The Real McCoy Rum

The Real McCoy Rum is the brainchild of Bailey Pryor, the Emmy Award winning Producer of the documentary, The Real McCoy. In fact the documentary won 5 awards; Writing, Directing, Editing, Photography and Producing. This was the first time that an individual film had won an award in each of these categories. The Real McCoy documentary, and indeed The Real McCoy Rum, are based on the story of Bill McCoy. Bill McCoy was a pioneer Rum Runner during the Prohibition era. In January 1920, Bill McCoy was the first to sail to the Caribbean and fill up a boat with Rum and sail back up to New York to legally act as a floating Rum Shop. Legal because at the time the international waters boundary was located 3 miles offshore and Bill McCoy was careful to anchor his boat outside of this boundary line. There was a tendency for some to dilute and adulterate their Rum (as is still the case today) with turpentine and prune juice giving rise to the nicknames of Booze, Rot Gut and Hooch. Apparently Bill McCoy never did this to his Rum, thus his Rum became known as ‘The Real McCoy’.

During his research for the documentary, Bailey traveled to Barbados where he met, you guessed it, Richard Seale. Together Richard and Bailey began to discuss and develop a classic Barbados Rum which obviously as it is produced by Foursquare Distillery, also adhered to the ‘no additives’ philosophy. The Rums are a blend of both pot and column distillates produced from black strap molasses and a proprietary strain of yeast. The distillates are then matured in heavily charred ex-bourbon American oak barrels. Three expressions make up the range and they are The Real McCoy 3, The Real McCoy 5 and The Real McCoy 12. The Rums have won a host of awards and deservedly so. We were fortunate enough to meet Bailey and we got the opportunity to chat with him at the Boutique RumFest in 2014 and he’s a very engaging chap. We also picked up a copy of The Real McCoy Documentary which makes for a great watch and further expands on the story.

The Real McCoy 3 – 40% ABV

Real McCoy 3

The Real McCoy 3 is a blend of 3 year ex-bourbon barrel matured pot and column distillates that have been charcoal filtered to remove colour before being reduced to bottling strength. A crisp white label reveals only the necessary information about the Rum. Its age (minimum obviously) and the barrel type used for maturation. The rear label has a little information contained within. The sturdy squat bottle also has a plastic cork closure which for me on a Rum in this price bracket is neither here nor there but it does make a satisfying pop. You can pick up The Real McCoy 3 for around £19 if you shop smart……

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is crystal clear in the glass. It’s initial aromas are of crisp, creamy sweetness reminiscent of soft summer fruits and berries. Vanilla and that marshmallow aroma that I frequently get from white Bajan Rums rounds things out.

In the mouth: Initial proceedings are warming and lightly peppery up front. Sweetness coms along in the form of custardy vanilla. The mouthfeel becomes really creamy with peaches on the back of the palate….peaches and whipped cream.

A beautiful, no-nonsense flavourful Rum at an affordable price point. This Rum also makes a great Daiquiri.

The Real McCoy 5 – 40% ABV

Real McCoy 5

The Real McCoy 5 is a blend of 5 year ex-bourbon barrel matured pot and column distillates. The label on this expression contains exactly the same information but obviously you switch out 3 for 5 and the label is a more pleasing shade of cream. The rear label has the addition of an image of Bill McCoy. Again, a plastic cork closure is present which is a pleasant addition. You can pick up The Real McCoy 5 for around £24 if you use the same source…..

Tasting Notes

In the glass: the Rum is a light coppery gold in the glass and for a 5-year-old Rum is the aromas are very approachable with little heat. Vanilla, butterscotch fudge, caramel and a light oak are in the initial aroma attack. A little citrus peel follows along with more vanilla. As the Rum warms up the oak becomes more apparent in the glass.

In the mouth: It has a spicier than expected entry based on the nose….more so than the 3. It has a little heated, peppery kick that is quickly followed up by a vanilla led sweetish component. Ripe banana and peach loop jelly sweets are next to appear. The sweetness is short-lived though as a pleasant dryness creeps in and allows you to pick up a little cola, a slight powdery cocoa, more peach loops and a little molasses. Quite a lot going on and it is a very drinkable relatively young Rum.

Again, this Rum is a great example of its ilk. It also makes for a great Corn N Oil. This cocktail has recently been ‘Cocktail of the Week’ over with our friends The Floating Rum Shack and like them, we also tone down the Falernum as it is a very tasty, but very sweet concoction. We also use John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum (another Foursquare product) in the drink. The recipe and method used at Rum Diaries HQ are as follows: 60ml The Real McCoy 5 and 30ml Falernum. We enjoy this drink nicely chilled and diluted so build it like a Rum old fashioned. Take a double rocks glass, add a large cube of ice (ours are 2 inch square). Pour over the Falernum and stir slowly then add the Rum 30ml at a time whilst stirring, This ensures that the whole thing is chilled nicely and has a decent amount of dilution. Add bitters if you feel that you need to. We don’t usually but when we do we use Dr Adam Elmegirab’s Teapot Bitters. We enjoy the clove aspect of the drink, but Angostura Bitters makes the clove too dominant whilst the Teapot Bitters bind anything Rum based together….trust us!

So, what you have here is a back story that is nice but is ultimately just that, a nice back story. The real stand out thing is the Rum. Both expressions offer what they set out to offer, un-adjusted, un-flavoured, un-perfumed proper Rum made in the classic Barbados style and from a distillery and a distiller that do their utmost to promote all of these values. You should absolutely pick up a bottle of both.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Real McCoy Rum Launches in the U.K

Finally…..the day we’ve all been waiting for…The Real McCoy Rum launches in the U.K and it’s being distributed by Distillnation!

Press Release


The Real McCoy Rum lands on British Shores

Following its successful launch throughout the United States The Real McCoy Rum is to launch at Imbibe 1st & 2nd of July 2014

The UK launch and distribution will be through Distillnation (stand D132); The Real McMcoy Rum is the brainchild of Bailey Pryor, Film maker. He produced and directed a documentary about the life of Bill McCoy and his role in the establishing the rum running trade which defined the prohibition era. This rum is based on the story of Bill McCoy, the pioneer Rum Runner of the Prohibition era. When Prohibition began, in January of 1920, McCoy was the first person to fill a boat full of rum down in the Caribbean and sail it up to New York, anchoring 3 miles offshore and acting as a floating liquor store within sight of Manhattan. Whilst making the documentary due to be screen later this year on UK terrestrial TV; he was intrigued by the rum itself this took him on a journey that ended at the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados headed by highly respected rum maker Richard Seale. This was the beginning of The Real McCoy Rum. The collaboration between Bailey and Richard produced 3 unique rums;

The Real McCoy Rum (Aged 3 Years):

Naturally Smooth – a rare silver sipping rum with subtle spice and wood notes, bright floral overtones, a hint of toasted caramel with a long warm finish.


The Real McCoy Rum (Aged 5 Years):

Award Winning – Soft and balanced with hints of vanilla, toasted caramel, honey and bourbon aged wood. Light fruit aroma and a warm, lingering finish.


The Real McCoy Rum (Aged 12 Years):

Exceptionally smooth – A super-premium sipping rum to rival the world’s finest spirits. Mature and balanced with complex wood and spice notes, hints of vanilla and an elegant, warm finish.


All of The Real McCoy Rums have been award-winning, from the Rum XP in Miami to the San Francisco Worlds Spirits Competition.

Bailey Pryor will be on hand at Imbibe and he will be screening the documentary with a Q&A and tastings of the 3 styles of rum at Distillnation’s Trade focused Independent Spirits Day event on 4th July.

Distillnation will be holding a press day with Bailey Pryor on 3rd July for Press only

Please contact : 0207 129 8108

You all know my feelings on anything that is produced at Foursquare Distillery by Richard Seale so you’ll already know that I can’t wait to get my hands on these rums! Here’s hoping that they are available as soon as possible following the Imbibe launch!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ron Botran

Guatemala has a rich heritage within both the sugar cane and rum production industries. In the early 20th Century, the country was scattered with family owned, individually set up distilleries. Essentially, these were single estate family concerns that had their own land for the growing of sugar cane, stills to distil the fermented product and bottling facilities for the rum. As the spirit industry played a huge part in Guatemala’s economic growth, during the 1940’s the Guatemalan Government issued the Aging Act to force distillers to create  reserves of aged spirits to guarantee the quality of their products. This sowed the seeds for the formation of the Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala.

The Botran family, synonymous with sugar cane production in Guatemala, sowed the seeds of their rum production legacy high in the western Guatemalan city of Quetzaltenango, 2300 metres above sea level. This is where the five Spanish brothers, Venancio, Andres, Felipe, Jesus and Alejandro Botran, discovered that the climate there was ideal for the high altitude slow ageing of rum. This discovery led to the brothers forming the Industria Licorera Quezalteca in 1939.

Botran Range Angle

All of the sugar cane that is used in Botran Rums is picked from their family estate in Retalhuleu, in the south of Guatemala. This location is perfect for the growing of sugar cane due to its clay, volcanic soils that enjoy constant sunshine. These qualities allow the growth of sugar cane varieties that give the highest sugar content to give the best raw material and the ideal characteristics for the first process of producing Botran Rums. The cane is transported to the mill for the first press. During this process the juice extracted from the cane pressing is heated to remove water and impurities, thus creating the virgin sugar cane honey. The key base ingredient of all Botran rums as it allows the preservation of more of the sugars.

The sugar cane honey is fermented with the use of a proprietary strain of yeast taken from pineapples, to allow the sugar to be turned into alcohol whilst retaining consistency of flavour and aroma for the rums. This fermentation process takes approximately 120 hours and helps develop the flavours and aromas that will be present in the rum. Each product is distilled individually to achieve a distinctive character unique to the intended end product. The process of distillation allows the extraction of alcohol from the fermented ‘wort’ within continuous stills containing copper components. Within these stills, the fermented product is heated using steam until the alcohol reaches evaporation point. The alcohol vapours are then passed through condensers where they are captured again.

