Updated: Feb 4, 2020
First time I encountered The Scarlet Ibis was about 5 years ago. Picked it up in the US and drank the entire bottle with Colombian family in an evening. We all thought it was a pleasant and fairly easy going rum. Between then and now I bought another bottle in the US at some point, but never opened it…until now.
The Scarlet Ibis, which is the national bird of Trinidad, is a blend of three to five year old Trinidad rums. Aged in ex bourbon barrels and likely originating from Angostura, aka TDL. There are no additives and it’s bottled at 49%. The Fat Rum Pirate mentioned in his review that the blend was made up of 3 to 8 year old rums, according to importer Haus Alpenz. I verified this with another very reliable source and they said 3 to 5 years. I'm glad we got that worked out :)
The reason why I opened this bottle was because I was searching for a rum to compare to Ron Colón (as in...Cristóbal Colón, the Spanish name of explorer Christopher Columbus). A 55.5% rum from El Salvador. I have no rums from El Salvador, nor a Spanish style rum around that abv. Gosh, the dilemmas one can have in life! After searching through my entire collection, I figured I’d use a rum that’s somewhat young and similar in abv. It doesn’t have to be a super close match anyway, as pointing out differences is part of the fun after all.
The story of how I got a bottle of Ron Colón takes me back to my Christmas holiday visit to Holland. While I was there, Ian Matthews contacted me. He’s part of a group of guys who are behind this new brand. He asked me if he could send a bottle for me to review. I’m always careful with these kind of things, as I write for the consumer, not for the producer. So, in the good Dutch tradition of honesty and straightforwardness, I told him I always write what I think. If I don’t like it……then that is what I’ll write. He thanked me for the warning but wanted to take the risk regardless. Living on the edge!
He sent me two bottles. A coffee infused rum and the regular blend that’s part of this article. Coffee infused rum is not my thing, so I can’t give much of an opinion on it. It’s the same blend but cold macerated with whole coffee beans for 48 hours. The regular one has got a few surprises up its sleeve. It’s rum from El Salvador blended with Jamaican rum (through Scheer). All of a sudden I realized I didn’t need to find a Spanish style rum to pair it with! It’s currently bottled in Holland, but their goal is to move this process to El Salvador at some point.
The El Salvador rum comes from Licorera Cihuatán, a part of Ingenio La Cabaña. Established in 1920, it’s one of the largest and oldest sugar producers in the country. Their fermentation time is 36 hours and distillation is done with a modern multi-column still. After distillation the rum is aged in ex-bourbon barrels. Their angel’s share is about 8% per year. The Master Distiller and blender is Gabriela Ayala. Click here for a Rum Lab interview with her.
I’ve tasted a few of their Ron Cihuatán expressions. The Cihuatán 8, which I thought was just a typical Spanish style, sugar added rum. Very little complexity and way too sweet. However, the limited edition (17,914 bottles) Nikté was very interesting. Quite complex, not overly sweet and a good abv of 47.5%. I’d buy a bottle of that. But I’m digressing.
Here’s the full makeup of the blend:
• 70% 6 year old column still Salvadoran rum
• 15% unaged pot still Jamaican rum from Worthy Park, Hampden and Monymusk
• 15% 3 year old Worthy Park rum
I love this level of openness!!
The Scarlet Ibis
A fairly "traditional" nose with oak, vanilla and salty caramel. However a fruity pear note and some honey showed up at some point. Bit sweeter, more rounded and pleasant than Colón.
It has some clear funky Jamaican fruit, sour milk, pineapple, banana, light wood, light candle wax and black tea. It's a little boozy. Interesting!
The Scarlet Ibis
It starts off quite sweet with vanilla and oak, then some pencil wood. It’s slightly peppery and has a petrol note. This makes me think of Caroni, but realize rums from TDL can have a similar note. I have a 16 year Compagnie Des Indes rum from TDL that has it too.
The finish is medium long and not super interesting.
It shows its youth by being quite fiery. It’s on the sweeter side with a mild Jamaican funk and some wood. Pineapple, banana and nuts come through. Finish is medium long, with a slight bitter note to it.
The Scarlet Ibis is a pleasant rum. It’s pretty traditional and works well for sipping and mixing. I’d pick it up again if I came across it, as it’s very affordable.
Ron Colón confused me a little initially. For its youth, the abv seems to be on the high side. As a sipper I believe it would work better at a lower abv, around 46 or so. However, Ian confirmed with me that the main goal for this rum is to be great in cocktails. That makes a lot more sense to me. After hearing that, I made a couple of daiquiris. Turns out it works very well.
The Jamaican part of the blend is making its presence very clear on the nose and palate, even though it's a small component. I suspect the El Salvador rum is a fairly light distillate, which would easily be overpowered by pot still Jamaican rum. I feel they blended it well. There is enough Jamaican in there to give it a flavour punch (especially for cocktails), without being overbearing and turning into a pure Jamaican rum.
The Scarlet Ibis – 76
Ron Colón – 72
Click here for info on the scoring method.