The Big Daiquiri Challenge - Chapter 3
Updated: Mar 9
Our search for the ideal daiquiri rum is now in its third chapter. We keep doing this because we all feel it’s such an enjoyable exercise. Chapter one and chapter two were very much connected, as the winners from the first went on to the second chapter to face new opponents. This time we’ve done it a little different, as almost all entries are new this time.
There are two reasons for this. First, some of the winning rums are running out (tough to get rum in Toronto). Second, we’ve learned from the previous chapters that there are several rums our group keeps picking as the best. Since we don’t want to constantly talk about the same rums, we are changing the lineup this time.
Some of the most impressive ones so far: Rhum Rhum PMG, Clairin Sajous, Mhoba French Cask, Probitas, Foursquare Dominus, Dr Bird, Rum Bar Overproof & Rum Fire. Some of them will come back to future Daiquiri Challenges for comparison of course.
We kept the format and recipe the same. Rum A vs Rum B, single knockout. The recipe being two rum, one lime, half sweet. We had a full roster of tasters this time. Everyone was available, so we had 5 people present. Hamish Grant, Matthew Wise, Andrew Toplack, Mariangela and myself.
We set up everything in our kitchen again with snacks and daiquiri ingredients. Difference with last time was that Andrew showed up with a big bag of amazing snacks. Since this was on top of what we already had, it became an eating and drinking fest. A great combo!
As a reminder, the winners from last time were: Probitas, Clairin Sajous, Foursquare Dominus, Rhum Rhum PMG, Mhoba French Cask and a stalemate between Rum Bar Overproof and Rum Fire.
· Doorly’s XO, Foursquare, Barbados, 40%
· Mount Gay XO, Mount Gay, Barbados, 43%
· Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black, Worthy Park, Jamaica, 46.5%
· JAH 45 Silver, Hampden/New Yarmouth/Clarendon blend, Jamaica, 40%
· Leatherback, North Of 7, Canada, 57%
· Privateer Navy Yard Barrel Proof, Privateer, USA, 62%
· Smith & Cross, Hampden/Long Pond/Clarendon/Worthy Park blend, Jamaica, 57%
· Wray & Nephew Overproof, New Yarmouth, Jamaica, 63%
· Rum Bar Overproof, Worthy Park, Jamaica, 63%
· Hampden Estate Pure Single, Hampden,Jamaica, 46%
· Hamilton White Stache, Trinidad/Guyana/Dominican blend, 43.5%
· Ron Colón, El Salvador/Jamaica blend, 55.5%
Doorly’s XO vs Mount Gay XO
Ivar: Starts very limey, followed by sweetness
Matt: Citrus on the nose
Mariangela: Too much lime for me, I want more rum
Toplack: Very nice, but I still wouldn’t have another
Hamish: I’d like it to be more spirit forward
Matt: Overly sweet
Ivar: Not enough rum
Mariangela: It’s like lemonade
Mount Gay XO
Iv: Less lime forward
Ma: I like Mount Gay XO
Top: This is better
Matt: There is no transportation to the tropics, it doesn’t stand out flavour wise
Top: A bit sweet but much more integrated
Iv: The rum flavour is more pronounced
Iv: Mount Gay XO
Ma: Mount Gay XO
Matt: Mount Gay XO
Top: Mount Gay XO
Ha: Mount Gay XO
Mount Gay the clear winner here. It has more punch and fights the lime and sweetness better than the Doorly’s. The rum is simply a lot more present. This is of course partly because of the slightly higher abv. The Doorly’s daiquiri is sweeter and a little easier to drink. I can totally see people who are new to rum and/or daiquiris, or who prefer a less rum forward cocktail picking it for those reasons.
Winner: Mount Gay XO
Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black vs JAH 45 Silver
Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black
Ma: This is when the fun starts!
Top: Right there on the flavour. It’s a spicy meatball!
