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Dos Maderas 5+5 Rum

In my previous rum review, I talked about a brand that uses fake age statements. This time, I’m going to talk about a rum brand who isn’t and rum brands in general who aren’t entirely transparent with the sweetening of their products.

Today’s topic is Dos Maderas, more specifically, their 5+5 expression. Dos Maderas is a rum brand owned and produced by Bodegas William & Humbert, which is a well-known winery, sherry bodega, and brandy producer. You’re most likely familiar with the company through brands under them such as Alfonso brandy, Zafiro gin, and their various sherries.

Dos Maderas 5+5 is a blend of five year old rums from both Barbados and Guyana. These rums are sent to Jerez to be aged for an additional three years in 20 year old Palo Cortado casks, and an additional two years in casks of 20 year old Pedro Ximénez casks. Safe to say the use of two different casks (ex-bourbon and ex-sherry) is where the name Dos Maderas (“two woods”) comes from.

This technically makes the rum at least ten years old. Using “5+5” on the label reminds me of La Maison & Velier’s Transcontinental Rum Line (TCRL), which indicates and separates how long the rum aged in the tropics and how long the rum was aged in Europe. In the case of Jig’s TCRL Trinidad review, it’s a 7 (in Trinidad) + 5 (in Europe). My optimistic guess is they’re catering to the growing number of rum enthusiasts who recognize that aging in the tropics is different from aging elsewhere.

Sadly, this is where Dos Maderas’ transparency ends. They don’t go into more details such as which distillery/ies the Barbadian rum came from, and what marks were used to make the Guyanese rum. Fatrumpirate highly suspects the Barbadian and Guyanese rum components were sourced and blended by E&A Scheer.

Aside from that, the brand is known among the rum enthusiasts to be sweetened. I recall they even hired some popular rum personalities to market their rum. These personalities would disclose that the rum has additives. Whether the sweetening is via added sugar or via wet casks, we aren’t sure. Drecon.dk lists the rum as having 36 g/L of additives. But since aging spirits in “wet casks*” is becoming more popular – even in single malts – and the brand is owned by a sherry bodega, I’m inclined to think that this is more likely. Although, solera aging the rum in various ex-sherry casks can make this trickier to define.

What’s funny is that Dos Maderas’ website and Instagram do a great job at going into the awards, what the rum tastes like, and various FAQ posts… but none of them mention that the rum is sweetened. (I went back as far as to their July posts and saw no mention of the rum containing additives).

Some would argue that admitting the rum is sweetened is a brand being transparent (enough). But I argue that it’s them being selective on who they’re being transparent with. Their labels don’t mention anything about the rum being sweetened. To my understanding, they will only tell a consumer that their rum has additives if the consumer asks.

But, what if a consumer – who is new to rum and doesn’t know about this dishonest rum industry practice – doesn’t ask? Does this mean that if a consumer doesn’t ask, they won’t say anything about it? Even if they mention it to every attendee in a tasting, what about those who aren’t able to and haven’t attended any tastings? I guess we should refer to this kind of practice as “translucency?” I mean, those familiar with an image are able to identify it through the semi-transparent glass. But those unfamiliar with the image won’t be able to.

There was a time when brands, such as Don Papa, would claim their rum didn’t have additives. But now that this dirty industry practice has become exposed, brands are starting to admit it. Still, some brands persist in feigning transparency. I hope to see the day when brands with additives would be required or allowed to mention the amount they used on their labels. I say “allow” because, in the case of the U.S. FDA (as I’ve been told by brand owners), they won’t allow this because consumers might mistake the additives on the label as some sort of supplement. For me, if there’s a will, there’s a way. How about a simple solution such as disclosing it as soon as someone enters your website and social media account?

This FDA reasoning, while sounding more like a stereotypical government shortcoming, sounds like a legitimate excuse for brands available in the US. But what about in other regions? When the government finally wises up and allows the labeling of additives, what will the excuse of these dishonest brands be?

Thanks to the person who gave me a sample of this rum.

Dos Maderas 5+5 – Review

40% ABV. £46.75 from The Whisky Exchange. USD $36 locally.

Color: Burgundy.

On the nose: Very light, but feels heavy. I get light and short aromas of red grapes, red grape skin, grape-flavored cough syrup, raisins, cinnamon, figs, and vanilla.

In the mouth: Sweet, fruity and some-what syrupy. I taste things similar to what I got on the nose. I get red grapes, raisins, red grape skins, figs, grape-flavored cough syrup, dates, and cinnamon.

Conclusion:

Drinking this reminds me of Ron Zacapa “23.” The dominant flavor I get here mostly comes from the PX cask influence. This does not taste like rum. It tastes more like a super fortified wine due to the higher-than-usual ABV (if it were considered a wine). Despite all that, I’m not so biased to not call this very easy to drink. But isn’t that how a lot of brands get you?

With that said, I can see some people getting into rum via trying this, just like a lot of current rum drinkers got into rum via Ron Zacapa “23.” But, I fear that getting into rum through this route would just get most stuck with brands known to sweeten their rum such as Don Papa and Diplomatico.

Score: 3/10

Lead image courtesy of The Whisky Exchange.

*Wet casks refer to casks used for aging spirits that still have some leftovers of the original contents. For example, there are Scotch single malts that spend time in 1st-fill ex-PX casks. These still have some left over PX in the cask. This is meant to add more PX flavor to the whisky. Wet casks are a more common practice in sending used wine casks for aging spirits. There needs to be some wine sloshing around in the cask in order to prevent bacteria and mold from growing in the cask as the low ABV isn’t enough to entirely prevent unwanted growth.

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