40% rums - do they compare to the high-proof?

Hi,
I’ve recently had a great tasting of rums but all were over 60%. Last week I grabbed my basic cabinet bottles: Appleton 12, Equiano, Pussers, Dictador, Doorly’s, etc and… I found out that these everyday sippers are no match for higher-proof rums.

Is it just an accident, or does the low proof not convey the message? I feel the dilution and syrupiness every time I try the 40% now, certainly missing the depth and finish. Do you, guys, have similar feelings to me? What 40% rums can you recommend? Do the low-proof rums deteriorate faster once the bottle is open?

8 Likes

I would say that a strong dilution takes away the depth and some complexity from a rum. Certain flavors are also lost. You can make a good comparing with rums from El Ron del Artesano, since he brings his rums to the market in drinking and cask strength. Here I was able to make direct comparisons of how a rum from the same cask reacts to dilution. And the difference is there for sure. I think 40-45% rums are great for daily sipping, if you just want an easy drink. I think that Agricole doesn’t suffer that much from dilution and many Agricoles are still absolutely top drinkable even with 40-45%. For example, I like the Rhum JM XO or HSE XO very much. If the rums deteriorate faster is hard to say. This also has something to do with whether the rum is sweetened, since the sugar creates other chemical reactions. I drink primarily, as probably many on RumX , rum with cask strength as I believe like you said the rum has more depth and body. I also like the warmth and texture of the rum. A Guilty Pleasure from me is the Angostura 1787 with 40%, which I like to drink. I really like the nose of the Angostura. But if you want to compare side by side i can really recommend to write a mail to Sebastian Lauinger if he can send you Samples in Cask & Drinking Strength, or work with some drops of water :laughing: :wink: :blush:

8 Likes

Welcome to the land of real rum :wink:
Well explained, @MrRumantic. Regarding the agricole style rums I agree. Rum that falls in that category still delivers a decent flavor expirience while often bottled at lower strength. But that style requires an “open minded” person and is quite far away from the rums you mentioned taste wise.

6 Likes

My first Agricole was a blind bought bottled Depaz VSOP 10y ago. At that time i wasn’t ablento understand what i was drinking. It took me some time to understand Agricole. Now i love it very much and it is part of my three big loves in the rum world. The Esters of Jamaica, the Dirt of Trinidad and the grassy notes of Martinique :grin:

8 Likes

The rums i mentioned were examples for the different topics of the question. Artesano is THE address for Panama Rum in my opinion. And if you want to learn about the influence of different wood. No better place to learn even if the rums don’t have the depth at the moment (the 24y is so god damn smooth). But i heard new great thinks are coming from Panama… Panama Pot Style could be interesting :grimacing::grimacing::grimacing:

6 Likes

I do not fully share this view.
It is true that today I find 40° rums a little light. But I also find those over 60° a little too heavy. Often we wait a long time to drink them so that they express themselves. And in fact, to express oneself is to let the alcohol dissipate to give place to the rest.

I am not a great specialist but there is reduction and reduction too…
It is possible to reduce before bottling, or before putting it into barrels (if I’m not talking nonsense, this is often done in cognac, and also in the French West Indies). The two ways must give very different things.
In any case, I recently did a tasting: La mauny 2005 (42°, cognac cask) vs St James Velier 2008 (60°, cognac cask too). The deepest in aroma, nose and mouth is the La Mauny, on the other hand it doesn’t scratch the throat at all, it flows by itself :), but it is true that I would have loved it with a few more degrees.
Currently I find that rums around 50° when well reduced, are just the perfect balance between depth of flavors and drinkability (Neisson 48.5°, HSE 48°)

I also think, more sadly, that we get used to a stronger alcohol and that less loaded alcohols seem to us simply too light… Addiction, my friends… :sweat_smile:

9 Likes

Reducing a rum to the point were it is perfect, is an art for itself and the rums becomes the personal taste/ vision of the bottler. I respect that a lot. What kind of water also makes a difference and the rum reacts slowly with the water so you get the final taste after a view weeks in the bottle or cask. I am with you that it can make a rum better because it opens it and the water kann “create” new flavors. To hit the perfect point is the art. But i even more love to have the rum as pure from the cask as it can be.

9 Likes

I was refering to the bottles listed by the OP.

4 Likes

:smile::+1:… i was in a rare writing mood yesterday. You are right. They are of very different taste.

3 Likes

In general alcohol is a medium to transport flavours. So the general rule could be: the more the better… Unfortunately it also is more complicated. Higher ABV spirits are often undrinkable for the untrained (which is the majority of casual consumers) and should be poured in moderation. No cocktail party survives in friendly atmosphere for long, if all spirits used were to be 60%. After all, I don’t want to be horribly drunk after a Daiquiri and a Mai Tai.

Also, I find to really have a well done rum means the alcohol is well integrated (not harsh in your face), which gets increasingly more difficult the higher the ABV is. But I had 60% spirits that drank like 40%, and others I could not drink without heavy burn. Thus the dilution, as said before, is an art.

The 40% (or 38%) number in most countries is just a result of regulations and law, anything less would not be allowed to be called Rum i. E…

6 Likes

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I didn’t actually want to say that the weaknesses of the low-proof rums is their weakness :slight_smile: . And I can’t possibly imagine a Pina colada with some 80% burner. I think now I will commit my tasting evenings to the stronger guys in the foreseeable future.

And for the Agricole style, (don’t blame me) I’ve tried these once or twice but it seems so distant from what I seem to enjoy that I dropped their exploration for now.

Still waiting for more suggestions of your recommended 40%s :wink:

2 Likes

I can’t think of anything with 40% right now, but I like the Mount Gay XO at 43% if that still counts :wink: I also got a sample of the Dictador Best of 1980 recently that was a really positive surprise at 41% given that I usually don’t like Dictador that much. But that was a one off tasting and might have jus been in a good mood ^^ And I guess the price tag is hefty too

3 Likes

I think any of the recent Plantation bottling are worth to be recommended.
They are not exactly “40%” but usually damped down quite a bit.

4 Likes