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EL DORADO RUM – THE LIQUID GOLD

LIQUID GOLD…

I can`t have a cocktail blog without writing about my favorite rum which is El Dorado…which indeed is a Demerara rum but even more so – its a Guyanese rum, and the only rums distilled in Guyana are those from DDL – the only true Guyanese rums.

In 1992, the company introduced its El Dorado brand of rums to the local and international markets by focusing on the well-known legend surrounding its name. The well known story tells of explorers who traveled to Guyana in search of a fabled golden city known as El Dorado. The tale describes a king who wore a fine dust of gold all over his body, so to that he to the explorers appeared to be made of gold. The legend also describes the king’s city (Manoa, in Rupunun in the heartland of Guyana) as being constructed of pure gold, just like its king.

Although the El Dorado rums were only launched on the international market in 1993, these rums have become internationally recognized as the best in their class and are prized for their unique flavor and taste. Currently these rums are distributed in over forty countries and the El Dorado holds the distinction of being the only internationally recognized Guyanese manufactured product. These rums are aged, bottled, and blended in conformance with the ISO standards – which is the highest global production standards.

GUYANA THE LAND OF MANY WATERS

Guyana is an Amerindian word meaning “Land of many waters”. The country can be characterized by its vast rain forests, many rivers, creeks and waterfalls, like the famous Kaieteur Falls on the Potaro River. Guyana’s tepuis are famous for being the inspiration for the 1912 novel The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s.

Physically a part of South America but Guyana is culturally Caribbean rather than Latin American and is often considered part of the West Indies.

EL DORADO RUMS

The El Dorado rums are distilled, blended and bottled by Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) – located on the East Bank of Demerara, South Amerara, in Guyana. Demerara disitllers have been in rum production for over three and one half centuries and have even with the passing of time maintained the tradition.

DDL have several different stills, but they are all on one site. All Demerara rum is distilled at the DDL distillery at Diamond, East Bank Demerara. Demerara distillers now have the only operating wooden continuous and pot stills in the world. There were at least 200 small distilleries operating in the 17th and 18th centuries, and every sugar factory in Guyana had its own distillery, from which a special blend of rum was produced.

There were for instance the Uitvlugt distillery that was in Uitvlugt, West Coast Demerara, the Port Mourant distillery was in Port Mourant, and there were Enmore, Blairmont, Albion, Skeldon and Rose Hall. These names are simply the geographical locations of where the distilleries used to be.

Each of these distilleries produced a unique rum that was identified to the estate by its identity mark, for example EHP to Enmore, An to Albion, SWR to Skeldon, PM to Port Mourant, ICBU to Uitvlugt, LBI to La Bonne Intention, to name a few. Due to change in ownership, economic constraints and other factors, with time, the sugar estates and the distilleries were consolidated.

What was unique was that even with consolidation the important marks were maintained at Demerara distillers – either the identical mark was produced by moving the original still to the new location or by producing it on an existing still on the new location. So even though the original distilleries are closed, the identical marks are produced at the existing distillery at Diamond, which is the only distillery left. Even XM is distilled at Diamond, and then aged and bottled by Banks/DIH outside Georgetown.

Demerara distillers are the only distillery in the world that has maintained the quality and tradition that is the identical marks and original wooden stills. This is what has made these rums so distinct as compared to others and they are the only distillers in Guyana. (Banks/DIH is a blender.) Any rum that is refered to as Demerara rum must be distilled in Guyana in the county of Demerara.

THE STILLS

The double wooden pot still and the wooden coffey still

Today the Demerara distillers operates 9 different stills and thus produces a fantastic range of rum marques. There are in operation 4 column Savalle stills, 2 wooden pots, 1 wooden coffey and 2 metal columns.

The distillery also uses a double wooden pot still, made up two wooden pots, a metal retort, rectifier and condenser which is producing these heavy, aromatic and flavourful rums. This still is the last operating of its kind in the world, and the rum that it produces is very distinctive.

