El Dorado 15yo (Special Reserve)
Single Blended Rum – a blend of only pot still and traditional column still
ABV Hydrometer Test: 33.5% ABV @ 20°
* B S
Launched in 1992, the 15 year old Special Reserve from El Dorado is often seen as their flagship rum. Technically, it is the middle of their range of “Luxury Cask-Aged Rums.” Whilst they have older expressions (21yo, 25yo), this sits at a very good price point and has repeatedly won top awards, more so than any other rums in the same category. El Dorado’s web site describe its creation, referencing the rums in the blend with “some as old as 25 years, from the Enmore and Diamond Coffey stills, the Port Mourant double wooden pot still and the Versailles single wooden pot still.” As with all El Dorado rums it is aged in old bourbon oak casks. It is a shame they do not include this info on their bottles though.
But where El Dorado have a big and unique advantage over other rum producers is that they have such a huge range of stills in use, producing many different styles of rums. Unlike many other producers, they do not simply take the El Dorado 12yo and age it for three more years and call it a 15yo. No, the 15yo is a completely different blend of rums to the 12yo and the same is true of all their rums so each expression offers something different from the others in addition to the extra cask ageing.
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Single Blended Rum” – a blend of only pot still and traditional column still.
When tested with my hydrometers, this came in at 33.5% ABV instead of 43% that is on the bottle. According to Drecon’s sugar conversion table, that means there is 36.5g of added sugar in this rum. Wow, that’s a lot!!!
El Dorado’s 12, 15 and 21yo bottles are all presented in the same way. An outer cardboard box with El Dorado’s now familiar dumpy bottle contained within, embossed on the upper body with a wax badge. The 12yo is branded in red, the 15yo is branded in cream/ecru/yellow and the 21yo is coloured blue.
The packaging and bottles look very distinctive and appealing – as soon as you see one, you instantly know which brand it is. They all have nice cork enclosures.
But, unfortunately, the boxes/bottles are missing information about the rums. The age of the blend and the barrel maturation is referenced, but no mention of which types of still are used, nor when it was produced. Given El Dorado’s unique stills and history, I would have expected this is something they should be championing on their bottles.
As with the 12yo, this looks like an Amontillado Sherry and is also a deep brown colour, with some hints of dark orange colours. Swilling it around the glass reveals very thick and sticky legs slowly sliding down the sides of the glass…added sugar and glycerine in evidence 😦
The aroma is very rich in molasses but also shows some spicy notes, too. There are some dried fruits and a hint of dark chocolate.
Taste, Initial-middle 33/40
Whilst there is an initial sweetness, unlike the 12yo it does not dominate as much. The smoothness on entry is amazing (added sugar and glycerine, unfortunately), but the slightly higher ABV of this (43%) is already evident in that it helps to lift the rum above the sweet profile. There is an abundance of fruitiness in this… raisins, bananas, oranges and apples. There is also a hint of chocolate, vanilla and a spicy tingle. The more you sip this the more it pleases with additional flavours and even the sweetness diminishes somewhat.
Taste, Middle/Throat 36/40
Once again, the higher ABV is very evident here. The underlying sweetness is masked by the higher alcoholic strength and this allows one to taste those initial fruits so much more as you swirl it around your mouth. The chocolate continues, possibly even a hint of coffee is evident. A little oak balances the fruit and leads to some spice in the throat. As with the initial tasting, this rum continues to evolve with further tastings…..Molasses and burnt sugar, dried fruits, plum and some more oak. This rum continues to please…..Superb!
The recurring theme of this review appears to focus on the higher ABV and the continued development of new flavours with each sip. Once again, the ABV plays an important role as it gives that all important hint of fire as you swallow the rum. But, this is a sophisticated burn, tempered by the molasses, balanced by the oak and those fruity flavours continue to please in a long-lingering creamy finish. And again, further tastings reveal additional sensations in the burn, ranging from dry Sherry to peppery oak and a hint of smoke.
Morning After Aroma
Some dried fruits and bundles of burnt brown sugar remain. There is a slightly sticky residue at the bottom of the glass, re-confirming the presence of added sugars in the tasting.
Despite the presence of additives, this rum is very good. So many aromas, flavours and taste sensations to please you as you drink. It offers a lot more than the 12yo, partly because of being less sweet but also due to the variety of tastes one experiences. If there was less added sugar, this rum would have the potential to be one of the best.
At around £40, this is excellent value for any occasion. You can appreciate why this rum is so well decorated with awards. But, please DDL…..reduce the sugar in your rums!!!
P Denotes the rum contains POT still distillate.
C Denotes the rum contains traditional/Coffey COLUMN still distillate.
B Denotes the rum contains a BLEND of POT and COLUMN still distillate.
M Denotes the rum contains MULTI-COLUMN still distillate or is a MODERN rum.
A Denotes the rum is an AGRICOLE i.e. from Cane Juice.
S Denotes the rum is presented in a SWEETENED style.
Bottle/Presentation Out of 3
Glass/Aroma Out of 10
Taste, Initial-middle Out of 40
Taste, Middle/Throat Out of 40
Afterburn Out of 7