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What to do with sugar bomb rums


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Paul B (PREMIUM)

Posted 3 May '18 from United States with 326 ratings

There are four sugar bomb rums with more than 30 gpl of added sugar that I owned and are rated as sippers and not flavored rums (Ron Zacapa 23, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, El Dorado 12, and El Dorado 15). I had my DRE for four months and it was only slightly less than half full. Suddenly, it no longer tasted like the 9 rating that it deserved because I allowed it to oxidize in the bottle for so long. No excuse because it is very affordable and easily available. Hmmm! My light bulb just went off!

We all have dry rums that don't taste like bourbon barrels and are somewhat boring. I simply added a dry rum (Cruzan Single Barrel) to fill up the empty volume in my bottle of DRE, thereby reducing the added sugar from 41 gpl to less than 20 gpl and no longer being classified as sweet, but semi-dry. Both the Cruzan and 4 month old DRE were improved with the new product. However, I would never dream of doing this to a fairly new and mostly full bottle of any highly rated sugar bomb (Ron Zaxapa 23 was not highly rated by me and has been long gone).

To render a sugar bomb rum as dry, the added sugar needs to be less than 10 gpl, but that would drastically change the flavor from the amount of dry rum needing to be added. Give it a try and aim for 10-19 gpl of added sugar in the new combination!

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Scott T

From United States with 120 ratings Replied 3 May '18

That's a really good idea. I have a couple unopened bottles of ED 12 I bought back before I became less enamored of sugar bombs. I have a few of the 5 and 8 yr old (mush less sweet but not quite <10g/ltr) as well as some Hamilton Demeraran 86 proof with 0 sugar.

Another possibility is to use them in mixed drinks such as Mai Tais and dial back the simple syrup a bit. I found that ED 12 and Appleton 12 make an excellent mai tai. It doesn't quite adhere to Berry's guidelines of using an aged AOC rhum but it tastes quite good.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 326 ratings Replied 3 May '18

Scott T, I have not tried my hand at making (and adjusting to my own taste) my very own Mai Tai's, but thanks for the ideas. I have successfully made my own Zombies, which has about 7 ingredients as I recall. Now after precisely measuring any Tiki drink, who on earth would want to do that again for the second or third drink? Not this lazy person! So that is why I keep old bottles that are rather short and preferably with a real cork for making 24 ounces of pre-mixed Tiki drinks for the fridge. However, this is one sure way to get smashed. This would also be unthinkable in a really good Tiki bar, but I now see why many bars have large amounts of pre-mixed drinks that don't require any carbonated beverages.

In my own rum collection, I have 21 dry, 9 semi-dry, 8 sweet, 3 sugar bombs, and 3 flavored. I have them all in a spreadsheet, which helps with the creative process that I suggested. One could even take a sweet rum with 20-29 gpl of added sugar and make it dry or semi-dry by adding a rum with 0 gpl. It's all about the math. And then we can drink!

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Scott T

From United States with 120 ratings Replied 3 May '18

According to Beachbum Berry's recipe there are 10 ingredients in a Zombie (if you count the grapefuit juice and cinnamon simple syrup separately) . I made some a while back but don't have any Pernod, I can't really remember what I used as a substitute - maybe sambuca.

http://beachbumberry.com/recipe-zombie.html

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 326 ratings Replied 3 May '18

I had the good fortune of trying the original Zombie at Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29 in New Orleans. As you know, he is very strict on attention to historical exact replicas. Most of his tiki drinks are much more sour than what appeals to my tastes, but his original Rum Barrel is my favorite by far. I visit fairly often as you can tell. Lucky me!

Ah yes, Pernod is one of those ingredients that I deliberately left out of my Zombie because I hate it. A few others had to be combined. Substitutes were made because many of those ingredients are very hard to find. However, Peg Leg Pete's Pirate Sauce can be a great substitute for complex Caribbean seasonings. Knowing what the original Zombie tastes like helped guide me towards substitutions that would appeal more to my tastes. My own Zombie was not sweet at all and was truly a kick in the pants. Yes, it was not quite true to the original, but still fairly close in the final taste.

