How to choose rum cask strength

20 August 2022 | Buyer's Guide
How to choose rum cask strength

What defines the term cask strength ? We are talking here about an old tasting rum that has no reduction by adding water or sweetening at the exit of the barrel.

But what is it for?

Let's not forget that through the high ABV of a cask strength, you also have the maximum concentration of aromas that a barrel can offer. This has a big influence on its nose and its length in the mouth. Very often powerful, cask strength rum aims to show the exceptions of a selection within a distillery.
The public's appetite for the genre is quite recent. For the past ten years, if confirmed amateurs often swear by it, novices are still frightened by a high volume of alcohol. However, make no mistake, the idea is to take pleasure in tasting. Powerful does not mean unbalanced.

But how to choose it?

It's only recently that all styles of rums were represented. South American rums are still rare in this area. It is mainly independent bottlers, fond of novelties and having to challenge themselves to innovate who have set their sights on this terroir. You can find Ron from Panama or Nicaragua in houses like La famille Ricci, Nobilis or Rom de luxe. The usual caramelized and sweet flavors will give way to more toasted, caffeinated and mocha notes.

The style that has given Cask Strength the most spotlight are the rums of the English-speaking Caribbean traditions. Again, independent bottlers have created their success by selecting these terroirs. Among them Velier, Silver Seal, Kill Devil or Excellence Rhum are present.

Official bottlers like El Dorado, Worthy Park or Foursquare are also famous for their selections.

If you are looking for smouthness through power, Barbados or Belize will delight you with their flavors of coconut, vanilla and sweet spices.

The varied complexity of Guyana rums is a real school for understanding flavors according to the type of distillation and aging, ranging from vegetal to liquorice while exploring spicy or floral notes.

Jamaica, a specialist in long fermentations or “High ester”, with profiles ranging from smooth with flavors of exotic fruits, up to the exuberant, with its profiles on varnish and tart candy.

If this is less common, the French West Indies are not left out on the quality of their bottlings in Cask strength. More protectionist due to its geographical indication and AOC labels, it is above all the official bottlers who highlight their know-how. Bally, JM, Bielle or Montebello are good examples. A few independent bottlers have been on rare occasions able to make selections of this style. Among these exceptions, Chantal Comte, Velier or Excellence Rhum were able to introduce people to overseas territories rums. At cask strength, pure cane juice rums often develop aromas of powerful spices and precious woods, but also fruity treasures.

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