The old wooden coffey still too is also the last operating still of its kind in the world today, and the uniqueness of the Demerara rums are surely attributed to this still as well even though it must be said, a specific still cannot be associated with a specific rum, but more like “rum-type”. The wooden Coffey still is made of rectangular frames stacked on top of each other with metal perforated trays inbetween. The rectifier has cooling coils passing through some of the sections. These wooden stills are made of local hard wood.

Most people believe the 12 and the 15 are separated by merely 3 years whereas in fact they are produced using marques from different stills explaining their variety.

All El Dorado rums are at minimum the age indicated on the bottle – it can be older but not younger. The difference between the 2 wooden pot stills apart from that one is double is that they produce different quality rums. From the single pot comes a rum that is lightly milder with a touch of sweetness while the rum from the double pot is more robust, and much heavier with a good tone of fusel oil.

 SO WHAT´S IN THESE MAGICAL RUMS?

The 5 year old contains predominantly Uitvlugt marques (brands) from the Savalle still and marques from the Enmore wooden Coffey .

The 12 year old is the sweeter of the El Dorado rums, and copper colored. It’s aged in used whisky and bourbon barrels. In 2006 it was reformulated, It has tasting notes of fruit, tobacco and orange peel and has tropical fruits and spice nose.This rum contains predominantly copper coffey still rum from Diamond blended with the double wooden pot still at Port Mourant and marques from the Enmore wooden Coffey.

The 15 year old is the driest of the El Dorado range and thus a perfect cigar accompaniment. Its taste notes are a mix of dry fruits, liquorice and spice oak. Silky mouth feel with dark chocolate, coffee with hints of sweet vanilla. It has a punchy smoky flavor and a long dry fruity finish.

It contains equally double wooden pot from Port Mourant and metal coffey from Diamond, blended with single wooden pot still (Versailles) and marques from the Enmore wooden coffey still.

The 21 year old is to my palate quite alike the 15 but still very different, less of the smoky punch and more refined. Mixed fruits and spicy oak, dark chocolate, vanilla, coffee and a dry long fruity finish.Contains predominantly Albion marques from Savalle and then Enmore – wooden coffey still and single wooden pot still from Versailles.

The 25 year old contains predominantly Enmore – wooden coffey still and La Bonne intention marques from Savalle and then double wooden pot from Port Mourant and Albion marques from Savalle. This rum i have yet to try.

Same raw fermented wash put through differing stills, aged in the same warehouse then blended to make these fantastic rums. The barrels used are American, once used white oak bourbon barrels. Demerara has significant stock of bulk aged rums available with a warehousing capacity of about 60000 to 65000 barrels and supplies product also for numerous private labels.

Of all the El Dorado rums (except for the 25 i haven`t tasted yet) i prefer the 15 because it has substantially more depth and i love its smoky punch. It has been my no 1 rum since 15 years actually..so to me it’s a 15 year jubilee, a reason to celebrate with guess what..

EL DORADO RUM RANGE

El Dorado white
El Dorado 3 year old cask aged (white)
El Dorado 5 year
El Dorado 8 year
El Dorado 12 year
El Dorado 15 year
El Dorado 21 year
El Dorado 25 year
El Dorado Gold
El Dorado Spice
El Dorado overproof 120
El Dorado overproof 140
El Dorado High Strength 151
El Dorado Rum Cream
El Dorado Chocolate Cream

All the same rum off 9 different stills.

Then they also have made 3 single barrel rums:

El Dorado Single Barrel Uitvlugt
El Dorado Single Barrel Enmore Disitllery
El Dorado Single Barrel Port Morant

These are single barrels examples, from different Guyanese distilleries, that would have been blended into fine El Dorado spirits. Since they are single barrel rums they doesnt taste the same as the blended rums, not as smooth, not as “refined”, more straight forward taste of the barrel they been aged in.

