Review: Mahiki Gold Rum

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Count Silvio
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Tue Jul 15, 2008 7:07 pm

Continuing with the Mahiki Rum reviews, next in line is the Mahiki Gold Rum which is a significantly different rum to Mahiki White Rum.

Mahiki Gold Rum is a blend of rums aged for a minimum of five years in Madeira and Bourbon casks. The blend is predominantly from Bourbon casks with the remaining 10% or so of the rum used in the blend from Madeira casks. The rums spend some additional time marrying in a tank but it is unknown exactly how long this process takes. Like the white rum, this one also uses pot and column distilled rums.

The bottle for the Gold Rum is exactly the same as the bottle for the White Rum, only the contents and the pamphlet are different.
Read the review on the frontpage.
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Tue Jul 15, 2008 11:46 pm

A luscious and enticing review. Sure sounds like what I expect from Seale. Personally, both Sue Sea and I like a nice smooth burn; after all it's rum not liqueur, lol! Now I must say that I'm always intrigued by the "mixer you can also sip" type of comment. Compare to a "sipper you can mix". Fact is you tend to see the former statement almost to exclusion of the latter.

Take Seale's Doorly Five Year (available at the pittance of just $11.99 US!). Priced LESS than most mixers, which almost insures it will get the "mixer you can also sip" label. This is not true. Truth be told this rum received a very high rating (8 of 10 possible) as a sipper, on our tasting. It's a very good sipper that would also make a good mixer. Actually this is true of all good rums. What prevents many people from mixing the better rums is price, not mixing results.

To me, the true "mixers" seem to be (1) mostly white, (2) inexpensive and (2) low rated for sipping. Actually these are lighter or gold rums that have been filtered to appear white, and really need the cover of a mixed drink to be palatable. The fact that there are some very good sippers available in the lower price range (indeed the Doorly Five sells for less) really ought to put the "mixers" out of business.

Back to the Mahiki Gold. Seale finishes his Doorly's XO in used Sherry barrels. In recent years he has been experimenting with Madiera and Cognac barrels. It would seem the MG may be the result of that experimentation.

But I digress. I really can't wait to get my hands on the Mahiki's... thanks again for the fine review.
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Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:22 am

Ahh, I am glad to hear that you found it enticing. Comments like that motivate me to do more reviews every time I hear them. But on to the discussion.

I wouldn't consider all good rums good mixers, some rums are so refined that the flavours are lost if mixed and some good sippers that have an out of the ordinary flavour profile just won't suit as a mixer. To me it is not the price that prevents me but indeed the mixing results. Of course it depends so much on the cocktail, but generally white rums are the best for most rum based cocktails.

With white rums you don't have so much flavour that will get lost and they also make a cocktail cleaner and "crips" so that is why in my opinion white rums are prefered when mixing. Then there are rums like Mahiki Gold Rum that are in between, suitable for both purposes. A mixer you can sip and a sipper you can mix. I hope this explanation has helped you understand why I've used the the term on my review.

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Wed Jul 16, 2008 12:29 pm

Actually all rums can be good mixers in the right circumstances understanding of course, that different flavor profiles will work better in different mixed drinks. As for white rums being preferable because there is less flavor to be lost, that assumes that you don't want flavor in your mixed drinks. This makes a case for using vodkas that you won't taste at all.

Consider the Mai Tai. Now if there was ever mixed drinks where flavors can get lost, it's Tiki drinks! But both Don the Beachcomber and especially Trader Vic insisted on using the very best rums - not the cheap mixers - in their drinks. And made fortunes doing so. Don used only the finest of rums and was reported to have "...a rare nose for the subtle differences among the better rums". He would repeatedly blend and experiment to find just the right combination of flavor profiles. In the end he used many rums - good whites, medium bodied and rare aged rums. As for Trader Vic, he made his first successful Mai Tai using a 17 year old Jamaican pot stilled rum! Don's Mai Tai was reported to feature a flavorful aged Jamaican rum along with a lighter bodied Cuban rum.

