old is an older distillate and different bottling from the 1980 version shown in the enticing photo to the right. Millenium was the first time El Dorado made a 25 Year, it was bottled for the Millennium, making it approximately a vintage 1975 rum. It is likely the same blend of pot and column still spirit as the 1980, but is slightly different tasting.
Rum Gallery Note: 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.