El Dorado 15 Year Old

by Matt Robold on January 29, 2009

The El Dorado line of rums hails from the South American country of Guyana.  The name is a nod to the mythical city of gold that Spanish and Portuguese explorers often lost their lives trying to find during the early colonial era.

El Dorado is the flagship product of Demerara Distillers Ltd., the sole rum producer in Guyana.  The company shares its name with the Demerara river, along the banks of which a long-standing sugarcane industry has operated since the 16th Century.  Like the rest of the Caribbean, where sugar was produced, rum production was sure to follow, and the Demerara style rums produced along the river of the same name were highly prized as part of the blend of rums used in the British Royal Navy’s own rum that was distributed to its sailors.

The El Dorado 15 Year Old Rum is a blend of Demerara rums ranging in age from 15 years to 25 years.  Rums are aged in oak casks, and then blended by the master blender to achieve a consistent flavor.  El Dorado 15 has received numerous awards over the years, including the highly coveted Wray and Nephew Trophy in 1998, and several gold medals. 

Appearances

Pouring the rum from the green bottle and into the glass reveals a darkly colored spirit.  The color is not quite black, but rather a deep mahogany.

Nose

A quick whiff from the glass and your senses are wrapped in notes of cherry, orange, and vanilla.  There’s a smokey quality to the rum – a characteristic very common among Demerara rums – as well as a slight grassy note at the top.  Diving deeper into the nose you can find aromas of toasted sugar and almonds.  The nose is deep, complex, and powerful…intoxicating all on its own.  Your nose tingles and your mouth waters.

Palate

A sweet, sugary entry is followed by flavors of vanilla and cocoa.  There’s a touch of dried cherries at the mid-palate and finish, with smokey top notes.  The finish is smokey and sweet, with a return of the vanilla flavor.

On the tongue the rum is fairly light, but with a good body and texture.  The body is slightly oily which lends a nice, velvety feeling to a rich and savory rum.

Mixing

El Dorado 15 needs no mixers.  This rum is strongly flavored – smokey and sweet, with deep, complex notes that consume all of your senses.  Of course, not needing mixers and not mixing are two different concepts…and not needing a mixer has never stopped me from mixing before.

Jasper’s Jamaican Cocktail

1.25 oz El Dorado 15 Year Old
.5 oz St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
.5 oz Lime Juice
.5 tsp Simple Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Dust with a pinch of fresh nutmeg.

While Jeff Berry’s recipe doesn’t specifically call for El Dorado, I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t work beautifully in this drink.  The richness plays perfectly with the spices in the dram and the tartness of the lime.  You could probably omit the simple altogether without hurting the drink, although I haven’t tried that yet.

The Long & The Short Of It

I’m a huge fan of Demerara style rums.  I love their depth and character, the smokey notes that play so wonderfully in cocktails.  The El Dorado 15 is an incredibly versatile rum.  It is simultaneously a wonderful sipping rum and a boon to any drink you may want to mix that needs that strong, complex character that it brings.  Like the Appleton Estate V/X, if you are trying to build a rum shelf of your own, this is a rum who’s absence from that shelf would be inexcusable.

Dood’s Rating: 4 Barrels of Rum Out of 5

For another perspective on El Dorado 15, be sure to check out Silvio’s review at Refined Vices

Dood’s Other Rum Reviews

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{ 8 comments }

Tiare January 29, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Yeah…this is my favorite rum of all rums and has been in over than 15 years. And oddly enough, this is actually on of my earlier rums too. You have described it perfectly.

Matt Robold January 29, 2009 at 9:25 pm

I love this rum so much. When Hi Time ran out and I couldn’t find it anywhere for 2 weeks, I wanted to lock myself in my room and cry…although I think instead I just opened my bottle of El Dorado 21 Year Old…

Capn Jimbo January 29, 2009 at 10:23 pm

Mr Dood, it’s fair to say the El Dorado line is pretty hard to beat. And of course we hear about the 12, 15, 21 and gulp, beyond. But I can’t say enough about the 5 year.

This much overlooked rum gets short shrift, for what reason I know not. Sue Sea and I did a smackdown with the 5 – 12 – 15, and surprise! The 5 year won! I kid you not…

Stevieboy February 7, 2009 at 1:23 am

Got a bottle of the 15 y/o in Mexico and have been seduced by it. Smooth vanilla and soft spice with a nice thick mouth makes this a new fave sipper. almost as good as the Brabancourt 15

Will March 1, 2009 at 7:08 am

This is my favorite rum as well. It’s a perfect sipper; balanced and complex. Amazing, nutty nose not unlike fine cognac or port. Rich notes of tobacco, coffee beans and maple syrup on the palate. And the sublime, lingering, musky dark chocolate El Dorado finish, unlike any other spirit I’ve tasted. As long as they produce it, this rum will NEVER leave my shelf.

David John April 30, 2011 at 2:42 am

My fav rum. And the main ingredient in my preferred cocktail as well.
Mix it with sugarcane syrup, a dash creole bitter, fresh lime juice and add club soda if you like. Served in an old fashioned glass with plenty of ice. Really brings out the sweet-and-smoked quality in this rum.

Shaun Robson November 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm

only rating FOUR out of FIVE ?!?

granted nothing is “perfection”, EL DORADO 15 is about as close as you can hope to get in a rum.

absolutely LOVE the stuff !

minor quibble though …

a couple of times the cork in my new bottle of EL DORADO rum has crumbled and broken when I opened the bottle — once, bad luck. twice, there’s something amiss with the corking process.

has anyone else had the same problem ?

Matt Robold November 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Hi Shaun,

I calls’em like I see’em. The 15 is fantastic, but the 12 is more interesting in my humble opinion. As for the cork, I’ve lost several corks in the ED15. It’s a MENACE I tell you.

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