Bacardi is best known for their light rums, but they certainly know how to turn out the lights. Bacardi 8 and Bacardi Solera 1873 prove that you can sit back and sip rum with the bat.
I’ve been on a quest to find whiskeyish rums, and that whole time, Bacardi has had two very reasonably priced options quietly raising their hands. It’s further proof that big brands are more than capable of making interesting departures from their bread and butter.
Bacardi Solera is a refined sipping rum that happens to only cost $22. Not a bad place to start as I try to lure you into the world of rums. Solera has many of the signature rum flavors you envision. It’s silky with flavors of banana, toffee, and cinnamon, but it also has a decent amount of oak to it. It’s aged for up to three years in newly charred oak barrels that are “carefully selected.” I place little to no value on phrases like carefully selected, but it’s a single-barrel rum so it’s nice to know they care. This will feel very familiar to the whiskey lovers out there, but rest assured you’re drinking a delicious rum.
If you want something whiskeyish that can sip or use in a cocktail, Bacardi 8 has what you’re seeking, and it’s also only $22. Bacardi 8 is aged in white oak that once held sherry, which leads to a solid but soft flavor profile. It’s not an in your face banana bomb (which sounds awesome) like some rums, but rather it’s an easy drinking collection of fruit, vanilla, and nutmeg. A forewarning for those who are very anti-burn, it has a little slow touch of love at the finish. It’s not on par with the whiskey burn, but it’s reminiscent. Bacardi is aware of the connection, which is why one of their suggested cocktails is a julep (which I modified slightly).
These two are a perfect illustration that age alone doesn’t make all the difference in spirits. Bacardi 8 no better or worse than it’s 3 year old brother Bacardi Solera; it’s just different. People often get too caught up in the hype that older or more obscure necessarily means better. The truth is, Bacardi can make a 3-year-old rum that’s every bit as good as something that costs 50% more.
A couple other whiskeyish rums, which I’m using as a gateway back into a tremendously unique spirit in its own right, are Zacapa 23 and Mount Gay Black Barrel. Feel free to check out my thoughts on those.