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Rum Review: Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva Rum
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How do you rate Ron Matusalem Gran Reserve Rum (5 is best)?
5
58%
 58%  [ 7 ]
4
25%
 25%  [ 3 ]
3
16%
 16%  [ 2 ]
2
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
1
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 12

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Capn Jimbo
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Joined: 11 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 09, 2008 12:53 pm    Post subject: Rum Review: Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva Rum Reply with quote

Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva Solera 15 Rum: "Orange Marmalade Toast"

Ron Matusalem is my selection for the fifth, Cuban style of rum identified by Dave Broom. The Cuban style is light and it will be no surprise that a good Cuban rum often accompanies a good cigar. Ron Matusalem Gran Reserve - produced by a Cuban distiller and formula in the Dominacan Republic - is no exception.

Sue Sea:

Quote:
I wasn't sure what to expect with a Cuban rum so I was excited to taste this major style. Its first aroma was light and clean with notes of a bit of oak and vanilla, butterscotch and caramel. With a bit of examination I found a touch of toasted almonds and what I can only describe as orange marmalade rye toast! I'm serious. Matusalem's Gran Reserve is light bodied; its taste is completely consistent with its aroma. As far as finish, the Gran Reserve is decrescendo - a great but short smokey finish as it puts the marmalade on the toast. Or actually the reverse. Lovely.


Me: My earlier experiences with MGR left me with the impression that it would be a good cigar rum. But as Sue Sea pointed out "...this is one of the very few rums I could drink with a good meal, as well as after it". A must have for your basic collection.

Note: this was one of our earliest reviews at a time when I did not feel confident or experienced enough to comment more specifically. The following is my current impression:

Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva is a well respected product that is as close to authentic Cuban as available legally in the U.S. It comes in a classic, short-necked bottle that is somewhat shorter and bit more squat than the most typical bottles, and sports a beautifully conceived traditional label and neck covering. Sealed with a cork. Gran Reserva is a 15 year Solera, meaning a rum wherein the angel's share is annually replaced with younger rums.

The result: the Solera concept - which is carried out in different ways by different distillers - tends to add layers of complexity from the rums of differing years blending together. It's like the bottomless catsup bottle at your neighborhood diner - constantly being refilled.

Heck, I bet there's catsup in there that's 15 years old too, lol...

But, as always, I digress. Sue Sea and I are in close proximity on the one. Gran Reserva's aroma has that clean and cultured complexity of a good Solera. Clean but deep with aromas of a high vanilla, a deep orangey leather, nice bit of oak. Sue Sea's caramel is there, adding a definite smooth sweetness. Early palate is smooooth and sweet, carrying through consistently with all in the aroma, and ends with some light astringency. The finish is short and lightly peppery, leaving a smoky orange aftertaste that makes this a cigar rum.

Great quality, great rum that belongs on your shelf. The reference rum for the Cuban style. Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva is both light and full flavored. Go figure. But after all, it's Cuban!

Rating (10 is best): Sue Sea - 7, Jimbo - 8.


*************

Note: This rum retasted below the next post, with an interesting discovery!
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Last edited by Capn Jimbo on Wed May 26, 2010 10:55 am; edited 6 times in total
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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 6:07 am    Post subject: An example of developing tastes... Reply with quote

Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva: "Cuppa Cocoa"
Sue Sea: "Toll House Cookie"

It is always interesting to return to a rum after some time. We don't like to review our old notes because we want to see how consistent we are in both tasting and rating.

Recently we returned to Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva as part of a comparison tasting to our latest find - Rum San Pablo (also reviewed in this forum section). San Pablo is another alleged Cuban formula brought out of Cuba by a Senor Justo Gonzalez. San Pablo had a distinct clove note which we also found in Cubaney and especially Vizcaya.

Naturally we had to see.

When we finally came to this Matusalem, the clove note was not there. Instead here's what we experienced on this second go around...

Sue Sea:

Quote:
I must tell you that I was very impressed with the very smooth and balanced San Pablo. Not terribly complex, but extremely balanced and makes the most of its light sweet honey and beautiful light clove finish. I found the Cubaney and especially the Vizcaya overdone. The Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva was different.

At first I picked up a light alcohol prickle - not in a bad way. This rum is quite complex and requires airing. I found a high citrus orange, vanilla, oak and below some clove, a hint of cinnamon and leather. My early taste was sweet and thick with some deep orange moving into a hot white pepper finish. Gran Reserva left a smokey aftertaste.

