“New year, new me!” is the saying, but I think that’s something more likely to apply to rum rather than people. Even continuous bottlings are subject to change as time passes by and I’m going to test that theory with these two bottles of Bacardi.
It is said that Bacardi 8 was created in 1862 and kept private for the Bacardi family for 7 generations. I don’t know how true that is, but I do know that in 1995 Bacardi released a limited 8 year old with a sherry finish bottled in a crystal decanter for the Cigar Aficionado magazine subscribers. Following its success they launched a standard 8 year old in 1996 without the finish or fancy bottling – that’s the bottle I have.
As far as I know the Bacardi 8 Year Old has undergone two label rebrandings, one of them being in 2015 when it took on the moniker of “Ocho” and the most recent one happening around 2017 which is the one we see nowadays in shops. From what I’ve seen people were claiming that, despite the change of packaging, the bottle contains the same juice, but that’s definitely not the case for at least one reason – the location where it was produced.
The current Bacardi Ocho reads on the label “Hecho en Puerto Rico” meaning “Made in Puerto Rico”, which makes sense, but if you read the back label of the Bacardi 8 Year Old it says “Product of Nassau, Bahamas”.
There’s a reason for that – after the Bacardi family fled Cuba they have moved their operations in other countries such as Puerto Rico and Mexico (where they were already operating for a while) because of the better tariffs in trading with the US. They built a distillery in Bahamas in 1966 in order to avoid large duty shipments from Puerto Rico to Europe, but was eventually closed in 2010. Based on that it is very likely that any 8 year old Bacardi that was sold in the US was actually made in Puerto Rico, but the bottle I have it’s from the Bahamas because, well, UK is in Europe.
Both the 8 Year Old and Ocho are made using molasses, distilled using column stills and aged for at least an year before being charcoal filtered and re-casked for 8 years minimum in, most likely, ex-Bourbon casks. Bottled at 40% ABV with the Bacardi 8 Year Old containing around 12 grams of sugar per litre according to the fatrumpirate‘s measurements, and the Ocho having around 18 grams of sugar per litre according to the Bacardi nutritional info.
Bacardi Reserva Superior 8 Year Old
On the nose it feels light with some faint wood spice. Almonds, old leather, apricots and old bank notes. Subtle allspice, red apples and pineapple juice. It has that metallic profile I often find in Bacardi. Tobacco, chocolate chips and black cherries.
On the palate it has a smokiness to it. Peat smoke, apricots, peaches and orgeat. Plums, hot chocolate and tobacco. It’s quite fruity as well. Tangerines, burnt orange zest, pineapples, maple syrup and charred oak. The finish is short with stone fruits and barbeque smoke.
As expected, this is quite light and frankly, forgettable after a few minutes. That being said it has a lot of fruity flavour as you sip it, particularly stone fruits and tropical fruits which are complemented by some charred oak notes – too bad the finish is too faint to make it last.
Bacardi Reserva Ocho
On the nose it already feels more fruity. Stone fruits, moth balls, new leather and cardamom. Red apples, almonds, a hint of peat and some almonds. It feels like I’m smelling what I was tasting on the older Bacardi 8. White pepper, honey, orange juice and caramel.
On the palate it is indeed more fruity. Peaches, apricots, unripe plums, pears and mango. Moth balls, floral honey and smokey oak. It certainly feels like it has more body. Almonds, maraschino cherries and tobacco. Some caramel and brown sugar as well. The finish is medium with stone fruits and smokiness.
This is even more fruity and with maybe a little less wood influence, but I very much prefer it. Doesn’t feel so light and the finish is more noticeable.
Interestingly enough the Ocho is more intense despite the alleged higher sugar content. The flavour profile of both rums is consistent, it’s just that the newer bottling took it a few notches higher – it could also be a side-effect of the 8 Year Old sitting in the bottle for longer, but I doubt. It’s actually impressive that the flavour profile is so similar despite them coming from two different distilleries. It’s even more impressive the fact that the Ocho simply has more body, while retaining most of the original aroma of its older version.
The Bacardi Reserva Ocho wins this hands down, but the Bacardi Reserva Superior 8 Year Old is still a nice insight on how Bacardi was doing things and by the looks of it they stayed true to their style. Obviously I’m not a fan of the sugar, but it isn’t that noticeable as it would be in other “latin” rums. Really glad I got to do this comparison!
I got the 8 Year Old for about £25 from a friend while the Ocho can be found on Amazon for £29 along with a gift box and I find that pretty good value.
Bacardi Reserva Superior 8 Year Old score:
Value for money: 15/15
Bacardi Reserva Ocho score:
Value for money: 15/15