Traveller's 1 Barrel (Belize)

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Capn Jimbo
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Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:22 am

I've actually lost count, but at the Rum Project, Sue Sea and I have now reviewed close to 80 of the important rums of the world. A rum has to have a reasonable reputation, or somehow attract me for good reason before I spend my hard earned money. Accordingly, we have actually had very few bad reviews, in fact, none (although a few have been lukewarm)

Not anymore.

Traveller's 1 Barrel earned our very first rotten review. This was quite unexpected for a rum that had won a couple of awards (more about that in our review), and that at least a few posters seemed to like. Here's a couple exerpts from a VERY long review and commentary:
Sue Sea: 1 Barrel comes in a plain Jane, screw top bottle. The label is amateurish, with faux gold leaf lettering, "1 Barrel", set against an elementary school art class barrel. The rum itself is a lighter gold - the overall impression is not the least impressive. It really screams "inexpensive".

And it is.

1 Barrel presents with a strong maple aroma, with tones of butterscotch, honey and caramel. Like a truck stop pecan pie, or what we used to call (artificial) maple-flavored "bear claws". There is a background of reed that works to sour the maple a bit. Still, the maple is dominant and carried throughout the tasting. The body is smooth and coating, and the taste is entirely consistent. The palate opens with maple candy sweetness, with clove emerging mid-palate. The finish is longer than Zaya - I'd call it a medium finish, with both clove and white pepper, quite warming.

Overall, I found 1 Barrel to be of one primary, overpowering note - of cheap, overdone maple flavoring. Ugh!
My review wasn't much better, and we felt obligated to rate 1 Belize a lowly "4" on a ten point scale:
I can't really disagree with Sue Sea (and her talented waiter son - who has a keen palate as well). 1 Barrel's color is a clear but not lustrous light gold with scary, thick sugar legs. Its aroma is clear, strong and unmistakeable: a pungent, very deep maple-flavored syrup, with tones of almond and over a background of sour leather. The taste is sadly consistent with an overpowering maple flavor, leading to a very warming hot, peppery finish.

I must be honest about Traveller's 1 Barrel. It is the lowest rated rum we have ever had the misfortune of buying and/or tasting. It is so bad I would hesitate even giving it away to another unsuspecting soul.
Pretty bad.

This rum is a very young, continuous distilled, and by their own admission a (heavily ) flavored product. Still this rum was entered in competitions as either a dark rum, or as a traditional gold (unflavored) product. This casts doubt on both the producer and the promoters of these largely commercial events.

This rum is a perfect example of "Rums Gone Wild" - those that have gone over the top in secretly doctoring their rums with any number of additives and flavorings. It is the poster rum for our "Twiggie's Tie Dye Rum" section: young, inexpensive, adulterated and promoted otherwise.

My apologies to all. Our reviews are otherwise quite positive. The complete, very long review and related commentary is (here).
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Capn Jimbo
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JaRiMi
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Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:51 am

The very first thing I want to say is that I fully believe this rum is not a very good product. Thanks Captain for posting the tasting notes, good to know in case we see this product in Europe one day (doubt it).

I wanted to see what the bottle looks like (didn't find a photo on Captain's website) so I did a websearch and found the manufacturer's website http://www.onebarrelrum.com/. The marketing jargon litany they have on their website makes a funny reading after the actual tasting notes:

"Unquestionably Belize's favorite rum, it is also the country's best selling liquor.

Created in 1964, One Barrel is our flagship brand and a pioneer in Belizean dark rums. Aged and hand crafted by our Master Blender himself, this distinctive product is a skillful blend of the finest spirits creating a truly exquisite rum. Dubbed ‘the come back kid', it was brought back after years of meticulous perfecting. One Barrel impressed the palates of connoisseurs to win golden awards in esteemed Quality and Spirit competitions throughout the Caribbean.

Aged to perfection in Kentucy Oak Barrels for 12 months, One Barrel acquires a medium-body consistency characterized by smooth and distinct flavors. A softly sweet taste complements its bouquet of aromas to create an unforgettably palatable finish."

They do have a "premium" product called 5Barrel rum, aged for five years apparently (and flavoured?).

What is obvious is that the manufacturer makes full use of their distillery, producing a vast array of alcoholic beverages.

It is a true shame if the likes of Traveller's get away with passing flavoured rums as "pure" rum.

