We have to admit, we often use gold rum above white rum in our cocktails, as it generally has a richer, sweeter flavor. That said, a lot of cocktails specifically call for white rum, and in warmer weather its lighter, cleaner flavor is a bonus. With nicer days around the corner (fingers crossed!), we decided to prepare by going through our cabinets and pulling out a selection of white rums to taste and then compare in a cocktail.
For this experiment we chose Matusalem Platino, 3 Howls White Label, New Deal Distiller’s Cut, Prichard’s Crystal, and Plantation 3 Stars. These all vary a lot in terms of size of the distiller – micro to industrial – and distillation technique, so we thought that it would be very interesting to see how they differ.
- Nose: Very mild sugar cane, faintly sweet, light malty notes, fair alcohol bite. Similar to a vodka. Fairly subtle nose.
- Palate: Dry intro, than sugary sweetness on the mid-palate that transitions into caramel sweetness on the finish. Fairly neutral. Good for vodka drinkers.
- Nose: Molasses, yeast, cedar, geranium leaves. Little bit of funk. Quite a strong nose.
- Palate: Little bit of molasses sweetness on the front. Cedar notes at the beginning of the mid-palate, then interesting vegetal notes like fern or bracken. Finish is dry and slightly savory like caraway. Thick, heavy body.
New Deal Distiller’s Cut
- Nose: Sweeter than the other two, little bit grassy, sharp alcohol bite.
- Palate: Starts out sugary sweet like sugar cane juice, but underpinned by a sharp alcohol bite. Alcohol flavor is clean and bright though, plays as part of the overall flavor. Grassy notes from the mid-palate to the finish, developing a bitter component as it progresses. Medium body.
- Nose: Little alcohol bite. Very sweet, strong tropical fruit – coconut, pineapple – plus some vanilla.
- Palate: Mirrors the nose. Very smooth with sweet tropical fruits throughout.
Plantation 3 Stars
- Nose: Medium alcohol bite, little bit of grassy sugar cane, faint lime, very faint brine notes. Less sweet than the New Deal, more sweet than the Matusalem. Not a particularly strong nose.
- Palate: Sweet molasses to start. Continues into the mid-palate along with some lime zest. Fairly rich, round flavor. Medium bodied. Kinda like a daiquiri waiting to happen.
Of course we here at Booze Nerds are all about mixing, so we wanted to see how these rums compare in a cocktail. We chose El Presidente, a fairly restrained classic cocktail where the other ingredients don’t overwhelm the rum.
- 1 1/2 oz white rum
- 1/2 oz orange curacao
- 1/2 oz dry vermouth
- 1 dash grenadine
Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
- Nose: Candied orange. Sweet sugarcane. Wine and bitter herbal notes. Orange baby aspirin.
- Palate: Little bit of alcohol bite, little bit of sugarcane right on the front. Sweet orange on the mid-palate. Wine and bitter notes from the vermouth on the finish with very faint sweet-tart pomegranate. Light bodied and very restrained. As it warms up, the rum starts to assert itself a little more.
New Deal Distiller’s Cut
- Nose: Light grassiness and a touch of vanilla. Sweet orange. Hint of sweet-tart pomegranate.
- Palate: Rum comes through more clearly. Sweet sugar cane to start along with pomegranate and some funkiness. Caramel and cooked orange on the mid-palate followed by sour tartness from the vermouth with a bitter grassy finish. Richer and more caramel-y compared to the others.
- Nose: Very strong grassy notes. Cedar wood. Little bit of funk. Faint fruit notes of pomegranate and orange.
- Palate: Pomegranate and orange to start with some bitter herbal notes. Mid-palate is very rich with aromatic cedar and spices. Tangy sourness from the vermouth on the finish, paired with sweet floral honey notes (more pollen-y/bee hive-y for Shaun rather than honey). Dries out on the aftertaste.
Plantation 3 Stars
- Nose: Sweet spicy orange. Some pomegranate, hint of vermouth. Spiced black tea with clove & dried orange peel.
- Palate: Pomegranate and sweet orange to start – very fruity and sweet compared to the others. Little bit of tang from the vermouth on the mid-palate into the finish. Rum doesn’t stand out but supplies a sweet molasses underpinning throughout the whole drink. Very nicely integrated.
- Nose: Tropical fruit, hint of orange.
- Palate: Sweet orange to start with a touch of wine from the vermouth. Strong tropical fruit on the mid-palate. Hint of vermouth bitterness on the finish. Rum is very dominant in this drink.
As you can see, all 5 rums have very different flavor profiles and bring very different flavors to the party. We’d recommend the Plantation or New Deal for a drink that is well-balanced between the components, the Matusalem for someone who wants a more Martini-like drink, and the Prichards or 3 Howls if you want the rum to really be the key player. Next time you make your favorite white rum cocktail, we hope you’ll try a different offering than usual to see how the rum itself changes the overall flavor of the drink. Cheers!