Kirk and Sweeney 18 Year Old

Kirk and Sweeney 18-RG1

Product of:  Dominican Republic
Aged:  18 years
Price: $45
Alcohol: 40% ABV 
0-5 g/L (estimate)
Context:  Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 9.5

Tasting Notes
The bouquet is everything we love about Dominican rums in general, and Kirk and Sweeney in particular.  Pulling the natural cork stopper from the onion bottle releases a powerhouse of caramel and oaken vanilla scents.  Once poured in your tasting glass, swirl the mahogany brown rum to enable a crown of beads to form, then watch them form into so many legs sleep-walking back down to the spirit below. 

Now inhale the delectable aromas of light milk chocolate, caramel, fresh oak, vanilla, brown cake, paraffin, phenols, heavy flour fruit pie with caramelized pecans, nutmeg, baked fruit (overripe banana and mango), and finally a hint of band-aid.  This Kirk and Sweeney 18 year old is one decadently drinkable dessert of a rum.  Flavors released to your palate in the first sip prove those aromas don’t lie.  It’s medium-heavyweight body delivers a solid foundation of oaken caramel, supporting a rich harmony or rum nectar throughout th long slightly sweet and smooth finish.  yes, I’ll have another.

Through the Ages 
Below are my notes from comparing the three Kirk and Sweeney expressions side-by-side in a private tasting session.
12 Year Old – wonderfully represents the essence Ron Dominicana – it’s the most “rummy” tasting of the three and featuring caramel and spice-forward aromas and flavor.  K&S 12 is soft, smooth and silky on your palate.  By no measure can this rum be called young, but it stands out as the more youthfully exuberant member of this family, offering charming flavor and potential.

Rum RowKirk and Sweeney 18 On deck-RG2

18 Year Old -  aromas and flavors are significantly more pronounced and physical, full of sweet fresh oak, the finish s more prolonged.  K&S 18 strikes a perfect balance between flavor and maturity.  Middle-age is one’s most productive years.

23 Year Old -  is the wise eldest, fully mature with a supple, almost understated palate tone and delicious caramelized pecan notes.  It is solid in its sensual aromatic presence, secure in its depth of character.  While Kirk and Sweeney 23 isn’t the liveliest rum at this party, she’s the one you’d want to sustain a conversation with.

No matter what age expression you choose, you’re in for a treat.  Inside every bottle is a winning rum.  Tonight, I’ll choose the 18.

The Ship and The Bottle and 
The schooner - Kirk and Sweeney delivered contraband to New York’s posh Long Island, whose East end was a thirsty port of call during prohibition.  Then, Federal agents forced operations beyond the 3 mile limit (“the rum line”), and finally seized the vessel in January 1924.  The territorial limit was increased to 12 miles offshore later that same year. 

The bottle features nautical chart details of New York’s Long Island south shore and the north coast of the Dominican Republic.  The two land masses represent (1) of the old Schooner’s rum running destination ports of call (NY) and (2) the Caribbean island source (DR) for the rum that now bears the ship’s name.  Kirk and Sweeney rum is aged in American oak barrels at the Bermudez’ family’s bodega, in the city of Santiago De Los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.

Precious cargo - Kirk and Sweeney 18 year old.-Kirk and Sweeney 18 On deck-RG3

Aside from the age declaration, the only difference between bottles of Kirk and Sweeney is the neck collar.  The 18 year old’s bottle is covered with a coarse tarpaulin-like material for wrapping cargo, and adorned with the Dominican Republic’s coat of arms.  The neck hanger is an evidence tag attached by US Coast Guard officials after they seized the vessel and its contraband cargo, dated January 13, 1924.

At the top - sealing cork to bottle is a thin brass-colored adhesive ribbon embossed with the Latitude and Longitude coordinates 40° 34’ 57.62” - 73° 19’ 2.14”.  That position is smack dab in the middle of Jones Beach, New York.  Significance: in the early 1920‘s, Jones Beach was a swampy, undeveloped area along the south shore of Long Island – perfect location for shallow draft powerboats to offload their smuggled rum delivered by Kirk and Sweeney.  Jones Beach became one of the most popular tourist spots on the US East coast toward the late 1920’s.  That is; until until Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on October 29, 2012. 

The cork stands proud above the wide squat neck, hiding the last two clues:  Voila –  the date of the ship’s seizure and best of all – Great Rum to drink!

Kirk and Sweeney 18 year old – buy it for the rum inside that story-telling bottle.  On any given night, one of the Kirk and Sweeney rums is just right.  All are aged beauties; the 12’s rewards with more immediate and promising flavors than it’s older siblings, 23 the eldest earns respect and courtesy from your palate, whereas the 18 year old expression hits all the right chords – balance, flavor, complexity – it’s  rich with fresh oak aromas and flavor.  Collect them all, and you try to decide which Kirk and Sweeney rum is your favorite.  Then get back to me, say, in a few years.

Reviewed: Bottle No.3995 from Batch No.001 during November 2015 while hosting a rum cruise aboard Island Windjammers majestic schooner Sagitta, and again in January 2016 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017