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Drink · August 10, 2015

Served Neat: What Does a $1,500 Rum Actually Taste Like?

This isn't your average artisanal spirit, so let's begin with a little backstory. Starting in 2012, Brugal has released periodic samplings of its family's private reserve, affectionately named "Pap Andrs" after the brand's founder, Don Andrs Brugal Montaner. Each blend is comprised of several small-batch rums, handpicked by the their master distiller, ergo, the finished product is hard to come by: Only 1,000 bottles of the 2015 edition were produced, with just 97 being released in the states.

This exclusive release (and rum's special pedigree) account for much of the jaw-dropping cost, but when a bottle sports a four-digit price tag, you expect the contents to be something out of the ordinary. With that said, we got our hands on a dram and conducted an in-depth reviewfor the greater good, of course. Here's what we found.

The Appearance

When poured, Pap Andrs has a rich, amber color and a high viscosity, which speak to both its age and its high sugar content. The bottle doesn't specify an age, perhaps because it's a blend, but the dark color is consistent with a mature, barrel-aged spirit. (The rums used to make Pap Andrs were aged in Sherry, Pedro Ximenez, and American oak barrels.) If this stuff doesn't taste like a high-quality rum, it certainly looks the part.

The Nose

The first pass is awash in the sweetness of molasses and the earthiness of oak, as you'd expect from an older rum. However, subsequent sniffs yield a range of fruity undertones: cherry, pineapple, burnt fig, and hints of caramel and black pepper that complement the smooth, sweet aroma. Speaking honestly, we've never met a rum that smelled this damn appealing.

The Flavor

After the first sip, however, everything changedthough certainly not for the worse. It had the smooth mouthfeel of a quality, well-aged rum, but traded the traditional sweetness for a dry, complex, almost-aggressive flavor. The palate was rich with the dry, earthy taste of oak, while the midpalate brings to the scents to flavorful life: the dark cherry, caramel, black pepper, and pineapple are more prominent now.

This mingling of burnt and fruity notes is uncharacteristic for rum, but makes for a uniquely hardboiled experience: Hemingway would probably have liked this. The finish is short and satisfying, with additional notes of fruit and oak.

Our Conclusion

So what's the final consensus on the crown jewel of Brugal's collection? Well to start, we have to admit: It isn't our favorite rum. The sweetness of a well-aged rum always had special appeal (it's what you want in a sipping spirit on a balmy summer's evening), and the dry, complex flavor of Pap Andrs feels much more aligned with a quality scotch or bourbon. However, in a way, this is the price you pay for uniqueness, as we've never tasted a rum with such a delicate balance of flavors: Molasses, fruit, and charred oak all have their part to play.

Is this the one rum you need to drink before you die? No, it's not. However, if you're the type of person who's willing to drop $1,500 on a bottle of specialty rum (noting that all proceeds go to support The Brugal Foundation), you'll be paying for a memorable experience.

As for snagging one of the 97 bottles available stateside? Happy hunting....

Looking for a more affordable introduction to rum? Here are 5 great bottles for $30 or less.


Nathaniel Nagy

Copywriter, cold brew advocate, purveyor of handcrafted birthday haikus since 2009.