Also on my tallies listed above, I now have 2 sugar bombs and 9 sweet since my DRE has been modified to be sweet.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 326 ratings Replied 3 May '18

Scott T, after bringing home the right ingredients, I used Beachbum Berry's recipe for the classic Mai Tai. However, since I no longer have Appleton 12 year old, I used the next notch down which is Appleton Reserve Blend (not the lowly Signature Blend). Even though Plantation Original Dark Double Aged had more hogo on the aroma, I stuck with the Appleton for it's taste in this drink alone. For the rhum agricole, the Sweet Crude from Louisiana beat out Clement 6 Year Old in a recent side by side test, so I used it. For the Orange Curacao, I lucked out and found a bottle of Clement Creole Shrubb, which is even better. I must say, the results are very damn close to the Mai Tai that I drank in Beachbum Berry's bar a few months ago. So all I have to do is substitute your suggestion of El Dorado 12 instead of the Sweet Crude on my next Mai Tai and I will gladly report the results to you my friend. Sounds like you have improved on a classic! Here is what I used first:

1.00 ounce Lime juice
1.00 ounce Appleton Reserve Blend Rum
1.00 ounce Sweet Crude Black Gold Single Harvest Rhum
0.50 ounce Clement Creole Shrubb Orange Liqueur
0.50 ounce Monin Orgeat Syrup
0.25 ounce simple syrup

On the Appleton 12, I had developed a love/hate relationship with it months ago, so it disappeared down my pipe rather quickly one night to get it out of my sight. I have found that the mid-level Reserve Blend suits my tastes much better, but is harder to find.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 326 ratings Replied 3 May '18

Scott T, while I still had some of the original Mai Tai in a glass, I mixed up your version while I could still think fairly straight. All I did was change the one ounce of rhum agricole (Sweet Crude) to one ounce of a sugar bomb (ED 12) and leave out the quarter ounce of simple syrup. What a difference in the two drinks!!!! The original is yellow and yours is burnt orange in color. Yours also wound up being MORE sour than the original, so that got me to scratching my head. Maybe it was the last ounce of Real Lime Juice in the bottle with all of the sediment in the bottom. Maybe I screwed up and added a whole ounce of Clement Creole Shrubb instead of just a half ounce. To make the second drink being able to consume, I added another half ounce or so of ED 12, which worked.

Both drinks are good, but are two entirely different animals. This only proves what Beachbum has said all along that the Mai Tai is all about the rums used in this drinks. As for me testing your version again with another bottle of lime juice available, that will have to wait until another day because the cops wait like raptors to pounce upon DUI's where I live.

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Scott T

From United States with 120 ratings Replied 4 May '18

When I said adjust the amount of simple syrup, I didn't mean remove it completely. Using around 4.5 grams of sugar per tsp, 1/4 oz ss = 1.5 tsp = 7 grams of sugar. An ounce of ED 12 at 40 g/ltr / 33 oz/ltr = 1.2 grams of sugar in an ounce of rum. So really you should only reduce 1/4 tsp simple syrup, or about 20%. I am never really that precise in my measurement, using a marked shot glass for my measurements under an ounce.

Also, I am sensitive to lime juice so dial it back by 1/3 in most recipes. And always use fresh squeezed. My Mai Tais always turn out pretty much the color of the one on Beachbum Berry's page.

I am saddened by your tales of pouring rums down the drain. I didn't think Abuelo 12 yr was bad, quite sweet but somewhat similar in taste to ED 12. Perhaps your bottle sat too long and got oxidized? Appleton 12 yr is one of my favorite dry rums but I have yet to do a side by side comparison between the current "rare" blend and an unopened bottle that still has the 12 yr age statement.

I was lucky enough to get a case of half bottles of the Appleton Reserve a while back on closeout for $7 each w/free shipping, I think there are 3 left and I wish I had bought another case but my GF frowns upon my hoarding tendencies when I find a deal.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 326 ratings Replied 4 May '18

Scott T, I got a new bottle of lime juice a little while ago and made my Mai Tai to exact measurements as from my first attempt, but only switching the dry agricole rhum (Sweet Crude) for your sugar bomb (El Dorado 12). It is still a very good Mai Tai and I must have ruined your version yesterday by using a whole ounce of Clement Creole Shrubb instead of a half ounce.

I still kept the quarter ounce of simple syrup. However, "dialing back" on a quarter ounce of simple syrup sounds like my days of this hydraulic engineer having to deal with nitpicking environmentalists. We engineers always knew where to draw the line with calculations, but environmentalists always created excess work and paper work just to save the trees that they tried to claim to be doing. I retired to get away from that kind of madness.

