Rum is a spirit that, for the most part, lacks strong definitions and guidelines.
Many people see this as a weakness of the category. With the exception of Rhum Agricole in Martinique, you really don’t have standard rules as to how rum is made, aged or bottled. On the one hand this means that you can have a harder time figuring out who’s doing what. On the other hand, this creates an environment that is ripe for experimentation.
While most aged rums are aged solely in used bourbon casks, several rum makers have been experimenting with finishing their rums in other types of wood, like used sherry casks. At the forefront of this movement are the Dos Maderas rums.
Dos Maderas PX is produced by Williams & Humbert, a Spanish company famous for its sherry (big surprise), table wines and brandies. The rum is produced by blending rums sourced from Barbados and Guyana, which is interesting on it’s own as one would normally assume that a Spanish company would source Spanish-style rums instead of English or Demerara style rums.
After the rums are blended together they are put into used bourbon casks as is customary for pretty much all aged rums. After five years of aging in oak in the Caribbean the rums are removed from the barrels and the real wrinkle is introduced. The rum is sent off to Spain to spend another five years aging in casks that had previously been used to age 20-year-old Dos Cortados and Don Guido sherries.
Both in the bottle and in the glass the PX is a dark mahogany color. While the liquid is being poured or swirled in a glass, very nice gold highlights make for a very pretty picture that a photographer more skilled than I could probably do justice. The legs that form in the glass are heavy and thick.
Five years spent in a sherry cask are bound to have an effect on a spirit, and in the case of Dos Maderas PX that effect is pronounced at the outset. The nose begins with a strong cherry note along with toasted sugar. There’s an almost velvety quality to the nose. I know it sounds weird to say that a scent can be evocative of a more tactile sensation, but it’s true.
Beyond the cherry and caramel are notes of almond and banana with a trace of orange peel and nutmeg at the very end. You’re left expecting a rich, luxurious experience.
Cherry is the first note on the nose, and the entry of the Dos Maderas follows suit. A velvety smooth, slightly sweet cherry entry gives way to caramel and cocoa on the midpalate. The rum finishes very smoothly with almond and vanilla flavors and leaves lingering notes of orange, cherry and spice on the tongue.
The PX is very smooth and an incredibly easy sipper. Time in sherry casks definitely lends a complexity and uniqueness to the rum. If you didn’t know you were drinking rum, you might not guess it. Depending on the drinker and their mood, that can be either a good thing or a bad thing…but mostly a good thing.
One thing that may suffer as a result of such a departure from typical rums is the use of Dos Maderas PX in classic rum cocktails. Most rums don’t have the same sorts of flavors playing out through the palate that Dos Maderas does, and since rum cocktails are generally created to suit typical rum characteristics, the Dos Maderas can be challenging to use in drinks like Daiquiris or Mojitos.
That isn’t to say that it doesn’t work in those drinks at all. A little tweaking and experimentation can make this rum and those drinks pair wonderfully for a change-up, but they won’t be what you typically expect.
The boldness of the flavors in the Dos Maderas means that it can really punch through other ingredients, and therefore makes it a perfect rum to use in flips. Used in Eggnog or Milk Punch, the rum can express itself through the dairy and spices in a fantastic fashion. If you’re looking for something more summery and refreshing though, you may have found one of the few rums that I really like in a Dry Palmetto.
Further experimentation and research lead me to the Havana Club Cocktail which is similar to the Palmetto but with a 2:1 ratio of rum to vermouth and no bitters. Even better! Of course I had to tinker with that and added two dashes of orange bitters.
Modified Havana Club Cocktail
2 oz Gold Rum
1 oz Dry Vermouth
2 dashes Orange Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
The Long & The Short Of It
Dos Maderas PX is an incredibly unique and satisfying rum. Its departure from the expected in the world of aged rums can catch you a little off-guard, but once over the initial shock of “This is rum? Really?” you find that it’s hard to keep the glass from your lips.
Rum purists may find this quality a little off-putting, and when you crave RUM you may not reach for it first, but on the occasions that something a little different is what you crave, you’ll find yourself reaching for the Dos Maderas PX first, second and several other times as it is an incredible sipper that matches well with a good cigar or standing up to be noticed in a cocktail.
Dood’s Rating: 4 Bottles of Rum Out of 5
Question of the Day:
What other unorthodox rums do you like to drink?
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