The Scarlet Ibis Trinidad Rum

The Scarlet Ibis rum review by the fat rum pirateThe Scarlet Ibis is the national bird of Trinidad.  Unlike the label and as the name suggests, The Scarlet Ibis is a bright red beauty of a bird.  This rum was originally commissioned by the Ultra Trendy New York bar “Death & Co.”.

The rum is blended using aged stocks of Trinidad rums and is released in limited batches when it becomes available.  As a result the rum can be quite difficult to find.  Once again I was able to source a bottle from The Whisky Exchange.

As my rum journey has progressed I have been very impressed with the variety of rum I am able to purchase in the UK.  Online stores such as The Whisky Exchange, Master of Malt and Beers of Europe frequently surprise me with their wares.

The Scarlet Ibis as mentioned already is blended from aged stocks of Trini rum.  The rums in the blend are aged between 3 and 5 years.  Each rum is aged in American white oak casks.  I have seen suggestions that the rum in the blend is from the now defunct Caroni Distillery.  As the rum is between 3 and 5 years old and the Caroni Distillery became defunct around 2001-2 this doesn’t add up for me.  It seems more likely that the rums in the blend are commissioned by the importer/distributor Haus Alpenz.  So the only real option is that they are produced in small pot still batches by Angostura.  (As the only surviving distillery on the island).

A couple of other points of note regarding The Scarlet Ibis is that it is not chill filtered.  This means that it is cloudy and sediment can be seen in the bottle especially when it is shaken.  Also from the notes on the bottle the rum is at least bottled in Austria again by the distributor Haus Alpenz.  That is about as much information as the bottle and my web surfing can ascertain with regard this rum.  It is both elusive and exclusive.

Having said all that I fired an email off to Haus-Alpenz and received the following

I initially asked what the actual blend for The Scarlet Ibis is/was

“It (The Scarlet Ibis) is a blend of aged rums, currently 3 to 8 years, from Trinidad – all column distilled (forgive us for the copy error on early release that said pot still).  Many of these high character rums are otherwise used as ‘topnote’ for blending with more neutral rums, hence our concerns when starting that we’d get allocated to a small stock”

I then asked if any rum from the Caroni Distillery was present

“Caroni is long gone, and the island production is all owned by Angostura.   That said, they have a very wide range of distillates, well beyond what you see labelled under their brand.”

However, it does not come with an exclusive price tag.  Despite being imported from the US and coming in a 750ml bottle (an extra 50ml shot than the UK size bottles) it cost my little over £30.  It is bottled at 98 proof – 49% ABV.

The Scarlet Ibis comes in a standard bar bottle (it was introduced as a “premium” mixer by Death & Co.) however it gets an extra mark for the wooden topped cork stopper, which offers a very good seal on the rum.  The presentation is understated.  Perhaps the Ibis is not coloured red to avoid confusion with the Doorly’s line of rums from Foursquare.  The presentation is clear and uncluttered and gives a nice bit of background without too much bullshit.The Scarlet Ibis rum review by the fat rum pirate

The rum pours itself a nice light straw to gold colour.  The nose is quite light.  It reminds me of both Angostura and Caroni products.  There is a light vanilla on the nose but also a more oily/industrial kind of note to the rum.  It is not over poweringly sweet but there is sufficient fruit on the nose such as pineapple and a hint of banana.  There is also sweet light honey notes.

Sipping The Scarlet Ibis is initially quite challenging.  At 49% it packs a bit of a punch.  Initially on the tongue there is a nice sugary sweetness but it is quickly drown out by the harsher Caroni like notes.  Strong alcohol and an almost medicinal like after taste.  Like Caroni it has a slightly oily/petrol like note. Difficult to describe and probably only really understandable by anyone familiar with Caroni’s rums.

With a few drops of water and left to rest a little you can begin to enjoy the rum as a sipper.  The water takes that light edge of it.  As well as muting the alcohol burn it also allows more of the notes noted when nosing to shine through. This is not a sweet sipping rum by any stretch of imagination.  It is quite dry.  The sweetness doesn’t last long on the tongue before being taken over by the more latin notes.  It has a lot of ron like qualities.  Being pot distilled it also has some Jamaican qualities to it.

There are a lot of tasting notes I could make about this rum.  It’s complex.  However, the overall profile is that it is quite dry and at the opposite end of the “Premium Sipping Rum” spectrum.  It’s not sweet.  It has sweet notes to it but they do not dominate.

The Scarlet Ibis when mixed with a little cola gives quite a nice smooth mixed drink.  It reminds me as less sweeter version of VAT 19.  I was surprised how smooth the mixed drink was as I was expecting a slightly rougher mouth feel.

If you can find a bottle of this it is well worth seeking out.  However please note what I’ve said in the review. It might not be for everyone. If you are considering the purchase of a more expensive Caroni bottling but are basing it on liking Angostura 1919 you may wish to try this first.

It’s very different.

4 stars



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4 comments on “The Scarlet Ibis Trinidad Rum

  1. A) Angostura got a huge portion of Caroni rum when the distillery closed down. They really wanted these (actually wanted all of them, but did not get all), because they needed the heavy style rums for blending into their own (lighter style) rum.
    B) It is possible that after I last was in Trinidad, Angostura also got hold of Caroni’s stills – no idea. This would explain how they could continue to make such rum.
    C) As for another distillation plant in Trinidad, neither myself or any Trini I know have seen/heard of such. If it is there, it is well hidden.

  2. I’ve contacted Haus Alpenz hopefuly they can offer some more information.

  3. As far as I know, this is Caroni rum – probably blended & stored at that age in metal, not casks (if the age statement is true). Been to Angostura, didn’t see any pot stills nor did they claim to have any to use. Those petrol/motor oil notes is a dead giveaway of Caroni stocks..and yes, they have been known to exist in some Angostura bottlings too since 2000 or so, simply because much of the Caroni stock was purchased by Angostura. The flavour profile of Angostura’s own rum is completely different & much lighter.

    • Mika,
      I have received a reply from Haus Alpenz and published in the body of the review. I don’t think it’s 100% helpful and I’m not totally convinced that they know exactly what goes in the rum! Stil they were helpful and replied promptly

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