As for Real Lime juice versus real limes, when comparing ease of use to taste, Real Lime Juice wins hands down. Now if I am trying to impress someone, I will most certainly use real limes in my drinks. But I was never about impressing anyone and always climbed the ladder on my own merits without stepping on toes.

I am now happily retied for three years. Kauai calls me back again!

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Scott T

From United States with 120 ratings Replied 4 May '18

I don't do it to impress anyone, I just find fresh squeezed tastes much much better than bottled, especially those that have been open for a while. As I said I seem to be more sensitive than most to lime and other tart citrus juices, so maybe I notice it more than most. There was a taste test done years ago where participants actually preferred juice that had been allowed to sit for 4 hrs over freshly squeezed, but I don't have time to plan like that.

As far as the simple syrup - yes, reducing 1/4 oz by 20% is nitpicky so I doubt I would do it either - but as you found there is a huge difference cutting it out completely.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 326 ratings Replied 6 May '18

Scott T, I continued trying to improve on the classic Mai Tai, even trying to cram four rums into the space of two ounces. All these experiments did was make me appreciate the genius of Trader Vic as well as for me to lose the entire next day passed out in bed. It's really weird losing an entire day like that. That is one powerful drink that can fool almost anyone.

Your suggestion to use Appleton 12 year old is a very good one, since the hogo funk needs to be dialed up on this drink. The simple syrup cannot be left out. Using amaretto in place of the orgeat syrup and simple syrup is not a good idea. One must be very careful with the curacao, as too much can ruin this drink. The lime juice can also be dialed back. The Mai Tai served today is not even the same as the original one since 17 year old Wray & Nephew is no longer made. I did read somewhere that a bar in England still had a bottle and one customer paid thousands just to have the original Mai Tai. I will take modern modifications any day rather than do that.

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Scott T

From United States with 120 ratings Replied 6 May '18

I can't really take credit.

https://rumdood.com/2009/01/26/a-month-of-mai-tais/

There are some other funky Jamaican rums that work well, such as Smith and Cross as well as a couple I recently acquired from Hamilton, the Navy Strength and the Jamaican Pot Still. All are nice and estery and bring a nice kick to the drink.

Another drink I like a lot is this one

https://inuakena.com/cocktails/goombay-smash/

Once I got confused when I tried to make a Mai Tai from memory and added some Angostura bitters. It was actually quite good though I haven't done it since.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 326 ratings Replied 6 May '18

Scott T, I REALLY appreciated both articles and the comments that followed. THANKS!

The Goombay Smash can be found at many bars in the Florida panhandle, but my thought was always, "What do they know about a drink created in the Bahamas?". Now that the article has enlightened me on it, I can afford to take an educated guess on which bar could have the best Goombay Smash. The mention of cheap liquor is always a turn off for me, but it seems like this is how the drink started out. The same thing happens when I order a Margarita at a restaurant and find that their basic house Margarita is better than fancy versions that I have made. Many legendary drinks got their huge following of fans because they are basically simple drinks. The Mai Tai is also ridiculously simple when you think about it. It's all about using the right rums.

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Scott T

From United States with 120 ratings Replied 7 May '18

Paul, you'rew welcome for the links. So many interesting backstories to many of these drinks.

There is a bar here in Raleigh that I had heard was supposed to be a decent Tiki bar, so I wandered down there one weekend. It was a huge letdown - nearly every drink, inlcuding the Mai Tai, was made with Sailor Jerry's. No way I was going to pay $10 for such a concoction. There isn't always a problem with cheap rums, but there definitely is a wrong TYPE of rum to use in as drink.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 326 ratings Replied 7 May '18

I tried using Hamilton Jamaican Gold in a Mai Tai. DON'T!!! It's too much hogo. Stick with Appleton 12. Sailor Jerry will really do a number on your system the next day. Avoid that one like the plague. I liked it on my first few sips until it caught up with me to say Gotcha! Never again!

