Ron de Jeremy XO

RDJ XO AngleWe’ve been quite vocal in the past about our love of Ron de Jeremy. It is a product that was dismissed by some as it was thought to be pushing the boundaries of good taste. But we always felt that the Rum was quite enjoyable and it became a real regular purchase at home. The perfect foil to the cries of ‘gimmick’….something that stood up to scrutiny, which we think that it did. You can refresh your memory and see our article on Ron de Jeremy and also Ron de Jeremy Spiced here.

Ron de Jeremy XO – 40% abv

Right, now your back with us. We can tell you all about Ron de Jeremy XO. This Rum is positioned as the next step, or a step up the Rum ladder. The presentation is quite frankly is stunning. The bottle comes in a black cylinder and when the metal cylinder top is removed you are faced with a jet black smooth coated glass bottle. The text is bright white and furnishes you with a little information, the most important being the location of the source Rum(s). The Reserva was from Panama (though the blend has changed now but the profile of the Rum remains) but in this iteration the Rums have been sourced from Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana and Jamaica and are a blend of pot and column. Some aged for up to 15yrs. Solera is mentioned in the bottle but in this instance (and in the majority of instances), it is merely referring to the fact that there is a blend of Rums of differing ages/locations and no desire to be tied down to an actual minimum age. It is profile based not age based. It is a common practice…see Zacapa, Botran, Matusalem, Dictador, Cubaney and so on. A little further digging (Thanks Olli) has turned up that the distilleries in question providing the Rums are hugely credible locations. The Barbados component is a blend of column and pot distilled Rums sourced from Foursquare Distillery. The Trinidad component is from Trinidad Distillers (the production company of Angostura), obviously column only. The Guyana element is obviously DDL and they provide pot distilled Rum which should give the Rum some real backbone. Jamaica is the really interesting one….Hampden, Worthy Park, Monymusk and New Yarmouth Estate all provide high ester pot still Rums to the blend. All signs point to the fact that this should be some good juice…..

Now this Rum has been doing very well in Europe and is firmly placed to grab a slice of the big selling marketplace that is currently dominated by Zacapa and Diplomatico. It gives a three-tier element to the range with Spiced, Reserva and XO which positions them well in the grand scheme of things.

But what does it taste like…..

Tasting Notes

RDJ XO Bottle and Glass

In the glass: The Rum displays itself as a nice dark gold with mahogany flashes and upon swirling is as reluctant to release any droplets as I am reluctant to get a round in….eventually (as with getting a round in) it succumbs to peer pressure and a few very slow chunky droplets meander back down the glass. When swirling the Rum looks VERY viscous and is almost giving the appearance of moving in slow motion. The initial aroma, which is not as shy as the droplets is one of a very rich fruit cake. Prunes and vanilla are there by the bucket load and there is an almost nutty quality surrounded in burnt caramel. A little one-dimensional and not at all what I was expecting. In fact, it is nothing like I’d expect from the knowledge of the Rums in the blend.

In the mouth: On entry the Rum is incredibly viscous. It immediately gives me a kind of bitter caramel flavour but that is soon kicked into touch by a thick, gooey sweetness…almost cloying. Straight off the bat there is a heap of vanilla, a tiny hint of spice and the hint of an oaky component. It is very smooth…..almost confusingly so. The finish is very short-lived and very disappointing. I expected it to linger but it just slips out of the door without telling you whilst you’re seeing to the other guests. I feel a little of that ‘peach’ like quality that I keep harping on about in the back of my throat that can only be the merest hint of the Barbados component. There is none of the pot still Jamaican magic that I expected and none of the backbone that pot still Demerara usually provides…Trinidad will maybe be the provider of the oaky element but this is the polar opposite of what the blend tells me. It’s all a bit ‘meh’….

I hate to put out bad vibes but after tasting a few glasses of this Rum I felt that something was amiss. It just didn’t sit right with me, so I sent a blind sample off for hydrometer testing by Wes, who runs another Rum based site (it’s not as good as this one, and I’m way more handsome…and taller). He duly carried out the test on this along with two other samples that I had marked up for him to taste…they were almost the controls for the hydrometer test. The resulting data was cause for concern and a bit of a red flag. 92 g/L of additions whether that be sugar, glycerol, vanillin’s or something else. I buy sweetened Rums and I enjoy sweetened Rums, but to say that I was shocked by the figure displayed in the results would be an understatement. More than this though, I felt really let down. I like Olli from One Eyed Spirits, even though I’ve only met him once. This was on the same night that I also met the big man himself, Ron Jeremy and Gaby from Spirit Cartel. Olli has answered my emailed concerns over this Rum and that level of honesty and openness should be applauded. I asked the questions, I got my answers.

