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The Big Daiquiri Challenge - Chapter 5

Last daiquiri challenge was a year and half ago. Time for another fun chapter!

If you've never read any of the big daiquiri challenge articles, I'll paint a picture of what it's like. I gather 6 pairs of rums and a crew of four to five friends to have a tasting. In this case Bev Wooding, Hamish Grant, Matthew Wise (and his partner Vicki), Andrew Toplack, Mariangela and myself. All are experienced rum and cocktail drinkers. Dr Andrew always makes the cocktails following the same recipe: two rum, one lime, half sweet. We then taste them, Rum A vs Rum B, single knockout. Apart from tasting the daiquiris, I also have a notepad on my lap where I'm frantically writing down as many of everyone's comments as I can. I miss out on some of them or course, as I can't always keep up. I publish all the comments as is. Don't expect much from a scientific perspective, but they are usually rather fun to read through.

If you want to check out the previous chapters, here are chapter one, chapter two, chapter three and chapter four.

As a reminder, the winners from chapter 4 were: Appleton 8, Doorly's 12, Clairin Sajous, Longueteau Le 50, Mhoba Strand 101 and Rum Nation Jamaica Pot Still 2015.

The Cast

  • Rum Fire, Hampden, Jamaica, 63%

  • Sample Seventeen Pot Still Jamaica, Hampden, Jamaica, 60.5%

  • Bacardi Superior, Bacardi, Puerto Rico, 40%

  • Rum Bar Overproof, Worthy Park, Jamaica, 63%

  • Rum Bar Silver, Worthy Park, Jamaica, 40%

  • Sugar House White Rum, Sugar House, Scotland, 43%

  • Savanna HERR, Savanna, Reunion, 57%

  • Carroll's RHE, Carroll's Distillery, Canada, 65.1%

  • Clairin Sonson, Distillerie Sonson Pierre Gilles, Haiti, 53.2%

  • Holmes Cay Jamaica C<>H 2007, Hampden, Jamaica, 65.9%

  • Compagnie Des Indes Jamaica 2009, Hampden, Jamaica, 55%

  • Savanna Creol 52, Savanna, Reunion, 52%

The Tasting

Sugar House White Rum vs Bacardi Superior

Sugar House

Hamish: Love the nose

Beverly: Funky rum

Hamish: Tastes like the rum is beating down the lime

Matt: Some unfortunate notes of bleach

Ivar: Has a little Jamaica on the nose

Hamish: Beach time daiquiri -> sun tan lotion

Ivar: Sweet, red berries

Mariangela: Floral and refreshing


Bev: Smells like lime only

Ma: Like hard lemonade

Matt: If Smirnoff Ice was a rum

Iv: I don’t smell rum

Ha: Balanced, it’s fine

Ma: If I go into a bowling alley and ask for a daiquiri, I’d expect this

Iv: I don’t taste rum

Top: It’s very pleasant

Matt: It’s fine. Mass market


Bev: Sugar House

Ma: Sugar House

Iv: Sugar House

Ha: Sugar House

Matt: Sugar House

Top: Sugar House


This was an easy one. Sugar house white is very flavourful compared to Bacardi white. It provides much more of an experience without being overpowering in a daiquiri. The Bacardi daiq, which some call a “real” daiquiri, is a refreshing limey alcoholic beverage that doesn’t offer much to explore.

Winner: Sugar House White Rum

Rum Bar Overproof vs Rum Bar Silver

Rum Bar Overproof

Ma: Band aid flavour. I like this

Bev: That’s got to be Jamaican

Top: Lovely but short

Iv: Bit metallic to me

Top: This has such a punch, you need a band aid after

Bev: Keeps going in my throat

Top: It’s not a slap in the face though. It’s a half slap

Rum Bar Silver

Bev: Chocolate raisins

Ma: White chocolate. I like it

Iv: More flavour, less punch. These two need to be blended

Bev: If beets were rum. It has a dirt taste

Ha: If sporty spice was a rum

Iv: Easier to drink than Overproof

Bev: This one is short. The Overproof moved in as my domestic partner


Bev: Rum Bar Overproof

Ma: Rum Bar Overproof

Iv: Rum Bar Overproof

Ha: Rum Bar Overproof

Matt: Rum Bar Overproof

Top: Rum Bar Silver


I was personally quite surprised by the outcome of this one. I feel Rum Bar Silver is underrated. I’ve been using it a lot for mixing and blending. Much more than Rum Bar Overproof. I was expecting it to win. This is the first time using it as the sole rum in a daiquiri though and it disappointed a little. It shows the power of alcohol. The lower abv makes it disappear somewhat in the daiquiri, while the Overproof is standing firm. I personally feel a blend of the two is the best option.

