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Rum Review: Scarlet Ibis Rum
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How do you rate Scarlet Ibis Rum (five is best)?
5
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4
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3
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Total Votes : 2

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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 2461
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 6:33 am    Post subject: Rum Review: Scarlet Ibis Rum Reply with quote

Scarlet Ibis Rum:


Sue Sea and I have tasted many rums and other spirits, over much time and with much consideration. We have learned - as you will - that many products are simply the latest wet dream of a large corporate marketing department. In the case of say vodka, it's more about the bottle design and product positioning that it will ever be about the actual contents.

As Andy Grananteli once said of STP (the fuel additive) when asked "What part does marketing play for STP?", he replied "STP IS marketing". Same goes for Grey Goose, the vodka that made Sidney Frank famous for establishing "super-premium" vodkas (akin to super-premium water).

Not Scarlet Ibis Rum.

This small batch, copper pot-stilled rum, unfiltered and a blend of 3 to 5 year old, small cask aged rums was made to order for "Death and Co.", a prestigious New York establishment who specializes in the world's finest spirits of all kinds. Scarlet Ibis Rum is unfiltered and bottled at 98 proof.

In the world of spirits this sounds more like an expensive single malt whisky, and on paper at least, is a must buy. We did ($36) and fasten your seat belts...

Sue Sea:

Quote:

Jim and I have reached the point in rum tasting and reviewing that there are no longer any rums of note left to taste. Nor are we any more easily impressed. Our collection of rums, single malts, Irish whiskies, cachacas and a few other selected spirits (like armagnac, calvados, cognac, tequila, vodka) have finally been well organized and selectively displayed).

But Jim had found a bottle of Scarlet Ibis, kept his eye on it for months and finally convinced me that we simply had to taste it. After all the rums we'd tasted I was skeptical that this rum could be all that much different than the many we'd experienced.

I was wrong.

Let's start here. Scarlet Ibis Rum comes in a perfectly ordinary bottle, with a relatively ordinary square label, much like many of Jim's precious single malt whiskies. What made the bottle special was the color and its name, "Scarlet Ibis". In south Florida it's hard not to love nature and the many wonderful birds common to us, from gliding pelicanshuge frigates, chattery Clown seagulls, beachcombing tall herons, and tiny plovers and sandpiper.

Not least are the gorgeous ibis that find our yard full of tasty morsels with their long, curved bills. I loved the name. Even though this rum is unfiltered, its color was a brilliant lighter gold, again like fine aged single malt.

The aroma was stunning, and it was here that Jim discovered that Ibis is bottled at 98 proof and warned me to approach it carefully. First and foremost was lovely vanilan, followed by caramel and a deep oak, leather, and all spice (clove, ginger and cinnamon). And I must mention, oddly enough its synthetic ridged cork made an unusually distinct, champagne-like "pop". It was lovely - pleasant and enticing.

I loved the palate. Early on Scarlet Ibis opened with the very same vanilla honey - creamy, thick and lightly sweet - then developing smoothly into a reflection of the spicy aroma, deep dry fruits and caramel, and finally slipping into a growing spicy hot finish featuring deep raisin/prune, pastry baked brown sugar, a bit of licorice, cacao and leaving with long and lingering cinnamon kick.

As you gain experience you will find that it's not so much the components or flavors, but much more how they work together. In the case of Scarlet Ibis, this rum starts "cool", then heats up to a deep, baked finish, much like baking a pie. It's as though you taste and sprinkle raw brown sugar on a pie, and then experience it as it "bakes" in your mouth. This is stupendous!

Despite its 98 proof, Scarlet Ibis Rum is smooth as silk. To call it "delicious" would be faint praise. As truly fine spirits tend to be, it is complex yet simple, sophisticated yet plain. Scarlet Ibis Rum is extremely well done, consistent and deceptively smooth. I only had two drams, or well maybe three, but when I got up I decided to sit down again, ha!

This is what a fine, fine rum is all about.


Me:

Blame JaRiMi for my purchase of Scarlet Ibis Rum. I'd come to highly respect this gentleman, his talent and experience, fine research and competent observations. Like all true talent, he too was liberated from the Shillery by the smug and easily challenged Preacher. Bravo!

