Tommy Bahama White Sands

by Matt Robold on April 22, 2010

Post image for Tommy Bahama White Sands

Tommy Bahama is a brand that seems to permeate the island/beach lifestyle. Overpriced silk shirts, cargo shorts and even sunglasses and watches combine with expensive straw hats and decor to allow people to look snazzy on their yachts or on their cruise ships. It’s sort of the Nike of islandwear.

When I first discovered they had their own rum, I’ll admit that I was less than interested. A white rum in an incredibly heavy and expensive bottle made by a company that’s well-known for its high prices and its faux island lifestyle didn’t really appeal to me. There are already plenty of rums that are well-known for their low prices and faux island lifestyle. I didn’t need a pricey, fake rum like Tommy Bahama.

It turns out I didn’t know what I was missing.

What I didn’t know was that Tommy Bahama Rum was anything but fake rum.Tommy Bahama White Sands rum is actually made at Foursquare Distillery in Barbados by none-other than Richard Seale.  Indeed the same man responsible for R.L. Seale, Foursquare Spiced Rum, and John D. Taylor Velvet Falernum – all fantastic, quality products – designed and crafted the rums for Tommy Bahama.

White Sands is a molasses-based rum that is aged for two years in used bourbon casks before being filtered (to remove color) and then bottled at 80 proof (40% abv).  It’s a product that, as I eventually discovered, Richard Seale is very proud of and equally passionate about.

Appearances

The rum lives up to its White Sands name by being a crystal clear rum.  There are no traces of greens or browns from time in the barrel whatsoever.  Swirled in the glass, the rum forms thick, heavy legs that last for a good long while.

Nose

My first whiff of the rum revealed immediate notes of sugar and vanilla.  The aroma itself seems to have a rich quality to it that follows an initial crispness.

Coconut and a floral scent that I couldn’t quite place follow the expected sugar and vanilla smells very nicely before just a hint of the alcohol makes itself known.  The rum smells clean, crisp, and ready to mix.

Palate

The initial entry is sugary-sweet with a hint of the coconut that was evident on the nose.  There’s a sugary crispness on the entry that gives way to a light yet buttery midpalate with a very nice vanilla flavor on the tongue.

I found the finish of the rum particularly interesting.  White Sands has an almost sour and salty finish to it that leaves your mouth feeling very clean after each sip rather than leaving you smacking your lips feeling like you have a mouth full of butter.  It’s a very interesting transition that I found strangely appealing in a sort of “Wow, that’s unexpected and interesting!  I would like to subscribe to your newsletter!” kind of way.

I was very pleasantly surprised by how clean and comfortable this rum was.  There was no burning harshness of cheap alcohol or flavorless white-washing of the spirit to make it little more than molasses-based vodka.  This is rum, and one that I could probably sip neat with no qualms whatsoever – but its real strength comes with mixing.

Mixing

Suggested Drinks:

  • Daiquiri
  • Papa Doble
  • Mojito
  • Santiago Rose

Let’s see…a clean, flavorful white rum without harsh edges or domineering flavors.  I’m at a loss as to what classic rum cocktails this wouldn’t work in.

Tommy Bahama White Sands has become a regular star in a variety of drinks in my kitchen.  My first bottle was eliminated in 3 days of Daiquiris, Mojitos, Papa Dobles (aka Hemingway Daiquiris), and Bacardi Cocktails Santiago Roses.  It works beautifully with lime and sugar – just like rum should – and shines equally well in a Cuba Libre or a punch.

If you’re going to get started with a good rum though, you just can’t go wrong with a Daiquiri.

daiquiri_boxedDaiquiri

2 oz Rum
.75 oz Lime Juice
.25 oz Simple Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Long & The Short of It

Tommy Bahama White Sands is not a cheap knock-off of rum being shoved into an expensive bottle and sold for a ton of money in the hopes that you’ll buy it to fit the lifestyle you’re being sold.  It’s a high quality white rum that, if anything, suffers from an image problem with the connoisseur crowd because of its association with its own brand.