Winner: Rum Bar Overproof

Savanna Creol 52 vs Clairin Sonson

Savanna Creol 52

Ma: Tastes like honey. Nice, but not what I’d want for a daiquiri

Bev: Yeah, very much. A raw honey

Iv: Smells like honey indeed. Tastes like it too

Ha: Grapey. I appreciate it, but not as a daiquiri

Iv: Slightly medicinal. Honey and pine

Bev: It’s green tasting with some herbal flavours

Matt: Welch’s grape juice. I wouldn’t even sip this neat

Clairin SonSon

Bev: Could smell it before lifting the glass

Iv: Ham sandwich with a medicinal twist

Vicki: This one stays with you

Ha: Produces a nice balance between all parts

Bev: I don’t like high ester, but it works in a daiquiri

Iv: I’m finishing this one

Bev: It’s scratching my throat a little

Matt: That’s Covid


Bev: Clairin SonSon

Ma: Clairin SonSon

Iv: Clairin SonSon

Ha: Clairin SonSon

Matt: Clairin SonSon

Top: Clairin SonSon


I had high hopes for Savanna Creol 52, which I like as a sipper. However, it wasn’t that great as a daiquiri. So much honey! Clairin Sonson on the other hand……it was delicious. So flavourful and refreshing at the same time. Clairin in general remains an all time daiquiri favourite for this group.

Winner: Clairin Sonson

Savanna HERR vs Carroll's RHE High Ester

Savanna HERR

Ma: Pineapple soda

Bev: Exactly

Ha: Just before the dentist puts me under

Top: Has a rancidy kind of flavour somewhere. It’s rather unpleasant

Bev: It’s weird as a daiquiri, but I might like this rum

Matt: Lots of pineapple. Different from previous HERR

Iv: Medicinal pineapple and strawberry combo

Ha: Give me a shot of the rum instead

Matt: And some penicillin, as it might kill you

Ma: I wouldn’t call this a daiquiri

Iv: It’s so red candy like

Carrol's RHE High Ester

Iv: Has a sick smell to it. Baby vomit

Matt: Unpleasant cheese

Matt: There was a hipster company that blended mint and cheese -> they are out of business

Ha: The crime scene cleaning of cocktails

Matt: It’s like being at a nice tasting but you just brushed your teeth

Iv: Horrible. I’m pulling faces

Iv: Bitter peppery after taste

Ma: Smells like road kill

Bev: No, it smells like farts

Ha: Horrible nose, not so bad on the palate

Iv: Agreed, nose is worse than the palate

Bev: I don’t hate it

Matt: What’s the story?! I paid good money to be here

Top: It smells like something died nearby


Bev: Savanna Herr

Ma: Savanna Herr

Iv: Savanna Herr

Ha: Savanna Herr

Matt: Savanna Herr

Top: Savanna Herr


Easy win for Savanna, even though neither were favourites on the night. The reason why it won are the sour off notes in Carroll’s RHE. It was hard to get through, especially on the nose. Which is unfortunate, as this is a Canadian product we really wanted to like. Carroll’s has gone the extra mile, took some risk and created the first Canadian high ester rum (567 g/hlaa). Amazing and courageous idea. The flavour profile is clearly in the direction of Savanna Herr, which is why I put the two together. Can’t really compare it to high ester Jamaican. We are all fairly used to the massive variety of rum flavours and smells, we embrace its diversity wholeheartedly and tend to lean towards higher ester expressions when it comes to enjoying daiquiris. But this rum’s off notes were very obvious in this cocktail.

However, let’s see what happens when having it neat. The nose is a lot more pleasant this way. It’s strong in bubble gum and red fruits, with a lot less of the unappealing notes we found in the daiquiri, of sour milk and cheese that’s three years past its date. Sour apples come up strongly. Bird food and some hay. It’s quite metallic. Sipping it is a very peppery and metallic endeavour. Bubble gum and red fruits carry through from the nose, some mint and licorice. It’s interesting. It didn’t work in a daquiri at all. However, it might work in a blended cocktail with multiple rums. Would I grab this instead of Savanna HERR? No, but….Savanna can’t be bought in Canada. So for Canadians who love their HERR, this is a decent alternative.

