As you and I continue our August Spotlight on Old New Orleans Rum, we come to the first product in their line of offerings, the Old New Orleans Crystal Rum. I say first because I have to start somewhere; and after the distillery tour, why not start with the most basic of any company’s rum: their white / blanco / crystal / plantinum / claro / blanc…you get the idea.
The crystal rum is created by distilling blackstrap molasses produced from Louisiana sugar cane. Out of the still, the rum is blended and combined with the of a few drops of water per bottle, bringing it down to the somewhat standard 80 proof (40% abv). Madagascar vanilla is also added to the batch to provide some smoothness and additional flavor to the product (about 1 cup of vanilla per batch).
The rum is produced in small batches – as are all the Old New Orleans rums. In fact, only 500 gallons are produced at a time. This affords the small cadre of rum fanatics at Celebration Distillation a great deal of control over the final product.
The bottle for the Crystal is the standard Old New Orleans bottle, with a white label on the front, and their trademark artwork on the back-interior. The artwork appears on every bottle of Old New Orleans Rum, regardless of the offering, and is actually created by the owner and founder of Celebration Distillation and Old New Orleans Rum, James Michalopoulos – who is probably better-known for his work as a painter and artist than as the entrepreneur behind a line of New Orleans-produced rums. OK, perhaps not to the frequent readers of this site…but I’m sure there are people out there that follow art more closely than rum. To each their own I guess.
The rum, both in the bottle and in the glass, is nearly crystal clear. There is a slight yellow hue to it when you hold the glass up to the light. Giving my glass its ceremonial swirl reveals decent legs that run down the sides of the glass and back in to the bowl.
I was very excited to get to this review because I was doing so with a brand new tasting glass. I recently received the Flare sipper from Spirit Sippers. I decided to use this review to compare it and my usual non-specialized tasting glass. There will be more on this in a future piece, but I figured I should mention that I’ve changed part of my review process by using an additional glass type.
The Crystal Rum has a strong vanilla note on the nose – which is to be expected. The vanilla is quickly followed by the scent of toasted sugar, and then the familiar scent of alcohol vapor. The alcohol scent is fairly mild, but expected in a white rum due to the short aging period.
All in all the nose is fairly simple, but very pleasant and rich.
And now to the best part: the tippilng. The entry is very sweet and sugary. The initial flavor is sweet enough to almost be a syrup, especially in combination with the buttery texture to the body. The rum is very rich, with vanilla and toffee flavors all the way through to the finish. The burn is minimal…almost non-existent. Just like the nose, the rum is very pleasant. I wouldn’t consider it to be an “every day” sipper, but it is definitely a spirit that you could drink neat or on the rocks – and that’s not something I say very often about white rums.
In fact, the only other white rum I can think of that I’ve enjoyed this much neat is probably Oronoco from Brazil – although the flavor profiles are stunningly different. Whereas the Oronoco is a light and refreshing spirit, the Old New Orleans Crystal seems to cling tightly to its Louisiana culinary heritage with a rich and buttery texture. It’s a completely different experience.
This difference in body is really intriguing. Based on the heaviness of the body, the rum didn’t strike me as ideal for a daiquiri. Still, I made one up and tried it out. It’s a very different drink with the New Orleans Crystal. Heavier, richer…not terms you generally associate with a daiquiri. At first this difference was a little off-putting, but with some additional lime and slightly less sugar on my second glass, I found a mix that was just terrific. I’d recommend that any cocktail that calls for sugar and white rum should have the sugar portion reduced if using the New Orleans Crystal – you just won’t need it.
The Long & The Short Of It
Maybe I’m going soft in my old age…but I really enjoyed this white rum. I did. Not that I don’t like white rums at all, but I very rarely find one that really captures me. The Old New Orleans Crystal has a unique flavor profile that I can only call “intriguing”. It’s sweet – perhaps too sweet for some – but very good and very full-bodied. And at less than $30US per bottle, its combination of quality and affordability make it a bottle that you really should have on your shelf.
Dood’s Rating: 4 Bottles of Rum Out of 5
Dood’s Other Rum Reviews