Saturday, 9 May 2015

Review 43 - Esclavo XO Solera

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Another solera by Oliver & Oliver. Not bad, but it doesn't quite deliver.

It is no secret that slaves has played a huge part in the creation of rum. As labour in the production of rum, and as currency to pay for exotic caribbean products (rum being just one of them) brought home to the richer and more civilised (cough!) Europe.

The series of rum has been made as a tribute to those who has paid the highest of all costs – and often forced to – so we can enjoy the marvellous spirit of rum/rhum/ron today.

This is the Ron Esclavo XO – a rum made by Oliver & Oliver out of the Dominican Republic, but exclusively for Danish wholesaler There is no information or mention of the product line on the Oliver & Oliver webpage, so I am relying in the information supplied by

The sample under review has been supplied to me directly from the people behind

Being an Oliver & Oliver product I am anxious to see if they have finally managed to make something different than their usual spanish style solera sweetness. However I fear that it will be yet another very, very sweet rum, as all previously encountered Oliver & Oliver products has been exactly that. And seeing the popularity these kinds of rum get in my corner of the world, who can blame them?

According to the information from the wholesaler, we are dealing with a 23 year old Solera bottled at an ABV of 42%, which is slightly higher than the standard 40% - and actually one of the highest ABVs found in the Oliver & Oliver sphere, only surpassed by the special cask Opthimus products.

There is no information available about distillery, type of still used or composition of the solera in which maturation has taken place. Neither do I have any information about potential additives (sugar or colouring).

Having only a sample at my disposal, I have to rely on webpage images for the real presentation.

The rum comes in a regular copper coloured box with only the standard information – nation, ABV, and brand name. On the side we find what looks like signatures from the team behind

Inside we find a nice, short bottle which doesn’t sport much in the direction of details except for a slightly thickened bottom.

The label work is something special though.

A very modern expression with the information from the box sitting on top of a giant ”XO”. Some might find it a bit tacky. I think it looks quite refreshing.

I haven’t been able to find sufficient picture material to clearly identify what has been written on the back of the bottle. It does however seem to be a short story about the Esclavo product line.

The gate to the golden drops are protected by a natural cork with a plastic stopper, cloaked in a copper shrink wrap with the wholesalers name on it.

The rum it self is a dark brown with a ruby hue and when gently twirled, obese legs materialises themselves on the inside of the glass.

As you pour the rum, you already get a blast of molasses and vanilla, along with huge rum soaked raisins. And those scents are also the first to escape the glass.

Underneath that classic surface, I got rich apricot jams, cinnamon rolls and milk chocolate with orange.

It also has a mild oaken presence, which drags along some leather and a little wood polish.

Far in the background some ripe cherries hid and was very reluctant to reveal themselves.

At the very edge of it all was a slight spicy sting.

All in all a very rich and downright incredible nose. I like it.

On the palate the rum exhibits some of the components from the nose, but first and foremost it is  a very sweet piece of booze.

Heavily dominated by maple syrup, caramel and liquorice, it is definitely something for the sweet tooth.

The oak and leather shouts from the background and only manages to break the sugary surface every once in a while.

It has a rich fruity side to it with raisins and ripe cherries being the most obvious elements.
Raisins, ripe cherries

Not as complex as the nose, but quite fat and juicy.
A little too sweet for my personal preference, but still not a bad effort.

Short, sweet and sticky.

Again heavy on the syrup and liquorice, with a side of very mild oak and leather. And that is about it until you reach the very end, where you are left with just sugar and spice.

It has a decent warmth through out and has no coarse elements what so ever.

A disappointing finale if you ask me. I would have expected it to stay around longer given the slightly elevated ABV.

Rating and final thoughts
I must say that I enjoyed the Esclavo XO quite a bit. Even though it is to the sweeter side, I found my self accumulating sips at a decent pace. And after an initial feeling that this rum was not going to impress me much, I found myself liking it more and more as I went along.

Personally, I find it a bit too sweet and sticky to be an over all favourite. Even though it does go a bit above the standard 40% the extra strength doesn’t manage to clean up the sweetness very well.

It stands in sharp contrast to the Rum Nation Peruano 8, which is also a sweet rum at 42% ABV, but which cleans up perfectly and hence avoids getting sticky.

I can’t help but feel that the extra strength saves some of the glory for this rum, as I suspect that a 40% version would have been an outright syrup tsunami.

The nose was a delight. Complex and rich. A real pleasure. Unfortunately the palate (and later the finish) was not entirely able to deliver on the promises made by the nose.

Value for money could be better. Dialling in at more than €60 you have a lot of other options.

If you are into super sweet rums, you have the Millonario 15 for around €50, the Diplomatico ResEx for around €40 and the Centenario 20 for around €55 to name a few.

If you prefer it a little less sweet and perhaps more spicy or dry, you could get the Peruano 8 for around €40, the Abuelo 12 for around €43 and the El Dorado 15 for around €50.

To sum it up: You have many, many option if you have €60 to spend, and I am not sure that the Esclavo XO would be the best place to start.

Never the less if you are into sweet rums and you can find it, you ought to try it out. It might however pose a difficult task to source this rum if you live outsider northern Europe (and perhaps Germany).

A nice rum over all and even though it is not one of my favourites, a fair judgement would be a …

Rating: 65/100
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