That many of us (including me) think that white rum is "the mixing rum" while aged is "for sipping", we should think again. I believe that the notion that the flavor is going to get lost anyway, so the much cheaper young white rums are just fine, is misconceived. Great drinks require great rum I think.

A story: Sue Sea and I keep a large bottle of Flor de Cana 4 Year around for mixed drinks. Just for fun we did a comparison using Appleton Extra. The improvement was noticeable. Yet I continue to use the Flor - not for the flavor (which is good but not exceptional) - but more for the cost. Why do I prefer the Flor over, say, a lesser white? Flavor. And what do more aged rums offer more of?

Yup, flavor.

Last, I'd like to suggest this notion: that while all rums are mixers, only some of those are also good sippers. The current general notion that divides rums into: mixers, "mixers than can also be sipped", and sippers seems artificial and inaccurately divisive. We think of "mixers" as cheaper, if not cheap. And these terms are also used to infer increasing quality. "Mixer" - used this way - is not a real compliment. But the truth is a great rum can often be a great mixer - that it isn't used or perceived that way has more to do with cost and the different valuation drinkers accord to use for sipping vs use in a mixed drink.

Some would feel a fine rum is "wasted" or lost in a mixed drink. It's not at all that the rum is wasted, it's that these drinkers, like me, value a rum more for a great sipping experience. We think mixed drinks are a lesser use because we're not into them like we are into sipping. But Trader Vic - and many mixed drink afficiandos - would disagree. They prefer a fine mixed drink to sipping and appreciate using the very best ingredients, not least a fine rum or groups of rums.

Time for a Caipirinha - made with my best cachaca, lol...
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Wed Jul 16, 2008 5:54 pm

Capn Jimbo wrote:As for white rums being preferable because there is less flavor to be lost, that assumes that you don't want flavor in your mixed drinks. This makes a case for using vodkas that you won't taste at all.
I certainly want flavour but what I meant that all the complexities and the subtle nuances of the finely crafted rums are easily lost in the mass of other flavours. It would have to be a very carefully crafted cocktail to make a difference between a less "fancy" and a really "fancy" rum in my opinion.

Perhaps Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic have managed to pull this off. Perhaps if there were more bartenders like Don and Vic, making these cocktails using only the finest, I could forgive someone mixing a cocktail with something very good. The fact is that most of the time this isn't the case, there is simply no knowhow (not in this part of the world) and it would take similar dedication Don and Vic had, to craft such magnificent cocktails yourself. Until I find that bartender or the dedication in myself, for now atleast, I will appreciate the finer distillers art as is.

Perhaps I will order the last Mai Tai using the 17 year old rum at IPBartenders in October and learn to appreciate mixing with rare and good rums.

Good points there Capn! Excellent post.
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Thu Jul 17, 2008 10:48 pm

Thanks. Your point about bartending skills, or their shortcomings, is very well taken. It's possible that the use of lesser rums is a matter of profit before taste. Most bars, even the better ones, have a pretty slim selection of rum in the first place, particularly the finer products. Second, unless (a) they have some good ones, (b) the customer requests it and (c) the barkeep knows to use it ... well, your point prevails. Don Beach and Trader Vic worked very, very hard to personally create and refine each of their very famous, high quality drinks. It is fair to call them obsessed with their Tiki mission. These were really trade secrets and many of the components were kept in unmarked bottles that even the bartender couldn't replicate. The formulae were strict and ensured top quality and wonderful taste.

This is hardly true in most bars, particularly regarding rum. However, making drinks at home is another matter. We have the opportunity to experiment and learn, and some of these recipes can still be found. Great site, and a great place to share and learn.
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Fri Sep 19, 2008 4:29 pm

Mahiki Rums should be available at other stores than Selfridge's this month and the Cognac cask should be launched in the near future.
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