new rum expression from the Dominican Republic is taking a page from
the Scotch whisky playbook. Brugal's new, limited-edition 1888 is an
extended-age, ultra-premium rum that is finished in Sherry casks.
Brugal, a pioneer in marketing aged rums, typically matures its spirits strictly in American-oak barrels used in Bourbon making, but in this case has employed an innovation first made popular in Scotland in the 1990s by adding a second maturation period called a finish. The subsequent aging was done in casks made of European oak used to hold Sherry.
The rum is a complex mixture of sweetness and spice, with big, round bready notes as well. Priced at about 50 bucks, it occupies the higher regions of rum tariffs, but easily holds its own against other spirits of comparable cost.
This introduction is the latest surge in an effort to bring Brugal, which is hugely popular in the Caribbean, to the attention of the American market. The 1888 rum joins four other Brugal products currently available in the United States: an aged white rum, a gold rum, Añejo and Extra Viejo.
George Espie, the master of wood of The Macallan single-malt whisky, was responsible for picking the casks for the 1888. The Macallan, a Speyside single malt, has long been synonymous with Sherry-cask aging and has a highly revered wood management program. The Edrington Group, which obtained a majority interest in Brugal in 2008, also counts The Macallan and three other Scotch whiskies among its core brands.
The rum is a blend of spirits aged between five and 14 years. By comparison, Brugal's Extra Viejo is aged five to eight years. All the casks for 1888 were laid in a horizontal position to maximize contact with the wood, according to the company.
name of the rum commemorates the year that Andrés Brugal Montaner
started Brugal, beginning a legacy of five generations in the rum
business. The founder was born in Spain and emigrated to Cuba, where he
learned the rum business before moving to the Dominican Republic to
start his own company.
Brugal 1888 (40 percent alcohol or 80 proof, $49.99)
APPEARANCE: Dark copper color with slight avocado tint. Comes down in huge, slow legs on the side of the glass.
NOSE: A big dose of vanilla is followed by cashews, graham crackers, cocoa, ginger bread and, not surprisingly, Sherry.
PALATE: Flavor isn't the full story here. Consider mouth feel as well. Caramel, nougat and toffee fill the front palate with sweetness before the rum fairly coats the mouth with a butter consistency. From there the spices-licorice, cinnamon and ginger-as well as hints of coffee, chocolate and banana take over.
FINISH: A brisk spiciness hangs on the rum, slowly fades out, and then briefly pops with molasses and shortbread.