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One individual barrel, bottled uncut and unfiltered. Aged for a minimum 8 years in ex-bourbon American White Oak barrels, with some barrels that previously held sherry. This exemplifies the full spirit of Grander.
Gold Medal, 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
93 Points, 2018 Ultimate Spirits Challenge
Finalist, 2018 Ultimate Spirits Challenge
Tasty, but not quite great
Nose of caramel and brown sugar, palate is very intense with banana and clove. I have not had many examples of this style but this is by far the most interesting yet, though I do like this ones older sibling the 12 year.
I wouldn't really rate this as a 10, probably an 8, but I feel the need to bring up the only other (ridiculously low) rating given by another who seems to like extremely sweet adulterated rums.
I had been not too pleased with Grander's 8 Year and 12 year rums, so I let this one sit on the shelf for a very long time before doling out only $30 for it. I favored the two really good reviews from those whom I respect. I ignored the two bad reviews. Had it not been for my drive to pick up that only bottle of Foursquare Shibboleth, this bottle would still be on that shelf.
At any rate, the label on my bottle is quite confusing. This is from a single barrel, but the label at the bottom calls it a "Louisiana Blend" that was "Hand Selected by our Wine and Spirit Experts". Duh! A single barrel is NOT a blend!!! However, my bottle number is 025 from barrel number P19182 and bottled at 109 proof or 54.5% ABV.
Despite this label confusion, they did a damn good job in choosing this barrel. This one is light years better than the standard 8 Year Grander. Bourbon notes are kept to a minimum and the burn is quite manageable. This one is a true bargain for dry rum lovers. Don't ask me about tasting notes, because that is not my strength.
Update a mere 4 days later: This one has rapidly tumbled down from my initial rating of 8 to a 6. I have no idea what went wrong. No more Grander rums for me.
So this is an interesting one. This is a single barrel expression distilled by Don Pancho Jose Fernandez (the former Director of Research and Development for the Departamento de Alementacion in Cuba overseeing Havana Club and the entire state-run rum industry in Cuba) and in collaboration with Tom DeHart of bourbon renown for Grander. It is molasses based, distilled in an antique copper column still and then tropically aged for 8 years in individual charred oak barrels available for purchase from Grander. Each barrel varies in ABV and individual qualities. It’s contains no additives whatsoever.
I came upon the bottle as I was browsing a local store and saw this one on sale for an almost unbelievable price. Given my previous experience with Don Pancho rums it was on my list to get anyway so at the price I saw it marked down to it was an absolute no brainer. There was one catch though. The local distributor who had bought the barrel had absentmindedly forgotten to label the bottles in his batch. Thus I have no idea which barrel this comes from or even what it’s exact ABV is. Most barrels of this rum range between 52-56%. As I explain below, to my taste, I believe this one is closer to the 52% rather than the 56%, but really I have no way of knowing because of the idiocy of this particular local distributor in forgetting to attach the individual barrel label on this batch. The store I bought it from was supposed to call me back with the information but it has been weeks since I bought it and they haven’t.
So how does this individual mystery barrel measure up?
On the nose I get Caramel, Tobacco, Oak, Leather, Cardamom, Custard, and faint hints of Maple Syrup. The Maple Syrup notes are a common characteristic of most Don Pancho rums. Given that this rum contains absolutely no additives (not even coloring) I am beginning to suspect that that is a note produced by the yeast he uses. Most of the nose is perhaps common to a high quality Cuban style rum, but the (green) cardamom note is a very pleasant surprise and one I haven’t had on any other rum to date. A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. The custard note is also a very nice addition. The entire combination is altogether pleasant and quite harmonious.
Taking a sip I instantly get that classic Don Pancho Dark Maple Syrup note in at strength comparative to how the funk in Smith & Cross hits you: tidal wave strength. As in it is dominating and takes over all of your olfactory and taste senses at once. It’s a complete wash of dark rich maple syrup, sweet but not at all overly so. Perfect. Powerful and decadent without being overly sweet. After that subsides I pick up ripe Pear, Oak, and fine Cigar Tobacco. It has some bourbon qualities but is not bourbon-esque.
The finish is medium-long and quite satisfying. The Maple Syrup note lingers on the roof of your mouth along with notes of Caramel, hints of black pepper and a slight citrusy lemon note. It finishes with fine cigar tobacco and a surprising return of Cardamom that sticks around like a Persian pastry.
Call me impressed. This may be the finest Don Pancho expression I have had. And on that note it is probably the best Latin/Cuban style expression I have ever had. This is probably the perfect Cuban style aged rum: ~52%, fully tropically aged, wonderfully harmonic flavor, complex, and no additives whatsoever. These barrels range between 52% and 56% ABV depending on the individual barrel. I am guessing this was closer to the 52% given how it went down. The distributor may have failed in providing the barrel, but this is an absolutely showcase of what Don Pancho can produce when put up to the challenge of making a pure, honest rum. I have had very few rums that can stand up to this. What a wonderful surprise. I have found a real gem. Whoever forgot to label this and thus caused it to have to be marked down committed a grave error. This is a prime example of the full potential of what Cuban style rums can be without additives. Bravo Mr. Fernandez, take a bow!
Short Description: Everything you ever wished a Cuban style aged rum could be in a glass with a touch of cardamom.
Nose: Caramel, Tobacco, Oak, Leather, Cardamom, Faint Maple Syrup, Custard
Palate: Dark Maple Syrup all day long, rich and decadent, Pear, Oak, cigar tobacco,
Finish: Dark Maple Syrup, Caramel, hints of black pepper, faint Lemon, Oak, Cigar Tobacco, Cardamom
Country of Origin: Panama
ABV: ~52%* *(unknown but the range is between 52% and 56% and this one seemed closer to 52% than 56% to my palate)
Final Rating: *9*
Final Thoughts: This is the best Cuban/Spanish style expression I have ever had. A Don Pancho masterpiece. Too bad it is a single barrel expression and may not be reproducible. It’s a shame the distributor screwed up this bottling by failing to label the barrel info as they were supposed to. I really wish I had that information here. I am definitely going back to buy another bottle of this from this barreling. It’s all I could do not to drink half the bottle in one tasting.
I really want to like this rum, it’s from a great Panamanian distillery but it’s too whisky like for me. I marlin fish and have seen Granders and trophy releases and this rum does not hold up to the name.
This is one of the worst rums I have ever tasted, maybe a step above Captain Morgan’s. High alcohol content and very harsh, one dimensional. I certainly will not purchase again.
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