The following though, is why I feel so disappointed. The Rum is sourced from credible origins (including some of the most credible) and it has all the potential to be a very interesting blend….world class even. I perhaps expected it to surpass our love of the Reserva! But it has massively under achieved as it has been masked by the additions and the whole experience has been dulled. Imagine that friend, everyone has one. They are a really vibrant and interesting person and for some reason they wind up in the kind of relationship where their partner doesn’t let them be themselves….they control every interaction that you have with your friend and they mask the very essence of what made your friend so great to be around in the first place. Ron de Jeremy XO is that friend and as a result is a huge missed opportunity for me, and it does it’s credible components a large disservice.

That said, it is massively unfair to put this Rum in the same category as all other Rums that have test data out there, for one, this product actually does have Rum as its base….and very credible Rum at that….it just went off the rails and made a few bad decisions whilst it was growing up.

As per usual, feel free to pop in for a drop. It’ll be popular, just not with me. I’ll stick to the Reserva.

0-5-star

In the interests of full disclosure, I was sent the bottle in question by some really lovely people to give my thoughts and feedback.

© 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.

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Mezan Jamaica XO

mezan-2This will be the first of quite a few posts covering the Mezan bottlings that I own. Mezan Rums are vintage unblended (apart from the XO) Rums from individual islands and countries in the West Indies and South or Central America. They are produced from a single vintage years distillation, are aged in oak Barrique* and are bottled one cask at a time when considered mature enough. The claims / promises made by Mezan are that their Rums are: Unblended (XO aside), Unsweetened, Uncoloured, Filtered through a light gauze with no chill filtration. There has been a statement put out on another site whereby these claims have been confirmed. So what you should have here are bottlings that will vary from barrel to barrel in colour, aroma and taste. The Rums have not been aged in wine casks or finished in casks that have previously held another spirit. They are an expression of each distillery and country of origin.

*A Barrique is also known as a Bordeaux Barrel and is a small but relatively tall 225 litre oak barrel

The range has seen many releases of which I have several. The release list so far comprises: Jamaica XO, Jamaica Monymusk 2003, Jamaica Hampden 2000, Trinidad Caroni 1991, Trinidad Caroni 1999, Guyana Uitvlugt 1998, Guyana Enmore 1990, Panama Don Jose 1995, Panama Don Jose 1999 and Guyana Westerhall 1998. All Rums are reduced to a bottling strength of 40% abv apart from the Panama Don Jose 1999 which has a sticker over the 40% on the label informing you that it is bottled at 42.2% abv.

Mezan Jamaica XO – 40% ABV

This Rum is aged as individual components, then blended and returned back to the barrel to marry prior to bottling. It is a medium ester blend based on a supply of 2 to 3 Rums from the same source with differing ester profiles (I’ve read that the youngest Rum in the blend is 4 years old) and the addition of older Rums dating back to 1983 to allow the blend to really shine. I have two bottles of the Jamaica XO and they are from different batches / release so this will allow me to compare notes on both bottlings to see how / if the blend has changed and I for one find this quite interesting and I hope that you do too. I have also read that the old release was made up of Rums solely from the Hampden Distillery but the new release hints that different distilleries are used in the blend. I will update the article when the information has been received.

Tasting Notes – Earlier Release

XO OLD FRONT

In the glass: The Rum displays itself as a very pale straw and a swirl of the glass shows that the Rum appears quite oily. A halo of Rum forms on the glass with small reluctant droplets forming and eventually falling. Aromas of ripe banana appear right away along with a prominent acetone aroma. Plastic aromas are also present and are quite aggressive. Through the plastic comes a pear drop acidity on the nose along with raisins. There are no real oak influences on the nose but very light molasses and citrus aromas are there rounded out with some white wine characteristics.

XO OLD REAR

In the mouth: There is a light oily mouthfeel to the Rum on its very calm entry. Raisins up front give way to a slight sweetness and a spicy tingle. I expected a little more fruit. The oiliness really helps disperse the light flavours throughout the mouth. The finish is relatively short and quite heated, maybe hinting that the split of older and younger Rums favours the younger components. Ripe banana is present on the finish as is that acetone in the vapours and the whole thing is over way too soon.

Tasting Notes – Later Release

XO NEW FRONT

In the glass: The Rum is a light straw gold and is perhaps a shade darker than the other release. A swirl of the glass leaves a ring of very lazy and reluctant droplets that take upwards of 3 minutes to move. Very oily and very dense are words that I’d use to describe my initial observations of this Rum. Bananas, dried tropical fruit, raisins and a nice oily citrus peel show up and hint at what could appear when tasted. There is also a more prominent molasses aroma and the plastic and acetone notes are really dialled down making it far more pleasant to sit and smell. It is really well-balanced with just enough astringency to keep things interesting. There are also light caramel and creamy chocolate aromas rounding things out.

XO NEW REAR

In the mouth: The Rum shows itself as being a lot more oily and dense. It really disperses well and completely coats every bit of your mouth. There is a really good balance of sweet and spicy components on entry. There is a peppery tingle up front with citrus oil and a little oak influence showing itself. Overripe bananas, tropical fruit leathers and pleasant molasses play nicely alongside raisins, oak and light smoke. The finish is of a medium length, not too hot and is full of creamy chocolate, warming pepper and ripe banana with what feels like banana skin and citrus peel within the vapours.

