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Advent Calendar Rum Review - The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

When I received the advent calendar, it presented me with a problem. It’s one of those western world problems that make you realize how good your life really is. I was debating how I would write about it and in how many articles. Twenty four samples is a lot of rum.

I see quite a few people post about it on a daily basis, which is nice. But, I’m not an every day drinker and it would cost me too much time. In the end I decided to write an introductory article and another where I’m sharing my thoughts on some of the rums.

I have to say it’s been a real joy to go through this calendar. I’ve tried a lot of rums in the past years but plenty were new to me and I’m always excited to try the unknown. I randomly picked 9 and tasted them in flights of 3.

Flight 1

Ratu Dark 5 Yr is made at the South Pacific Distillery in Fijij. They use pot stills and column stills, but I’m not sure which they have used for this 5 year blend. Information is scarce. The company website states it’s aged in charred oak barrels. A few sites mention it’s filtered through coconut shell carbon. When searching for info I found this gem:”The Dark Rum presumably uses the blackstrap molasses for the darker color and richer flavors noted for dark rums.” My oh my.

Borgoe 12 Yr hails from Suriname. The 12 is a column still rum made by Suriname Alcoholic Beverages for their 50th anniversary. They produce other spirits and an overproof rum called Mariënburg with an abv of 90%! Would love to try that one day.

On their website they say:”While creating this impressive rum, our master blender became inspired by the iconic tastes of the other aged rums from the Borgoe Reserve Collection, which resulted in a blend of unmatched intensity”. This marketing slogan was probably created by someone who had a very long day with tons of stress. He made a to do list in the morning, but forgot to put “Borgoe 12 slogan” on it. He remembered 5 minutes before going home.

Millonario 10 Aniversario Reserva is made at Pomalca in Peru. No info on their site on how this is made, of course. A few other sites mention it being a blend of a 6 year rum aged in bourbon barrels and a 10 year rum aged in oloroso sherry barrels. If that is true, and I have some doubts, then the 10 on the beautiful label is purely there to deceive consumers.

All of these are bottled at 40%.



It’s a strong pungent smell with molasses, toffee, light cardboard, light varnish, raisins, a warm caramel dessert, wood and something grassy in the distance. A very nice nose!


It’s oaky and meaty but then turns sweet and flowery. Raspberry candy and strong candle wax to finish it off. Interesting but not great.


Smells like washing up liquid. It’s citrusy with mint bubble gum and vanilla. Horrible. I asked Mariangela to nose it without telling her what it was. She said:”What the hell is this? Smells like lemon toilet cleaner.”

Ratu wins the nosing round, with Borgoe second. Let’s not mention the toilet cleaner.



First up is caramel, oak and chocolate come through. The finish is medium long and turns slightly bitter. I was expecting something much better after the nosing.


There is oak, caramel, vanilla and some sort of flowery sweetness I can't place. I’m getting pepper on the finish that’s quite long. I’m liking this better than the nose suggested.


Sugar! Brown Ben-Bits, very candy like, strong on mint. There is some banana and vanilla. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were people in a blind tasting not recognizing this as rum. Horrible stuff.

A note on Ben-Bits. This was a chewing gum I consumed quite a lot as a kid. The brown one was the flavour I associated with this rum. Click here for the Ben-Bits commercial from 1981 (yes I’m that old).

Borgoe wins the tasting round with Ratu in second. Millonario doesn’t rank.

Flight 1 Conclusion

The Ratu started off well, as I really like the nose on it. That kind of set an expectation for the taste profile and it didn’t get to that same level unfortunately. I’d be happy drinking it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy a bottle.

Borgoe 12 surprised me. Not a big fan of the nose, especially the sweet note wasn’t to my liking. However, I did enjoy sipping it. It is a very decent column still rum. If I came across a bottle somewhere, I might actually buy it.

Millonario 10 was very disappointing. It’s nothing like rum. Sweet, bubble gum, soapy. I really feel this shouldn’t be called rum. One of the worst I’ve ever tasted. It gives Bumbu a run for its money. The label is beautiful, I’ll give it that.

Flight 2

Pixan is an 8 year old rum made in Monterrey, Mexico with molasses from San Luis Potosí. The distillery is called Destileria Espiritus del Norte. It’s a blend of rums aged in two different ex-bourbon barrels.

Kathmandu’s Nepal Distilleries Private Limited produces Khukri XXX from molasses and is aged for a minimum of 8 months in “giant oak casks”. They use a 3 column still. Bottled at 42.8%.

Coloma 8 is made at a coffee estate in Colombia. As with every Colombian rum, you always have to wonder if they distill themselves or buy it in and blend/age it. More on that in this article. Looking at their website they show photos of barrels and all sorts of other stuff, but no distilling equipment. It’s a molasses rum aged in ex-bourbon barrels and finished in barrels that previously contained Coloma coffee liqueur. Bottled at 40%



It’s a little rubbery like a fresh bike tire. There’s also classic wood, vanilla, caramel and some orange peel. It’s really quite nice.


Doesn’t smell like rum to me, more like a Chinese alternative medicine store. There’s some apple in the background and roasted nuts…..I’m really searching past that weird spices scent.


It’s like an artificially flavoured red berry yogurt snack. Next to that there is bubble gum, coffee, cotton candy and a bit of glue.

