Brugal Extra Viejo

by Matt Robold on July 23, 2009

The Dominican Republic is home to a number of wonderful rums.  One of their best-known producers is Brugal, whose Siglo de Oro has already been reviewed here.

A few months ago I was asked to pen an article for Cigar Snob Magazine and give some thoughts on various rums.  One of the initial rums requested was Brugal Extra Viejo.  Unfortunately, at the time, the Extra Viejo wasn’t available in the US.  I mentioned the lack of domestic supply in the article and went about my business.  Imagine my delight when I received an email not too long after the article was published, informing me that Brugal had just started exporting the blend of rums aged up to 8 years to the US and that a bottle was on my way!

The bottle is covered with Brugal’s hallmark gold netting.  The white “BRUGAL” is emblazoned against a blue background, and just below that you can read Extra Viejo.  Be very careful if you go to buy this in a store.  Make sure you read the label carefully, as the “Extra Viejo” instead of “Anejo” is the only noticeable difference between the two offerings.

Appearances

In the glass, Brugal’s Extra Viejo (viejo is Spanish for old, so this rum is essentially Extra Old) is a dark cherrywood color.  It’s legs are very strong and thick, barely moving down the sides of your glass.

Nose

The first notes to tickle your nose are those of vanilla.  The vanilla notes are very forward and really dominate the first few sniffs.  Vanilla gives way to notes of cocoa and leather.  At the back of the nose is an oaky scent that lingers for a bit.  There is a cool feeling to the end of the nose as opposed to the warmer notes at the beginning.  The experience is not unlike walking from sunlight into the shade.

Palate

On the first sip, the texture of the Extra Viejo almost overwhelms the actual flavor.  This rum has a heavy body.  It’s strong viscosity makes it feel almost syrupy but not quite.  It’s a very interesting and altogether pleasant experience, although I found as I sipped my way through the glass I began wishing for it to be either heavier or lighter rather than it’s somewhat “in-between” state.  Of course, a single cube of ice or a few drops of water fixes that problem right away.

The entry is sweet, with the vanilla and cocoa up front.  Right behind the sweeter entry notes the midpalate brings much more earthy flavors of leather and coffee along with just the slightest hint of apple.  The finish has strong oaky flavors and is smooth and clean, with just a tiny flourish of spice at the very end.  There is almost no burn in the throat or chest.

Adding a single ice cube and letting the rum sit and open up for a minute or two brings the coffee and cocoa to the forefront of the palate and all but eliminates the spice at the back.  The oak remains fairly pronounced along with the notes of leather.

Mixing

There was a time when I wrote these reviews and didn’t include cocktails to try.  Oh the folly of youth.  Brugal Extra Viejo is something of an odd duck when you sit down to mix it.  It has the rather unique viscosity, as well as a very interesting mix of sweet and earthy notes.  The first drinks that came to mind were a Rum Old Fashioned or a mule of some sort.  Then again, I just came back from Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans and had just participated in a Thursday Drink Night that had been themed “New Orleans.”

Victorian House Cocktail

2 oz Aged Rum
1 oz Rye Whiskey
.25 oz Green Chartreuse
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 sugar cube

Fill a double-old-fasioned glass with ice and set aside.  In another double old fashioned glass, drop the sugar cube and then soak in 2 dashes of Peychaud’s. Crush the cube with a muddler or the flat end of your barspoon.

Add whiskey, rum, and chartreuse and stir briefly to help dissolve the sugar. Add ice and stir until the glass is well-chilled.

Dump ice from the first glass and strain the cocktail from the second glass into the first using a julep strainer and then use an orange peel twist.

This was my own submission for TDN, and it earned me an Honorable Mention (always the bridesmaid, never the bride) in the write-up of the evening.  One participant described the drink as a Rum Old Fashioned crossed with a Sazerac.  I’ve been debating adding a rinse of Green Chartreuse to the drink, but so far I’m very happy with it as-is.  The rum and chartreuse give the drink a good depth while the rye and bitters combine to give it a nice spicy finish.  For a little added depth, try using a demerara sugar cube instead of a regular one.

The Long And The Short Of It

I’ll admit that I was very excited to get this rum and it didn’t disappoint.  My socks were not blown off, but in the Extra Viejo Brugal is giving the market a great, versatile rum that can be enjoyed neat or in a cocktail. Extra Viejo can be had for a mere $25 for 750mL here in the US and pairs wonderfully with a good cigar or a just a single ice cube and a book.