Let me carry on from Sue Sea's brilliant observations. To me Scarlet Ibis Rum was made in the tradition of the finest single malts. No caramel color, no additives, and produced in batches using classic copper pot stills. Some marketing saturated reviewers like Druminsky would reject this rum based solely on its age (3 to 5 years), but these neophytes have little understanding of the aging process or of its production method.

Copper pot-stilled rums, skillfully done, are brimming with flavor and intensity, so much so that many more flavor components are captured for the aging. As Phil Prichard has amply demonstrated, very expensive small barrel aging, based on vastly increased oak interaction and exposure, can achieve in few years what ordinary, large cask rums require double or triple the years. Compare Scarlet Ibis to much older rums.

Spotting Scarlet Ibis Rum on a shelf might lead you believe it was a single malt whisky, from its uncolored, brilliant gold color to the label exclaiming "unfiltered" and 98 proof. Scarlet Ibis Rum stands alone in these claims, and frankly in its production and aging. That it failed to really gain national traction is both a shame and a condemnation of the cheap crap that has taken over the shelves. Think Batcardi Dingleberry.

Quite simply, Scarlet Ibis Rum is magnificent, and surprisingly smooth and drinkable despite its proof (98p). Normally an overproof rum requires exceptional care, which rules out most of the rum monkeys who prefer their flavored, sugar laced rum-like spirits. However, the small cask aging has taken care of this, and the spirit delivered is unexpectedly smooth. Still approach your nosing high, and give yourself a couple of small sips to accomodate. And with a bit of airing, no worries, mate.

Scarlet Ibis opened with vanilla, over a spicy background (largely clove), ginger and what I'd like to call "cotton candy" (which Sue Sea related to baking brown sugar, or toasted marshmellow). No matter, it is lovely. In the world of rum there are those that are relatively simple, and distinct individual flavors are easy to determine. Some rums with a bit more complexity demonstrate a few more identifiable flavors. But truly fine and complex spirits are another matter.

These take time. There are so many flavors that these combine into overall, combined sensations that seem simple, but are not. Take Sue Sea's baked raisiny pie for example - seems simple, but in time you can pull out the numerous elements, but then again, why bother? Baked raisin pie with brown sugar is elegant and enticing in the whole. And that is what you'll get with Scarlet Ibis - deceptive complexity. It is the mark of quality.

Ibis opening palate is a smooth, cool honey sweetness, which then moves into spices enveloped in a white pepper blanket. The finish is a magnificent slow and lasting fade as the opening sweetness emerges over dark raisin, prune and licorice.

One final note: most of the "sweetness" you will experience in rums is added. Ibis' sweetness is more a sensation, not at all syrupy and borders on a lovely and sophisticated dryness. A dry sweetness if you will.

Like Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva or perhaps Santa Teresa Anejo, Scarlet Ibis Rum is definitely a dangerous rum. Way too easy to drink, and at a designated driver, 98 proof. I'm serious.


Last and most important...


JaRiMi once insisted that Trini rums were really a style of their own. Sue Sea and I felt the same about the corky Dominican rums, but even though we found several, these did not instigate a new section.

Trinidadian Scarlet Ibis Rum did.

This arose when Sue Sea and I simply couldn't agree on a style for Scarlet Ibis. Cuban hotness, but heavier. Jamaican aromatics, but no dunder. Barbadian smoothness, but more intensity and heat. Same for Demeraran. And no Cane Juice rum qualities at all. Sue Sea's best placement: Demeraran, followed by Cuban. Mine led with Jamaican, followed closely by Barbadian and Cuban.

Bottom line
: JaRiMi was right, we understand why and we beg his everlasting forgiveness.


Score (ten is best): 10.
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NCyankee
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finally got a bottle of this, had my eye on it for a couple months now - just opened it and all I can say is wow. So much going on here, amazing how much this tastes like a spiced rum with all the cloves and allspice, a real palate wrecker. Reminds me a lot of Sea Wynde but with more spice and without the odd underlying taste like burnt rubber that I find slightly unpleasant in that one.

I will revisit this after it has been open for a few days but I have to say my initial tasting is very favorable.

Also got a bottle of Smith and Cross, which I will likely open tonight when my palate has recovered from this one. I need to decide if I am going to buy more of these before drinkupny.com ends their free shipping deal at the end of this month, they have each rum for $29.

