My wife got me a copy of the Smuggler's Cove book for my birthday in January... or it was for Christmas, everything blends together with Christmas and multiple birthdays between Dec 25 and Jan 24. I have always liked rum and had a couple of standards I kept around, but nothing crazy and no special interest in it. This book changed that quickly, though. It told me with 1 rum each from 8 of the 12 or so classifications of rum in the book I could make most of the recipes. Each classification came with a list of anywhere from 1-10 rums the author recommends (at the time of writing, which was a few years back now). I accepted this challenge immediately.

In January 2022 I generally kept 3-4 rums in my bar. Mount Gay Eclipse because I can get it in 1.75L bottles for barely more than a 750ml bottle of itself or any similar rum, a random cheap white rum (a classification I no longer care for) which was usually Don Q Cristal because my wife likes them, Gosling's Black Seal for Dark 'n Stormys, and sometimes Sailor Jerry. Fast forward to today, just a few months later, and I believe I walked into the house with my 15th bottle of rum. Not 15th ever, but as in there are 15 different rums in my house right now.

I have several which are similar and a few I purchased specifically to compare to each other, so I decided it's time to start comparing so that I could really taste the differences between potentially similar rums based on some combination of aging, price point, and country of origin and pick some favorites to keep around. Tonight I started with Appleton Estate Signature Blend, Plantation Barbados 5 Year, and Plantation Xaymaca. I chose these three for a reason. Plantation Barbados 5 Year was my first rum I picked up after deciding to dive in and I immediately loved it. Plantation Xaymaca I picked up for being an accessible Jamaican blend with just a bit of funk with similar aging and price point to their Barbados 5 Year. The Appleton I just picked up tonight. I've had it before, but it was years ago and I remembered it actually being similar to Mount Gay Eclipse. Appleton Estate is well regarded in rum circles and all of their common rums, the Signature Blend in particular, being considered very accessible in terms of funk for Jamaican rums and the price point and age on it were similar to the Plantation rums.

Plantation Barbados 5 Year

This one is an interesting rum. Plantation is known for dosing their rums with sugar and is very open about it and listing it on their website and on the bottle labels. Some people love the extra sweetness while others hate it and feel that it hides the true flavor of the rum. I really enjoy it, but I definitely understand the people who dislike it. That's why I'll probably always have several rums around which are similar, so that I can have what fits what I want at the time. Anyway, this rum is a blend of column and pot still Barbados rums which are aged in the carribbean for 3-4 years and then, as is standard for all Plantation rums, in Cognac casks in France for another 1-2 years.

My sense of smell is pretty terrible, so my impressions here may be different than many people might find, but on the nose I found this rum to have the most cinnamon and spice of the three. Drinking it, there is less spice than the nose suggests and a significant sweetness which does taste artificial or added now that I've tasted my way through so many different rums in a short period. I still really like it and may keep it around, but it may be on its way out due to several others at a similar price point which each do something better. Some of those will be tasted on a different night - maybe this weekend.

Appleton Estate Signature Blend

This is the least expensive and tamest of the Appleton Estate rums. It's also the tamest of the rums I tasted tonight. There is no age statement, but from reading other websites and Smuggler's Cove's classification it is most likely aged for about 4 years. I last had it a few years ago and at the time found it pretty similar to Mount Gay Eclipse.

Upon nosing and tasting there was just a hint of fruity sweetness on the nose with a little spice. The flavor is exactly what you'd expect from the scent. It is mellow and easy to drink, with caramel and cinnamon and just a hint of funk to it. It still feels closer to a Barbados rum than what many will think of as a Jamaican rum, but I can definitely taste it in there now. I will have to do a direct comparison to both Mount Gay Eclipse and possibly Bacardi Reserva Ocho (I know, not Barbados, but still feels closer to this an other Jamaican rums do) to see how I feel then.

Plantation Xaymaca

Xaymaca is Plantation's 100% Jamaican rum. It has no dosing, which is unusual for Plantation, although it is still aged in Cognac casks for a year. I get more fruity sweetness on the nose than their Barbados 5 Year and more than I do from Appleton Estate Signature Blend, the ripe pineapple mentioned on Plantation's page for this rum is very noticeable to me. The flavor has a sharper, more biting element to it than either of the other rums. There's the spice I expected from the scent of the Barbados 5 Year in here and a noticeable, but not overpowering bit of funk and hogo. This is a good mixer when you want just a bit of kick.