Plantation XO Barbados 20th Anniversary

Plantation XO Barbados 20th Anniversay Rum Review by the fat rum piratePlantation XO Barbados 20th Anniversary. Aside from Stiggins’ Fancy, this is perhaps Plantation’s most well-known bottling.

It is held in great regard amongst some rum lovers and treat with complete scorn by other perhaps more serious rum “enthusiasts”.

Which is probably the “camp” I will fall into. Prior to this review, I had only tried this rum “out and about” at Rum Festivals and at a Plantation tasting event.

I have a few issues with this rum. Firstly it is quite often listed as being 20 years old. Now admittedly Plantation do not say this but it doesn’t stop online stores advertising it as 20 years old. Or people saying it is 20 years old. The 20 is there though on the front label, yes it’s smaller perhaps than years gone by but it’s still there. It’s deceiving and I think it is quite deliberate. I do not think Alexandre Gabriel is a fool so I’m pretty sure he knows how a 20 on the front of a bottle works.

The other issue is the sweetness of this rum. A hydrometer tests sees the ABV bob between 33 and 34 – which leaves us with “additives” of around 24g/L. This is a little higher than what Plantation usually acknowledge as their “dosage”. It is also interesting that whilst Plantation have added dosage levels on the listing of some of their rums on their website. This one does not have the dosage disclosed. I guess they will get around to sorting that out soon…….

So those are my two “gripes” with this rum if you like. Presentation wise – its very nice with a lovely chunky cork stopper and a sturdy box to store your rum in. I like the decanter style bottle. It’s all very nice, sleek and modern and screams “Premium”. In the UK a 70cl bottle will set you back around £50. The rum in the bottle is a blend of pot and column distilled rum believed to be from West Indies Rum Distillery. The rums in the blend are aged between 8 and 15 years. Not 20.

In the glass we have a vibrant dark brown liquid with a red and orange glow. Nosing this rum I am immediately struck by huge wafts of toasted coconut and coconut ice (here is an explanation of that). If I had been given this in a blind tasting I would assume, automatically it was a coconut flavoured rum.Plantation XO Barbados 20th Anniversay Rum Review by the fat rum pirate

And to be honest quite a “confected” one at that. It’s very sweet. The nose becoming almost saccharin like – just a slight bitter artificial note creeping in. Despite this I can still get some notes of oak and spice from the rum. Hints of vanilla and some traces of bourbon flit in and out.

But it’s all a little bit one-dimensional. It’s not unpleasant but it is not really what I would expect of an aged Barbados rum. Sipped the rum is very easy to drink. It goes down easily with a fairly minimal burn. It tastes pretty much like a coconut liqueur, it just has a thinner mouthfeel.

Further sips reveal an overly sweet saccharin note which make the rum taste artificial. It’s a one trick pony. The long and luxurious finish I am promised by Plantation is limp and insipid. I get a slight burn and a little warm spice but it quickly fades leaving only a sickly sweet, slightly artificial flavour in my mouth.

The actual rum taste is obscured but the spirit doesn’t taste particularly old or well aged. Aside from coconut I get notes of sweet young alcohol rather than a sophisticated blend of aged rums. Plantation’s Barbados Wild Cherry Finish rum shows that they can make excellent Barbados rum.

This just shows that they will also sell what sells. As a business, this makes perfect sense. This is really a pretty bland product with a sweet hit to keep the masses happy.

If Plantation want to be taken seriously – as they indeed should be, as when they aren’t overly dosing their rums they can make some great stuff. They need to ditch mass market crap like this. In fact if I was Alexandre I would release my non dosed more “serious” rum under another banner. One which isn’t tainted the way Plantation is to so many enthusiasts.

Plantation XO Barbados 20th Anniversay Rum Review by the fat rum pirateAm I being unfair? No, unfortunately for Plantation the more “serious” rum enthusiast – those that want unadulterated spirits are largely unenthused by Plantation’s efforts. Even when they release undosed product.

This is not my own personal opinion as I have spoken with a great number of people about Plantation. A lot of people completely boycott their products do to having sweetened rum from then in the past.

I don’t like this rum at all. I think it is by some distance Plantation’s worst product. It’s seen as a gateway rum. One to get you moving from spiced rum and over to more serious stuff. Trouble is the amount of units this shifts suggests to me it’s not really a gateway. People get stuck on rum like this and to a lesser extent Bumbu and think this is great Barbados rum.

Which is a huge shame as this is definitely not.





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11 comments on “Plantation XO Barbados 20th Anniversary

  1. […] aged in ex-bourbon casks in Barbados then further aged in ex-cognac casks in France. According to Fatrumpirate, this has around 24g/l of added sugar. Allegedly, there are 8 to 15-year-old rum in this blend. I […]

  2. Should have heeded your review, instead of impulse buying this bronze simple syrup.
    I want my $60.00 back.
    This is why I stopped reading the “RUM RATINGS” website.
    Most of those participants love this style.
    a very BAD Rum.
    And, the bottle and cap are clunky and gaudy, I would not display it in my Rum cabinet, even if I liked it

  3. The added sugar in this certainly let’s the final product down, but I feel the bigger issue is the base spirit. I’ve never seen a confirmed breakdown, but I would guess the amount of pot still distillate in this rum has to be a very low percentage. It tastes much more like a multi-column Spanish style rum than a Barbadian rum. Certainly not a bad rum, but so incredibly underwhelming, especially for something that’s a “special anniversary release”.

  4. I’m a bit confused. So at what point does adding sugar constitute a bad rum? I actually really like this one, even though it doesn’t have a ‘traditional’ rum profile. I certainly don’t get the liqueur reference, the flavours are far more subtle, and I don’t find it any sweeter than the likes of Zacapa 23 or Eldorado 12/15 (which are rated quite highly on this website with no apparent down-grading for sugar content). Although sugars should be disclosed on packaging, if I like a rum, I don’t really care if it’s ‘dosed’ or not. I like dryish rums as well as sweeter ones, there is room for both surely?

  5. Jesus, I just can’t stand this kind of stuff. It’s the sort of thing that’s in bars worldwide though, so it makes sense to them. The type of rum we like (the opposite of this) without sugar and all the other nonsense is nowhere to be seen in most of the world. When I go to Spain this is the only kind of thing you’ll find. You’ve reminded me of the revolting Ron Millonario XO Reserva – Yuck. The amount of sugar in these things should carry a health warning.

  6. I have never tried this rum.

    However, the high reviews and popularity of this rum leads me to believe that it’s sole purpose is mass commercial appeal. I’m thinking that this rum is purpose designed to be one of Plantation’s ‘cash cows’.

  7. “and treat with complete scorn by other perhaps more serious rum “enthusiasts”.

    Which is probably the “camp” I will fall into.“

    Christ it’s hard to read this without cringing. At least you didn’t trot out the “Guardians of Rum” rubbish.

    • I’ll save that for future Plantation reviews.

  8. I’ve tried this rum twice and disliked it both times terribly. Not just a “I drink and forget about it” type of rum but one that kind of stuck in my memory as being unpleasant and deceiving.

    Never been a huge fan of Plantation as a brand.
    I don’t like their “ideology” about dosed rums which I think does more harm than good and tends to hide the quality of the product. Unfortunately this rum is just the very expression of this ideology and how bad it can get. Seeing so many so called rum lovers considering this to be the best of the best, crème de la crème as we’d say in France, just doesn’t feel right. Not a gateway rum, barely rum at all…l

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