In advance of today’s contribution, I was very excited. A cigar-smoking friend of mine, whom I have unfortunately only rarely seen lately, had already several times tried to enthuse me about the taste of a cigar in combination with a good rum (or alternatively about the taste of a good rum in combination with a cigar). However, I myself have been a non-smoker for more than ten years and will not make an exception for a cigar, so that it will remain a theoretical interest. However, I am well aware that rum and cigars (or whisky and cigars) have a large fan base. (provided test product)*
The other day I was talking to this friend again and when I wanted to know what his actual favourite among the “cigar rums” is at the moment, the answer was “a 12 year old Kirk and Sweeney”. Kirk & Sweeney is the name of a rum which is produced and distributed by a Californian company. The rum itself is not a Californian rum, but a rum from the Dominican Republic. The really very noticeable, heavy and bulbous bottle, whose design is really good (if you ask me), informs that the name Kirk and Sweeney is probably borrowed from an old rum schooner. Moreover, the bottle is all but generous with usable information. Unfortunately, age statements from Dominican rums should also be taken with caution. Be that as it may, before I did the tasting I was really curious how I would like the Kirk and Sweeney without a cigar. It is bottled at an ABV of 40%.
Aroma: Whoa! The first few seconds unfortunately confirm my fears. I especially scent sweet caramel, orange and vanilla notes, which are not very complex, but rather intense and kind of superimposing – because it is difficult to find spices and barrel notes behind them, or to draw conclusions about the quality of the distillate (shamed be he who thinks evil of it.). The nose of this Kirk and Sweeney is that of a notorious “sweet rum”, as we know it from a Don Papa, a Pyrat, an El Dorado or similar rums. On my first real contact with rum, I still lacked the experience to be able to classify such impressions and as a beginner one may find this a really good rum. Compared to a good and unadulterated “craft rum”, this is a huge contrast nonetheless.
Taste: Actually, something was “done” to this rum quite clearly (I have no evidence, though). The sweetness is sticky and omnipresent and much stronger than it could come only from the barrel aging. With some research I found out that sugar measurements here have inidcated only a very small amount of sugar, which could also fall under measurement inaccuracies. This in turn, of course, leads to the even more alarming assumption that other means (with different density properties) have been used to improve the quality, e.g. glycerine or vanillin. Beside vanilla, caramel and orange notes I find a little spice and oak wood here, yes, but it remains very weakly pronounced. In fact, the Kirk and Sweeney 12 Year clearly lacks body and is therefore not very complex, one-dimensional and above all else sweet. An alcoholic sharpness is hardly noticeable.
Finish: short with vanilla and fine spices
To what extent we can still call this a rum in accordance with the new EU regulation that will soon take effect, must be decided by others. I would be sceptical (if someone will ever really check the ingredients). And what to do with a heavily sweetened rum? Exactly: salt it! If you think I’m crazy now, I can reassure you: I really mean it. Lately I have personally found great pleasure in drinks that experience an amazing depth and balance by the addition of a pinch of salt – if you are interested in numerous inspirations, I can only warmly recommend the cocktail booklet beta cocktails by Kirk Estopinal and Maksym Pazuniak. Kirk Estopinal introduces a drink with the beautiful name “Halfway to a Three Ways to Lose your Lover”. In this drink Estopinal uses a 12 year old El Dorado, but the Kirk and Sweeney 12 Year really works just as well. Instead of Marie Brizard Orange Curacao (which I simply didn’t have handy), I used a Shrubb J.M Liqueur d’Orange. Works great too!
Recipe “Halfway to a Three Ways to Lose your Lover” (minimally modified version):
4.5 cl Kirk and Sweeney 12 Year
2.25 cl Carpano Antica Formula
1.5 cl Shrubb J.M Liqueur d’Orange
2 Dashes Bittermens Mole Bitters (alternative other Chocolate Bitters)
a pinch of salt
Preparation: Stir all ingredients on ice until cold (and until the salt has dissolved). Strain in your pre-cooled glass and spray with the oil of an orange zest.
Garnish: Orange zest (or optionally none)
Buying sources: At specialized retailers or online, for example at Conalco.
*The bottle for this review was provided to me by the Conalco Spirituosen UG. The fact that this product has been sent to me free of charge for editorial purposes does not – in any way – imply any influence on the content of this article or my rating. On the contrary, it is always an indispensable condition for me to be able to review without any external influence.