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The Big Daiquiri Challenge - Chapter 3

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

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.

The Cast

· 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%

The Tasting

Doorly’s XO vs Mount Gay XO

Doorly’s 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

JAH45 Silver

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

Ron Colón

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

Top: Hampden

Ha: Hampden


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

Team talk after finishing the daiquiri tasting

Final notes

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…..

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