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Ed Hamilton
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In the US, alcohol beverage labels must be approved by the government to make sure that they include among other things, a country of origin, alcohol content, net contents, etc.

Beyond the required information at a lot of bottlers include other information about their products. How much credibility do you give rum labels, rum web sites, or magazine articles?

Edward Hamilton

Ministry of Rum.com

The Complete Guide to Rum

When I dream up a better job, I'll take it.

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I normally don't give them much credibility. Labels can be misleading and magazine reviews of rums are few and far between -- although Luis's rum newletter is very infomative. I mostly go by word of mouth. This forum is a great place for getting the down low on all the various rums. If a rum looks interesting, I usually just buy it and try it.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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I think that the information on the label is very important if its truthful.

The credibility depends on the producer, but truth have a way of coming to light so a producer that’s not truthful on the label usually lose customers in the long run. I think that this is especially true for the finer bottlings since they are usually bought by customers (like us) that are interested in more than just alcohol.

Many of the independent bottlers in the whisky industry usually displays the exact date of distillation and date of bottling as well as which type of casks have been used in the maturation. This is important for me since I prefer certain type of casks for certain brands.

For example I prefer my Port Ellen single malt whisky from ex bourbon casks since I feel that cherry casks mask the distillery character (salty, peppery with some sweetness and a hint of peat smoke.) with sherry tones.

Sorry for the whisky comparison, but my rum experience is far to limited (to date) to give an rum example.

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Sorry for the whisky comparison, but my rum experience is far to limited (to date) to give an rum example.

The last thing you should be is sorry. The kind of barrels is important but in the rum business many of the barrels are used, whiskey- all types and it makes a difference, sherry casks, and a few distillers even go to the expense of using new oak barrels. In the whisky business, almost everyone uses new barrels but that's not so in the rum business.

I agree that the better distillers are more truthful in part, because they have more at stake. A reputation for misleading the public, your customers, is hard, if not impossible, to shake.

I've seen a number of rum labels 'dat just ain't telling de truth,' but it's not my first objective to call them to task, they know who they are. I am trying, though, to determine how much credibility consumers, and buyers, put in the stories printed on rum labels. How much do you believe of what's printed on labels?

Edward Hamilton

Ministry of Rum.com

The Complete Guide to Rum

When I dream up a better job, I'll take it.

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Well...

Since I know that some brands have even changed distillery without actively informing the customers (I believe that St. Etienne is now distilled at La favorite distillery, but does it say so on the label and have it changed in character?) I don’t give much for what is said on the label.

But since I buy most on my liquor online I don't really have the opportunity to read the label before I buy. What I do is read all about a special bottling I can find out on the official site of the distillery and reviews by online papers, rum books and private persons, preferably reviews or recommendations by someone which taste I know. I also notice if a bottling have won a lot of competitions. All this combined decide what I buy, not the label.

But then again as I mentioned before I’m quite a newbie with rum although I try to apply my experience from single malt whisky if possible.

The only bottlings I have tasted to date is:

Negrita dark

Appleton Estate VX

Appleton Estate Extra* & ***, Tested two different bottles with remarkable difference in character.

Metusalem Grand Reserva 15 years*

Barbancourt, 15 Year*

El Dorado, 15 year***

Zacapa Centenario 23 years***

La Favorite rum vieux 1993, 9 year old*

Trois Rivières Millesime 1977***

Trois Rivières Millesime 1980***

Trois Rivières Millesime 1985* - strangely rough and immature.

* = Don’t like

** = Bought a bottle

*** = Bought a bottle + One of my favorites to date.

Have only tested a single glass of the Metusalem and Barbancourt and will give them another try next time I have the opportunity. Rum is quite expensive here in Sweden the Barbancourt 15 costs about 70$.

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Sorry for the whisky comparison, but my rum experience is far to limited (to date) to give an rum example.

The last thing you should be is sorry. The kind of barrels is important but in the rum business many of the barrels are used, whiskey- all types and it makes a difference, sherry casks, and a few distillers even go to the expense of using new oak barrels. In the whisky business, almost everyone uses new barrels but that's not so in the rum business.

For me (as I suppose that it comes down to personal taste and how many rums you have drunk) I find that the Cruzan Single Barrel is the most oaked rum that I have come across. I find that the American oak gives too much of an oak flavour and that the true characteristics of the rum are slightly masked. That and the fact that it is only 37.5% alc/vol detract from what is otherwise a very easy drinking rum (or possibly that is why it is so easy!)

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I believe that St. Etienne is now distilled at La favorite distillery, but does it say so on the label and have it changed in character?

Presently, St Etienne is bottled at the St Etienne estate, but distilled at the Simon distillery, not the La Favorite distillery. And yes, the flavor has changed in the past few years, at least in my opinion.

Metusalem Grand Reserva 15 years

This is a perfect example of labeling that is designed to bring you to the conclusion that the rum is aged 15 years, take another look and you'll see it says 15 Solera Blender which is a lot different than aged 15 years. The word 'aged,' or 'years' doesn't even appear on the label.

Don't take this to mean I don't like the rum, I do, but the label doesn't really tell me anything I can hang my hat on.

I find that the Cruzan Single Barrel is the most oaked rum that I have come across. I find that the American oak gives too much of an oak flavour and that the true characteristics of the rum are slightly masked. That and the fact that it is only 37.5% alc/vol detract from what is otherwise a very easy drinking rum (or possibly that is why it is so easy!)

This is one of the few rums from the US that's bottled at less than 40% abv.

There are definite oak tones in this rum, but the heaviest oak flavor I've found is in El Dorado 15 year old Reserve Special. French Oak is finer grained and generally instills less oak flavor compared to American oak found in most whiskey barrels.

Edward Hamilton

Ministry of Rum.com

The Complete Guide to Rum

When I dream up a better job, I'll take it.

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