El Dorado 15 question

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dougw 🇺🇸 | 36 ratings Author Posted 18 Mar '23

I'm a relative newby to rum drinking, I've bought 15-20 bottles over the last 9 months or so, and I'm starting to get a feel for my comfort zone in rums.  One that has confused me is El Dorado 15 yr, which seems to get rave reviews most of the time, but seems to have a weird bitter taste to it that I don't like.  Is that bitterness typical of rums from Guyana, demerara sugar in general, or what?

The reason I ask is so far my personal opinions on the 15-20 rums I've tried pretty well track the ratings on this site, with the exception of the El Dorado 15.  So, should I avoid Guyana/demerara sugar altogether based on this one sample, or not?

Leo K 🇨🇦 | 71 ratings Replied 19 Mar '23

It would help to understand what you decribe as "bitter" if you were to rate some of the rums you have tasted thus far, so others (or even you) can tell what "type of rum" you prefer.

I for example tend to prefer Cuban - Dominican rums that are much less sweet and while I found El Dorado 15 to have a good initial "taste"....it was rather thick with a heavy aftertaste which, l found more sweet than bitter ....so not one of my favorites. Oddly, I found the El Dorado 12 has an entirely different "taste", not what I usually prefer, it had a much more balanced flavour with no heavy aftertaste,  and to me more enjoyable.

The other thing that is not talked about allot is a bad batch. It does happen.l have experienced this with Mount Gay and Bacardi offerings.

vomi1011 avatar image
vomi1011 🇩🇪 | 402 ratings Replied 19 Mar '23

15y ElD is a blend, not typical in terms of a special DDL mark. When it was sugared I had a lot of fun with it. It's most like an Enmore, but the bitter you feel probably comes from the wood. Enmore is always a little oily and brings some iodine. There are many other marks that taste different, so it does not automatically mean that you do not like Guyana rum. I think you would like a good Enmore too, but it is expensive to find and buy a good one. Most reviews on Rumratings still refer to the sweetened variant. Many rum lovers say that the unsweetened variant tastes better because they simply do not like sweet rum. However, the unsweetened version is below average from the point of view of an Enmore, but the sweetened version is above average from the point of view of a sweet rum.

Les 80 avatar image
Les 80 🇬🇧 | 72 ratings Replied 19 Mar '23

we all get a rum what's got rave reviews.then u try it and think what's all fuss about ..it's not the right conclusion to avoid  Guyana rum yet since you haven't had many I would try a few more 1st before u decide it's not for you .like me I won't buy plantations rums ..I had a few but never had one that I found brilliant 

Kevin 🇺🇸 | 80 ratings Replied 19 Mar '23

A well respected distillery. My favorite is the 15 but the 12 is $20 less and not that far from the 15. I don't taste what your tasting so do the world wide tour before you settle in. There's so much out there that will surprise you. Since your fairly new keep exploring! For some reason I find myself continually coming back to this one? Maybe you should try the Dictator 20 seeing your in the 15-20 range. Just a few $$$ more but another favorite of mine!

dougw 🇺🇸 | 36 ratings Author Replied 20 Mar '23

thanks for the replies so far, the idea of a bad batch did cross my mind, but I suspect the actual chances of that are quite small.

To answer some of the questions as to what I've tried that I like, here goes.  My first few were simple things like Zacapa 23, Plantation XO, Matusalem 23 because they seemed to get good reviews and seemed like a safe starting point.  While I wouldn't claim to dislike any of those, I found them all fairly boring, and won't be buying them again.  They seemed to be one-dimensional and if I had to give them a number rating they'd all be 7.

I've tried several more, from sweet to dry, and I think my preferences lean towards the sweeter ones.  My 4 favorites so far are Opthimus 25, Zafra 21, Diplomatico (either the reserve or the familia, I've tried them both) and Papa Pilar Spanish Sherry Cask.  I'd give Opthimus a 9, Zafra an 8.5, Diplomatico an 8 and Papa Pilar 7.5-8.

On the dryer side I've tried Doorly's 12yo, Doorly's XO, Foursquare 2010 Exceptional cask, and R.L.Seales 10yo.  I liked all of those, but can't say any of them are my favorites.   The Foursquare is obviously the star of that group, but at 60% ABV I'm still working out the best way to sip that one.  I like the 12yo Doorly's pretty well, but the XO is a little less interesting.  All these are solid rums, but because they are dryer I'm not crazy about any of them, but like them all in general.

I've also tried Equiano, and like that one pretty well, but its still a new bottle so my mind isn't fully made up on that one yet.  Its a bit sweeter than the other Foursquare offerings, and I think I like it a bit better because of that.

Next, for some random points around the compass:

I tried Richland Rum chateau elan port cask, and that one has a bit of an off taste that I'm not crazy about, maybe due to the port influence, maybe due to something else.  I think its got the same bitterness to it that I taste in the El Dorado 15, is that any clue?

Kaniche XO, which at first I thought seemed too thin bodied, but has come into its own after being opened a while and I like it better now.  Not the greatest, but for $35-ish price point its quite good, and its on the sweet side but not terribly sweet. 

Cane Island Venezuela - a low priced experiment that I couldn't find ratings for here, but I like it OK.  I think its kinda in between Doorly's 12yo and Equiano, its not very sweet.  A bit light, but priced in the high-20s so its very cheap.

Appleton 12yr rare casks - my first attempt at Jamaican, and I like this pretty well but its also still relatively new to me so I haven't made up my mind completely.  I suspect I'm not a fan of Jamaica funk, since I also tried a Smith & Cross and when I first opened the bottle I swear that stuff smelled like tequila.  Did not care for that one, but fortunately a friend loved it and finished off the bottle.