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Rum Connection
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Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:56 pm

I've got to disagree with you guys on this one. I find 1 Barrel to be an interesting, inexpensive rum. Probably not a sipper, but it does become a bit more interesting with ice. Capt., your point about the presentation (bottle, label) is right on. It does have a pretty laim appearance. However, many of my favorite rums have weaker packaging in their country of origin, where the focus is soley on how the rum tastes, not how it looks. The 1 Barrel packaging in the States and in the UK is exactly what you will find in Belize and I suspect that it will get a makeover within the next few years as popularity builds. As for quality of the rum itself, it's a nice $15 bottle. I keep a bottle on the shelf and have a tipple when planning diving trips to Belize. Cheers!
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JaRiMi
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Sat Jan 03, 2009 9:30 pm

Rum Connection wrote:I've got to disagree with you guys on this one.
Please do not disagree with me personally at least - all I said was that "The very first thing I want to say is that I fully believe this rum is not a very good product."

I have NOT tasted the product as yet, so I was not actually discussing its taste, as you may notice. What I did say was that if it is a flavoured rum, then it should say so and advertise itself openly as a "spiced" rum.

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Count Silvio
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Sun Jan 04, 2009 1:42 pm

Welcome to the forums Rum Connection! Pleasure to have you here.

I've heard a lot of varying opinions about this rum and this is also an ACR (Authentic Caribbean Rum) and I am wondering about the flavourings you suggest this rum has. Wasn't this ACR seal supposed to guarantee, correct me if I am wrong, that no rums carrying this seal are altered in any way ie. no added flavourings?
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JaRiMi
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Sun Jan 04, 2009 1:59 pm

Count Silvio wrote:Welcome to the forums Rum Connection! Pleasure to have you here.

I've heard a lot of varying opinions about this rum and this is also an ACR (Authentic Caribbean Rum) and I am wondering about the flavourings you suggest this rum has. Wasn't this ACR seal supposed to guarantee, correct me if I am wrong, that no rums carrying this seal are altered in any way ie. no added flavourings?
It was not me who suggested it is a flavoured rum, the dear Capn J said that. I quote: "This rum is a very young, continuous distilled, and by their own admission a (heavily ) flavored product."

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Count Silvio
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Sun Jan 04, 2009 3:04 pm

Yes, sorry about the misunderstanding. I guess I should have quoted him. My bad.

So Capn, you've been in contact with the producers of this rum then? And they've said they have indeed "spiced" this rum?
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Capn Jimbo
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Mon Jan 05, 2009 12:59 am

I found several references to the adding of "Belizean juices and flavorings" to this rum. My sources included direct quotes from the distiller, the importer and a very long article in a local Belizian newspaper who interviewed and quoted the distiller in what amounted to a homeboy does good kind of puff piece.

The evidence of additives is easily confirmed by the appearance and syrupy legs, aroma and taste. A hot pan flash test is also confirming. No unflavored, continuously distilled, very young (12 month) is likely to present this way. But the proof is in the pudding and your own, hopefully unbiased tasting. My suggestion is to read our review, and perhaps the distiller's own notes.

Then you decide.

To the absolute best of my knowledge, the ACR label guarantees age only. Any mention that it guarantees freedom from additives amounts to a completely unsubstantiated net rumour that has been way too repeated. I was a big fan of the WIRSPA and their ACR labeling when this scheme was first proposed, but soon learned that WIRSPA's efforts - like the French in Martinique - is completely protectionist and designed to exclude rums made in the Caribbean at non-Commonwealth nations.

I would refer you to "WIRSPA Unplugged" - a VERY lengthy expose at the main Rum Project site, located here.
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Capn Jimbo
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JaRiMi
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Mon Jan 05, 2009 1:26 am

At least at their website they are careful not to mention anything about any additives, as far as I can see, but I noted a similar discussion thread in the Ministry website. When I last checked, there were no definite answers given by anyone there, and the discussion was winding down despite of that.

Having not tasted the product there's not much I can personally say about it, except that if the flavour is according to description, this is not a fabulous rum. Then again, it is very young and probably meant as a mixer mostly. ?? Never tasted anything from Belize, nor have I ever been there. Not a hotspot for business in my line of work, and holidays in Central America tend to be expensive from here, sadly.

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Capn Jimbo
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Tue Jan 06, 2009 3:19 pm

Honestly, 1 Barrel is a very difficult rum to place. It's really way too young to be considered a sipper, and as a flavored rum I perceived it as way too single-minded (artificial maple syrup) and overpowering. I suppose it might make a mixer, assuming you are in love with faux maple.
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Capn Jimbo
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