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

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{ 12 comments }

G. July 24, 2009 at 4:19 pm

It is a shame that this is one of the few Dominican rums that can be found in the U.S.

In the D.R., extra viejo is the better of the Brugals (or “Brutal”) as it is known, but in general Brugal is a cheaper brand of rum.

I would suggest trying to find Macorix Ocho Año or Barcelo Imperial or Gran Añejo. They are far superior Dominican rums, and I know that at least a couple of them can be found in NYC, as there tend to be many Dominicans in that locale.

Matt Robold July 24, 2009 at 5:19 pm

I think that the rums available from the DR are improving. Barcelo Imperial is a great rum – one of my frequent sippers. You have Atlantico now as well. I haven’t seen Macroix Ocho yet, but I’ll keep an eye out for it!

monty09 August 1, 2009 at 7:25 pm

ive recently jst cum bk from the dominican wich is a great country.i tasted ther brugel rum n loved it specialy extra vejo so ive brought 5litres bk widme nycest rum eva definitly b goin bk for anuder holiday wen the rum runs out haha

Edoc November 24, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Be sure to check out Vizcaya as well. That is one of the tastiest rums I’ve ever tried.

BNB June 11, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Brugal is best when mixed with coke and two cubes of ice. I don’t drink this rum straight…but no matter the price and what people say for whatever reason is one of my favorites.

Capn Jimbo's Rum Project August 10, 2010 at 6:06 am

… Nice review Dood. At The Rum Project (link above) we’ve reviewed over 120 rums – honestly – and have to tell you that the Brugals are unique. More than one reviewer – including Sue Sea and moi – have noted a peculiar musty cork aroma (and taste).
… At first we thought this might have to do with a bad cork, but then we retasted all our Brugals (Anejo, Extra) and a couple other Dominicans with the same result. To the point that we are considering whether this is common enough to define a “Dominican style” (to join the other four major styles of rum).
… The effect is that noticeable. But don’t get me wrong, not in a bad way – Extra Viejo is very nice – but in a noticeable way. We are re-reviewing the EV tonight and I invite all to stop by the forum (linked) and see what we come up with this time…

JaRiMi September 15, 2010 at 9:31 am

Good bang for your buck, as the saying goes, even if it isn’t earth-moving. A very nice & decent Dominican rum.

Nelgen March 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I’m dominican and this rum it’s too strong but right now brugal has change some of their’s rum like Brugal blanco ( white brugal) their still too heavy but have imporved

Greg August 13, 2011 at 4:35 pm

We were buying our limit of rum to take on board our cruise ship when someone suggested I try this Brugal Extra Viejo rum. For the price, I was expecting much at all. How wrong was I ?
I’m one who drinks it straight with ice and I agree with the review and the comment about the cork aroma and taste.
Here’s hoping I can find this rum stateside. A bargain with price and a smooth tasting treat. Highly recommended !!

Carlos September 6, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Thank you for the review, I found it very interesting as it is the first review that I find and read.
This rum is very good. So much so that this is my go-to rum when it’s time to pamper myself at home with rum. I sip it straight up out of my tasting glass, as I strongly believe that adding ice to it greatly hampers the spirit and flavors and turns it stale and mixing it totally ruins the experience. You might as well spare this one and mix with some other lower caliber rum.
This rum is a very smooth sipper that yields mellow and happy effects and will not put you to sleep when drinked within your limits.
A very good treat if you throw at rums from time to time.

Irma November 16, 2011 at 10:07 am

Several years ago I was given a bottle of Brugal Anejo, Extra Viejo. I stored it standing upright (not on its side) but I never opened it (it is still “wrapped” in a yellow “fishnet” covering). Today I noticed that about 1/4 of the liquid has disappeared (the bottle isn’t full anymore). Is this normal, is the rum still safe to drink? Thanks for your help.

Mike Weiler July 19, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Brugal has TCA methinks. I just opened a bottle of the Extra Viejo which is quite delicious but should be deliciouser. That musty smell is unavoidable to a trained nose and my nose is trained to detect it in wine but it absolutely jumped out at me when I first nosed this Rum. The smell of wet cardboard or newspaper is the hallmark of this taint. Not having a cork in the bottle confuses me though. Can anyone enlighten me on the aging process, do the barrels have an actual cork in the bunghole? Is it possible to taint an entire barrel of spirits with TCA if that cork is tainted? If so Brugal needs to find a new cork producer. Love this Rum but think it would be exceptional without the taint.

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