Brand: Treaty Oak
Origin: Treaty Oak Distilling, Dripping Springs, TX, USA (picked by Elixir Spirits)
Age: 8 years, 8 months
Finish: Charred New American Oak
The Texas Hill Country is perhaps not the first place one may think to find quality rum being distilled; you'd be more likely to find vodka or whiskey in this part of Central Texas. In the case of Treaty Oak, whiskey is exactly what is being distilled on their ranch outside Dripping Springs.
Treaty Oak Distilling was founded by current CEO Daniel Barnes, and prides itself on distilling "100% grain-to-glass" whiskey, such as their Ghost Hill Texas Bourbon. However, that's not all that is being distilled on-site: their gin is released under the Waterloo Gin brand, and rum is distilled, aged, and released under their flagship brand, which brings us to our review.
Treaty Oak Barrel Reserve Rum is not a regular site on a shelf, and has been only available by purchasing a bottle at the distillery for a limited release, or grabbing a bottle from a store that has made a barrel pick.
My bottle of Treaty Oak rum came from Elixir Spirits in Spring Hill, TN. The owner, Tarak, selected barrel 20 for his pick, which has been very popular with both whiskey drinkers and Nashville-based members of Friends of Rum Tennessee alike.
Let's see what all the hype is about.
Orange-brown, medium clarity; medium viscosity
Warm vanilla cake, graham cracker, cardboard, pastry dough, nutmeg
Brown sugar, creme brulee, caramel, toasted coconut, cinnamon, stewed fruits
Long, moist finish; vanilla, coconut, and nutmeg, moves into oak tannins, cherry, cardboard, and black pepper notes
There are certain things in life you wish you could go back and re-do; for some, that may be buying Google, Apple, or Disney stock in the 90s, or learning a more marketable skill. For me, it would be purchasing more bottles of Elixir's pick of Treaty Oak Barrel Reserve rum.
In the case of the bottle I did buy, the decision was basically an afterthought. It was my first time visiting Elixir, and I had already loaded up a basket with bottles I couldn't get in Memphis: Foursquare, Hamilton, Doctor Bird, and others. Tarak offered me a sample of his pick of Treaty Oak, which I accepted. It was a deliciously rich yet smooth pour even at 55% ABV, with a sweet and savory finish, almost identical to a "Samoa" Girl Scout cookie. Long story short, I opted for a bottle to add to the haul.
Treat Oak's Barrel No. 20 is a beautiful orange-brown color, with medium viscosity, coating the glass as I drink it, and leaving long legs.
The nose offers a bouquet of warm vanilla cake, pastry dough, graham cracker, and dry cardboard. This list is a great example of how rums (and spirits in general) can have quite… eclectic tasting notes that most people wouldn't think equates to an exquisite experience.
The palate of brown sugar, creamy creme brûlée, and toasted coconut really is reminiscent of Foursquare ECS releases, with a touch of Privateer oak. The final notes of the palate include the savory, sweet flavors of a Samoa cookie. Some additional notes of cinnamon and stewed cherries and oranges are present, which may have shown up as the bottle has oxidized.
The finish is excellent: long, not too dry, but still exhibiting some tannic oak notes, along with vanilla, coconut, and nutmeg. Some more cherry flavors appear near the end, as does the cardboard and some black pepper notes to close out the experience.
For a rum aged in the hot Texas sun, the palate is delicately rich without being too intense or oaky. For many whiskey distilleries in America, rum seems to be an afterthought: a "quick buck" product to sell before their whiskey stocks reach maturity. Not the case with Treaty Oak; the care they take in distilling quality rum is evident in the products they release.
It's truly unfortunate that their rum is mostly relegated to distillery-only, limited releases, aside from the increasingly rare store pick. This rum can definitely stand up next to other quality American rums like Privateer, and offer their unique terroir to change the conversation about the state of American rum.
That being said, if you see a bottle of Treaty Oak rum on the shelf, I highly recommend you give it a shot.