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Mocambo 20 Review

Chip Dykstra is back with more commentary about rum.  This time he checks out Mocambo 20, a Mexican rum known for complex body and unusual packaging.

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Mocambo 20 Anos Anejo Rum 87.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
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I take a sip of Mocambo; I close my eyes, and my imagination takes me where it will.  Perhaps, because I am tired and had a long day of work, my imagination brought me to the end of a dusty desert trail in the low mountains of the Mexican desert.  I feel as though I have been hiking the mountain trails all day, my wife beside me sharing the journey. Now we sit by a campfire with our throats full of dust and the sweat clinging to our faces. Scraps of old dried wood found nearby are used to feed the fire which burns low to the ground and is mostly ash and coals and smoke now. Our leather raincoats which we never needed are rolled up and will be used as pillows tonight.  I smell the fresh mountain air, and it is mingled with the smells of the desert; the dusty trail, the dry sage brush, even some long abandoned wooden barrels that lie at the side of the campsite. My wife is boiling some tea by the campfire. I am chewing on some raisons and caramels.  I take a swig from a long slender bottle of Mexican rum.  Everything feels and tastes just about right, and we will sleep well tonight under the starry Mexican skies….

History

The Ron Mocambo 20 year old rum is distilled by Licores Veracruz, S.A. de C.V.  According to their website the 20 year old edition which I sampled is called The Art Edition.   The Art Edition is a throwback style of rum which uses old techniques of production, and then combines those techniques with modern aging to produce an aged rum of very unique taste and character.

In the bottle 5/5

Picture 26Artist, Victor Fernández, was selected to decorate the rum bottle with natural fibers to represent old Mexican handicraft in a modern art style. Each bottle is a unique artwork. The bark fibers cover the glass in a unique style and every bottle will have a slightly different presentation.

And to make things even better, the bottle is corked with a quality high density cork. I am impressed with the care and attention to detail shown.

In the Glass 8.5/10

The Mocambo rum displays a leathery brown colour, with a distinct grey pallor.  When I swirl the glass, I am rewarded with nice legs which trickle back down the sides of the glass.  The scents and smells which rise from the glass are very unique, and the overall effect is unlike the aroma of other rums which I have come across to this date.  Wisps of wood smoke and rawhide drift into the air in front of a lightly sweetened caramel and dried raisin.  This is pungent more so than sweet; and I can almost smell desert dust and sagebrush.  It is as if I really am traveling along an old forgotten trail through the low desert mountains of Mexico.

In the Glass 52/60

The Mocambo 20 Art Edition is a style of rum that genuflects at the altar of old wood without apology. The rum embraces its age, and its time spent in wooden casks.  In fact I would say the Mocambo Art Edition is a celebration of old wood and cask aging.

In the mouth, the rum  feels old and tastes old. The old wooden casks have been allowed to set their mark firmly into the flavour profile. There is a soft mild leathery (tobacco?) bitterness; but, this is a mild approachable bitterness of older wood tannins, and earthy smoke.  Whispers of ripe freshly cut cocoa bean, and Oolong tea set vague impressions of their presence into the rum but do not try to overwhelm it.  Caramel accents are far back in the flavour profile, sitting behind the old woody tannins, and leathery tobacco smokiness.  Yet… that whisper of caramel sweetness is not lost.  Even in its minimalized form, it acts to support the other flavours allowing that mellow bitterness to become more than it was.

In the Throat  13/15

The finish brings to mind dry fruit and roasted nuts.  Sweetness seems to be absent as the rum exits my mouth, but the mildly bitter tea and cocoa flavours identified on the palate seem to stay on the back of the palate well after the rum is gone.  I just cannot escape that feeling of long dusty desert mountain trails followed by wood smoke campfires.

The Afterburn  9/10

This is one of those rare rums which tastes a little better each time you try it.  The first impressions are of a rum that is too woody, with unsettling, unfamiliar flavours.  This unfamiliarity seems to belie its nature as a cane spirit. But with each return to the Mocambo my palate adjusted, and I found myself enjoying the rum more and more.  I know many persons will not easily adapt to this style, but if you are patient with your palate,  I believe that the rum has many rewards to offer.

Suggested Cocktail

The rum has an excellent woody and mildly bitter character which may be easily destroyed in a typical cocktail.   I want to embrace the unique character of the rum in constructing a cocktail, and perhaps bring that character to a wider audience.  What I have come up with is a gloriously uninhibited cocktail that combines Rum, Gin, Scotch Whisky and Grand Curacao.  Because I could not get the imagery of dusty Mexican trails and campfires out of my mind as I sipped the Macombo,  I decided to name the cocktail after the Mexican Cowboys who may still ride those trails:

Picture 23Vaquero Magnifico

1 3/4  oz Mocambo 20 Anos Anejo Rum
3/4 oz Bombay Blue Sapphire Gin
3/8 oz Old Parr Superior Scotch (Sub Johnny Walker Gold Label)
1/4  oz Grand Curacao
Angostura Bitters (dash)

Mix over two ice cubes in a rocks glass and enjoy.

Another cocktail I endorse came about by accident.  I was making my first Vaquero Magnifico, when I got distracted.  I got back to the task and realized that half of my ice cubes were melted.  I added 1 1/2 ounces of Mocambo to the glass anyway and then 3/8 of an ounce of Old Parr Superior Scotch.  Then I decided to check the flavour to see what else was needed.   The flavour was so nice, I decided to stop and just enjoy what was in my glass.  I’ll call it…The Last Vaquero:

Picture 25The Last Vaquero

1 1/2 oz Mocambo 20 year old Rum
3/8 oz Old Parr Superior whiskey
3/4 oz ice cold water

1 large Ice cube

Build on ice and Enjoy!

I should note that if you do not happen to have Old Parr Superior Scotch, I also had great success with Johnnie Walker.

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To read more of Chip’s work, check out The Rum Howler Blog.
Bottle image by Rob Burr.