Rum Malecon Rare Proof 20 and Reserva Imperial 25 Years Old

Panama

48.4% & 40%
£70 & £91

Uncategorisable due to the unnamed distillery and additives.
ABV Hydrometer Test: 42% & 38% ABV @ 20°
* M S

Rum Malecon is a new name in the rum world for me. I spotted them at UK RumFest in October 2019 and tasted some of their range. My first reaction was about additives, but was reassured that none are added. OK, no problem – I am always prepared to believe something until it is proved to be untrue.

Anyone for a game of Bingo?

Looking at the range of this “new” (to the UK) brand, they have 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21 and 25 year old editions as well as some ‘special’ versions from specific years and/or casks. Now I am not one to question a brand’s marketing nor the way they promote their brand (yeah right, I hear you say, lol), but to come straight in to the UK market with rums as old as 25 years is quite an achievement. Appleton Joy 25 year old came out in 2017, some 268 years since Appleton Estate officially started producing rums. Joy was priced at £200+ and obviously is a guaranteed age statement, whereas Rum Malecon’s 25 year old is currently (July 2020) £91 on Master of Malt. I wonder if the age statements might not be genuine…..

When a new brand appears alongside some big age statements, I smell a rat….. Maybe it is a Solera-style rat or just an untrue-age-statement kind of rat. When looking at their official info reveals that there is no distillery associated with the brand, that “rat” smell gets to be unbearable and leads to me wanting to investigate further.

Looking at Rum Malecon’s website reveals that it has been named after “a legendary street in the heart of Havana, where the recipe comes from.” Their official marketing states that the rum is created in a “Cuban style.” In fact, a Cuban Maestro creates the blends – Mr. Francisco Fernandez “the legendary “Don Pancho” of Cuban rum-making lore.” Their web site does not reference any of the rums less than ten years old, nor does it include the 20 year old I am looking at today.

As is so often the case with Latin rums, they are shrouded in mystery or deception – take your pick, both often applies! Searching online reveals little about Rum Malecon, but eventually I found that the brand is owned by an Italian gentleman called Mr. Marco Savio, who is also associated with liqueurs. A pdf file here reveals that re-charred ex-Bourbon barrels are used for the ageing but has no references to the distillery nor if it is an official age statement or not. Given that Mr. Savio’s web site lists a 2016 copyright and that is the same year as their first Facebook post, it does not bode well. It is possible that the rums carry genuine age statements, albeit unlikely (see point 6 below).

As with Ron Centenario Edicion Limitada 30 that I recently reviewed, it seems that the best source for info on Latin rums is German brand web sites. So by visiting https://www.rum-malecon.de/ I found some more info. They state that Rum Malecon is “An honest rum, mild in taste with natural sweetness.”

  1. First things first, my hydrometer test revealed a different density in the four rums I tested compared to the ABV stated on the bottle implying added sugars, so therefore, it is not “natural sweetness” but added sugar, glucose, glycerin, vanillin etc. See hydrometer test below.
  2. Secondly, the presence of additives renders “An honest rum” as being a complete lie, since “honest rums” do not have undisclosed additives.
  3. Thirdly, the German web site references the rums being aged in Panama. No problem, but with the Angel’s share involved, it does make me question the validity of the age statement. See the first and second points, which might disprove the age statement (see point six below).
  4. The sugar cane is “cultivated in the vicinity of the distillery” where they use “State-of-the-art distillers [sic] and trained distillers are available in Panama for this. After the firing process, the rum is at 75% vol. reduced and filled in ex-bourbon barrels for maturation.” With no named distillery, we cannot verify this and if the process is indeed what they say it is and of the quality they claim, why not promote the distillery? Again, see points one and two above, which might explain this.
  5. The German website states that Rum Malecon was founded in 2000. Interesting therefore, to have rums that are over 20 years old and “vintages” from as long ago as the 1970s. Again, see the first and second points above.
  6. Despite my previously stated scepticism, suspicion and let me be honest, I absolutely 100% do not personally believe the age statements, according to the German web site, the age statements indicate the minimum age of the rums in the blend. Once again, I can highlight points one and two above, I can also direct you to re-read the fifth point, or failing that, ask how a 20 year old rum with a guaranteed minimum age statement can cost only £70? Furthermore, why add cr*p to a 20 year old rum?
Rum Malecon 20yo Front Label
Rum Malecon 20yo Front Label

The Malecon Rare Proof Aged 20 Years references rums “selected from the prestigious rum distilled in 1996. This small, limited batch – also called small batch – was then adjusted to the perfect alcohol strength in several tasting rounds. The wonderfully balanced Malecon Rare Proof Aged 20 Years has proven to be perfect with an alcohol strength of 48.4%. This “rare” alcohol strength – hence the name “Rare Proof” – tickles a true aroma firework from the 20 year old rum.”