Tommy Bahama likes to call this a “super premium” white rum.  That’s a marketing gimmick that goes back to the reasons behind the low expectations and initially inflated prices.  Don’t be fooled, this is a great rum – and recently it’s become a great and affordable rum here in the US.

When I first tried Tommy Bahama White Sands it was selling in the US for $30 or more.  I remarked to more than one person that there was nothing wrong with the rum but the price.  Recently that price has come down to the point that a 750mL bottle can be had for LESS THAN $20.  At that price it would be a sin not to get a fantastic rum that gives you good reason to slaughter whole lime groves in your neverending thirst for daiquiris and their close cousins.

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

Question of the Day:

What rums have pleasantly surprised you?

This site accepts samples for review. Please review our Policies & Disclaimers

{ 16 comments }

Brian April 22, 2010 at 9:51 am

wow, I’m really surprised about this review – I’ve passed over that bottle many, many times. Perhaps I somehow have ‘Tommy Bahama’ mingled with ‘Jimmy Buffet’ in my head.

BTW – for any Seattleite rumophiles out there: WSLCB#101 now appears to carry (possibly on a regular basis?) Clement Rhum Vieux Agricole VSOP (and at least one other Clement) so you can *finally* make RumDood’s “Best Mai Tai Ever” or whatever it was called. That combined with the Appleton. Yes, it really is That Good. ;)

Colin April 22, 2010 at 11:16 am

I think I was most surprised by Depaz. I just picked it up because I had never heard of it and wanted to try something new, but I never expected it to be as good as it is. It rivals La Favorite and Clement if you ask me. A ‘Ti Punch with Depaz is about as good as it gets, although I ran out before it occurred to me to try it in a Mai Tai, any good?

Paul April 22, 2010 at 12:12 pm

I, too, was pleasantly surprised by this rum. I picked it up in a gift pack mainly for the tiki mug that came with it, so I wasn’t expecting much. I agree: it definitely was overpriced at introduction. And as I write this, I am wearing a knock-off Tommy Bahama shirt… :)

DJ HawaiianShirt April 23, 2010 at 10:39 am

I bought this stuff when it was in the upper 20′s in terms of price and thought it wasn’t worth it. If it were under 20 bucks here, I would buy it, but it’s still in the mid 20′s. :(

Mel Ricke April 24, 2010 at 5:58 am

I like most Americans, am a victim of marketing and a poor diet. I’m too portly to fit into any of TB clothes to join the other clowns wearing table cloth patterned shorts with a pair of mandals. Oh yeah I’m from Fla. too. Never wore those things and never will either. My feet are too ugly to expose them to others. A courtesy I show to the rest of the world.
That being said, I have consumed a few bottles of TB rum. I don’t have the palate to distinguish certain flavors from one another. I judge it by how much I paid for it, appearance in the bottle, and overall flavor. In my opinion, TB makes an agreeable rum that , similar to the people who wear their clothes, lacks identity and soul. It doesn’t have a sassy burn, or a an outstanding flaw. Lacking any distinguishing characteristics other than the shape of the bottle and the line of clothes it’s associated with, I find TB rum mainly forgettable, and parked beside my next bottle of Pyrat at the local liquor store.

With all my hate and disdain for TB not making clothes in 3X,
Mel Ricke (not so refined consumer of rum)

On my shelf:
Ron Zacapa Centenario
Pyrat XO
Captain Morgan Private Stock

Mistahunter April 24, 2010 at 6:57 am

White Sands is one of my favorite white rums (along with MG Silver Eclipse).

I like her darker cousin too…

The rum that has surprised me the most for good reasons is Bacardi 8. It is a quality and versatile rum that I enjoy straight and mixed. I don’t expect much from Bacardi products.

The rum that has surprised for the wrong reasons was Sea Wynde…after several attempts to find a use for it…it went down the drain. It doesn’t get clogged anymore…

JMGIII April 24, 2010 at 1:52 pm

I must chime in to echo the pleasant surprise that was/is Bacardi 8, and my opinion of Bacardi products, in general, is so low it cannot be measured.