So these Rums appear to make good on their promise of no additives, even caramel for colour, and there is a natural variation within the blend to keep things interesting. These are both Rums that were picked up for around the £28 mark and both represent a decent investment and show how blends can differ but still be the same product. Each offers something different with what I believe is the addition of a greater portion of older Rum in the newer release. It just feels more rounded and complete with the spikiness of the young Rums being kept in check by the older component and it benefits from this. The younger Rums are not dulled and they are still spiky but they’ve just had their nails clipped which enables other components to shine through. That pot still funk and ripe banana work so well with cola and they play nicely in a daiquiri, especially the newer release whose oiliness and citrus peel really combine well. The colour is also light enough to not ruin the appearance in the glass. The older release is a little rougher and childlike and distracts somewhat with its heightened plastic and acetone notes. When tried alone it is not as noticeable but don’t take my word for it, feel free to pop in and we’ll taste them side by side.

© 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.

Doorly’s XO

IMAG1183_1Stepping online and looking up into the £25 to £35 price bracket opens up a veritable feast of amazing Rums to those who are willing to look beyond the supermarket shelves (though some great Rums are available there too). One such Rum that makes you feel almost guilty of theft is Doorly’s XO. A Spanish Oloroso Sherry Cask finished blend of Rums from Barbados that offers incredible amounts of flavour and countless glasses of enjoyment. It’s a steal at £25 a bottle and can compete with other more expensive and also highly regarded Rums. It will come as no surprise then when I tell you that this is another Rum produced by Richard Seale at the amazing Foursquare Rum Distillery. You will have read about my love of all things Foursquare and Richard Seale in my article on R.L Seales 10 but if not, click here for some background information on the distillery and Rums.

Doorly’s XO – 40% ABV

IMAG1182_1Although there is no age statement on the bottle (there is on the 5 and 3), I have it on good authority that the minimum age of the Rum in the blend prior to the second maturation is 5 years old with the second maturation in seasoned Oloroso Sherry Casks is for a minimum of 1 year. This it seems is where the general consensus comes from that the youngest Rum in Doorly’s XO is 6 years old. There will be older Rums in the blend prior to the second maturation but the omission of an age statement gives Foursquare the flexibility in their control over the necessary time spent in casks of different ages at each maturation stage and it also allows them to emphasise the fact that the Rum is twice matured. This second maturation adds another level of interest to the Rum. Oloroso Sherry is a Dry Sherry with a nutty flavour profile. It is often used as a base to build upon to create sweeter sherries. In the case of a bottle of Matusalem Oloroso Sherry that I have, it is the addition of 25% Pedro Ximinez that sweetens the Oloroso Sherry and the flavours within that bottle really are something else. The bottle itself (although different in other territories) is a part of the family of Doorly’s Rums that sit on my shelf. The XO, 5 and 3 all have the same shape of bottle and all have the image of the Blue Hyacinth McCaw on them. The same label shape and size make for an attractive presentation when all lined up in their varying stages of emptiness…..at least at Rum Diaries HQ. A place which saw me finish and then re-purchase a bottle of Doorly’s XO whilst taking my tasting notes, such was my level of desire to get my notes correct…………..

Tasting Notes

IMAG1184_1In the glass: The Rum is a deep coppery orange in the glass and displays bountiful droplets with a slight reluctance to move. The Rum has deep caramel up front with aromas of orange oil and orange zest. There is a little spice tingle and a dark fruity oak. As the Rum warms up in the glass, coconut, peach, passion fruit and a little fudge reveal themselves.

In the mouth: The Rum is awash with peppery spice and heat initially, wrapped in a nutty sweetness. Orange zest and oak are also present. As the dominant spice subsides, the nutty, sherried oak comes to the fore with a little caramel sweetness. After time, the peach, passion fruit and coconut show up on the back-end. Further sips confirm the prominent spice but the sherried oak develops more quickly as your mouth acclimatises to it. This again develops into caramel, coconut and peach. The Rum has a beautiful character whereby it is the Rum, not the sherry that defines it. The sherry is the vehicle on which the other flavours are transported. There are no dead spots where you are left wanting for flavour. The Rum has a long finish that starts peppery and ends with toasted coconut, slight oaky bitterness and faint peach. Tobacco shows up as an after smell in the glass. An example of sherry maturation executed correctly. Never dominant and never defining the Rum, just allowing the right amount of influence to come through.

This Rum really does deserve a place on everyone’s shelf, not just those with a real interest in Rum. It sits at a very accessible price point and is equally at home neat, with a mixer, or in a drink such as the Corn ‘n Oil. It is a fine example of the craft of sherry maturation by a master of his craft. Wonderful, thought-provoking stuff and as a fanatic that buys a lot of Rum, it is an absolute steal for a Rum of this calibre.

© 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.