Looking over your list of spirits in your collection - have you tried any Mezcal? Given your preference for strong tasting rums, you might like it (skip the Monte Alban that stuff is crap.)
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NCyankee
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok I retasted this one last night - love love love it, so complex and spicy but no unpleasant edges. Probably about as much going on as one's palate can handle, this is one that I will keep coming back to as at this time I feel it is beyond me to plumb its depths.

A real put-hair-on-your chest rum.
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da'rum
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Managed to find a bottle here and it's on it's way. Just a note, it does have colouring E150.
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RT
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too am a big fan of the Scarlet Ibis (and the Smith & Cross also). Been consuming the S.I. sparingly, as I don't know when or if I will ever see another bottle for purchase.

Although my understanding is that it was crafted as a premium mixer, it works very well for me as a sipper, and is exhibit #1 that full bodied rums do not have to be dark in color.
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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A question...


To da' Rum: I'm unable to repeat my original research, but the color (straw), absence of chill filtering and age (to 5 years) would tend to confirm the lack of E-150. E-150 is incredibly potent, and only a few drops would add significantly more color than this.

My question: does your label confirm E-150? Thanks...
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da'rum
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't have the bottle in my greasy mitt yet but the seller here in Europe must disclose whether it contains 'Farbstoff' and it says it does.

I'll check the label and get back to you early next week.
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da'rum
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bottle arrived, nothing on the label to denote colouring. I'll have to check with the seller.

Fantastic rum. Really unique and special stuff.

Aromatic and refined, I will let you in on a small secret. I have dabbled in distilling before and was hell bent on producing a fine absinthe. Anyone who knows about Absinthe knows that it is a fine spirit when made properly.

My reason for telling you this is, that Absinthe has a very large herb bill and I have a herb room full with differing spices and concoctions.

This rum reminds me of that smell of when I open the door to that room and all the aroma's rush at me in a pleasant bouquet. There is a distinct fruitiness also with a specific fruit aroma from something I've had before but can't put my finger on. I'll get it soon.

Did I say this is a fine rum? I did but it bears saying twice.

I think the mystery fruit is a yeast flavour.
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jankdc
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to say, I just don't taste it. I don't think that it is all that good of a rum. I'm not saying that it's bad, but El Dorado 15 that I poured after the Scarlet has more complexity. Smell is a big part of it for me and the Scarlet Ibis is just too subtle. Yes, I did dilute it to 40% (which did bring some flavors and aromas out), but it still wasn't that special of an experience. There was too much heat/bite/sharpness and not enough other.

Again, I poured some El Dorado 15 afterwards and thought that it was a much nicer, more complex and more enjoyable for me.

My favorite rums:
Appleton 12, Westerfield Plantation, Ron Matusalum Gran Reserve 15.
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References: MGXO, R Mat. GR, Scar Ibis, Apple 12, Barb 5, Pusser's, Wray and Neph, ED 15, 10Cn, West Plant, R Barc Imp.
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RT
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Remember that Scarlet Ibis was originally crafted as a high-end mixing rum. Although I consider it a fairly full-bodied rum, by design the flavors are somewhat more subtle than many aged sippers. It is intended primarily to blend into a cocktail, and not to stand out quite so much. It is precisely this subtlety that I find appealing in certain situations, such as sipping with delicately-flavored appetizers or tapas, where most rums would overpower.

I would not expect it to shine head to head with ED 15 or S&C. Those are both powerfully good rums of different style.

It might be interesting to try tasting the ED 15 first, then a palate cleanser, then the S.I., see if your tasting notes are any different.
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jankdc
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RT wrote:
Remember that Scarlet Ibis was originally crafted as a high-end mixing rum. Although I consider it a fairly full-bodied rum, by design the flavors are somewhat more subtle than many aged sippers. It is intended primarily to blend into a cocktail, and not to stand out quite so much. It is precisely this subtlety that I find appealing in certain situations, such as sipping with delicately-flavored appetizers or tapas, where most rums would overpower.

I would not expect it to shine head to head with ED 15 or S&C. Those are both powerfully good rums of different style.

It might be interesting to try tasting the ED 15 first, then a palate cleanser, then the S.I., see if your tasting notes are any different.