Pixan wins the nosing round by a mile. Hard to pick a second place between the other two.



It’s very easy going. Wood, pepper, vanilla. Medium long finish that is quite sweet. I’m wondering if they’ve added sugar. It’s the only sample of the three that I actually finished.


Here’s the Chinese medicine store again but then in liquid form. Reminds me of cough syrup. Some vanilla on the finish. I can’t get past one sip. Dreadful.


Minty chewing gum mouthwash with some coffee and a peppery finish. How’s this rum again?

Flight 2 Conclusion

The Pixan is a nice easy going rum. If you want something sweet but don’t want to feel like you have to go to the dentist after, this is a decent choice. Khukri and Coloma are products I’ll avoid at all cost. Very little rum character. There should be a different category for stuff like this.

Flight 3

Pusser's Gunpowder Proof is a blend of rums from Guyana. Bottled at 54.5%, it’s a favourite of many who like Navy style rums. It’s said to be heavily leaning on rums from DDL’s Port Mourant still. The Pusser’s website states:” Pusser’s Rum is the only rum blended in exact accordance with the Royal Navy specifications last used when it discontinued its daily ration on July 31, 1970—ending a tradition that lasted over 300 years. Aged for a minimum of three years” Not sure how much to believe from this site, as they also claim:”Unlike most rums, Pusser’s is all natural and is never artificially flavoured or coloured.” The Fat Rum Pirate's hydrometer list has several of their expressions showing additives, which could be flavouring like sugar.

XM is a brand owned by Banks DIH in Guyana. The rum used to be Demarara from DDL, but is now from TDL in Trinidad. I didn’t know this while I was tasting it, as I always do the research at the end. However, one of my notes was “tastes more like Trini rum than Guyana”. I’m glad I spotted that. Would have been somewhat embarrassing otherwise. They have rums with several different age statements. This particular one is 10 years old and bottled at 40%. The whisky exchange notes:”packed with flavour and with real oomph”. I can’t say I agree with that.

Santos Dumont XO is the last rum. This is where I’m supposed to tell you who Alberto Santos Dumont is. But I won’t, since it’s just another far fetched story from a marketing department to make the product more 'sellable'. Apparently this rum hails from Brazil and has been aged in ex-bourben, ex-PX sherry and ex-port barrels. The company behind this product is Denmark’s A.H. Riise. Known for putting rums on the market with additive levels close to 100g/L. Does this sound promising or what?!

For more information you should check the excellent review by the Fat Rum Pirate, including a staggering hydrometer result of 58g/L of additives.


Pusser's Gunpowder

Typical Demerara smell with caramel, wood, licorice, chocolate and tobacco. Nice nose.

XM 10

It’s strong on cocunut, smells like sun tan lotion on the beach. It’s mildly sweet with oak, caramel, orange and a little smoke.

Santos Dumont XO

Sweet sickening smell, like being in a candy store or perhaps a Christmas store as I’m also getting Christmas pudding, cinnamon and honey. This is rum?

Pusser's wins the nosing round, which it should....being a mid 50's abv Demerara rum. XM second.


Pusser's Gunpowder

Oak spice in abundance with salted caramel, molasses and light licorice. It’s got a solid finish with a lot of caramel.

XM 10

I’m wondering if they’ve added sugar as it’s very easy going. Light oak, some pepper and vanilla. Seems more Trini than Guyana. There is hardly any finish, blink your eyes and it’s gone. Not an offensive rum, just nothing excites me about it. Might have had some oomph if it was 55% instead of 40.

Santos Dumont XO

Tastes like a cinnamon honey liqueur. A mashup of JD Honey and Fireball. Horrible. It is easier to deal with than the Millonario, Coloma and Khukri....slightly.

Flight 3 Conclusion

This is the best flight of the 3 as it has the best rum overall in it. Pusser's Gunpowder Proof is a very nice rum. Quite far ahead of the XM, even though that's quite a pleasant rum. It's just somewhat flat. I wouldn't buy it, unless they come up with a version that has the same abv as the Pusser's. Santos Dumont XO is a disgrace. I think even most sweet tooth rum drinkers will pass on this a blind tasting where the marketing is taken out of the equation.

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed going through these and the rest of the calendar. It's an educational experience as there are so many rums in there I've never tried. One critical note is that a more experienced rum drinker like myself will find too many disappointing rums in the calendar. I guess that's what happens when you want to please a lot of different types of rum drinkers and focus on presenting rums from many different countries. I was also surprised to not find a Jamaican rum. Mount Gay XO and some of the agricoles were among the good surprises.

People who have enjoyed rums for a shorter time, or ones who don't have access to a good selection in their local market will enjoy this calendar very much. It's quite the journey!

Merry Christmas!


Ratu Dark 5 Yr - 66

Borgoe 12 Yr - 71

Millonario 10 Aniversario Reserva - 10

Pixan 8 Yr - 57

Khukri XXX - 20

Coloma 8 - 25

Pusser's Gunpowder Proof - 74

XM 10 Yr - 52

Santos Dumont XO - 29

Click here for info on the scoring method.

This is from the A.H. Riise website. Bottles of their rum and.....a police car. Would this be the real world sugar police?!

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