Winner: Savanna HERR

Sample Seventeen Pot Still Jamaica vs Rum Fire

Sample Seventeen Pot Still Jamaica

Top: This is proof there might be a god

Ma: Nice band aid flavour

Bev: On the nose too

Ha: Yeah it’s clinical

Bev: Jamaican? And I like it???!!!

Iv: So good. Keeps going and going

Ha: Finished it in 3 seconds. It’s pleasant and balanced

Top: A little short in flavour, but it’s pleasant. I’d order another

Ma: It lingers a lot

Bev: Present and balanced. Some pineapple. I like it

Matt: Top 3 for tonight so far

Rum Fire

Top: Coconut on the nose, gorgeous

Iv: God like. Super fruity

Ham: This seems specifically designed for a daiquiri, you can taste the rum while it’s balanced

Bev: Too funky for me. (Hands it to Toplack)

Matt: I’d only have one


Bev: Sample Seventeen

Ma: Sample Seventeen

Iv: Sample Seventeen

Ha: Rum Fire

Matt: Rum Fire

Top: Rum Fire


Our first and only stalemate of the night. This was a tough one, in a good way. Rum Fire has been a favourite of us for a long time. I LOVE Rum Fire. It’s featured in Daiquiri Challenge 2. I’ve also reviewed it here. These are both higher ester rums, however not stratosphere ester levels. They create a very fruity, flavourful daiquiri, while keeping some sort of balance. It’s very hard to choose between the two. They are both awesome. Sample Seventeen is slightly ahead for me as a cocktail ingredient and as a sipper.

Winner: Both

Compagnie Des Indes Jamaica 2009 vs Holmes Cay Jamaica C<>H 2007

Compagnie Des Indes Jamaica 2009

Ha: Sort of a tobacco thing, smokey

Ma: Dusty finish

Top: Tiny little unpleasant thing in the middle

Matt: Better sipper than daiquiri

Bev: Chewing on a hyacinth

Iv: Steak and mushrooms

Bev: Real bitter in the back of my throat

Matt: There’s a whole eco system in the back of your throat

Iv: Agreed, bitter finish. Meh. Good sipper though

Holmes Cay Jamaica C<>H 2007

Iv: Smells good

Ma: Pineapple smell. Too rich for me

Ha: Very sweet forward

Top: It’s not showcasing the rum well

Iv: Perhaps it’s too woody for that

Matt: Most interesting daiquiri, not the best. It’s multi genre, like a blend

Ma: Too sweet. Crystalized fruit

Ha: Maybe doesn’t need as much simple syrup

Iv: Better neat

Bev: It’s fine, nothing particularly special


Bev: Holmes Cay

Ma: Compagnie Des Indes

Iv: Holmes Cay

Ha: Holmes Cay

Matt: Holmes Cay

Top: Holmes Cay


Easy win for Holmes Cay, it simply worked better as a daiquiri than the CDI. Perhaps too many esters in the CDI, since it's the highest ester mark from Hampden (DOK). It's clear again though that our general preference for daiquiris leans towards unaged rums, as nobody was overly enthusiastic with these two.

Winner: Holmes Cay

Final notes

As usual, I asked people for their top 3 of the night. Well, actually, I used to ask for a top 2…..since three seems a bit much to ask for after consuming this much alcohol. However, everyone managed a top three this time.

Bev: Clairin Sonson, Sample Seventeen, Sugar House

Ma: Clairin Sonson, Sample Seventeen, Sugar House

Iv: Sample Seventeen, Clairin Sonson, Rum Fire

Ha: Clairin Sonson, Rum Fire, Sample Seventeen

Matt: Clairin Sonson, Rum Fire, Holmes Cay

Top: Clairin Sonson, Rum Fire, Sample Seventeen

Overall winner is Clairin Sonson with 6 votes, closely followed by Sample Seventeen with 5. Third place is Rum Fire with four votes. Sugar House received a couple of votes and Holmes Cay got one.

When looking into the history of these daiquiri sessions, it becomes clear that Clairin is always a massive favourite. It might be a good idea to do one with just Clairins battling it out for the win. Should we?

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