And, I figured I'd buy something rated in the 9s here, so went with the SelvaRey Owner's Reserve for $150.  That has a great velvety mouthfeel that I really like, and is reasonably sweet.    I'm not sure if my perception changed, or the rum changed a bit in the bottle, but it doesn't seem as good as when I first opened it. Seems like it lost a bit of that luscious body it had originally.  For $90 vs. $150 I'd take the Opthimus 25 over it for a re-purchase.

So that's my experience beyond the El Dorado 15yo.  Sorry I can't explain the bitterness I get from it, other than to state its something that isn't in any of the other rums I mentioned other than the Richland.  I may go with the suggestion that the ED 12yo is also good and try it for another data point and see what happens.

Any further guidance is appreciated.

dougw 🇺🇸 | 36 ratings Author Replied 24 Mar '23

I think vomi1011 is probably correct, that what I'm tasting that seems bitter to me is the wood influence.  The part that's a bit weird about that is Doorly's 12yo seems to have even more of that wood influence, but doesn't taste bitter at all.  I have both open to compare side-by-side and they do seem to have a similar wood flavor to them, but I find the much stronger wood influence of the Doorly's to be less bitter than what I'm tasting in the ED15.  Does that sound strange, or does anyone else feel the same way?

vomi1011 avatar image
vomi1011 🇩🇪 | 402 ratings Replied 24 Mar '23

Enmore is a wooden coffey still and DDL has also wooden pot stills (PM and VSG). As they use rums from this stills in the blend, the wood influence comes from the distillation, not only from the barrels.


Foursquare wood influence comes only from the barrels. They have  copper stills and metal coffey stills as far as I know.

dougw 🇺🇸 | 36 ratings Author Replied 24 Mar '23

OK, so if I don't particularly care for the wood influence I'm tasting in ED15, would the ED12 be different enough that I might like it, or should I steer clear of ED rums altogether?   

vomi1011 avatar image
vomi1011 🇩🇪 | 402 ratings Replied 24 Mar '23

I would skip them. They are not great and you don't like some marks from DDL. You can try Pussers instead, it's also from Guyana but with other profile. If you are able to spend some more money you can buy a SVW. This mark is a different story.

Jimmy Cliff avatar image
Jimmy Cliff (PREMIUM) 🇺🇸 | 506 ratings Replied 26 Mar '23

I'm a  big fan of Guyana rums. They blend some from the historic wooden stills which is likely what you are calling bitter. 100% Enmore still is a unique taste bit hard for most. Try blend like Pusser's rum predominately from Guyana has a hint of same notes but a bit mellower. 

Grellot 🇺🇸 | 3 ratings Replied 27 Mar '23

They changed their style a bit ago.  They use to add a lot of sugar and it tastes good to a wide market but was a flavored cordial at best not true rum, but a Guyana style rum.  Now without much sugar the distillers craft shows through.  You might be use to sweetened rums, but not to the true distillate. The 15 Year with the red stripe is the old style.  The good stuff is newer without the stripe.

dougw 🇺🇸 | 36 ratings Author Replied 27 Mar '23

I think you guys have answered my questions pretty well.  The style change explains some of it, what I'm drinking today isn't the same as what was reviewed in the past.  And the slight bitterness I'm tasting very likely comes from the wooden pot stills.

It's not like I find the bitterness offensive to the point that I hate drinking it, but its just enough that I probably won't buy it again.  Then, the other night I had a few sips, and it didn't seem as bitter as before, so maybe its a bit of acquired taste, or maybe one of the other rums I'd sipped prior to the ED made the bitterness less noticeable.

Thanks for the comments.

Jimmy Cliff avatar image
Jimmy Cliff (PREMIUM) 🇺🇸 | 506 ratings Replied 20 May '23

I think a lot of the posts covered this but being an avid Pusser's rum drinker for over 40 years, and most of their British Navy blend has always come from DDL Guyana. The taste you are referring to is likely coming from the Greenheart stills the only ones in existence. It a bit of an acquired taste 100% Greenheart is hard for me to handle but in blends like ElDorado 12 & 15 & most versions of Pussers I truly love it. 

RumSchmecktGut 🇩🇪 | 11 ratings Replied 29 Jun '23

> The Foursquare is obviously the star of that group, but at 60% ABV I'm still working out the best way to sip that one.

Dilute it will still water! Very common method for single malt whisky, and it works great for most rums, too.

tangosix 🇺🇸 | 6 ratings Replied 15 Aug '23

Any man should try the Pussers 15 before giving on Guyana rums.  I think that one has a special profile.  

Kevin 🇺🇸 | 80 ratings Replied 31 Aug '23

So, I got another bottle of the 15yr and after a few bottles of the 12yr I'm no longer impressed! It seems thin to the point of being watered down. The 12yr is a solid rum compared side by side with the 15yr. Now there's some talk here about bad batches. My opinion is that there should never be a bad batch with a distillers premium product. Unless quality control cuts into the profit! With that being said I seriously believe there's a water leak somewhere whether intentional or not! It's just slacking on delivering what one should expect from a 15yr old rum. Now with that being said their ultra premium select rums are outstanding. I particularly fancy their port maurant  and at $80 is a rum that stands up to the price paid and blows their 21yr to smithereens. Too bad it's such a hard find. No more 15yr for this pirate! Agreed, Pusser's 15 is a must although a bit overpriced but a true 15yr old like it should be. Arrrgh!