Origin: Brugal & Co., C. por A., Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Finish: ex-Bourbon & ex-Sherry
Today, we head back to the island of Hispaniola for a look at Brugal, a brand from the Dominican Republic. Founded in 1888 by Catalonian-born Don Andres Brugal Montaner, its origin actually stretches a little futher back, and to a nearby island. Montaner started making rum in Cuba in 1870 after emigrating, but moved to the Dominican Republic 18 years later.
Brugal built a distillery in Puerto Plata in the 1930s, and later built a new facility in San Pedro de Macoris, where they moved distillation. A different facility back in Puerto Plata was constructed in the 1980s to use as an aging, blending, and bottling plant.
This expression, Brugal 1888, is a celebration of Brugal's heritage and features a double aging process. The rum is produced at the San Pedro de Macoris distillery by Brugal's column stills, and later aged in ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry barrels.
There is conflicting information about the exact length of maturation at each part of the process. The Brugal page on Flaviar claims a maturation of "5 to 14 years in American white oak casks, and finish matured in first-fill Sherry oak casks" (no specific mention of time spent in the Sherry barrels), while this RumExam page claims "6 to 8 years in White American Oak ex-whiskey, followed by 2-4 years in Spanish Sherry Oak casks".
Once the Maestro Roneros determine enough maturation has occurred in the respective casks (however long that actually may be), the rum is blended to specification and bottled at 40% ABV.
Dark brown, medium clarity, low viscosity
Caramel, red grapes, molasses, ethanol
Molasses, caramel, baked strawberries, demerara sugar
Medium-short, dry, sweet; oak, caramel, demerara sugar
Brugal 1888 promises a pretty good dram with ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry distillates making up the composition, but the result is a bit of a let down. Nose and palate are very simple, and the finish is dry and short-lived. The sherry notes do come through a bit with some focus, but ultimately are not able to save this generally mediocre experience.
In the glass, Brugal 1888 is dark brown, with medium clarity and low viscosity.
This has a thin nose of caramel, red grapes, molasses, and ethanol. You really have to focus to get much more than the caramel and molasses, and the raw ethanol alcohol comes through pretty strong if you get too much at one point.
Molasses and caramel leads the palate, which is equally as thin as the nose. Some fruity baked strawberries pokes through, as does some demerara sugar. The sherry cask is evident through the sweet and strawberry notes, but there's not much else going on in this palate.
The finish is medium-short, pretty dry and a tad sweet. The only notes I get from the finish is oak, caramel, and demerara sugar; some leftover notes from the palate. Nothing really stands out and this is over fairly quickly, not leaving much time to savor any particular part of the experience.
While this is not the worst rum I've tried, Brugal 1888 is fairly plain and unexciting, even if it is pleasant to sip. For those who want to experience Dominican rum, Rolling Fork or Blackadder may have more worthy expressions. However, if you want a sipping rum you don't have to think about, this may work for you, but will not challenge you.