Matt: We’ve got the funk…..we’ve got the funk
Ma: Very herbal
Iv: Gentle funk. It’s clearly there but not overpowering
Matt: It’s got some ovaries. This might win the night
Iv: Very fruity and refreshing
Top: Not crazy about how fruity it is
Ma: Very limey
Matt: Sugar takes over
Top: The fullness of the Hamilton isn’t there
Ha: Better than Mount Gay, as I feel that’s wasted in a cocktail…..I want to sip it. JAH 45 belongs in a cocktail
Ma: Fake coconut
Matt: Better mouthfeel than Hamilton but not as flavourful
Iv: The Hamilton gives so much more flavour
Top: Hamilton better by far
Ha: Hamilton is clearly the best so far
Matt: 51/49 for me. It’s that close for a daiquiri
Iv: Hamilton Jamaican Black
Ma: Hamilton Jamaican Black
Matt: Hamilton Jamaican Black
Top: Hamilton Jamaican Black
Ha: Hamilton Jamaican Black
Another landslide win. The Hamilton is thicker, rounder and simply more flavourful. I feel this would be the same at equal abv, likely because it’s pure pot still and JAH 45 isn’t. JAH 45 makes a good daiquiri though. It’s worth a try, especially because it’s very affordable. I’ve also been using it for rum n Cokes and it’s very tasty.
Winner: Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black
Hamilton White Stache vs Ron Colón
Hamilton White Stache
Iv: I don’t smell rum
Ma: I can’t smell anything. Is that a good start?!
Ha: Feels like a resort daiquiri at happy hour
Top: Better than JAH 45, it’s much rounder in the middle
Iv: Balanced daiquiri, but not exciting to me
Matt: I can feel my teeth
Iv: Perfumey and a bit fiery
Ma: Reminds me of Clairin
Top: There is a dry bitterness to it
Matt: I like that dry bitterness
Ha: I like it better than JAH 45, but Stache is better defined than this one
Matt: I prefer it on it’s own, rather than in a daiquiri
Ha: Agreed, on it’s own I prefer Ron Colón
Iv: Ron Colón
Ma: Ron Colón
Matt: Ron Colón
Top: Hamilton White Stache
Ha: Hamilton White Stache
This was really a battle between a balanced, subtle daiquiri vs a more rum defined one. The Jamaican component of Ron Colón definitely shines through. That combined with the significantly higher abv makes it the winner by one vote. I’m not sure it would be the same if the abv was equal though.
Winner: Ron Colón
Leatherback vs Privateer Navy Yard
Iv: Smells like a barrel
Ma: More like smelly socks. This is not for me
Top: Lime, sugar and rum are not coming together
Ha: This is my least favourite so far
Matt: I don’t mind it. It’s better on its own though
Iv: I like this as a drink, but it doesn't taste like a daiquiri
Matt: Ivar, this is the one you gave me a sample of when we met in a bar. I let the bartender make a daiquiri with it and it was great
Privateer Navy Yard
Iv: Orange peel. Ma: Yes!
Top: Much better. My favourite after Hamilton Black
Ma: A lot of orange. I like it
Iv: Woody. Rummy. Great finish. Good stuff
Matt: It’s pretty close, but I’m slightly biased towards Privateer because Canada sucks. Are you publishing that Ivar?
Ha: High level daiquiri that should only be served in a bar at special request. Leatherback is a mess in comparison
Iv: Privateer Navy Yard
Ma: Privateer Navy Yard
Matt: Privateer Navy Yard
Top: Privateer Navy Yard
Ha: Privateer Navy Yard
Leatherback is a very nice sipper, but clearly didn’t work well in this daiquiri recipe. Not every good sipper makes a good cocktail. There was no integration or balance. The Privateer was the opposite. Very powerful and flavourful daiquiri. Four of us felt it was a clear winner. Matt was the only one who thought it was close between these two. Oh Canada!
Winner: Privateer Navy Yard
Hampden Estate Pure Single vs Smith & Cross
Hampden Estate Pure Single
Iv: Cardboard daiquiri. Nice!
