In terms of trends within the American distilling industry, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see sourced, blended rums from the Caribbean on the rise. Not to slag on the average microdistillery, but … well, it’s hard to get excited about your average American-made, 1-year-old gold rum release. Just taking some of your sugar cane juice/molasses distillate and throwing it into a barrel for a little while doesn’t tend to result in a product that is very distinctive or interesting. But taking advantage of the bounty of the Caribbean and Central America to offer a blend that no one has ever created before? Now I’m intrigued.
I wrote about something quite similar recently, as I was impressed by Richmond, VA’s Virago Four Port Rum, a blend of sourced rums from several different “ports” around the Caribbean and Central America, blended and bottled by the distillery while they wait for their own aged rum to mature. Meanwhile in Boston, the city’s first craft distillery, Bully Boy, has put even more time and resources into a new blended rum release that checks many of the same boxes. Their Rum Cooperative Vol. 1 is being treated as almost a separate entity entirely, with snazzy packaging and quite a bit of support behind it. And like Virago’s product in Virginia, it brings together a collection of well-aged rums (most are 12-year products) and does it at a very friendly price point of $34.99 per bottle. Now this is a trend I can get behind.
Before we get into the tasting, let me state my appreciation for two things:
— I don’t usually comment on packaging, but gosh, I do love these Rum Cooperative Vol. 1 labels. The combination of color, floral and tropical elements really screams “rum” in a very attractive way.
— I also really appreciate the great deal of transparency that Bully Boy displays in their website and label for The Rum Cooperative, listing the exact ratios of everything in the blend and what they believe each incorporates into the whole. This kind of information is never a bad thing for the consumer to have, and I’d love to see all distillers follow suit.
To wit, the blend for The Rum Cooperative Vol. 1 includes 45% Panama 12-year rum, 36% Dominican 12-year rum, 10% Boston 8-year rum (Bully Boy’s own distillate), 8.1% Trinidad 12-year rum and a mere .9% Jamaican 12-year rum, all blended together in Boston by Bully Boy. That makes for a vast majority of rums that are 12 years or older.
So, let’s get to tasting.
On the nose, The Rum Cooperative Vol. 1 smells rich, highly caramelized and concentrated, one might say, with impressions of molasses cookie sweetness and dark/dried fruit notes, with a brandy-like vinous character as well.
On the palate, this is a sweeter, more rich, “after dinner” sort of rum as they say these days, although I would hope that the sweetness is entirely naturally derived, rather than being packaged with added sugar—it’s always difficult to tell, but this one doesn’t smack of artificiality to me. It’s a combination of deep caramel characteristics—molasses and nougat as well—along with big dried fruit notes of prune and raisin. It’s not necessarily the most complex of rums despite the age, leaning more into decadence than “sophistication” for the most part. There’s a bit of floral character, and some grassiness/cane character as well, but the “molasses cookie” impression is far more prominent than any other single note, with minimal funk and not a ton of spice impressions. Instead, this profile is driven by caramelized sugars and fruity impressions—it contains no Guyanese rum, but I’m still reminded a bit of certain El Dorado products, if that helps as a comparison.
All in all, this is an interesting blend, and one you could probably sub in for generic calls for “dark rum” in cocktail recipes, as it contains those strong, blackstrap molasses-type notes and the requisite sweetness, but I’d be curious to try a drier, funkier or spicier iteration of this same blend. I’ll give it a try in a dark ‘n stormy sometime soon, as I expect this one might play very well there. It will also be of interest to those who enjoy more richness and molasses-forward sweetness in their neat rums.
Distillery: Bully Boy Distillers
City: Boston, MA
Style: Blended aged rum
ABV: 40% (80 proof)
Availability: 750 ml bottles, $34.99 MSRP
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident brown liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.