This end product, rum, is then aged in Quetzaltenango, 2300 metres above sea level in barrels that once contained American Whiskey (both new and re-charred), Sherry and Port. The American Whiskey barrels that are re-charred are done so to extract the flavours and aromas from the wood to provide a further depth of character for the rum. The rum is aged using the Solera System which I highlighted when talking about Ron Zacapa and the explanation of their specific system was given in that write-up. The system can vary from producer to producer and I will attempt to briefly describe the Botran system here.

The rums are initially aged in new American Whiskey barrels. This aged rum is then placed into blending vats where it is blended with older lots of rum (mother rum) that has already undergone the full solera aging process. The contents of these vats are then aged in re-charred American Whiskey barrels. These are again transferred into blending vats with more of the mother rum. The contents of this stage of the process is divided into used Port and Sherry barrels for further aging. These barrels are then reviewed by the rum blenders and their flavour, aroma and colour are assessed. They are evaluated and enter their marrying phase where they are then considered to be the final blend and are aged for a further 12 months or until the Master Blender considers them ready for bottling.

There you have it, the journey of the sugar cane from the family owned fields to the bottle. There were originally only two styles available in the UK. These were the Reserva (a blend of rums between 5 and 14 years old) and the Solera 1893 (a blend of rums between 5 and 18 years old). They have recently been joined by the Reserva Blanca, a white rum that has also been aged in the same Solera process but has been charcoal filtered to remove all colour from the rum. Fortunately I have been able to make contact with the UK distributor for Ron Botran, Distillnation and they have been amazing in helping me research the history and production methods.

Botran Range

This write-up is a first for Rum Diaries Blog as it will be the first complete range that I have featured……but what a range to start with!

Tasting Notes – Ron Botran Reserva Blanca

In the glass: The rum is crystal clear and when I swirl the glass the rum looks to be a lot more viscous than I would’ve thought. The initial aromas are fresh with a slight vanilla and no hint of alcohol burn…but what does it taste like?

In the mouth: Instant vanilla and a light fruitiness hit you and this turns into an almost marzipan sweetness on your tongue. The rum is smooth, not harsh, not too dry but not dripping with sweetness either. The finish is quite short and spicy with a warming burn on the way down.

Sipping is not the intended use of this rum though, even though it blows most other white rums away when drunk this way. Where it really excels is in a simple mixed drink where the rum is the star. I use mine to make a sublime daiquiri. Just squeeze 25ml of fresh lime juice into a Boston mixing glass, add 10ml of sugar syrup (adjust sweet and sour levels to suit your taste) and finish with 50ml of Reserva Blanca. Add lots of ice, shake well and double strain into your glass of choice (I use a pre-chilled Martini glass)….I fully expect you to be making your second whilst halfway through your first! Botran Reserva Blanca

Tasting Notes – Ron Botran Reserva

In the glass: The rum is a nice medium bronze colour with flashed of red and gold. Again, the rum appears to be of a medium viscosity, not too heavy. Vanilla, toffee and slight spicy aromas rise from the glass. It doesn’t smell as heavy as I would’ve thought. It is very smooth with no harshness. Prolonged sitting in the glass reveals a warm peach, oak and leathery aroma.

In the mouth: The rum instantly coats your whole mouth with warming sweet oak and toffee with a dark sherry like edge. Light spice and oak dominate the middle of my tongue. The finish is pure dairy fudge, oak and a fruity sweetness and this comes back at you in waves both in the mouth and through the vapours sneaking up on the back of your nose. It is, quite frankly, everything that I look for in a sipping rum to suit all moods and all times of the day.

You can mix it, in plenty of drinks, but I prefer it neat. When I have mixed it however I have used it in a rum old fashioned. Take a mixing glass with a few ices cubes, add a bar spoon of sugar syrup, 50ml of Botran Reserva and 2 or 3 dashes of Angostura Bitters. Stir well until nicely chilled then strain into a rocks glass filled with 3 or 4 ices cubes. Finish with a twist of orange zest which you first crack over the glass then drop in….or at least that’s how I do it.

Botran Reserva

Tasting Notes – Ron Botran Solera 1893

In the glass: The rum is a dark bronze with hints of orange. Medium viscosity with an amazing vanilla and almost oily orange aroma sitting over the glass. Caramel, oak and that warm peach aroma make an appearance too.

In the mouth: Warming sweetness hits you with a butterscotch edge and absolutely no burn. Slight spice again and a sweet oak coating my tongue. Peaches, butterscotch, and an orange sweetness hit you in waves. There is, to me, a tiny bit of oaky bitterness, but nothing off-putting. I’d imagine that the medium length butterscotch and tobacco finish would make this an ideal match for a decent cigar.

I have never mixed this one, but if I did, I couldn’t see myself straying too far from the simplistic old fashioned or maybe a sazerac! Now there’s a thought!

Botran Solera 1893

So there you have it, an amazing range of rums with an amazing history and amazing prices with the whole range available for around £100 in total so there is no real excuse not to own all 3….at some point. All of them have their own qualities and all of them deserve a place on anyone’s rum shelf. They will all be replaced once they have been emptied…..not long to go for the Reserva!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the  express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.