Haven’t tried the TB White Sands, but might give it a whirl, if I can catch it at a price competitive with Cruzan (my go-to white rum).

Matt Robold April 26, 2010 at 7:04 am

Colin: Depaz is great in a Mai Tai when mixed with a good Jamaican like Appleton 12.

Mel: Compared to something like Pyrat or Zacapa, TB White is going to seem very mellow, but to my way of thinking that’s what a good white is for: to be subtle and blend into a drink rather than owning it. If you’re a fan of very strongly flavored whites, I think you might really enjoy the agricole blancs or maybe Montanya Platino. Those all tend to be much more hearty and forward.

Mista & JMGII: Totally agree on Bacardi 8. I think that the proponents of good drinking tend to discount Bacardi as not producing anything good, but the Bacardi 8 has a flavor profile that is almost Jamaican or Guyanese – a real difference from the typical Spanish/Puerto Rican style.

Sunny&Rummy April 26, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Yep, another Bacardi 8 fan here. Hard to believe a company that can make something as good as that can put out the rest of the drek they do and not be totally ashamed by it.

Sunny&Rummy April 26, 2010 at 1:46 pm

And I see some more Sea Wynde hate in the thread. Those early batches must have been really bad for so many knowledgeable rum folks to dislike the product so intensely. I tried it for the first time this Christmas when I got a bottle in my stocking and I adore it. So much of the great Jamaican pot still flavors running through this I know it’s not the same product so many folks hold in such low regard.

My worry is that once this bottle is gone (sadly soon) it sounds like it will be a total crap shoot as to whether the replacement bottle will be the good stuff or the bad stuff.

Mistahunter April 27, 2010 at 9:40 am

I do like the pot still flavor profile…I just don’t think that Sea Wynde captured it.

Two other pot-still rums that I am really enjoying now are Mount Gilboa (Barbados) and Smith and Cross (Jamaica).

I picked up the Mount Gilboa on vacation in Barbados last year and I am savoring the bottle as much as possible. Matt put me on to Smith and Cross in one of his posts. It is excellent!!!

Sunny&Rummy April 27, 2010 at 10:07 am

I finally came into a bottle of Smith and Cross last week as well, and it has exceeded my high expectations!

JJ Westlake May 4, 2010 at 3:46 pm

It is a surprisingly good rum saddled with cynical expectations from having a designer label. Their attempt to command a $30+ price kept me from trying it, but thanks to a holiday gift I put it in the rotation. Since then the price has come down considerably (about $18/750ml in my area) and because they are clearancing the 1.75 for only $19.99 – I’ve added both the white and gold in my cabinet. I guess it pays to sip before you skip the label…

Matt Browner Hamlin May 7, 2010 at 10:22 am

I was really surprised by the quality of TB White too. I never would have bought it and was lucky enough to get a sample that really surprised me and blew away my expectations.

Trip D June 24, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Really dig this rum, even though it’s a light rum. It’s like drinking liquid sugar. I guess that’s how I judge my whites , harsh and barely palatable (Bacardi silver) and pure sugar… ie… Oronoco, Appleton white and now Tommy bahama. Good job. No wonder, it is from Barbados. I believe that they make the best, no matter what.. White, gold, dark, aged.

LL cool G September 1, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Started drinking after spirit store owner gave me a bottle. Asked for a price on a case and was so surprised I got three. Have been a fan since and our party people have picked up on it as well. MUST HAVE WELL OVER 150 EMPTIES WITH L.E.D. LIGHTS ON SHELF IN OUR WATERFRONT TIKI HUT. Great place to hang in Stuart ,Fl. Stop by if your in town and have a cool one. G P.S. if you can get a hold of that sammy hagar rum bring it. Would love to try that Hawian stuff. (not sold in Fl.)

Previous post:

Next post: