Review: Doorly’s XO vs Doorly’s 12 Year Old

Now I wanted to do a review of both of these Doorly’s therefore I decided to challenge myself (I am new to this) and make a comparison. Doorly’s comes from Barbados and it’s part of the R.L. Seale & Co. Ltd. which owns the Foursquare Distillery where their rums are made. So many different names right? There is a reason for that! Obviously Barbados has been producing and trading rum for over 300 years, but in 1906 the Rum Duty Act changed the rules a bit. The law stated that distilleries could only sell rum in quantities of about 45 litres at a time. That helped creating some brands and names that could be recognized for their quality rather than letting anyone blend and bottle rums. That’s how well known brands were born – like Martin Doorly & Co. (1920) and R.L. Seale (1926), both being traders that were blending and bottling Bajan rums among other businesses. Martin Doorly & Co. became Doorly’s Rum and was the very first brand to be exported from Barbados. In 1993 R.L. Seale took over Doorly’s Rum and shortly after in around 1996 they acquired the Foursquare Distillery and started making their own rums – they were sourcing most of the rums until then from the West Indies Rum Distillery. Good, now that’s covered, let’s look into what we have!

Will start with the Doorly’s XO which is a blend of pot and column still rums (like most of the Foursquare rums) aged for a least 6 years and (maybe) up to 12 years. The lack of an age statement on the bottle might be due to changes in the blend for consistency, but the 6 years is guaranteed! The blend is finished in Spanish Oloroso Sherry Casks… sounds delicious doesn’t it?

Let’s see… I have a bit of a cold, but on the nose I feel some raisins, toffee, chocolate, cacao butter, cherries, dried plums, nutmeg.

On the palate… uh, it’s creamy! That cacao butter is there with charred oak, chocolate filled with strawberry & cherry cream, warm spices on the finish, very buttery and creamy!

Now Doorly’s 12, which has been recently awarded Spirit of the Year by The Whisky Exchange it’s a blend of column and pot still just like the XO and many other Foursquare juices. From what I know and what the internet says, about 90% of the rum it’s been aged 12 years in ex-Bourbon and the rest of 10% for 12 years in Madeira casks which were left to marry for an unspecified amount of time. The label doesn’t say anything about all of this just to avoid any confusion regarding the process.

The 12 on the nose is woody, a lot of spicy oak going on, red fruits, dried cherries, hints of red apples.

On the palate you get the wood first, it’s not as fruity as I was expecting from the nose. Very spicy, quite dry, a bit of citrus. It’s all about the oak spices, I still get the red fruits and some dried plums, a bit of banana, a bit of pear and the apple from the nose! Smokey oak it’s lingering on the finish along with some nutmeg.

Doorly’s XO vs Doorly’s 12: I can’t say I have a favorite, it’s all about the mood I’m in. The difference between them is comparable with the difference between bourbon and rye American whisky. One is more creamy, rounded, a bit more rich, where the other is drier and the spices are the main character. Both are bottled at 40% ABV, but I feel that the 12 has a bit more bite to it, has more character. The XO has some Guyana rums characteristics to it, like the buttery feel on the palate. The 12 could be a main course and the XO could be a desert. They are both great sippers, or in an Old Fashioned how I like to enjoy them sometimes. That said, I am looking forward for the soon to be launched Doorly’s 14!

Doorly’s XO score:
Flavour/taste: 48/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 78/100

Doorly’s 12 score:
Flavour/taste: 55/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 85/100


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