I have tried two of them so far, the ort Morant (PM) and the Uitvlugt (ICBU) – the PM is very woody while the ICBU is sweet. I find the ICBU great for sipping – but would mix well too and the PM is good for sipping to and even better for mixing and would bring character to a suitable drink.

When it comes to the overproof rum there are 3 different, two are (as far as i know) sold in Europe, one is a 140 proof caramel colored and the other is a white colored 126 proof. In the US, there´s a 151 rum labeled “High Strength Rum”

THE EL DORADO HERITAGE CENTER

In reply to my question at the Ministry of Rum Carl Kanto – chemist/brand ambassador and personally responsible for crafting the El Dorado range of rums, has this to tell us about the El Dorado Heritage center:

“Even though in Guyana we have been in rum production for over 3 1/2 hundred years, there is very little record and/or artifacts relating to this activity.Demerara Distillers Limited decided that you cannot have the world best rums and unable to trace its evolution. As a result the idea of a rum museum was born and this became a reality March, 2007.

At present in the Rum Heritage Centre we have on display a batch redistillation still that was used in the early 1940s, two hydrostatic pressure controlers that were used on the Savalle stills in the early 1950s, a small copper double retort pot still that was used to do experiment rum, a wooden steam boiler manufactured in 1945, a plate heat exchanger, a molasses clarifier/yeast seperator, models of the Savalle still, the modern metal Coffey still, the double wooden pot still, the wooden Coffey still and a Brigs gin still. There are also a number of photographs of activities tha took place in the company over the years.

There are a few bottles of product that were produced years ago and a small amphitheater where visitors can view videos on the company’s operations. Most importantly there is the Display and sampling bar where all the premium products are on display. This bar is made from old oak barrels – the sides (top and bottom), display centres and bar stools.

We are hoping that over time we can add items, with the help of the public, to make the Heritage Centre a show piece to truely depict the rich history of rums in Guyana. We would be very grateful if any one reading this note has any thing that they can contribute, whether information, literature, items, anything to do with rum can please contact me.”

Many thanks to Carl Kanto and Demerara distillers, also my good friend Paul at the Bibendum in London for helping me with pics of the stills and some valuable information.

Also thanks to Chenette for courtesy of the demerara river photos.

 

26 comments to EL DORADO RUM – THE LIQUID GOLD

  • This is an amazingly informative post. I had no idea El Dorado made so many rums, or that the high strength and overproof rums were different.

  • Tiare

    Rick, that there are two overproofs was a surprise to me as well when i found out.
    Anthony, i dont know where in the UK you live, i myself live in sweden. But you should be able to get more info from these links:

    http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/
    http://www.specialitydrinks.com
    http://www.gerrys.uk.com/
    Cheers!

  • Anthony Athawes

    Where can I get El Dorado in the UK?

  • The Rumelier

    Great job Tiare. I just spent my lunch break reading this article, now you’ve made me thirsty. I am looking forward to trying the single barrel rums one day, I’m with you though, the 15YO is my favourite too.

    Cheers – Bob

  • Capn Jimbo

    Tiare, a masterpiece. I’m no dummy regarding rums (although I AM a Compleat Idiot, lol), I have read some histories of Demeraran rum and still you opened my eyes to some new and valuable information.

    Your tasting notes are very helpful. All in all it appears that the El Dorados all represent the high art of blending. Much like Appleton and Mount Gay.

    Thank you.

  • Avi Rain

    I must say this is a great post. But being from demerara Guyana my whole family work in ddl and I had the chance to see this factory.5 years ago when I went to visit and I am now a collector of these rum I have all of them even some limited edition ones and the best in my taste is the 15 year.to all of you out there the 21 and the 25 will soon be very hard to find so if you get your hands on them buy it. Wiskey exchange in London u.k.have them.

    avirain@gmail.com

  • Tiare

    Mahalo!

