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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Tags: rum, rum reviews, cocktails, maui gold
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thanks for writing about this nice rum. we like to drink it here in Maui.
we always try to pair with the wonderful flavorful tropical fruits from these islands.
we’ve tried limes and other local citrus and even guavas…kind of along the old sailors recipe = 1 part sour, 2 parts sweet, 3 parts strong and 4 parts weak. maybe a little less sweet..
tonight i tried a pina colada which worked fairly well, although i missed the acid.
i used fresh pineapple not juice and both the cream and coconut milk from a can as unfortunately i had no fresh coconut 🙁
i’d love to learn about fruity combinations others may have tried.
bye for now,