If spirits such as rum, in addition to taste adventures at the same time allow liquid puns, they have a double appeal for me. And note the doubling, as will still important in the course of the new house bar favorite. But to begin with, imagine Jack Sparrow in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” scene, when he finds himself on a desert island, in the smuggler’s hideout on the island finding the Dos Maderas Rum. I wonder if he would have wanted to flee again so quickly. I would bet: No. At most to see if there were any supplies floating around. Somehow, since movies like this one, I associate rum with pirates and seafaring, with the sea, billowing sails, palm trees, big parties, daredevils and adventure. And somehow this buccaneer vibe also fits the Dos Maderas Rum 5+3, which has freshly sailed into my house bar – because this entry-level gold has really come a long way.
Before we get to the interview and the question of how best to taste Dos Maderas 5+3 once it has dropped anchor in your home bar, let’s first get on board the production process. After all, you want to know if the math adds up to 8, or what else the digits in the rum equation stand for. Don’t worry, we won’t have to take the square root, but we’ll go back to the beginning, full of sugar cane. Because sugar cane is the starting point for all Dos Madera’s patronage.
The mixed doubles familiar from tennis takes on a whole new meaning with this spirit. For Dos Maderas not only combines the best of two aging methods on opposite sides of the globe, but also brings together two cultures. On one side is the rum heritage of Barbados and Guyana in the Caribbean, on the other the sherry tradition of Jerez in Spain, specifically that of the historic Bodega Williams & Humbert. This was founded in 1877 and is now run by the Medina family, who have been in the wine business since the 1960s. Williams & Humbert are internationally known for their Dry Sack Sherry and Gran Duque D’Alba, but in the 2000s the family decided to try the excitement of a new terroir. Like all their other products, the new rum was to be something special. The plan: to combine the Caribbean vibe from overseas with the sherry-producing tradition of Spain. As a result, Dos Maderas’ rums are aged in the region’s criadera and solera systems. This traditional aging process not only gives the rums the flavors and complexity of Palo Cortado and Pedro Ximénez sherries, but also imbues them with the Medina family’s knowledge passed down through generations. And every rum adventure starts with cane sugar.
Makes you want to go on a liquid cruise from the Caribbean to Spain: the Dos Maderas rum range.
Dos Maderas’ journey begins with cane sugar, which is best grown in the tropical climates of Barbados and Guyana. Harvest time is between February and June, when the plants thrive best.
After refining the sugar from the cane sugar, the molasses is fermented with the addition of yeast. In a fermentation process of two days, the best yeast strains are used to optimize the properties of the cane sugar.
The fermented molasses is then distilled by traditional rum makers in Barbados and Guyana, using a variety of methods and a range of stills – from old Coffey Alambiques to discontinuous wood stills. Rich pot still flavors and the lighter styles produced with column stills combine to capture the diversity of rum from the region.
Rum aging, part 1, Caribbean
The hot Caribbean climate of Barbados and Guyana is ideal for the initial aging of rums like Dos Maderas’. These spirits rest for five years in 220-liter ex-bourbon oak barrels. The five-year-old rums from Barbados are light and more refined, while those from Guyana are generally heavier and more full-bodied.
After five years of aging in the Caribbean climate, these rums are already a small board in their own right. However, a crucial part of the Dos Maderas process is the selection and blending of rums from these two different rum-producing countries to create a spirit with the perfect characteristics, enhanced by aging in sherry casks in Jerez.
Rum aging, part 2, Jerez
Now the duet comes into play. The aforementioned blend is then transported to the Williams & Humbert sherry maturation bodega in Jerez, the heart of the sherry region. Spain’s unique solera aging process transforms the spirit, with the Jerez climate and a combination of sherry casks contributing to the flavor of the final product. For the production of Dos Maderas 5+3, 5+5 and Seleccion, the Caribbean-aged spirit is stored in barrels previously used to age 20-year-old Palo Cortado. This unique sherry gives the rum a unique character, adding complexity and notes of dried fruit and walnuts. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?
Dos Maderas Master Blender interview about Dos Maderas, the right tasting and the fascination of rum
Brings wine and rum together with sensitivity and family tradition: Dos Maderas Master Blender Paola Medina.
Briefly explained for beginners: How can I recognize a high-quality rum? What should I look out for?
The quality of a rum is perceived during tasting. The aroma and taste on the palate provide important clues about the origin, the production process, the maturation, etc. For example, spicy aromas and wood notes are the result of years of aging. If this aging has taken place in American oak barrels, we find notes of noble wood that combine perfectly with nutty aromas. Its structure in the mouth also reveals the type of alcohol, depending on whether it appears heavier or lighter. A complex rum that lingers long in the mouth is the result of a long and careful aging process.
What makes rum so fascinating for you – what’s the magic?
For me, it is the emotions and sensations that arise when tasting rum, reflecting both its origin and its aging. I believe that rum is the most versatile of all spirits. It can be enjoyed in many ways and at different times. And that’s how I see the rum consumer: someone who likes to make an emotional connection with the drink, a social person, always open to new experiences. I absolutely agree with Ian Burrell when he says: “Rum is more than just a drink, it is a way of life, as versatile as life itself”, and so is our Dos Maderas rum.