    Rumelier, i havent tried the single barrels either but i`ve heard quite negative reactions to it when compared to the other El D rums, be aware that the sb rums do not taste the same. Maybe you can first try them at some rum tasting or in a bar before you get yourself a big bottle?

    Jimbo,El Dorado really represent the high art of blending indeed. I`m very interested in demeraras and i`m soon starting a series of posting on different dem rums.

    AviRain, i agree with you that the 15 year old is the best, in my taste too. The 21 is also very good, i haven`t tried the 25 yet.

    James, (in response to James recent comment on my old blog) i haven`t forgotten to write about Banks rums;-) The XM 10 is actually mantioned in this post if you read it carefully: “Even XM is distilled at Diamond, and then aged and bottled by Banks/DIH outside Georgetown.”

    The XM 10 is actually one of my top favorites among demerara rums. I have also posted more about Banks in another post (demerara rums part two) As far as i have understood Banks is a blender and not a distiller and the rums is distilled at Diamond.

    I also wrote in this post:

    Demerara distillers are the only distillery in the world that has maintained the quality and tradition that is the identical marks and original wooden stills. This is what has made these rums so distinct as compared to others and they are the only distillers in Guyana.(Banks/DIH is a blender.)

    And in this post(demerara rums part 2):

    XM is distilled at Diamond, and then aged and bottled by Banks/DIH outside Georgetown. Banks/DIH is a blender.

    Also at the Ministry of Rum this was discussed last year, here is a piece of a thread:

    Berbician: All Demerara rum is distilled at the DDL distillery at Diamond, East Bank Demerara. Banks DIH buy rum in bulk, from DDL, and age, blend and bottle it at Thirst Park on the southern outskirts of Georgetown.

    DDL have several different stills, but they are all on one site.

    Link: http://ministryofrum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1583
    Maybe this last thread from the MOR clears it all up? i hope its right now, if not please correct me.

    Tiare

  • Andy009

    This is some awesome info on the El Dorado rums. My favorite is the 15 year old, this is some fantastic rums! the 15 year has the most complete flavors i`ve ever had in a rum.

  • Rumrunner

    In regards to the line of Single Barrel rums carried by Eldorado, I would like to say that the reason that most people don’t have a grasp of this product is because they are expecting the same experience that they get from the aged rums eg 12, 15, 21…..When drinking the SB rums one should truly be a rum conisure the concept behind the SB’s are the same concept behind a Single malt scotch.

    The aged line is a blend of 9 different rums varrying in age and body. The SB’s are one barrel aged for approximately 8yrs if you are fan of the 12 year old then you will find an apprecitation for the Single Barrel PM

  • Rumrunner

    I also would like to say that I had Eldorado’s new’ 3 year old white rum and I really think that this product blows any white rum on the market off the market……It is very flavorful, I had it in a cocktail then I tried it on its own these people really know their stuff I HAVE NEVER HAD ANYTHING LIKE THIS!!.
    My suggestion is to try this 3yr white rum
    1 1/2 oz of rum club soda and a lemon wheel…….MARVELLOUS!!!
    This is Rum REDEFINED!!

  • Rumrunner

    lso I would like to add that the 3yr old white rum a new product from this company is quite fantastic.
    I have never had a white rum like this before and it just blows every other white rum on the market off the market.
    I had it in a coctail but just had to try it on its own it was marvellous.
    This is white rum REDEFINED!!
    TRY IT WITH A SHOT OF WHITE RUM CLUB SODA AND A LEMON WHEEL

  • Tiare

    Hi Rumrunner, i get it..;-) definetily, i got to try that 3 year old white, i just don´t know from where to get it, its only sold in the UK i think.

    As for the single barrels, i have tried Port Morant and Uitvlught and i wrote about them in this post.

    Andy, i agree with you, 15 year old El Dorado is my all time favorite rum! very closely followed by Silver Sea15.

