Why Would a Bottle of Rum Cost $1,500? (And How Does It Taste?)
After decades of being relegated to fruity drinks served in plastic pineapples, high-end rum is finally having a moment. And with a price tag of $1,500 and only 1,000 bottles available, Brugal's Papá Andrés is one of the more extravagant options.
Brugal first released a rum under the Papá Andrés name in 2013, with the idea of opening up the private reserves of the founding Brugal family to the public. This new edition for 2015, called the Alegría Edition, was blended by a fifth-generation family member, Jassil Villanueva Quintana. She's the first female master blender in the family's 126-year history of making rums. Details on the casks of rum used in the blend are kept private, but Papá Andrés includes rum from the 36 family-owned casks, which contain decades-old rums mixed with the best of each year's batches for some added freshness. Proceeds from the rum go to the Brugal Foundation, which helps alleviate effects of poverty in the Dominican Republic.
I got my hands on a small sample of Papá Andrés and did the tough reporting work of tasting it for you. On the nose it's all coconuts at first, with hints of pineapple, vanilla, and dark caramel developing as it gets some air. Just looking at it in the glass, you can see the viscosity, even though it's bottled at the relatively tame 40 percent alcohol by volume. Tasting it, the biggest notes are tropical fruits, dry wood, tobacco, and, of course, coconut. You normally wouldn't add water to sipping rum, but I tried a few drops, and it brought out orange peel and milk chocolate flavors. There's definitely a rum sweetness across the board, but you'd be forgiven for guessing this was an old Speyside whisky in a blind taste.
But can you mix the stuff? Sure, if you really want to. I'd steer clear of fruity drinks laden with juices and mixers that totally cover up the flavors of the rum. At that point it's just a waste. But if you mix it into an Old Fashioned-style cocktail with some bitters and a slice of orange or a Manhattan-style drink with a small splash of quality sweet vermouth, you'll keep all the complexity and enjoy a drink that's just a little bit different than what you're used to. I still like it best on its own, but if you're splurging for a bottle, it couldn't hurt do get a little creative.
Papá Andrés isn't the only super-premium rum on the market, though it is one of the more expensive. Over the past two years or so, most major brands have released a so-called "sipping rum." These usually come with a high-age statement, as with the Appleton 21-year-old rum from Jamaica ($125), or a romantic backstory such as you'll find for Bacardi's Facundo Exquisito ($100), which the brand markets as "the other brown spirit." No news from Captain Morgan yet.
The 2015 edition of Papá Andrés is limited to only 1,000 bottles worldwide, with a suggested retail price of $1,500.