What should I look for most when tasting rum?
On the overall experience, starting with the serving temperature, which should be around 14-15ºC, to the glass from which you taste, which should preferably be fine crystal. On the nose, it is important that there are not only alcohol aromas, but that they are accompanied by other aromas that reflect its complexity. As for color, I do not consider it a decisive characteristic. It is true, however, that older rums have a darker color due to oxidation during their aging, but this does not mean that a lighter, younger rum is not also an excellent rum.
The sacred warehouses of Dos Maderas are an adventure playground for rum fans – and Captain Jack Sparrow would certainly have a field day.
What was the flavor idea of the blender – what flavors should I pay special attention to as a beginner with Dos Maderas 5+3?
Dos Maderas 5+3 is initially aged for 3 years in barrels previously used to age our D.O. certified 20 year old Palo Cortado, called “Dos Cortados”. It is a dry sherry, very aromatic and full of flavor. At the end of this aging process is our 5+3 rum: 5 years in the Caribbean and 3 years in Jerez. The goal is to obtain a rum whose taste and aromas remind us of what it is: the purity and complexity of a blend of rums from the Caribbean, but with the roundness and special touch that comes from aging in Jerez in barrels soaked with Palo Cortado. If you want to capture all the notes of a rum, it is best to enjoy it neat or with a little ice. But we believe that combining and mixing it is also a good choice. If you want to taste an excellent cocktail, the base must also be excellent.
What is the traditional view: pure only? Or is it okay to use rum as a base for drinks – and at what point is a rum too bad for that?
We want to promote the versatility of this spirit. We believe that consumers must decide for themselves how best to enjoy our distillates. A few years ago, we received a visit from one of the world’s most renowned and outstanding rum ambassadors: Ian Burrel. During his visit to Bodegas Williams & Humbert, Burrel gave a tasting masterclass with the Dos Maderas range and said that Dos Maderas is “the perfect rum to drink neat or to be a fantastic ingredient in a cocktail, and can be enjoyed by a sweet or dry palate depending on the Dos Maderas variety chosen.” For Ian Burrel, Dos Maderas has “the genius of a unique method that is different from the rest,” and that’s why he says, “I love rum and I love sherry, so if I can have a little of both in one glass, I’m happy.”
Multifaceted joy: Paola Medina loves above all the versatility of rum.
How long did it take to figure out the perfect storage balance for the different rums?
In fact, these rums are the result of an extremely time-consuming process in which we carry out a rigorous control with numerous tastings until the roundness we desire is achieved. This control starts at the very beginning of the process, when the rums are still in the Caribbean, and then continues at Williams & Humbert in Jerez. Here, in our winery, we confirm through close monitoring that we have finally achieved the desired profile for the production of these unique rums. This is possible because the rums are aged for three years in barrels that previously contained Palo Cortado sherry, and then another two years in barrels aged for over twenty years Pedro Ximénez sherry.
What are the main flavors in Dos Maderas rum and how do they get into the rum?
I would like to highlight especially the “sherry touch”, which is evident in the aromas of toasted nuts, light vanilla notes, orange peel and notes of figs and plums. All these different notes are perfectly integrated thanks to the conditions of an aging process that takes place at cool, low temperatures and relatively high humidity. The aging also takes place in hundred-year-old American oak barrels, which have the ideal porosity for this type of aging and are responsible for the oxidation process and the unique characteristics of an aromatic profile that comes from the sherry wines previously aged in them.
Open a barrel? Master Blender Paola Medina turns the phrase everyday into a positive.
Personal tasting: how the Dos Maderas 5+3 Rum tastes
Prime example of rum infatuation: the Dos Maders 5+3.
When you embark on the adventure of rum as a beginner, there’s one thing you have to say goodbye to very quickly: the mass-produced stuff that you drown in cola. Because that’s what’s so exciting: Rum is just as much an aroma cruise as whiskey, if the craftsmanship behind it is right – and if you invest a few euros more for the trip. The ticket for Dos Maderas is available for just under 30 pieces of silver – you can sign on with a clear conscience.
The liaison of Caribbean and Sherry Spain works wonderfully – even for beginners.
Notes of vanilla, pineapple or caramel first cross around the nose, all very clean, very crispy, that makes curious. Once inhaled, the Hobby Jack Sparrow finds a whole deck full of oak, vanilla, caramel and fine smoke, mixed with creamy waves of cherries, oranges and a pinch of nut. Now this is not an action scene in which everything explodes for ten minutes, it does not have to, but a very tasteful chase through picturesque locations, where the aroma wind whistles properly around the nose. More elegant than hau-drauf, more multi-layered than attention-hungry. This is exactly what this process, with storage in the Caribbean and in Spanish sherry casks from Jerez, writes into the script. And that’s why Dos Maderas remains anchored in my home bar harbor – until supplies urgently need to sail in.
Dos Maderas 5+3, Price: 30 euros, via www.rumundco.de