Last night I attended a rum sampling event held by Brugal Rum. I’ve been indifferent to Brugal over the years; I don’t ask for it but if given the option of well, Bacardi/Myer’s, or Brugal, I always say Brugal. I have never associated any sort of prestige to the brand but then, there has to be something to it for it to be the #1 brand across the Caribbean, right? Wait, what? Number one? This is what was presented and I’m not sure if that’s in sales, a poll, or via awards won. Is this based on the entire lineup which only consists of 4 products (there is a 5th which is virtually exclusive so it makes no sense to include it), or within a certain price category? I have questions but there are additional Brugal events scheduled so I will get answers soon.
I did learn that any person that holds the position of master blender for Brugal, must belong to the Brugal family. This is really a family brand and also interesting was learning that everything down to the glass bottle itself is made in the Dominican Republic. The Brugal representative also mentioned that unlike other companies, Brugal uses the finest wood and that the company spends the most money on these barrels/casks. She repeated this several times and when I asked about what wood this was, she said American Oak (previously used for whiskey) and Sherry Oak. I won’t say any rum I sampled last night wasn’t worth drinking, but money spent on wood, or even thinking about the most amount of bottles sold, is not a convincing argument to say the brand is worthy of being number one. It is, however, super affordable and offers enough versatility that I wouldn’t be mad if someone said the only rum they had at their bar was Brugal.
The event itself was held at Toro Toro within the well-known Intercontinental Hotel. After fighting Miami traffic for an hour, and finding a parking spot a couple blocks from the hotel, my friend and myself finally made our way to the restaurant. A number of excited rum drinkers made their place at tables set up to mix drinks and while everyone was checking in, servers passed around Brugal mojitos. Up to that point, everything was great. I had a drink in my hand and was ready for a fun night of Brugal.
If you’ve never stepped foot inside the Intercontinental, it is a busy hotel with plenty of visitors as well as professionals making their way to the bar’s happy hour. With the hotel’s high ceilings, music and voices carry, and as a result, patrons for the event were fighting to hear the presentation. It was also confusing when the mixologist said we would be making two cocktails when in reality, some tables would be making an Old Fashioned, and the others, daiquiris. I was at a daiquiri table and likely the only one disappointed that I didn’t get to make the Old Fashioned. It was fun to watch everyone grabbing for the strawberries, mint, basil, and jalapeños (the cucumbers were less popular), anxious to make their daiquiri. I opted to make a strawberry basil one and ended up a little heavy on the simple syrup. I should have taken a cue from Top Chef or any other tv food judge and tasted along the way. Lesson learned, I was successful with my cucumber mint version. I prefer less sweet as many hangovers have taught me. The upside about my table? Nobody was shy to make a second or third drink. I’m not sure if that was the generosity of Brugal or if it was to make up for the presentation. The hosts were gracious and while not perfect, I still had fun.
I was also given a shot of Brugal’s 1888 which is an 8-10 year aged rum (6-8 in the American Oak, then another 2 finished in the Sherry cask). It was smooth enough neat but I think on the rocks would have been better. As mentioned by the representative, Brugal is not a sweet rum. There is a dry finish to their rums and as with anything, personal preference will ultimately determine which rum is best suited to the individual. I went to this rum tasting with a friend who is part Dominican and is a huge fan of Brugal. It’s likely that if I visited her, she would share her Brugal 1888 while her visit to me would be an El Dorado 12- or 15-year, or my mainstay Mount Gay XO. Brugal is an important rum to the Caribbean and I’m glad that I was able to learn more about its history. As previously mentioned, there are questions and thankfully, more events coming on August 16th and 24th. I’m not sure if I can make both, but I will be in attendance to at least one of them.
I think I will end my Friday posts with a little rum drinking music. This week’s selections come from the ever-popular Machel Montano of Trinidad who by the way is starring in the film Bazodee this weekend.
“I love meh rum and meh rum it love me…”
“I’m drinking rum rum rum rum rum rum rum rum, sweet liquor, and I don’t need chaser.”