Top: What does that mean? Iv: Goodness to some
Ha: Cherry notes
Ma: Turpentine flavour I like
Iv: Very good daiquiri, but to me not as good as Hamilton Black
Top: This is very nice
Matt: I could have multiples of this
Ma: Tastes like a nice salad dressing
Iv: A bit less funk than expected for a Hampden
Smith & Cross
Matt: Flavour shines through
Top: Smith & Cross is a bit more refined than the Hampden. If I could only drink one daiquiri it would be this. Otherwise, I prefer Hampden
Ma: Smith & Cross has more going on
Ha: Hampden overpowers the lime. Smith & Cross doesn’t, which makes it more of a daiquiri
Iv: Hampden is rounder and has more flavour, Smith & Cross more bite. This is an impossible choice
Matt: Hampden is a little swampy
Ma: One daiquiri: Smith & Cross. Multiple daiquiris: Hampden
Matt: Drinking Smith & Cross straight is fucking awesome. Top 3 rum for me
Iv: Smith & Cross by a hair
Ma: Smith & Cross
Matt: Smith & Cross
Smith & Cross narrowly scrapes out a win. This was the most difficult one to pick a winner from. The Hampden is such a nice flavourful, mildly funky daiquiri. However, Smith & Cross balances the funk better and has more bite to it. I’d be happy with either one of them. On a side note, I’m already looking forward to making the abv playfield more level by using the 60% version of this Hampden rum instead.
Winner: Smith & Cross
Wray & Nephew vs Rum Bar Overproof
Wray & Nephew
Iv: Funky nose
Top: Yeah, big flavour. Better than Smith & Cross
Matt: We are in the nuclear phase
Ha: I always love Wray & Nephew in cocktails
Matt: This is like a bagel and cream cheese for me
Ma: Like eating key lime pie
Iv: When I think Jamaican rum, I think fruity and funky. This only gets half way on the fruit and funk scale for me
Matt: The go home daiquiri
Rum Bar Overproof
Iv: Smells much better
Top: Slightly better on taste
Ma: Rubbing alcohol, but I like it
Iv: A walk in the park on the nose but not with the taste
Ha: Wray & Nephew is a little harsher
Iv: Has a metallic taste to it. Top & Ma: Yes!
Ha: Wray taught me a few things, Rum Bar refined it and even taught me some new tricks
Matt: Rum Bar is like the girl who breaks up with her boyfriend and goes out that same night, causing lots of trouble
Iv: Wray & Nephew
Ma: Rum Bar
Matt: Wray & Nephew
Top: Rum Bar
Ha: Rum Bar (Wray & Nephew for drinking straight)
Two powerhouse Jamaican overproof rums make for an interesting comparison. I noticed we all found it somewhat difficult to choose a winner. In the end, they both turn into such good daiquiris that you can’t go wrong with either one of them. I preferred the nose of the Rum Bar but its slight metallic flavour made me choose Wray & Nephew as a favourite. The majority rules though, which means Rum Bar is the winner of this one. It’s also the only rum that has featured in every daiquiri challenge so far.
Winner: Rum Bar Overproof
I asked everyone for their top 2 of the night. These are the tipsy answers I got:
Top: Hampden and Rum Bar
Matt: Smith & Cross and Wray & Nephew (with Ron Colón as a bonus)
Ha: Hampden, Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black
Ma: Smith & Cross and Privateer Navy Yard
Iv: Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black and Privateer Navy Yard (with Smith & Cross as a bonus)
When you look at the cast list for this tasting it shows one country being represented very well. It might be because we are going on a Jamaican distillery trip soon. Fact is that all of us like daiquiris with Jamaican rum. With that in mind it would be quite logical to think this was our favourite daiquiri challenge so far. Not so. Quite the opposite actually.
We enjoyed ourselves very much again, but as an overall tasting experience it wasn’t as good as the first two. Perhaps it was the quality of the rum (even though there were a few great rums in the lineup), maybe a slight lack of diversity. It definitely wasn’t a lack of snacks…..although eating too much doesn’t help.
I can’t say there was an outstanding winner this round. When looking at everyone’s top 2, Hampden, Smith & Cross, Hamilton Jamaican and Privateer all got two votes each. Although Smith & Cross received an additional bonus vote…..but that’s basically cheating. All of these make excellent and very rummy daiquiris.
My slight favourite of the night was Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black. The alcohol and funk were really balanced with the lime and sugar. Worthy Park for the win! That reminds me, I need to go on a hunt to find more bottles of this beauty.
It will likely be a while before we do chapter 4, simply because I’m running out of daiquiri rum options. Need some time to collect more. Unless we change it up and do daiquiris with more than one rum in it for example. That would make it more complicated though, while I feel the simplicity of how we are currently doing it is what makes it so much fun. To be continued…..