Old Brigand Black Label Superior Rum: The Better Old Brigand?
Superior, when used as an adjective, is defined as “of greater quality, rank, or importance; excellent of its kind: better.” It’s a powerful word. One that doesn’t leave any room for the type of subjectivity generally inherent in rum reviews like this. So naturally one can assume at face value that Old Brigand Black Label Superior is better than regular Old Brigand, right?
Before we pit these tastes against each other, let’s delve into their similarities and differences…
Old Brigand, the Original
As Patrick noted in this long ago post celebrating the original, Old Brigand is known as “The Wanted Man” in Barbados. A product of Barbados’ famed Foursquare Distillery, Old Brigand is the #1 rum in Barbados for a reason. That reason:
Old Brigand is number one in Barbados because it’s a solid, hard-drinking, 86 proof rogue perfect for inexpensively getting a little pixilated at any rum shack across the island.
Using “hard-drinking” to denote an 86 proof rum really shows the age of Patrick’s post. In more recent years, many of the best rum producers have been dialing up their alcohol content. Whereas 80 proof (40% alcohol to those of us in the USA) was formerly standard, I see things shifting more toward 43% (86 proof) as somewhat of a new benchmark. This certainly suits me, and anyone else who prefers a little extra burn and kick in their tipples.
Anyway, back to the Brigands…
For its part, Old Brigand Black Label Superior Rum also checks in at 86 proof. Its similarities with regular Old Brigand extend as well to the olfactory experience one might enjoy sampling both. To me, their aromas embody a warm, loving bit of a burn, with OB Superior emitting slightly more dynamic intensity with less heat.
In terms of color, Old Brigand Superior is a slight shade darker in your glass. Packaging wonks will also notice that the pirate on the Superior label has no need for the eye patch emblematic of the original “Wanted Man.”
(Does the Superior help you see things more clearly?)
Neither OB’s fool around with added flavorings either. Don’t look for any overly syrupy hints of vanilla here. One whiff of either makes it clear: Old Brigand, whether Superior or not, is pure unadulterated rum.
Shared Production, Distinctive Aging
This is no surprise to anyone who knows Foursquare rums, of course. The brand is universally celebrated for its dual-distillation production method, employing both column and pot stills in crafting its blends.
Both OB expressions benefit from this. Where they diverge, though, is in the aging.
While both OB’s are aged in ex-Bourbon casks, original Old Brigand rests for just two–three years. Old Brigand Black Label Superior, on the other hand, matures a good five–10 years.
So, does the extra-added aging make Black Label, well…superior?
Old Brigand Black Label Superior Tasting Notes
For my money, I’d say yes. That doesn’t mean, though, that you’d agree.
OB Superior strikes me as having an elevated, more sophisticated flavor than its close cousin. Barrel char/wood and smoke notes are more pronounced. At the same time, though, it’s all very smooth. What burn that exists in the finish is very much understated, refined, and nice in a way that suggests pairing your sips with a cigar.
Perhaps the percentage of pot still is greater in this blend. Or maybe our friends at Foursquare reserve some extra-special Bourbon casks for its aging.
I have no idea. Either way, though, the resulting rum is superior.
That is, it’s superior assuming you prefer a richer, more robust rum. If, on the other hand, you’re more partial to a hotter, more raw and biting rum, then you shouldn’t miss regular Old Brigand.
Bottom line: Both satisfy in their own special way.