This is something different. I’ve encountered that a lot lately. Investment grade Caroni (interesting, but not for me at its price), two Foursquare rums (both fantastic), Pusser’s Gunpowder proof (fantastic), and now this Mezan Jamaican XO. Different would be an understatement, not only compared to the last few, but to everything else I’ve ever had. Only a Papa’s Pilar light has been this pale, and I haven’t had one of those in a couple of years now.
Mezan is known for its single barrel rums from Jamaica, Guyana, Panama, and Trinidad. This is not a single barrel rum but a blend from Jamaican barrels. Mezan finds and buys rum from various distilleries then ages and releases them under their own name. Their expertise seems to be in the selection of barrels to buy and they’re pretty good at it.
The Mezan website declares the rum free of additives and but “lightly filtered”. The XO has no age statement, and other than being a blend of “various ages” no information on the actual ages of rums in the blend is given on the label or Mezan website. The label does say that aged rums are here blended and then re-aged to meld them. An honest rum is worth a try and Mezan has the street cred to be experiment worthy. Even better this rum was $40 which puts it in the high end of the low-price price range for me (English Harbour, Pusser’s Gunpowder, and Mocambo 20 are also about this much), affordable if I really like it. The Mezan website says it should be even less at $30, but then this is California . The XO is bottled at 40% ABV and has a tight plastic cap.
Color: very pale straw, only slightly yellow.
Legs: Tiny droplets form all along the border when you swirl it. A few slowly coalesce into a few thin legs that run slowly.
Nose: Less alcohol than I expected from the color but I remind myself this isn’t a “young rum”. There is lots of fruit on the nose: pineapple, apricot, white grape, and orange along with burnt sugar and light molasses.
Flavor: Bright and fruity. Some cherry, the pineapple, apricot, apple (??), grape, banana. Lots of fruit and also light brown sugar, something like a sweetened coffee, a hint of tobacco, and even some lemon. This is a very “bright rum” with lots of sparkling fruit notes. It is a little fiery going down, more than most 40% ABV rums, but that might be some of the young rums in the blend. A medium finish that turns slightly bitter. The texture is creamy and gets creamier as the rum mixes with air. The fruit and sweetness dials back near the end of the glass and a little oak comes out. But the creamy texture hangs out on the tongue and holds some of the fruit sweetness with it.
All in all a very different rum experience for me. Again worth being aware of how varied even honest rums can be. I’m used to the dark and over-ripe fruits but I don’t find those here. I also expected some “Jamaican funk”, but there is none to be found in this rum. For the price this is a great change-up from the darker rums I usually drink.
As usual I’ve paired this with a few cigars, but I haven’t found anything outstanding yet in any of the pairings but I have most of the bottle still, so there will be more to try. I’m also interested in how this rum will evolve in the bottle. Will let some sit for a while.
Worth $40? You bet! Not something I would drink every day, but a refreshing difference from time to time. I wonder how this will be on a warm day over a little ice.