As you may have seen from other posts on the site this week, it was a Brugal week as Brugal stormed San Francisco to launch Brugal 1888. Brugal 1888 is a new rum from the folks at Brugal that offers a Rum done in a Scotch style. I know it sounds a little weird but it truly does work.
Brugal 1888 was the invention of Don Gustavo Brugal, a fifth-generation master distiller within the Brugal Family, working with George Espie, the master of wood for Macallan. As you can see, this rum has quite the pedigree. Don Gustavo wanted to offer the world something new and exciting and their then-recent partnership with the Edrington Group provided him with the tools to do so. The result of this collaboration is a beautiful aged rum that that retains the essential characteristics of rum (with Brugal being on the dry, woody style to begin with) and overlaying it with toasty, nutty, almond flavors from the olorosso sherry casks that are used for the second aging. To achieve this marriage of flavors, the rum first undergoes a first aging in American oak barrels (that are traditionally used to age rum) and then a second aging in used Olorosso sherry barrels.
Brugal is launching Brugal 1888 in key markets across the United States—San Francisco, New York, Miami, Houston, Atlanta and a couple of additional markets. Brugal took San Francisco with force. To start, Brugal hosted the local USBG meeting where an intense and interactive tasting of the Brugal 1888 occurred. Then, the next day, we attended the launch party and ended up staying way past our bedtime because we were having such a great time and drinking all the Brugal 1888 we could.
At both events, we were lucky enough to speak to Don Gustavo Brugal. Clearly, rum is his passion, as well as the family business. We were impressed by his dedication to his family, his distillery and the island of the Dominican Republic where Brugal is based. It was inspiring to hear about how they treat their workers and the public works they have done for the island (they have a shop at Brugal where they make and repair road signs – before that, there were no road signs in the Dominican Republic). Apparently, it is this commitment to family, community and public service that made them a natural fit for the Edrington Group, which is a non-profit.
If you are in one of those markets lucky enough to get Brugal 1888, give it a try. If not, give one of their other rums a try. Brugal tends to express more wood notes than other rums, which makes it less sweet. We find that this is also a recipe for a good cocktail when using mixers that are sweet or on the sweet side.