Drink this not that: Dominican Republic’s Brugal was a brand I was completely unfamiliar with up until a month ago. We tested and tried the Brugal Especial Extra Dry, a cask-aged white rum that is made in their dry Brugal house style, completely opposite of what you imagine white rum and most rum to taste like in general. It is perfect for those of us who eschew sweet drinks and prefer a crisper mixer and cocktails that veer cleaner and less cloying.
Brugal Especial Extra Dry is a beautifully presented cask-aged luxury white rum that is unlike anything else on the market. The spirit puts an interesting and sophisticated palatable twist on classic cocktails.
One in particular is our pick of the month for a perfect summer cocktail, we recommend their classic Dehumidifier:
- 2 oz. Brugal Extra Dry
- 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
- 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
- 5 Fresh Mint Leaves
- Club Soda
Combine all ingredients, except bitters and Club soda and shake with ice. Pour into a Collins or rocks glass, top with Club Soda and float 3 dashes of bitters. Garnish with a mint sprig.
This white rum is a beautiful, cask-aged spirit that is made by a double-distillation technique netting a dry, clean rum with fewer of the heavy alcohols that lend other rums their sweeter profiles.
This blend of rums – aged a minimum of two years up to five years in White American Oak casks – is triple charcoal filtered for impeccable clarity and what can be best described as a velvety mouth-feel from their aging process, so it is one of the few white rums that can be enjoyed on the rocks too.
Background on Brugal
The Brugal aging process happens on the mountains of Puerto Plata, where an inventory of over a quarter million select White American oak casks are in various stages of curing the rum. The portion of spirit lost to evaporation over time – called the “Angel’s Share” – is greater in the year-round heat and humidity of the Dominican Republic (9-12%) than, say, the climate of Scotland (2-4%). The smoothness and character imparted by the wood happens faster here for climactic reasons.
When the rum reaches maturity, the Brugal family’s Maestros Roneros, or “Rum Masters,” then select rums of varying ages to create the different blends that become each of the expressions in Brugal’s portfolio.
Following the blending process, the rums are married with purified artesian water during a resting period that heightens their smoothness. Every blending must be approved by a Maestro Ronero before bottling. After bottling, Brugal’s iconic nets are applied to each bottle by hand, on average, one every eight seconds.
In the mid-19th century, Andrés Brugal Montaner – a Spanish citizen from Sitges who had emigrated to Santiago de Cuba – moved to the Dominican Republic and settled in Puerto Plata, where in 1888 (notable year-the other rum we review below is named for this year) he founded the company that carries his name: Brugal & Co.
Don Andrés’ expertise was passed down through each successive generation of the Brugal family, now into their fourth and fifth generation of Maestros Roneros. They’re expert artisans who continue the tradition started in 1888 as personal guardians of the entire rum-making process.
The Maestros Roneros keep to the high standards for their rum production before bestowing their personal seal of approval upon the final rums produced.
And best part, it’s quite affordable, at SRP :$19.99 You can find it on sale at Total Wine and BevMo at times, so grab it.
Brugal Ron Gran Reserva Familiar 1888
I had absolutely no idea an aged rum could even hold a candle to a seasoned scotch or an aged bourbon or rye. This Brugal varietal is much pricier ($50+) than the above Extra Dry, but for good reason. It’s a c0mplex beast and if you are a Balvenie Doublewood or Highland Park scotch lover like I am, you will adore this neat.
This is a very special, twice distilled rum – aged in medium-charred white oak casks used to be used for bourbon for a minimum of six years – then four more in old sherry casks which brings out a level of oakiness familiar to bourbon or single malt lovers.
The company markets this as the “rum for whiskey an scotch lovers.” Perfect assessment. 1888 is a delicious dark rum that’s toasty, deep and somewhat sweet with notes of dates and honey, with a touch of gentle smoke. Not at all charred, but a mid-range of buttery butterscotch, touches of Demerara sugar, manuka honey and wood smoke that mingle together, but not cloyingly sweet, with an incredible dry finish. It’s remarkable. If you added coca cola to this lovely potion I would have to hunt you down and smack you.
In lieu of bringing another Prosecco or bottle of red to the next barbecue, be the interesting guest who introduced people to a whole new breed of rums that will elevate the plebeians from their Malibu Rum ruts.