I’ve been seeing Tommy Bahama’s light and gold rums in more and more bars lately, but haven’t had a chance to try them until this week. I received bottles of the White Sand and Golden Sun rums and have been thinking of rum cocktails to pair them with for review. As a matter of fact, I actually got ahead of myself and used the White Sand bottling to test out different recipes for Hemingway Daiquri last night, though that was really an exercise in finding ratios of rum, maraschino, lime juice, and grapefruit juice that I liked. I will say, though, that Tommy Bahama’s White Sand performed exceptionally well in those varieties. But I wasn’t taking notes, so I wanted to give the Tommy Bahama rums a real shot at review.
Both White Sand and Golden Sun are distilled in Barbados for Tommy Bahama at a family-owned distillery with a long history of rum making. The White Sand is aged for at least two years in oak barrels, while the Golden Sun Rum spends at least three years in oak barrels.
The White Sand Rum has a strong molasses and sugar nose, with a dose of alcohol aroma mixed in. It enters softly, without the strong push of its scent. It has a very tropical taste, with notes of pineapple, guava, and other tropical fruits. I also get light vanilla tones. Though coming in strong, there is a mild burn in the throat from the White Sand rum. For a light rum, it is relatively complex and certainly well-suited for mixing, though it’s hard to think of drinking this without other flavors.
The Golden Sun Rum hits my nose with coffee, apple, and again a scent of alcohol. It’s far smoother than the White Sand, though a bit more acidic as well. The coffee taste is lighter than the smell, but is followed by an interesting combination of nuts, toffee, and orange flavors. While there isn’t any notable throat burn from the Golden Sun, I found it left a strong burn on my tongue. I can imagine this mellows out more with ice, though I’d be careful about using more than a cube or so.
I thought it would make sense to try something that combined both rums to see how well they worked together. Naturally a Mai Tai was the best choice for that experiment:
1 oz Tommy Bahama White Sand Rum
1 oz Tommy Bahama Golden Sun Rum
.5 oz Combier Triple Sec (I’m out of curacao)
.5 oz orgeat
.5 oz lime juice
Shake ingredients and strain into an ice filled old fashioned glass
Now I’ve lately become a very big fan of Mai Tais. The Tommy Bahama Mai Tai made above was light and sweet and while most likely more complex than what I’d be able to get at most bars in America, it lacked some of the complexity I look for in the balance between light and golden rums. That said, the two do pair well together. If anything, together, they are too smooth to measure up to the punch of the Combier and Fees Brothers orgeat syrup, which is certainly more sweet than a home made variety would be. Would I complain if I got this Mai Tai? No, but it’s lacking in some of the spice and depth that I like in my Mai Tais.
So how do these two rums stack up? Well they’re both substantially better than comparable Bacardi and DonQ products in my view. But my light rum tastes tend to run towards rhum agricoles or more complex and savory golden rums like Scarlet Ibis or Appleton Estate V/X. As I said, I think Tommy Bahama’s products offer a good step up in quality from some of the more basic light and gold rums, so if you find yourself drinking those regularly, you should definitely look towards these bottlings. This is somewhat rare for me, but I’m curious to see how these two play out in cocktails before passing final judgement. I really like the White Sand in my Hemingway Daquiris, though I was less enthusiastic with the Mai Tai. I plan on trying it in a White Lily and a Nevada Cocktail. On whole, both of these rums were better than I expected to them to be. After all, they bear the lame of a clothing company (Sailor Jerry’s rum has to overcome the same hurdle). Short version: not bad, definite potential for mixing, though the Golden Sun lacked some of the complexity I look for in gold rums.