Tequila has always been my poison of choice, with bourbon a close second. However, as nice as bourbon may taste, regardless of quality, I always found there was a bite to it. Something that hit you in the throat and migrated to your temple, like your head being casually clapped between a couple 2x4s. Keeping this up may sound imprudent, but Tequila is a delicate flavor that does not marry well with heavy oak. So whenever I desired a glass fill of wood, bourbon was my only choice. Then I went to Cuba and had good rum.
Rum is smooth and pleasant, without the bite, full-bodied and can handle large amounts of oak. However, it is also sweet, and how sweet varies depending on the brand. Bacardi I always found to be too sweet, which is why I never drank rum. However, just like with Tequila, offerings are beginning to expand in the USA, which brings me to Kirk & Sweeney.
Initially my attraction to Kirk & Sweeney had nothing to do with the flavor. As a photographer, I am always looking for new objects to photograph and decided to add another rum shot to my portfolio. The bottle struck me with interest, it was different and unique, both of which are photogenic. So I bought a bottle of the 12-year to create an image, and, of course, afterwards I could not resist having a taste.
Upon opening the bottle, my first impression was with the cork. It was not a modern smooth cork without character, but a course hefty one that could have very well been on a pirate ship of ages past. Popping the bottle open produced that quintessential sound and released a sweet molasses brown sugar and spicy aroma that quickly progressed into caramel with a hint of vanilla and toffee. It was a bouquet filled with temptation.
Upon tasting, the rum opened with flavors of caramel, butterscotch and a hint of vanilla that progressively gets stronger through the finish. I usually find this to be the case; the delicate flavor of vanilla comes to the forefront after the warmth of the alcohol fades. Shortly thereafter, the finish brings spices, almond and some candied fruit, such as apricots and raisins. Depending on how long it has been sitting, honey and tobacco mix in as well. The body was medium full and the finish about 30 seconds, and, overall, is a semi-dry rum that leaves a hint of sweetness on your palate.
It’s not as robust as a 7 year Havana Club, but can certainly hold its own on the rocks or in a cocktail. The only question lingering in my mind now, is what to pair it with when I imbibe next, perhaps an Ashton Symmetry?