April 2014 witnesses Citizen Spirits introducing the second spirit in the Denizen Rum line. Merchant Reserve is a blend of rums from Jamaica and Martinique. I found the idea a bit fascinating.
The Jamaican rums are a blend of Plummer pot stilled rums sourced from Worthy Park, Hampden, New Yarmouth, and Clarendon. It is my understanding that the largest portion of the aged rum comes from Worthy Park where slow working yeasts are used during the fermentation process to contribute the high ester flavors the blenders wanted to use in the rum. From Martinique, they use a rare molasses based component used in Rhum Grand Arome created at the Le Galion S.A.E.M distillery.
60% of the rum is aged in used American Oak Bourbon barrels for eight years and then all of the rums are blended to 86 proof.
The first thing that struck me was the purity of the amber of this rum. In the bottle it has the dark gold amber that we find in jewelry. In the glass the darkness lightens providing a more pure amber that I have seen glistening on the side of trees where the sap has leaked out. Agitating the glass creates a thick band that provides thin slow moving legs. A subtle green halo rings the liquid, confirming that the rum is barrel aged.
The 750 ml bottle has a short neck and is secured with a screw cap. The signature design of the labels is consistent with their first product. The front provides the basic information, while the back tells the story that inspired the rum along with the required legal details and bar code.
I found the aroma of this rum to have a unique flair about it. The esters of the pot still rums in the blend dominate; I detect orange peel, banana, black pepper, dried apricots and rounded out by an airy vanilla note.
When I sipped this rum, my first surprise was the buttery caramel note that enveloped my tongue. All of the fruit notes I detected in the aroma swirl across - especially the dried apricot. These are punctuated by a spicy heat that melts quickly accentuating the oak tannins in the liquid. As the rum starts to fade a light pineapple note comes out to play providing a lush fruity sweet note to the finish.
When Citizen Spirits developed this product they consulted with cocktail historians in an effort to achieve a rum unique to the market. They wanted a product reminiscent of what Trader Vic would have used in his original Mai Tai blend which used both Jamaican and Martinique rums.
For an eight year old blended rum this was a really enjoyable sipper that has the diversity to be a quality multi-use ingredient for any rum cocktail that requires an aged gold rum. Denizen Merchant Reserve is scheduled to launch in New York City and San Francisco with plans for expansion as other distributors reach agreements. Monitor denizenrum.com for updates.
This review first appeared in Got Rum? magazine.