We recently received a complimentary bottle of Brugal Extra Dry. Once we learned about it, of course we were very curious about how to use a dry rum. We tried it in a few things to see how it fared. It reminded us of some other drier rums in our cabinet (though most of them don’t declare themselves as such), such as the Barbancourt 15 Year. In this post, we try both the Brugal and the Barbancourt in one drink, and also compare the Brugal to the Matusalem 15 year (a sweeter rum) in a different drink. Read on for our findings.
When people think of a more sophisticated or drier cocktail, they usually don’t reach for rum as a base spirit. However, we feel that that’s a shame. Some of the drier rums can stand on their own in more spirit-forward drinks. The Diabolo, with its muted orange notes, is a great option for letting a dry rum shine.
- 2 oz rum
- 1/2 oz Cointreau
- 1/2 oz vermouth
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir ingredients with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with an orange twist. Enjoy.
- Nose: Orange, bitter clove, subtle barrel notes. Light woody smell like Balsa wood.
- Palate: Dry intro with a bit of tart white wine and orange oil. Sweet orange and rum along with light barrel notes on the mid-palate. Gentle aromatics from the rum, but without much sweetness. Nice round mouth feel on the mid-palate. Surprising amount of bitterness on the finish, notes of bitter spices mainly. Light silky mouth feel throughout for Christa. In all, lighter, drier, and more orangey than the Barbancourt version.
- Nose: Orange and burnt sugar smell. More toasty than the Brugal. Creamy/yeasty orange, like orange sweet rolls.
- Palate: Really strong resinous aromatics. Spices, clove, allspice on the front, followed by cedar and a little orange. Much fuller mouth feel. Dry medicinal (but pleasant) bitterness underpinning everything else. Wine notes on the finish. Slightly richer, sweeter, and more aromatic than the Brugal version.
We also think that for people who don’t like sweeter drinks (tiki drinks, we’re looking at you), using a drier rum can make the drink less sweet and more fruit forward; more acid, less sweetness. So we made a sweeter tiki drink with both the dry Brugal and the more traditional Matusalem aged to see how they came out.
- 1 1/2 oz rum
- 1 oz pineapple juice
- 1/2 oz lime juice
- 1 tsp simple syrup
- 1 dash Angostura bitters (for this comparison, the bitters were actually omitted due to an oversight on Shaun’s part)
Shake ingredients with ice. Strain into a glass. Enjoy!
- Nose: Pineapple, vanilla pastry cream, very slight yeast notes.
- Palate: Aromatic pineapple to start, along with rum and aromatics of the lime peel for Christa. Very unusual to have the peel aromatics come first, but in a very good way. Then bright, clear pineapple and lime, with richness from the rum without it being very sweet. The fruit comes through very clearly, nice and fresh. Sweetens up a little on the end, reminiscent of pineapple upside down cake.
Matusalem Gran Reserva 15
- Nose: Faint pineapple and a little bit of lime.
- Palate: Mild vanilla and spice along with lime to start. Light pineapple and barrel notes on the mid-palate. Bitter lime one the finish, but also some creamy notes, like lemon meringue or key lime pie. Sweeter throughout, with more vanilla/barrel notes and less fruit flavors.
In this comparison, the Brugal is a great choice where you really want a fruit element to shine through, while a sweeter aged rum will give you a more traditional tiki drink.
As we’ve seen here, not all rums are the same. The flavor profile of your base spirit can create quite a difference in your finished drink. If you want to expand your range of sophisticated cocktails, or play up the exotic fruit in your next tiki offering, we encourage you to reach for a bottle of dry rum and give it a try.