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.
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.
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.
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.
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