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Juan Santos 5 Year Review

Casa Santana is set to roll out their line of Columbian rum in N. America next month.  Chip Dykstra digs into their aged variety, starting with Juan Santos 5.


Picture 3Juan Santos 5 Year Rum Review

By Chip Dykstra

Juan Santos 5 Yr Old Rum   88/100

The first salvo was launched several months ago when the Liber Group quietly placed Juan Santos Columbian Coffee Infused Rum on the store shelves in Alberta, Canada. Sample bottles for tasting were placed into liquor stores, and the bottles began to sell. This isn’t an ordinary flavoured rum, its core is a premium 7yr Old Columbian Rum from Santana Liquor which I reviewed for Rum Connection three weeks ago.

The importer and distributor is a small Canadian company called The Liber Group. I met with their representative on Thursday September 16 to discuss the rum invasion, and to sample their product line:

In early November the push will begin to place four aged rums into the Alberta Marketplace. The Liber group plans to introduce a 5 year old, a 9 year old, a 12 year old, and a premium 21 year old rum into the marketplace coinciding with this Province’s Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festivals in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton. Plans are underway to grow the market through Western Canada this fall.

Here are my impressions of the Juan Santos Five Year Old Rum:

In the Bottle 4/5

Not much to say here that wasn’t said when I reviewed the Juan Santos Coffee Infused Rum.  The presentation in the bottle is nice.

In the Glass  8.5/10

In the glass one definitely gets the impression that there is a strong whisky influence to this rum both in looks and aroma. The colour is a pale brown with reddish highlights.  Rising into the air, with the smell of light toffee and brown sugar, is a light touch of bourbon vanilla and flashes of hotter rye like spices.   The toffee/rum aroma is pushed backward a bit by these whiskey-like fragrances.

In the Mouth  53/60

The rum has a nice soft texture and buttery feel in the mouth.  Flavours of creamy mild caramel seems to melt on the tongue with traces of nutmeg, and a hint of cinnamon.   Wrapped around this caramel/toffee like flavour is the unmistakable presence of a soft bourbon and a hot peppery rye.  The bourbon seems to impart an oily smoothness, while the rye kicks at the tonsils demanding to be noticed. The contrast shows good complexity in flavour; and yet, a nice balance is achieved between these flavours that is delightful. In spite of the dual whisky presence in the mouth, the dominant feature that pushes through the two opposing whiskey forces is a mild delicious rum.

In the Throat  13/15

In spite of the mild flavours, this is not a gentle rum, it is a knock your teeth down your throat kind of rum.  The buttery finish is long, and the peppery rye like burn is satisfying.  I am left with a slightly sweetened palate, with no bitter aftertaste.  In my imagination this is a rum any self respecting pirate would love. It kicks… but it tastes good!

The Afterburn 9/10

Juan Santos 5 Year Old Rum is such a wonderful paradox. It is remarkably complex, yet maintains a fine balance of flavours.   A rum with whiskey overtones which first melts a mild sweetness on your palate, then toasts your throat with a superb rye-like burn.  I found the contradictions to be delightful.  Sipping the rum was a real pleasure,

Suggested Cocktail:

Although a good sipping rum, I found Juan Santos 5 Year Old to be a great mixing rum,  It works well in daiquiris, and makes a wicked rum and coke.  But, perhaps because this reminded me so much of whiskey, I enjoyed it best mixed with Canada Dry Ginger Ale like this:

Arctic Wolf’s Rum & Ginger on Ice

In a mixing glass:

lots of ice

1 part Juan Santos Five Year Old Rum

3 parts Canada Dry Ginger Ale

Make sure you pour the rum over the ice, then add the Canada Dry Ginger Ale.  Cheers!


To read more of Chip’s reviews, tune into the Ministry of Rum.

Copyright 2009