There’s probably no Rum distillery where the gap between potential and actual quality is as big as it is with DDL and there are numerous reasons for that, which I am not going to talk about in depth now. One of the major issues has been adulteration for a very long time but it seems that there has been a rethinking process taking place at the distillery. With the new bottlings that have been released starting 2020 (there’s a bottling code on every bottle), the addition of sugar has been reduced drastically or stopped altogether. Way to go. Let’s just hope that the Rums didn’t lose their perceived quality as a result.
El Dorado 12YO (bottled ~2008, 40%): For the record, the hydrometer test revelead a sugar content of 35 g/L. That’s far more than what the EU allows for products that want to call themselves “Rum” these days. Nose: Very simplistic, sweet but not totally terrible. We get molasses, sugar, spices such as pepper, vanilla or nutmeg, wood, cocoa and gingerbread. In a sense that’s quintessential Demerara, not bad, but clearly not in its best form either. Palate: Way worse than the nose and excessively sweet. The texture is too thick to be true at this abv. The wood is now more dominant and the spicy notes have been pushed way to the back. This is a picture book demonstration on how to ruin what could have been an actually good Rum. All the rough spots have been smoothed artificially and we are dealing with a very interchangable and dull profile. Finish: More of the same and nothing to write home about. Spices, oak and sugar, i.e. more or less exactly what we’ve had so far. Too bad, too bad. But it’s good to know that these days seem to be over. (59/100)
El Dorado 12YO (bottled 2020, 40%): Here the sugar content has been decreased to about ~ 6 g/L. If that’s good or not good enough is up to you. Nose: A totally different animal. Still relativle simple but not overshadowed by the sweetness. Instead we get gingerbread, spices such as pepper, allspice and nutmeg, raw sugar, even slightly herbal notes (think rosary or thyme), oak and dark fruits. Clearly a step in the right direction. Palate: Not as sweet but totally not interesting either. A solid Rum, sure, but one to forget about as well. We get a whiff of glue/ acetone, wood, fir, some of the spices from the nose, leather and caramel. Again, not very good, but perceptively honest. Finish: More fir, herbs from the forest, wet moss and wood. Slightly better again after the poor palate. The nose did have us hoping for more, however. (70/100)
El Dorado 15YO (bottled ~2008, 43%): This used to be a Rum I really liked several years ago, and it is 48 g/L for this one. Yes, that’s massive! Nose: Initially not very noticable though, as the nose is slightly sweet, but not about 50 g/L sweet. We get prunes, plum, caramel, wood, the typical Demerara spicyness but also more herbal notes. It has many of the elements that we love so much about old Port Mourants and Enmores/ Versailles, if it weren’t for this sweet and muting sugary overlay. A lot sweeter than the nose, but also with a spicy dryness from the actual distillate and the cask. You notice that this might be a good Rum, but that it has been messed with too much. We get oak, prunes, burnt sugar/ caramel, sweet raspberries, the typical fortified wine notes, oranges and cloves. Let’s repeat that again: Actually a nice profile, but still a severe slap in the face! Finish: Long, sweet, dry and oaky. The oranges and spices stick around, some fruit cake perhaps, but I am starting to think about giving my dentist a call. This Rum has always been one of the big questions marks for me: If you have so much potential as a distillery, why do you waste it so easily!? (67/100)
El Dorado 15YO (bottled 2020, 43%): And we move on to no sugar. Absolutely nothing, nada, niente. Nose: As was to be expected, this is much closer to what we have in mind when thinking about Rum! The profile is quite dry and woody with those characteristic spices but almost no fruity notes. Then dry caramel, licorice, thyme, vanila, fruit cake, orgeat, baked apple and cinnamon. Yes, this is actually nice! Palate: Dry, not too thin yet not very creamy either, and more herbal than the nose. We get a few different nuts, oak, caramel, raisin perhaps, a whiff of Orange Pekoe and eucalyptus. It’s good, but lacks complexity, texture and distinctness. Finish: Relatively long with oak, spices, eucalyptus and orange peel. Here and there also the fruit cake. A step in the right direction and actually a good Rum. It is just that we know that DDL can do even better. But yeah, we are definitely getting there! (80/100)
El Dorado 21YO (distilled ~1985, 43%): We’ve already had the old 21YO but I am not sure if that was the same batch or not. Nose: Oh my dull sweetness. The Rum is really one-dimensional and sugary with caramel, toffee, vanilla, a few herbs and and there and not as much oak as you’d think. I am doing my best to look for more but there doesn’t seem to be much. Oh my. Palate: Not as sweet as the nose but still clearly on the supspective side. We get red fruits, oak, sugar, a few herbs again but well… definitely not as much as I think we should. What is more, the little that we get simply isn’t very good. Still not a fan. Finish: Medium long with oranges, wood and sugar. I don’t have much positive to say about this one, but I’ve heard that the new version should be quite good. (63/100)
El Dorado 21YO (bottled 2021, 43%): Given that the youngest Rum in the blend is at least 21 years old, this could/ should still include Uitvlugt era produce. Nose: A very dry and spicy nose that is typical Demerara on the one hand, but also kinda uninspiring on the other. Maybe it just needs some time. After a good thirty minutes my verdict is a clear “no”. Spices, bitter oranges, oak, Demerara sugar and a few roasting aromas are more or less all of my associations. Yes, it isn’t bad, but not worth talking about either. Palate: I’ve always thought that this one has a high column still share and the profile of the new bottling just strengthens my suspicion. We get plenty of wood, cocoa, roasting aromas, a mix of spices, banana bread, molasses and different barks. I am actually starting to like it, as the palate is much better than the nose. Finish: Medium long with the roasting aromas, oak and spices. A good Rum for sure, that can match almost all other official bottlings by other distilliers. (82/100)