We have another premiere on this little blog. Una World Premiere if you want! For the first time we have two rums from the Dominican Republic (DomRep), a country whose rums I usually avoid. I’ve just had too many bad experiences with their rums in the past, especially those produced by O&O. The Solera system is weird and obscure, the rums are typically adulterated and finding the decent ones is very difficult. Corman Collins has a few but these are the only ones I can recall right now. Now I’ve got two, at first glance interesting bottlings. The Cave Guildive is a Double Wine Cask maturation, having spent time in regular wine and subsequently Sherry casks while the S.B.S does not come with a stated finish but it is a blend of different cask types that has then been married in an ex-Bourbon cask. While it has been coloured, it aged entirely in the DomRep (I forgot to take pictures of the respective colours anyways…)! Note though that even if the bottlers didn’t sweeten the rums, that doesn’t exclude the possibility of the producers having done so. With the S.B.S this is definitely not the case but I am not exactly sure with the Cave Guildive.
We don’t know when rum production started on Hispanola but when rum got increasingly popular with the Spanish settlers who were looking for gold, the King of Spain put and end to rum production in 1720. The prohibition lasted until 1778 and only 15 years later the island counted 173 distilleries, who processed the molasses of the then 792 sugar cane plantations. Today, the sugar cane is still largely cut by hand, just as it is done on Haiti at the west end of the island. In fact, it is mostly children and women of Haitian descent who do the cane cutting in the DomRep, getting housed in tiny shanties and working for wages below absolute poverty or food tokens. But this will be the topic of a separate article one day.
Today there exist three distilleries in the country: Barceló, Bermúdez and Brugal but I have no clue where todays rums have been produced. Given the finishes of these rums and the adulteration and similarities that typically come with other DomReps, I am not in a position to make a guess here.
Dégustation “Cave Guildive Domincan Republic 13Y Solera vs S.B.S Dominan Republic 2006 12YO”
Key Facts: Let’s start with the Cave Guildive (CG). It is a 13 year Solera (whatever that means) which has been ageing in traditional wine and sherry casks (after the Solera I guess). It has been bottled at 49%.
The S.B.S was distilled in 2006 and has been bottled in 2018 at 55%. It is a blend of 12YO rums from different cask types that aged entirely in the DomRep.
Nose: Again, the CG first. I get a mix of incredibly sweet elements from the distillate (brown sugar, leather, tobacco), drier, yet fruity notes from the wine cask (dark berries & stone fruits) and again sweet dried fruits I’d associate with the Sherry finish. It works quite well together, if only it weren’t so sweet.
The S.B.S is a lot drier. Tobacco, cinnamon, caramel and vanilla are the most prominent associations, especially the cinnamon. I am not exactly sure if this is the distillate or the cask though. In the background lid matches and unripe fruits but these are very subtle nuances.
Palate: The palate of the CG is even sweeter than the nose but I couldn’t say for sure if sugar has been added here or not. It’s not excessively sweet but the texture and mouthfeel is a bit too smooth for a 13 year Solera at 49%. It’s also way too creamy. However, it is also way more interesting than other DomReps I know, probably because of the special maturation. I get sweet berries (raspberries, strawberries), whipped cream, toffee, caramel, vanilla, amarena cherries and also quite some wood.
Again a lot sweet than the nose suggested. It has a similar creaminess as the CG but it is not quite as sweet and fruity as that one. Instead, it is driven by the spices (pepper, nutmeg), something I would never have associated with rums from this country. With the third sip I also get dark berries (brambleberries mostly) and ripe apricots perhaps. Oh, and this is a totally honest product, that’s for sure. Nicely done, S.B.S! Even if it is not very difficult (you’d think), rum from the DomRep was never better than this.
Finish: Sweet berries, syrup and oaked whipped cream.
Medium long and creamy with spices (pepper) and nougat for the S.B.S
The S.B.S is the clear winner for me. It shows that these DomRep rums don’t have to be absolutely trash and don’t need fancy finishes to work well. It’s an absolutely solid rum that might be interesting for everyone who has a weakness for the recent Velier Antigua Distillery 2012 6YO or some of the sweeter Bajans. For me, it’s also better than quite a few of the latter. Crucially this is miles ahead of the Spanish OBs I’ve had in Nikis blind-tasting. The CG wasn’t too bad either, even though it is too sweet for me in general. I wouldn’t buy a bottle but drinking this sample was an interesting experience.