Based on that article on the Goombay Smash, I now have four dark rums sitting in Glencairn glasses and being allowed to breathe. When I come back from lunch, I will choose the lucky winner for my first attempt at a Goombay Smash. However, I am out of Pusser's 15, which also happens to be one of the heavily sugared rums that loose their flavor once the bottle is more than half empty. Strange coincidence on added sugar and deterioration of flavor. By the way, according to Beachbum Berry, the Goombay Smash qualifies as a tropical drink and not a Tiki drink. This is due to the fruit forward flavors of the Goombay Smash.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 326 ratings Replied 7 May '18

Scott T, all I wound up doing after testing 5 rums for my ultimate Goombay Smash is to take the 9.5 rating from the article and swap the 1.5 ounces of Pusser's for .75 ounces Hamilton Demerara 86 and .75 ounces Appleton Reserve Blend. It makes sense that they would use Pusser's in the British colony of the Bahamas and actually the Goombay Smash does not differ by much at all from the Pusser's Painkiller. This drink is now perfect enough to make a bottle full of it to store in the fridge. Sure beats getting served nasty drinks in a bar made with inferior rums. Garnish also rhymes with tarnish. Here is my final recipe:

Goombay Smash
--------------------------------------------------------------
0.75 oz Appleton Reserve Blend rum
0.75 oz Hamilton Demerara 86 dark rum
0.75 oz Blue Chair Bay Coconut rum
0.25 oz Clement Creole Shrubb orange liqueur
3.00 oz pineapple juice
0.25 oz lime juice
0.25 oz simple syrup
4 drops Angostura bitters

Three rums lost out in the final call: Pampero Aniversario, El Dorado 8, and Plantation Original Dark Double Aged. Jamaica and Guyana had to be included for the final choice of rums.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 326 ratings Replied 11 May '18

I now have a new theory on sugar bomb rums as well as those that are overly sweetened, If you plan on keeping them for four months or more, DON'T DO IT!! As for rums losing their flavor after four months in the bottle, the sugar bombs will most certainly lose. Why is this? Ask a chemist. All I can state is what I have found the hard way. Stick with semi-dry or dry rums to avoid losing your rum investment.

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Charles M

From United Kingdom with 126 ratings Replied 14 May '18

Should have done some research before buying as Dos Maderas 5+5 PX is far too over the top for me and really rather nasty. Looking into it, I see it has about 36 g/l of added sugar. It mixes pretty well with Chairman's Reserve that has none added. While not perfect, the mixed rum is better than the 2 by themselves.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 326 ratings Replied 15 May '18

I almost bought a bottle of Dos Maderas 5+5 PX at a good price on Pensacola Beach months ago, but wisely researched it first when I got back home. Due to it's sherry cask aging and it being a sugar bomb, I will never buy it. I have only had one good luck episode with sherry cask aging, which was done minimally with Santa Teresa 1796.

As for Chairman's Reserve, I hardly ever sample it because it ranks 32nd out of 107 in my list. Try Ron Medellin 8 Year Old to make the combo even better, which I have ranked at 22nd out of 107.

I guess that you realize what we are doing with mixing imperfect rums is what the original tiki legends like Don The Beachcomber and Trader Vic did. It is truly an art to get it right and sure beats pouring rum down the drain.

I no longer have any sugar bombs in my collection and started to sample my sweet rums with 20-29 gpl of added sugar. It appears that only the sugar bombs are subject to decaying flavor after four months in the bottle. However, all of my sweet rums still have more than a half bottle remaining, so I may need to update this judgment on a later date.

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Scott T

From United States with 120 ratings Replied 15 May '18

Paul - so I am assuming you won't be trying Doorly's XO? Aged in Oloroso casks.

Did you ever get that Siete leguas?

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Charles M

From United Kingdom with 126 ratings Replied 15 May '18

Have to go with Scott on the Doorly's XO. I mentioned it in the "Wood finishes" topic, that I had 3 over sherried rums that I really dislike - Don Maderas, Abuel 15 Oloroso and Valdespino Anejo - and 3 rums with wood finsihes that I really do like. All from Seale's - Foursquare Port, Zinfandel and Doorly's XO. I suggested that if the rum has no added sugar in the first place, then it might be able to handle it all so much better.

Paul - as for the mixer, I use what I have!! The local supermarket used to do Sainsbury's Golden Rum 8yo, which was an unsugared Angostura. But that has gone off the shelf. Any thoughts about mixing with a white rum?

But really there is no right and no wrong in this. While you and I might think that unsugared rums are the "proper" ones, and we might agree with Richard Seale that there should be some labelling standard, there are many who love the sweetness that to me makes them near undrinkable.

