Review: El Dorado 8 Year Old (2021)

El Dorado, of Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) is a brand that is made at Diamond Distillery in Guyana. In my opinion their range was the perfect rum brand metaphor of “you can’t have it all”. As in they a collection of amazing stills, some of them unique in the world, that can produce various delicious marques, but the potential complexity (proved by many independent bottlers) of the El Dorado rums was masked by the addition of sweeteners.

As I expressed my disappointment in the El Dorado 12 Year Old review I made, I also mentioned that DDL said they are ageing their rums with caramel in the barrel in order to achieve a certain colour and sweetness level, but they also said that they’re moving away from that practice – you can read about it here.

Fairly recently it has been rumored on some online forums that El Dorado bottles dated 2020-2021 have less or no sugar added – something that has been confirmed by various rum enthusiasts via their palate or hydrometer tests. So my fear of missing out kicked in and I decided to grab the El Dorado 8 Year Old, one of my previous favourites of the range for its low sugar content – the old ED 8 would measure at around 8g of sugar per litre according to thefatrumpirate. The new bottles will have their label updated as well, with the 8 year old being purple rather than black, now I’m just curious how the new blend behaves in my glass.

The old ED 8 blend would be a blend of distillates from the Enmore Wooden Coffey Still, French Savalle Still and a double column still, but I’m unaware if the new blend’s makeup would be the same or similar – although I’m willing to bet that there’s still some Enmore juice used.

So molasses based and most likely column distilled, including distillate from the unique Enmore Wooden Coffey Still and aged for at least 8 years in ex-Bourbon casks in Guyana. Bottled at 40% ABV and most likely with little to no added additives.

On the nose there’s that caramel dominated profile you would normally find in Demerara rums. Brown sugar, molasses, liquorice, cinnamon and pencil shavings. Walnuts, parma violet, dusty old books and raisins. Tobacco, ripe bananas and caramelised pineapple. Cappuccino, canned plums and dark chocolate. Feels rich and woody.

On the palate it has a soft entry that develops into bitterness. Toffee, liquorice, coconut, canned peach and black coffee. Black pepper, allspice, cola and walnuts. Old leather, plums and slightly burnt wood. The bitterness towards the end makes me think there’s still some caramel game involved. The finish is medium with salted caramel and raisins.

I enjoyed the richness and fairly intense dark and woody flavours, this is nicely balanced and not particularly sweet as you’d expect from the usual El Dorado range. I don’t have an old ED 8 bottle to compare the profile, but still remains my favourite of the range until I try the new 12 and 15 year old blends. For £30 this is one of the best and most accesible Demerara rums you can find on the market for both sipping and mixing.

El Dorado 8 Year Old (2021) score:
Flavour/taste: 47/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 12/15
Overall: 74/100


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