    T

  • Mikey

    The 15 year El Dorado is probably the best rum ever made, the 21 is very close, but is more delicate and lacks the smoky flavor you find in the 15 year old. That 3 year old white interest me, i haven`t seen it anywhere yet though.
    Very well written post, i enjoyed the reading and learnt a thing or two.

    Cheers!

  • Shirow66

    I ordered the 3 year old white from thewhiskeyexchange.com and it really is amazing stuff. It has that distinctive Demerara nose, and it mixes incredibly well.
    I didn’t like the 15 year old though because it had too much wine taste. I’m really dying to try the 5 year old next. I was considering trying the overproof as a substitute for Lemon Hart 151 but now that I see it’s caramel colored I’m starting to have doubts..

  • Tiare

    I`m going to try it but before i do i`ll try the overproof.I don`t think the caramel color is anything to worry about, i`m sure its a nice overproof, or so i hear..
    How much did you pay for the shipping?

    T

  • Stef Holt

    Hi All,
    I have just found this site & am blown away by the level of detail Tiare has gone into & the response to El Dorado’s range of rums!

    I am actually the brand ambassador in the UK (feel free to contact me for more info) and am about to do a talk & tasting this afternoon on the Single Still range!

    I will be doing more of these, so i will make sure i post dates/times on them on this site as well now…

    Thanks so much for all of your great reviews & comments – i will be passing them all on to the distillery.
    I was there last week & i know they appreciate hearing any feedback from rum enthusiasts!!!

    Anyway, my email address is stefanie@inspiritbrands.com if you want to contact me or find out anymore info – i am worried i will struggle to match the brilliant descriptions above though!

    Stef Holt

  • Tiare

    Hi Stef! Thanks for your kind words!

    T

  • Mary

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your posts. Any way
    I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon!

  • Andy009

    I wonder how they maintain those wooden stills? so old as they are, how long will they keep workin`?

  • Stef Holt

    Hi Andy,
    Good question. The wood isnt actually all the same wood as the stills were initially built with, as of course the wood is kind of ‘worn out’ every time you distil in it. The wood soaks up some of what is being distilled in it as well as giving flavours & complexity to what is being distilled.

    They look after the stills by changing the wood – they are v clever about doing this though, as if they changed all the wood at once the flavour of the rum would change. They change the wood in small sections so there is always some newer wood and always some older wood in the still.

    On average each section is changed every 15-20 years and once they finish all the sections they just start again at the other end!

    I hope that helps…

    Stef

  • Andy009

    So that´s how they do it,i could never have guessed;-)very clever.

  • Mary – thanks!

    Stefanie, thanks for all the valuable info! and i agree with Andy, it´s damned clever way to keep it up and maintain the wooden stills with the flavors keep going – for so long!

  • Dan D.

    I spent two years in Georgetown and while the country has plenty of faults it does produce some fantastic rum. I love the 15 year for sipping, and use the 5 year mostly for mixing (my wife makes a killer chocolate rum cake with it). I would also like to call readers’ attention to the DDL Rum Cream, which is really very nice.

  • Thank you Dan D! i haven`t had the rum cream in a long time! i hope i can visit the DDL distillery and Guyana some day!

  • Michael Dick

    I have always had a taste for demerara rums and til recently only Lemon Hart was the only one available here in BC,Canada so when I noticed our LCB shelving a new one I had to try it. El Dorado 12 yr is the only one stocked locally and it has become my new favorite , replacing Flor de Cana 7yr which I had been drinking for the last 10 yrs.
    Well done!!!!! and thanks for all the new (to me) info on your website.
    I hope that our supplier , BCLCB , will see the light and stock the 15yr too.

  • Michael, i hope so too! the ED 15yo is one the best rums in the world. And ED12 is as good but in a different way since they are totally different flavors, “same same but different” :-)
    It`s funny how you had the LH around in abundance while the rest of us was crying to get it for a long time when it was gone, until finally due to our friend Ed Hamilton it was brought back.

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