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