Thanks so much for submitting a report. It has been emailed to the Rum Captain and will be actioned shortly.
I had been seeing these bottles of rum for sale on the shelves of south Louisiana liquor stores for some time. Since the name Sweet Crude sounded like another gimmick, I ignored this one until now. Had this been named after the distiller with a name such as Meaux's Rhum Agricole, it would have definitely caught my attention much sooner.
After reading their website, I found out that weathered oak staves are used to speed up the aging process of this craft rum. Instead of putting the rum into the barrel, they put the barrel into the rum! Final aging is in 10 gallon oak barrels, which are less than one fifth the size of standard bourbon oak barrels. The smaller barrels also speed up the aging process. Since I had never heard of this aging method until now, I gladly took a $28 chance on this bottle of aged agricole rum from south central Louisiana. My bottle is number 77 out of 532 and bottled in 2016. The website must have been updated after that date because the description of the aging process on the back of my bottle is different. I have since found out that oak staves have been used by wine makers for a few years now, and the makers of these staves also sell them to small scale craft distillers like this one.
This rum is not made from black strap molasses and only uses sugar cane juice from a very reliable source. Methods of distilling were studied from Martinique to create this French Louisiana version of rhum agricole. Since I only will try aged agricoles, I chose this one over the two types that are produced.
Given this background, the only rum in my large collection that it could be compared to is my Clement 6 year old from Martinique. About an ounce of each were poured into Glencairn glasses to be compared neat side by side. This was a wise choice on my part. The Clement is burnt orange in color and this Black Gold is amber in color. I would say that the Black Gold has the color of a 3 year old with the taste of an 8-10 year old. Both aromas were the same grass and oak notes, as well as smooth taste on the palate. The Black Gold is slightly sweeter, but has no added sugar. The Clement loses this match on the aftertaste due to some bitterness. The Black Gold is smooth all the way. As with both of them, they remind me of Lowlands Single Malt Scotches such as Glenkinchie or Auchentoshan, which are about twice the price just like the Clement 6 year old.
After experimenting with different rums to make the ultimate Mai Tai, this one wound up being one of the two, with Appleton Reserve Blend being the other one.
When I bought my next bottle of Sweet Crude, testing it neat did not blow me away like my first bottle. However, from the same batch as my first, my new bottle is numbered 17 instead of 77. The new bottle is just super smooth pure rum with no burn at all. For lover's of unadulterated rums by R.J. Seale, this one is for you. I will continue to buy this rum and not just to make my ultimate Mai Tai. It has now become the only rhum agricole that I will buy since I cannot justify the overly high prices of rhums from the French West Indies.