Rum Of The Year.
I try to avoid making such bold and definitive pronouncements when it comes to rum, especially since a) I don’t get to sample every new rum every year that they’re launched, and b) I tend to have too many favorites.
For 2015, though, one rum simply deserves the extra recognition. Its name: Kirk and Sweeney.
Okay, I know, that’s two names. I also know this stuff has been around for a couple years. It was 100% new to me when I discovered it in Baltimore (of all places) this past summer, though, so yeah, for me it’s my own personal “Rum Of The Year” for 2015.
As you can see proudly emblazoned across the front of the bottle, this fine rum hails from the Dominican Republic, a fact that at first blush might not sit well with strict devotees of the Holy Trinity of B’s – Barcelo, Brugal, and Bermudez, unquestioned rum royalty in the DomRep.
Never fear, though: Kirk and Sweeney is not a fly by night gringo rum trying to push the B’s aside. It’s actually produced by 35 Maple Street, a California-based spirits company that partnered with Bermudez to bring Kirk and Sweeney to life. (Bermudez produces and ages their rum at their distillery in Santiago de los Caballeros before shipping it off to 35 Maple Street for finishing and bottling.) In the process, they also breathed new life into some old New York history.
That history revolves around the S/V Kirk and Sweeney, a legendary schooner of the Prohibition Era that earned its notoriety supplying contraband to booze-starved residents of Long Island. When the boat was seized by the Coast Guard in 1924, it was packed with rum, though I doubt it was anything close to the quality of what 35 Maple Street has created.
You might not know this right away, though…
On the nose, K&S 12 is a little dull to me. That’s not to say it’s not nice, just that nothing overly interesting really jumps out. Vanilla, butterscotch, and caramel notes are so light it gives the impression that the flavor experience might be rather tame too.
Not so fast!
On the lips K&S 12 is simply wonderful; a fantastic balance of dry and sweet with smoky oak and honey notes working in concert with the alcohol instead of overwhelming it. The result is a bold flavor experience; one that’s secure enough in itself that it doesn’t insist upon your attention with a lot of burn or overly-intense fruit and spice. It’s smooth with a medium finish, the vanilla lingering on the tongue and inviting another sip.
Personally, I prefer to enjoy this one neat or with one small ice cube. However you try it, though, you can be assured that just like its namesake ship, Kirk and Sweeney definitely delivers.