I will tell you that I kept finding new notes in this fine rum, I think due to its Solera method spanning 15 years. This is a rum you can and should spend time with. We start with a half shot, and usually pour another half before concluding our notes. With Gran Reserva we just kept pouring, kept exploring and finding new notes.

Then Jim discovered something really surprising: cocoa. Like a nice warm sweet cup of cocoa on a cold day, served with mini-marshmallows floating and melting on the top. Or a warm Toll House cookie. Mmmmm. He was so right!

Although all the components are certainly there as described, at times they come together to produce an altogether different sensation. Actually, we look for these as it is this overall sensation that best describes a rum. Very much like "Banana's Foster" - aka Angostura 1919.

This is another.


Me:

Honestly I don't know what happened this tasting, but as Sue Sea said, sometimes things come together and a unifying concept emerges. I remember struggling with Angostura 1919 when I finally got it - Banana's Foster! Right on the money, memorable and completely repeatable.

With Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva it happened again.

I was actually looking for clove (as with the other three Cuban formulas), but not finding any. I confirmed Sue Sea's alcohol prickle, and was trying to follow her notes when I noted what I first perceived as a sweet chocolate kind of aroma with some orange in the background. Close but not quite it. Gran Reserva's palate opened sweet and thick and moved to a slightly astringent end and a hot, white pepper and smoky oak finish.

We kept sipping and exploring and with airing the Gran Reserva kept coming out. Then it hit me: cocoa! with a smashing vanilla! An aroma so enticing I could have just sniffed it all night - as I once did with the wonderful Appleton Extra. Cocoa we decided, is an aroma made up of a number of components in a specific balance that connotes - cocoa. Not as sweet as chocolate. A little smokey and leathery. And so on.

"Cocoa" is the kind of accessible and memorable overall descriptor that we hope for, but do not always find for each rum. But we do our best. But in this case, it works and works well.

Ron Matusalem is not only a great example of the Cuban style (as confirmed by El Machete) but also of the Solera method for producing a rum that reveals growing layers of beautiful complexity.

A must buy. BTW, this time our scores did change.

Rating (10 is best): solid, solid 8.
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Uisge
Cap'n


Joined: 04 Nov 2011
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Location: Marvelous Madera Ranchos, CA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I must have hit a lucky streak, because after finding MXGO for $22.99 last Sunday, tonight I found Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva for $21.99 Shocked


Tasting will occur later this weekend Very Happy
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Uisge
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Joined: 04 Nov 2011
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Location: Marvelous Madera Ranchos, CA

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, tasting the Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva 18, neat using the Celtic Malt nosing glass;

There's a slight brown sugar sweetness on the nose that isn't cloying, no harshness noted at all.

The initial taste had an alcohol prickle, as Sue Sea noted, that quickly turned in a hot chile, then the faintest hint of salty-bitterness, and after a few seconds that gave way to something I tasted very recently (like a day ago), which is the reformulated whipped filling of a 3 Musketeers bar....cocoa with some sugar, and then a longish fade. A very pleasant astringency, and then it's all done.

A little more than a one trick pony, but what a tasty trick! This stuff is DANGEROUSLY drinkable...I'm not even going to bother adding water to it.
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NCyankee
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Uisge wrote:
OK, tasting the Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva 18, neat using the Celtic Malt nosing glass;


You found the 18 yr for $22? That's an amazing price - I usually see the 15 yr online for around $30, but is $20 at one place in california, which has the 18 for $30.
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Uisge
Cap'n


Joined: 04 Nov 2011
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Location: Marvelous Madera Ranchos, CA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NCy, I tried not to do a neck-snapping double-take when I saw the price, and I didn't even notice that it was the 18YO version until I got it home....although I did glance in my rearview mirror a few times, thinking I'd see the police riding my bumper, lights flashing to pull me over for theft! Wink
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NCyankee
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PostPosted: Sun May 13, 2012 9:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Matusalem Rums Reply with quote

Quote:

I will add that Matusalem Clasico is a close second (a 10-year solera blend) and the Platino is excellent for mixing where a light rum is called for. It's not the only light rum I mix with but ranks in the top two.


