I’m not going to offer tasting notes; that’s for you and your friends. Instead, here are a few facts on production and location of origin. The descriptions, the opinions and the judgments are all up to you.
The two “white” rums selected are actually both lightly aged, then charcoal-filtered to remove the brown barrel color.
1. El Dorado, 3 year old. ($20). Demerara rum from Guyana that has become a bartender favorite for rum cocktails.
2. Banks 5 Island ($26). A blend of 20 or more rums from Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana; contains bit of Batavia arrack, a wild rum from the island of Java made from fermented red rice.
These two rums hail from French-speaking islands and are medium aged.
3. Rhum Clement V.S.O.P. ($39). A rhum agricole from Martinique distilled from fresh-pressed sugar cane juice rather than molasses, as are most other rums.
4. Rhum Barbancourt, 8 year old ($25). Classic rum from Haiti, also made from fresh pressed sugar cane juice.
These two rums approach late middle age. Consider the effect that more than a decade of barrel contact has on the spirit.
5. El Dorado, 12 year old ($30). The older brother of the 3 year old. See what nine more years of aging in whiskey barrels does to this Guyanese favorite.
6. Appleton Estate, 12 year old ($35). From the famed Jamaican distiller, aged in used Jack Daniels barrels.
These rums push the top end of aging. Both are classics — not just in the rum category, but among spirits in general.
7. Rhum Barbancourt Reserve, 15 year old ($37). Compare the difference in this Haitian rum with its eight-year-old little brother from Flight 2.
8. Flor de Cana Centenario, 18 year old ($40). This, from Nicaragua, might be Central America’s finest rum.