Rum Malecon Rare Proof 20 and Reserva Imperial 25 Years Old are uncategorisable due to the unnamed distillery and additives.
But they would most probably be Modern Rums:
From a modern multi column still.

All of the four Rum Malecons that I tested with my hydrometer showed a different density compared to the ABV contradicting the official line that no additives are present.

  • Rum Malecon Rare Proof 20 measures 42% with my hydrometer. This implies that around 29g of sugars have been added.
  • Rum Malecon Reserva Imperial 25 Years Old measures 38% with my hydrometer. This implies that around 8g of sugars have been added.
  • Rum Malecon Rare Proof 18 measures 46% with my hydrometer. This implies that around 27g of sugars have been added.
  • Rum Malecon Reserva Imperial 21 Years Old measures 38% with my hydrometer. This implies that around 8g of sugars have been added.

But, how do Rum Malecon Rare Proof 20 Years Old and Rum Malecon Reserva Imperial 25 year old rate?

Bottle/Presentation 1/3

Both rums are in similar shaped bottles, with artificial cork enclosures. The 20yo is presented in a rather shabby-looking outer wooden box whereas the 25yo is in a traditional cardboard box. The labels both display some limited info about the rum, mostly centered on the traditional Cuban production method.

Glass/Aroma 20yo: 7/10 25yo: 6/10

Both rums are almost identical in colour, a dark amber to mahogany. No surprise if some caramel colouring is added and no problems if it is.

For the 20yo, dried fruits, spice, honey, vanilla, ripe yellow bananas and oak on the nose. It smells sweet and there are no alcoholic fumes, despite the higher ABV.

25yo is woody, but also sweet. Some leather, tobacco and nutmeg on the nose, too with a touch of tropical fruits in the background.

Taste, Initial-middle 20yo: 25/40 25yo: 15/40

There is body to the 20yo, albeit it is a little sweet and sticky, but it stops short of me calling it cloying. Some spice and dark chocolate alongside vanilla and honey. It almost reminds me of a light and less complex version of El Dorado 21yo.

The 25yo enters with a whimper to be honest – it is like a delicate liqueur. It is sweet from honey but also offers a touch of oak and dark chocolate but at this stage it is quite disappointing and unremarkable.

Rum Malecon 20yo Bottle in Box

Taste, Middle/Throat 20yo: 32/40 25yo: 28/40

The sweetness of the 20yo continues through the mid-palate but is not unpleasant as the higher ABV compensates somewhat. The honey is joined with some dried oak and spicy pepper as well as tropical fruits. The texture becomes a little more rum-like towards the rear palate, too.

Towards the rear of the palate the 25 year old offers much more flavour with some light spiced notes of nutmeg and cinnamon, although it is very light in style. There is a touch of white pepper and fruity notes.

Afterburn/Finish 20yo: 6/7 25yo 5/7

The 20yo lingers leaving a warming glow behind, which does bring a smile to my lips. The sweetness is still there, but the persistent oak and pepper bring a balance to the equation.

The 25 year old has a soft finish but it does linger quite nicely in the back of the throat. There are honeyed fruits, a dash of pepper mixed with nutmeg and dark chocolate. Probably the best part of the tasting of this expression.

TOTAL 20yo: 72/100 25yo: 55/100

Overall

I decided to look at and compare two of the four Rum Malecons that I have, a younger higher ABV (20yo, 48.4%) with an older (25yo) presented at a lower 40%. It is one of those unusual moments where the younger rum definitely offers more complexity and flavour, although the ABV is a big part of this.

I don’t think these taste like they have been aged for 20/25 years – there does not seem to be the depth of flavour, nor enough oak-influence. That said, regardless of whether they are 20/25 years old or not, the 20 year old is quite tasty and having a higher ABV for a Latin-style of rum is very appealing.

Having tried the 18 and 20 year old “Rare Proof” editions at 51.7% and 48.4% respectively alongside the 21 and 25 year old “Reserva Imperial” editions at 40%, I can say quite comfortably that unless you have a sweet tooth, I would absolutely avoid the 40% versions. Whilst the higher ABV Malecons are not overly rummy and are a touch sweet, the higher ABV compensates somewhat.

My taste buds and common sense might lead me to conclude the age statements are not genuine, but this is only own speculative opinion. These are pretty unremarkable rums, but if your palate prefers light and sweet multi-column distillates, give them a go, especially the “Rare Proof” versions.

As always, drink what you like, know what you are paying for applies.

Value: 5/10

OK, if these are genuine age statements and the rums are honest and free from additives, this score would absolutely be a nailed-on 10/10. But with additives and my own scepticism over the age statements, 5/10 seems more appropriate.

Flavour Profile:

Review No. 153

 

*
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.

Marking Guide:
Bottle/Presentation Out of 3
Glass/Aroma Out of 10
Taste, Initial-middle Out of 40
Taste, Middle/Throat Out of 40
Afterburn/Finish Out of 7
TOTAL 100

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