I had a friend bring me back a couple of bottles of platino from the Atlanta area for $9 each, I just opened one and I have to say this is an excellent white rum, as good as any I have had except maybe El Dorado 3 yr. I now wish I had told him to grab me a couple more at that price, the cheapest I have seen it elsewhere is $16.
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jankdc
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just wanted to chime in that this is one of my top three favorite rums (so far). I can sniff the aromas for hours. It subtler than other rums but it hits my brain just right. I only wish that it had a longer aftertaste.
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Dai
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 4:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep Matusalem is my favourite rum so far. Pity I've rn out got to order another bottle soon.
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sailor22
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I ran across a shelf full of Matusalem Gran Reserve that says it was distilled and bottled in Lake Alfred Florida. Bought one to taste and promptly went back for the rest. I have no idea how it compares to the current juice because I haven't had to buy any yet but what I have seems to be very similar to the reviews. Deeply delicious, balanced and complex enough to revisit several times in an evening without being overly sweet. Dangerously drinkable for sure.
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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aha!


It's nice to see that many of you had the same reaction to ours, including one that we did not include, that Ron Matusalem is what we call a "dangerous rum". There are a handful of rums - Santa Teresa Anejo is another - that are just so, so right, that they are way too easy, too enjoyable, too pleasant to stop.

The only two time we honestly got blitzed on rum were with these two on two different occasions. Dangerous rums indeed. Be SURE you have designated driver with these. I won't soon forget Sue Sea holding my arm as I weaving down Duval St. in Key West. Thank god everything is in walking distance there.

And I should add - smoking a hand rolled Dominican made by Granpa Rodriguez made fresh at the other end of Duval. Doesn't get any better than that...
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jankdc
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sailor22 wrote:
I ran across a shelf full of Matusalem Gran Reserve that says it was distilled and bottled in Lake Alfred Florida.


My bottle says distilled and bottled in the Dominican Republic. So I went to their site and found this:

Quote:
After the original Matusalem Distillery was confiscated by the Castro-Communist Government in Santiago, Cuba in the late 1950's, the production was eventually transferred to Santiago, Dominican Republic. A remarkable coincident in city name. Although at the moment Matusalem does not have its own Distillery, it has had a long term production contract with a high quality facility.


It seems that a company called Florida Caribbean Distillers now has taken over their production.


Quote:


Bottling Services
Florida Distillers is one of the largest contract spirits packaging facilities in the United States, with current annual capacity of 8-Million Cases.

Relationships
Florida Distillers has well established relationships with major suppliers world-wide. Our flexibility and contacts allows us to provide turn key packaging solutions for startups, entrepreneurs and companies who need assistance getting their products to market with efficient and competitive results.


I think that Jim talked about this company before, but I can't find the post. I'll have to find a newer bottle and compare it.
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sailor22
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seems like I heard that Florida Distillers made a lot of the inexpensive juice that ABC (a state wide chain of liquor stores in Florida) sells.

These were older bottles of Matusalem Gran Reserve, so old they retailed for $15.59! I have been told when they first got out of Cuba they had their Rum made in Florida before they moved production to the Dom Rep. I don't know how true that is.

After the history lesson about how they developed the recipe in Cuba the back label reads;

Sole Agents for the USA
Hiram Walker and Sons, Inc.
Southfield Michigan

Produced and bottled
by Matusalem & Co.
Lake Alfred Fl. USA

Matusalem and Swallow
device are registered
trademarks of Matusalem & Co.
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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Swallow this...


Lest I forget, the Matusalem "swallow" heading their labels is the equivalent of Bacardi's bat and with a similar backstory. Accord to the company the rum's name is based on Mathuselah, the Old Testament patriarch who lived for some 900 years, and which implies the long aging of their rums, which was notably longer than most Cuban rums of the time.

Having fled Cuba the company (actually two) orginally opened a distillery in Santiago, DR but later decided to establish a contract with a "quality distiller" that they refuse to name. According to Turncoat Big Burr another distillery in Lake Alfred, Florida did distill some (but not all) product for a brief time which may account for your bottle.

My three bottles of RM (two 15's, one 18 ) are all labeled "Product of Dominican Republic". Sailor, if I were you I'd rum, er run to buy another bottle - this time from the DR - and compare it to your oddball release...
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sailor22
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually have compared against the current release. While it has been more than a year since I did a back to back - I recall they were very similar but I found the Lake Alfred stuff just a little deeper and a little more complex than the Dom Rep juice. There was a more satisfying longer finish to balance the flavors on the front end. That's why I went back and cleaned out their stock.
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