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El Dorado 15 Rum Review - Old Vs New - Where's The Sugar?!

I have a bit of a love hate relationship when it comes to El Dorado. It’s a brand from a distiller with incredible pedigree. The company behind the brand is Demerara Distillers Ltd. Their history is long and fascinating. In the 1700's there were more than 300 distilleries in Guyana. Over time the vast majority of them closed. In some cases the stills wouldn’t be demolished, but moved to a different distillery instead. Those stills finally ended up at the only rum distillery left in Guyana. It’s reminiscent of a distilling museum. I wrote a little about it here, but if you really want to take a deep dive you should read Marco Freyer’s excellent article. It will take time, as it’s long, but there is nobody who has written in more detail about them.


Their El Dorado line is well known. Multiple expressions of different ages, with the 12, 15 and 21 year versions being talked about the most in rum groups. They are all interesting blends of rum from the various stills they posses. Their age statements represent the minimum age of the liquid, which provides consumers with confidence in buying something that’s value for money. Next to that, they have released a multitude of expressions aimed at rum enthusiasts. First through Luca Gargano’s Velier. Those bottles have become so mythical and wanted that people are paying thousands for them. When the collaboration with Luca ended, they started bottling them under their own El Dorado Rare Collection brand. They also sell a ton of bulk rum which ends up being released by independent bottlers after being aged in Europe. Then there are the “navy” rums that usually contain at least part Demerara rum. DDL’s rum is everywhere, which is good imo!


The thing that’s thrown a bit of a shadow over DDL in enthusiast circles is the rumour that they are adding sugar to their rums. A rumour which DDL has always denied. However, several rum consumers have been performing hydrometer tests for years. These tests reveal if there has been a density change in the liquid, which could be the result of additives being present. Fat Rum Pirate measured El Dorado 15 at 31 g/L of additives. Those results coupled with the level of swe