Brand: Scarlet Ibis
Origin: Trinidad Distillers Ltd, Laventille, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago
Age: 3 years
The Scarlet Ibis is a beautiful, medium-sized bird clad in scarlet plummage; it is also one of two national birds of Trinidad & Tobago. Fitting, then, as the icon and namesake for a Trinidad Rum blend. The rum brand Scarlet Ibis comes to us from Haus Alpenz, the spirits importer that is also responsible for bringing us other cane spirits like Smith & Cross Jamaican rum and Batavia Arrack. They worked with New York City-based bar Death & Co., who originally commissioned and eventually selected the blend.
The rum is a blend of 3 to 5 year old rums in American white oak casks, each distilled in a column still at Trinidad Distillers Ltd. (TDL), the only remaining rum distillery on Trinidad. Alpenz bottles Scarlet Ibis unfiltered and unadulterated at a hefty 49% ABV. The rum is released when available, which means that unfortunately, it is not always in steady supply. When it is available, Scarlet Ibis can be found at a very reasonable $30-35, making it a very attractive bottle for using in cocktails.
The Scarlet Ibis was one of my first good rums, and I've managed to keep the last few ounces of this bottle with the old label since I bought it before COVID hit. If you look for The Scarlet Ibis at your local liquor store today, you may be able to find a bottle that appears like the one in my photo above. A few years ago, the label changed, this time to display a pair of the eponymous birds prominently.
I look forward to sharing this review of a rum that helped me start down my rum journey.
Golden straw, high clarity, medium-high viscosity
Butterscotch, citrus peels (orange, lemon), candied cherries, vanilla
Butterscotch, oak, tobacco leaf, clove, pineapple, spiced red apple
Medium length, dry; tobacco, oak, vanilla, coffee grounds
The Scarlet Ibis is a wonderful expression of Trinidad rum, even if it edges close to the threshold of being overly dry. The nose and palate provide wonderful flavors, but can also be a little light.
In my glass, Scarlet Ibis is a golden straw color, with high clarity and medium-high viscosity.
The nose is light for a near 100 proof rum, but offers notes of butterscotch, fruity citrus peels– I picked out orange and lemon, a faint hint of candied maraschino cherries, and a touch of vanilla. It's pleasant, and fairly indicative of other TDL distillates (specifically Angostura) that I have tried.
This rum's palate provides some butterscotch and oak to start out, leading into a smoky tobacco leaf and herbal clove notes. Definitely a more savory start to the palate, but is followed up with some fruity pineapple and spiced apple flavors. One can certainly taste the higher proof on this rum, and enjoy the complex palate as a consequence.
The finish is medium length and dry, rounding out the Scarlet Ibis experience with tobacco, oak, vanilla, and bitter coffee ground notes. It's a fairly unremarkable finish, unless one is remarking on the bitterness and drying nature of the outro.
Wrapping up, Scarlet Ibis is certainly meant to be a cocktail ingredient more than it is meant to be sipped neat. In this regard, the rum is excellent, and while the finish is a bit astringent and the nose is hard to pick up, the palate is complex and represents itself well when mixed. Scarlet Ibis also provides a higher proof ingredient at a typically low price point, and will likely compliment anyone's home bar setup.
- Rum Old Fashioned
- Ancient Mariner (Jeff "Beachbum" Berry, 1994)
- Mai Tai (Trader Vic, 1941)