Review: Brugal Extra Viejo

Andres Brugal Montaner left Catalonia in the favour of the Caribbean in 1868 when he was only 18. He first settled in Cuba, in the Santiago coastal town, and then 20 years later in 1888 he moved to Puerto Plata in the Dominic Republic. In the same year he founded Brugal & Co and years later he was renowned as a great rum blender on the island. In 1920 Brugal produces its first aged rum in the Dominican republic with the Brugal Extra Viejo being created in 1976 as the first Dominican Republic premium rum – according to their website.

Nowadays the company is owned by the Scottish-based Edrington Group who bought a majority of the shareholding of the business in 2008, but the rum itself is still produced by the Brugal family, more exactly the 5th generation of Maestros Roneros – Gustavo Ortega Zeller and Jassil Villanueva. Apparently only family members can become a “Maestro Ronero” for Brugal – damn, there go my dreams of making Brugal rum… It’s quite popular in Spain and Italy and it can be easily be found in bars in the UK as well.

Worth mentioning they have charitable organisation set up in 1988 which supports quality education in the Dominican Republic called the Brugal Fundation, or Fundacion Brugal if Spanish is your thing.

Brugal is made using molasses sourced only from the Dominican Republic island which is fermented for 40-48 hours. The website romantically says “it’s distilling not once, not twice, but endlessly that means Brugal is always the cleanest purest spirit” which is one way to say multi-column distillation at 95% ABV in order to achieve a neutral tasting spirit. They rely heavily on the wood ageing in order to impart flavour to their rums, and interestingly enough, they don’t chill-filter.

Brugal Extra Viejo (Extra Old) is molasses based and multi-column distilled with the rums in the blend being aged from 3 to 8 years in ex-Bourbon casks in the Dominican Republic. Bottled at a mere 38% ABV, not chill-filtered, and from what I could find, minimally adulterated (around 7 grams of sugar per litre).

On the nose feels quite rich. Cocoa, ground coffee, coconut cream and cayenne pepper. Caramel, maple syrup and dusty cardboard. It’s a combo of sweet and earthy, nothing too complex. Some rose jam and cinnamon as well.

On the palate feels so watered down. Ground coffee, red chilli and some dark ciocolate. Blackberries, vanilla and charred oak. It’s hard to find more flavours, it just feels so weak. The finish is short with salted caramel and vanilla.

Bought this from Amazon at £28, which isn’t a bad price in the grand scheme of things, but when you think Appleton 8YO is the same price, which has so much more character and 5 more ABV points. This is just boring, I’d rather have Havana 7YO for a similar style, yet cheaper and better… and the examples can carry on, but I think you got the gist. Definitely not premium.

Brugal Extra Viejo score:
Flavour/taste: 35/70
Value for money: 9/15
Transparency/purity: 13/15
Overall: 57/100


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