I bought this pair of rums based on decent reviews, decent prices, and my never having had a Puerto Rican rum. The bottle is of the plainest “bar style” with a plastic cap. There is no age statement on either bottle. The labeling is pretty much the same with the lighter called “Calidad Extra” and the darker “Superior Especiale”
I decided to review them together because having tasted them, now through about a third of each bottle, they are still very similar. Imagine two brothers, an older and a younger whose family resemblance is remarkable. Neither can be mistaken for the other for one has matured by some further years. Still that they began with the same stock seems indisputable. It is that way with these two rums.
In the glass the 2-star is very light in color, similar to Barbancourt 5-star, and a little darker than Papa’s Pilar light. Swirled it makes lots of thin quick legs and a few thicker ones. The aroma is bright. At 43% ABV this rum is slightly more alcoholic than most of my others. It has alcohol and some acetone on the nose, but not as much as I usually find in a “young rum”; a little sharp when you first pour it. There is fermented banana, apricot, a little pineapple. There don’t seem to be any darker notes in this rum, just fruit. The Rum Project gives it 5g/l added sugar, very low. When sipped there is sweetness of light brown sugar, a slight creaminess, again bright fruits. The finish starts off short with some burnt caramel bitterness, but gets longer, smoother, and sweeter as you progress through the glass. It does have a little fire, but pleasantly so. I think the Barbancourt 5-star for $2 more is more complex as is Pussers, but this is not at all a bad rum at its price point ($23 around me).
The 3-star is of course the older brother. In the glass it is darker by a shade than its sibling, a little darker than English Harbour and perhaps Pusser’s by a whisker. Not a dark rum by any means, but a beautiful amber still on the lighter side. Swirled, it makes fast medium legs. I expect a little more creaminess from this one. The Rum Project lists its added sugar at 7g/l, a little bit more than the 2-star, but still very low. The nose has the same sharp alcohol as the 2-star, a little less acetone, all the same fruits, and in addition something like light raisin and burnt brown sugar or caramel and a hint of tobacco. The darker notes are there but subtle. The brighter fruits still stand out. Sipped the burn is similar (also 43% ABV) to the 2-star, slightly more fiery than most of my rums. The sweetness level is about the same as the younger rum, and the apricot, banana, and maybe even the pineapple. As you go through the glass a little burnt orange also shows up. All along there is a little more creaminess, and the sweetness is more that of a darker brown sugar. The finish is medium with a little butter and more burnt brown sugar. The 3-star tastes remarkably like its younger brother with a little more complexity as behooves a more mature sibling. At $33 dollars it competes with the likes of English Harbour ($31 recently) and Pampero Aniversario R.E. ($35) both of which are better in my opinion.
Cigar pairing potential? I smoked three or four different cigars with each of these rums. I didn’t notice anything outstanding, but then there weren’t any clashes either. Either is a good rum with lighter or darker cigars. Even the fruits of the 2-star went OK with the bitter coco and coffee of an Asylum Nyctophilia.
Would I buy these again? I think they are both good offerings at their price points. There are other rums I like better at those price points, but this would be purely a matter of taste. You might easily find these two better than the competitors I would select. In any case their price is not out of line with their quality. If you like Barbancourt 5-star you should at least try the 2-star and if you like English Harbour, give the 3-star a go.