Extremely Smooth. El Dorado 21 year shows a rich red mahogany color, no doubt from prolonged exposure in oak. As with all of El Dorado’s rums, the 21 year old steps right up to greet your nose with a wealth of complexity, some heat and spicy fruit that tell you to get ready for a Big Rum. Challenge your senses to detect subtle aromas of leather, char, cocoa, coffee, toffee, and toasty peat, followed by anise, vanilla, raisin, orange peel, brown sugar and cranberry. A rich, mineral-like sweet body delivers delicious flavors of raisin, prune, semi-tart apricot, tobacco, rhubarb, coffee, cocoa, pecan shell, and a slight bit of vanilla and caramel, pretty reliably in that order. Multifaceted indeed! El Dorado 21 year old finishes warm, the taste of sweet licorice delivering a long lasting sensation.
With nine widely varying types of stills at work (copper pot, steam-heated wooden, column, etc.), it’s no wonder Demarara Distillers Ltd is able to create such a wide variety of unique tasting El Dorado rums. The exceptional characteristics delivered by their 21 year old rum is the result of blending rums produced primarily in the Albion (AN - pictured) Savalle still, and secondarily in the Versailles (VSG) single wooden pot still and Enmore (EHP) wooden Coffey still, then aged in oak casks for at least 21 years.
Each El Dorado rum has different aromas and flavors as yo move up the age scale, so I was anxious to try El Dorado 21 year old. And what better place than at the Dodgy Dock bar in True Blue, Grenada, while waiting for a boat? I figured, this rum's been waiting 21 years in oak for me to taste it, so the boat can certainly stay tied to the dock for a few more minutes. I discovered the 21 year old is considerably smoother and more integrated than their excellent 15 year old rum, yet has similar flavors and delivers more of the wonderful complexity that El Dorado is known for. El Dorado’s 21 year old rum is impressive. [Note: I tasted the 21 year old at 43% ABV in the Caribbean. The version exported to the USA is bottled at 40% ABV, though I doub't you'd notice much difference in flavor.]
For an interesting profile of DDL and its many stills, please see Helena Tiare Olsen’s "Liquid Gold" article on her Mountain of Crushed Ice website.
El Dorado rums regularly deliver some of the most complex flavors you’ll find. As your rum tasting palate learns to hone its senses for the subtle flavors of well-aged rum, El Dorado will be even more appreciated. The El Dorado 21 year old belongs in any serious rum collectors’s portfolio, if only for those special moments when you are inclined to savor the distiller’s artwork.
October 2007 at Dodgy Dock Bar, True Blue, Grenada; and frequently since at the Rum Gallery. Distillery photo courtesy of Martin Cate of Smuggler's Cove.
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.
The charts were created by Stefanie Holt, International Brand Ambassador for El Dorado rums.