Maui Gold Rum

by Matt Robold on March 16, 2009

Rum is always considered a tropical spirit.  Generally when people think about rum their thoughts take them immediately to the Caribbean – to islands like Jamaica, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.  Rum, however, is a truly global spirit, produced anywhere people have access to sugar cane or its byproducts.

Distilled, blended, and bottled by Haleakala Distillers, Maui Gold Rum is an American-produced rum.  The name is no marketing ploy: Maui Rum is produced on Maui, using molasses made from cane sugar produced on the same island (hence the name).  The small, family-owned distillery (the only rum distillery on Maui) is headed by one “Braddah Kimo” – whose name adorns the overproof varietals offered by Haleakala.

The Maui Gold is bottled at 80 proof (40% abv) and comes in a very plain, clear bottle.  The label is very ordinary – a detail that Haleakala Distillers says is driven by their goal of focusing their effort on what goes in to the bottle rather than what’s on the outside.  I can hardly fault them for that.  To be honest, I don’t care if your rum comes in an old shoe if it is actually a quality product inside.  A 750mL bottle of the Maui Gold retails for around $30US.

Appearances

Poured into the glass, the spirit has a pale, amber color to it.  Giving the glass a swirl and then watching allows you to catch the legs forming in thick bands that travel in a honey-like manner down the sides of the glass.

Nose

The first notes detected on the nose are those of toasted sugar.  The is a slight  grassiness to the rum, followed by notes of cinnamon before the alcohol begins to burn the senses a bit.  The rum hasn’t been aged a great deal, so it can be a challenge to explore the spirit before the notes of alcohol overwhelm the rest of the nose.

Palate

The entry is somewhat bittersweet, with a caramel mid-palate.  There is a bit of spiciness at the finish.  I was expecting more of a burn in the throat based on the dominance of the alcohol vapor in the nose, but there is relatively little burn to be found.  This rum is quite smooth, although I did find a bit of a chemical aftertaste to it when sipped neat.

The body is very light, with a nice, oily quality to it.  This oily sensation on the tongue seems to linger after the rum has already been swallowed, and lends a bit to the chemical sensation at the finish.  While the rum is fairly smooth, I wouldn’t classify it as a sipping rum by any means.  The mixing possibilities, on the other hand, intrigued me.

Mixing

Having spent some time with Maui Gold Rum by itself, I needed to move on to putting it into some cocktails.  As I mentioned before, it didn’t strike me as a sipper, but as a general mixing gold rum, there seemed to be some great possibilities.  Mai Tais sprung to mind immediately (try paring it with something like Depaz or El Dorado 5 Year Old for your rum combination).  The Gold also works quite well with ginger beer and a dash of bitters with a twist of lime.

I wanted to experiment a bit to see what other kinds of drinks I could come up with, and started using the Maui Gold Rum in a drink I had had kicking around in the back of my head for a while.

Bittersweet Kiss

1.5 oz Rum
.5 oz Apricot Brandy
.5 oz Lemon Juice
.25 oz Simple Syrup
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

Shake all ingredients with ice and then strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist.

This is essentially a Honi Honi with simple and bitters added.  Since “honi” is Hawaiian for “kiss,” and I had both sweetened and embittered the drink, the “Bittersweet Kiss” just seemed like an appropriate name.

The drink has a pronounced tartness that gives way to a little bit of depth from the Peychaud’s.  It’s very light and refreshing, and I imagine that it would be a wonderful drink to sip while sitting in a chair on the beach in Maui – although I have yet to be able to test this theory.  Please forward any interest you may have in helping me achieve such a test.

The Long & The Short Of It

In the Maui Gold Rum, Haleakala Distillers have produced a nice gold rum for mixing in cocktails.  While it has some rough edges that prevent it from being a sipping rum, those rougher parts do not prevent it from standing out in well-made drinks.  I don’t know that I would make this my well rum over something like Appleton Estate V/X or Mount Gay Eclipse – both of which have a little more spice and a little more depth-of-character – but I certainly wouldn’t turn my nose up at the idea of having a few cocktails made with it.

About the only real negative I see with the rum is its price.  At $30 for 750mL, there are simply better deals available out there for rums of equal or better quality.  The inflated price-point leaves me in a bit of a bind for the rating, but I generally try to stick to rating quality rather than value.

Dood’s Rating: 3 Barrels of Rum Out of 5

Dood’s Other Rum Reviews

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