I don't know. I will try it again, but maybe against Ron Matusalum Grand Reserve. I consider that to be a subtle rum. While I am a newbie (or complete idiot), I find that besides the heat/bite/sharpness, there isn't much going on. With the Ron Matusalum, it is subtle but it is there. I will sniff my glass long after the rum is gone, enjoying the aromas. I really can't decide if I like Appleton 12 better because it is a different style and side by side will overwhelm the Ron Matusalum. Even the Westerhall Plantation (which I think I like better and is pretty subtle itself) overwhelms the Ron Matusalum in a side by side comparison.

I have been introduced to some amazing and great rums by this site. I just think that there are a couple that are overrated. This being one of them. (Another is Wray and Nephew--but that's another conversation). Even with rums that are not my favorite (ie MGXO), I can experience it and understand on some level why it is a great rum (complexity, aftertaste, smoothness etc). With this one, I just don't understand it.
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References: MGXO, R Mat. GR, Scar Ibis, Apple 12, Barb 5, Pusser's, Wray and Neph, ED 15, 10Cn, West Plant, R Barc Imp.
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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sometimes it's a matter of time and experience...


It's fair to say that we all start from different perspectives. Some come from a background of ordinary whisky, some from tequila, some from single malts, and some from yes, beer blasts. And a lot depends on your first exposure to rum. If you get roped into the monkey jungle your first rum could well be a sweet bomb like the Diplomaticos or the Zee rums. After those, chilled tap water would taste harsh.

Jan, I honestly can't say why you're having what appears to be a pretty negative reaction to a very fine rum. There are so many altered rums that an unaltered rum may come as a shock. And this says nothing about overproofs. Most of the monkeys do sip overproofs but mostly in the hope that tossing em back straight will replace the bald spots on the their red asses. As you've discovered and single malt afficianados well know, overproofs are wonderful buys, as a 750ml bottle is closer to a full liter of 40%.

Although top reviewers will all dilute an overproof - modestly! - they all will carefully microdram it at full strength. Diluting to 80 proof right off is a mistake. I'd suggest a teaspoon of distilled water, and then go from there. Bringing a 98 proof down to around 88 to 90 ought to be plenty. Remember, you can always add water - an eyedropper is your best friend.

RT's advice is also pretty good. Planning flights is a challenge and whether to start, or to end boldly is a decision to be made. We also have a prime time of day for tasting. My palate is at its absolute best in the early morning, after breakfast. By the end of the day, it's tired. Personally I'd suggest you make the Ibis your first rum, at your best time. Start with a microdram or two to sensitize your palate, then a teaspoon of distilled and go from there. Take your time, and don't be in any hurry to analyze or compare.

Good luck! We all have our quirks and personal desires, and it may just be that Ibis just doesn't cut it for you...
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Hassouni
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, who makes Scarlet Ibis? Is Angostura the only producer left on Trinidad? And if it is Angostura, do they also do the blending and aging?
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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hope this helps...


Thanks to Okole Maluna

Quote:
The Scarlet Ibis is a custom blend of 3-5 year White Oak aged rums, copper-pot distilled from molasses in Trinidad by the Rum Distillers of Trinidad and Tobago, and bottled at 98 proof. The distillery, it appears, is now solely in the bulk rum business. I’ve never gotten a chance to try any of the Caroni rums, but will definitely keep an eye out, as, from what I’ve tasted and will review below, I seem to have a fondness for anything Trinidadian.


It was originally sold by the famous Haus Alpenz, who describes it thusly:

Quote:
This bespoke blend of three to five year aged Trinidad rums highlights the distinctive notes of the island’s small cask rum production. The rich flavors drawn from the sugarcane are considered reflective of Trinidad’s diverse terrain, ranging from lush mountains to rainforests and rolling plains. Originally commissioned as a private barrel project for Death & Co in NY, additional stock sold as available.


Note: be wise and when you do taste this rum proceed with time and care, micro-dramming, then be sure add water carefully. Most reviewer rave at the flavors that a bit of water will facilitate.
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Hassouni
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm quite fond of it as-is, or in a cocktail. Drinking some neat now, in fact!

Interesting that it comes from a bulk-only distiller. How prevalent is that in the industry?
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