And this also highlights one of the great aspects of rum. The differences that you can find are so huge and so much more varied than any other spirit.

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Rene Rum

From Switzerland with 354 ratings Replied 15 May '18

Hi guys, I think Charles M is on the right way to enjoy these beautiful liquids.
It’s doesn’t matter what kind of rum you prefer, there’s a huge variety who enjoy a lot of people. And the most love the sweet ones. I’m lucky to have the options to drink a very dry Agricole on a hot summer day or a hearty Demerara in the cold.
To stay to the topic, I like the sweet rums to use them like a dessert. After a nice meal with a coffee. I see sweet rum as a separately category. That means, some companies are used to sugaring their products, like Ferrand in France their cognac, so their rum is sweetened too. For me that’s not wrong. (I’m not sponsored by Ferrand) Of course, sweetener should be declared on the label, but not just sugar, any colour and artificial ingredient too.
I prefer the independent bottler, single cask bottlings, no sugar and colour, just delightful!

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 326 ratings Replied 16 May '18

Scott T. it will be quite a while before I can get to a Total Wine in Texas of Florida, so there is no chance for me to find Doorly's. One of them is not aged in sherry casks, but I would have to look that up again.

My favorite liquor store in Pensacola was sold out of Siete Lequas and it was also sold out at Spec's in Beaumont, TX. Concerts are what bring me to such far away places. The clerk at one of my favorite local liquor stores suggested Calle 23 tequilas. I went home to research it and returned to buy the Anejo. All I can say is WOW on taste and price. Long Island Lou also wrote a very good article on all three varieties of Calle 23.

I now have no more sugar bombs in my collection and won't be buying any more for quite a while.

Charles M, go for it in using a dry white rum as a mixer. Let us know what happens with it.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 326 ratings Replied 18 May '18

Here is another failed experiment. Diplomatico Mantuano is a great mixer, albeit on the pricey side. It is versatile as a semi-dry mixer and does okay on the rocks, but not as a sipper. Looking at my other rums still left that rate with a 6, The Real McCoy 5 Year Old seemed like the perfect candidate to mix 50/50 with Mantuano. How wrong this combo was because the heavily wooded flavor of The Real McCoy overpowers the Mantuano even at a 50/50 mixture. I won't even try 75% Mantuano and 25% McCoy because these two could not be more conflicting in taste. Start to consider strong woody taste before mixing rums!

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Charles M

From United Kingdom with 126 ratings Replied 18 May '18

I guess it rather depends on what you like and what you want to achieve.

Me, I like a rustic fiery rum from time to time, and think Chariman's Reserve is a good everyday sipper. The alcohol cuts through the sweetness when mixed, so works for me. Have you tried mixing these sugar bombs with a rum agricole?

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 326 ratings Replied 21 May '18

Reducing a sugar bomb with a rhum agricole would work just fine because it is a dry rhum in a class by itself. All of my sugar bombs are gone, and the problem of losing flavor seems to afflict sugar bombs that are less than half full and have been sitting in the bottle for four months or more. I still have three very sweet rums with 28-29 gpl of added sugar and these are borderline sugar bombs. Only the Plantation XO 20th Anniversary has decayed somewhat in taste, but Opthimus 15 and Vizcaya VXOP still have more than a half bottle remaining after four months and still taste as good as the day that I opened them. Those two are much harder to find, so I savor every last drop.

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Paul B (PREMIUM)

From United States with 326 ratings Replied 21 May '18

I am definitely onto something here with my theory that sugar bombs decay in taste after a few months sitting in the bottle. After five months, I tried another snifter of Santa Teresa 1796, which is a dry rum with only 7 gpl of added sugar. It tasted as good as the day that I opened the bottle and less than half of the bottle remains to be consumed.

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Graham Davie

From United Kingdom with 54 ratings Replied 21 May '18

Hi all, ive read and followed this topic and find it fascinating. The main thing lads is to remember “ each to his own”.
I enjoy the so called sugar bombs,DFR EXC is my fabourite rum. Opthimus 15 comes a close second and DM 5+5 is also a favourite.
Having said that i also really enjoy any and all of the “natural” Bajan rums.
As for rums loosing taste/flavour over time, i cant say ive ever suffered from this.
Great topic, great ideas and some thought provoking tips.
Thanks graham.
PS that should read Opthimus 21 yo 😡

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