Thursday, 24 September 2015

Review 58 - Esclavo XO Cask Strength

Image courtesy of
A cask strength Oliver rum? Awesome! No, not really. 

First of all, I apologise for the poor furnishing of my photo setup. This review - and a couple of others - were made during my spare time on a business trip to a God forsaken ghost town in the middle of nowhere. The table and wallpaper was generously supplied by my 3-star hotel room.

So, today I’m going back to the Dominican Republic to another Oliver & Oliver product.
If you have read some of my previous reviews of their products, you might wonder why. And I’ll tell you why: It seems that they have finally been convinced to issue something with a bit more muscle.

Behold: The Ron Esclavo XO Cask Strength. The steroid induced twin brother of the Ron Esclavo XO Solera, which I wrestled a while back.

Don’t be confused. The XO Cask Strength is still very much a solera rum. So nothing new here.
What is new, is the blood vessel popping 65% ABV.

A big hat tip to, which are the instigators behind the product. So far I have yet to find this particular bottle anywhere outside of Denmark.

Apart from this being sourced from Oliver & Oliver, I have absolutely no information about the distillate, how it is made, how it is aged or what else has been done to it.

Dunking my hydrometer into it, reveals a massive 71 grams of sugar pr. litre of rum. What the who the how the?!

Since sugar is used to ”smooth things out” I guess this is an unfathomable rough spirit without the sugar in it. Why else would it need that much sugar?!

I seriously hope that my equipment is faulty. I guess I have to ask my nose and palate for a second opinion later on.

Having only a sample at my disposition, I have to rely on the good ole internet for information.

It doesn’t have a box or tin or anything else to keep it out of harmful light. Too bad.
But the bottle is actually quite refreshing.

Using a rather tall cylindrical bottle with a wooden tipped natural cork and a simple label, it looks more like a test sample than an actual end product.

The label contains next to no information except from the standard facts, a batch number and how many bottles said batch yielded. Nothing else. I like it.

Viewing the online photos, the rum looks dark mahogany, and when poured into a glass, my sample shows that same colour.

Dark mahogany colour with lots of tiny fragments of sediment, which indicates that little or no filtration has been done. Or that my sample comes from a bottle with a dissolved cork. I am betting my savings on the first possibility.

A thick film keeps sticking to the inside of the glass after a twirl, and a nice, clear ring then creates some very fat and slow moving legs.

The first thing that comes to mind is thick syrup with lots of vanilla.

After that I got a sensation of black tea with lots of honey.

Then a lot of lemon/lime ice cream lollies, and little oak. Not really that much considering that the this rum is 23 COUGHsoleraCOUGH years old.

As a quite domination aftertouch I encountered a new first for me: wet card board.

Overall, it's a little simple on the nose, but still a little interesting with an odd combination of scents.

I was quite surprised that it wasn’t more aggressive on the nose considering the strength. I guess it was sugared into submission.

Oh my lord! Take cover! Incoming grenade! What an extraordinary experience!

I feel like I have been force fed concentrated sugar cane syrup with a shovel. Repeatedly.

The sweetness is insane. Simply mindblowing. Thankfully the strength is equally insane and battles the sugar very nicely.

Apart from the massive sweetness consisting of syrup, honey and sugar cane syrup, there was only a slight sensation of oak and cinnamon … and a couple of chewed up pencils.

That is it.

Thank your favourite deity for the sugar/strength stalemate. If the balance between these two had been off, I’m sure my tastebuds had been killed off completely.

Long and hot and sweet.

When it finally disappears I can almost feel cavities forming in my teeth. Licking my teeth gives me a similar feeling to the one you get after drinking a bottle of stale cola. Sticky, unpleasant and clearly unhealthy.

On the positive side there isn’t much syrup left in my mouth, and it actually feels quite clean when disregarding the coating stuck to my teeth.

Rating and final thoughts
I know I have been crying for a cask strength or full proof latin rum for quite some time. But this is ridiculous and not how I imagined it should turn out. At all.

Be warned: This is not rum.

At the very best, it is a liqueur. I am not a big liqueur drinker, so I wouldn’t be able to tell a good one from a bad one. I suspect that the Esclavo XO Cask Strength would make an interesting liqueur or desert wine.

But as a rum, it is a disaster.

It feels a lot like that somebody, somewhere, thought that two wrongs would make a right. So they emptied the sugar bowl into it, and torqued up the strength to ”inhuman”, thinking that they might cancel each other out. And in some kind of weird fluke, they kind of did. 

I want to pour this in my sink. But then, on the other hand, for some reason I can’t. I want to drink more of it regardless of its poor quality. Perhaps I am a liqueur person after all.

But this is not Liqueur Corner. This is Rum Corner. I do rum and as the bottle said "rum", I had an expectation of enjoying a rum. Not a liqueur.

The Esclavo XO Cask Strength is a prime example of everything wrong with the rum world today. 

Massive additives, phoney marketing trying to convince consumers that the horse is a cow, and last but not least, a poor attempt of making something drinkable out of something, which probably wasn’t even drinkable to begin with.
Diversity, you cry? Hell no! This is not diversity. This is deception.

I’m sorry to say so, and I know that a lot of rum drinkers, will demand my head on a stake for this, but this is almost as bad as the A.H. Riise Navy Strength I took a stab at a while back.

Looking at the price I am even more baffled. €70 for 50 cl. Let us just take a moment to let that sink in. Let me convert it for you: That is just short of €100 for a 70 cl. bottle.

If you want cask strength, €100 could get you a Rhum Rhum Liberation 2012 Version Integrale or a Compagnie des Indes Hampden 14 year old Cask Strength instead. If you want sweetened rums, you could choose a Millonario XO or a Rum Nation Panama 21 instead. All 4 are substancially better rums on every single parameter.

Frankly, I will be surprised if you can show me a worse drink in the €100 range.

I don’t really know what else to say about this drink. I might as well just call it quits.
So, being almost as bad as the A.H. Riise Navy Strength, I can't really score it that high. The only thing which saves it a few points, is the fact that it is actually drinkable, whereas the AHR wasn't.

Never the less, I can’t really award it with more than a…

Rating: 55/100

Just to think a little outside the box, I poured a lot of Pepsi into it to see if it would work as a mixer. Something very interesting happened: I created a wet card board soda! So, apart from not being a rum, I don’t really think it would work as a mixer either. Sorry.

I was actually being quite sincere when I wrote that it might be a nice desert wine. I can easily see my self having a small shot of this along with a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

Image and sample courtesy of


1 comment:

  1. Interesting review, i like it, but can easily follow many of your observations