Review: Bayou Rum Reserve and XO Mardi Gras

Bayou makes Louisiana-style pot still rums, and unlike most domestic producers, it is attacking the top of the market with its wares. We recently received two of its products, including its prized XO Mardi Gras expression. Let’s dive in.

Both are 80 proof.

Bayou Rum Reserve Select Barrel – Solera-aged, including maturation in “wet ex-bourbon barrels for up to 4 years.” This spirit definitely rides the line between rum and bourbon, offering a delightfully sweet, raisiny nose that’s backed up by a healthy slug of modestly aged wood. There’s a lively and unexpected sherry note on the palate, giving it a fun citrus quality before moving into more traditional aged rum notes: caramel, molasses, cola, and baking spice. Sweet throughout but incredibly well-balanced, the finish showcases fresh berries and fig jam, layered with nutmeg and ginger. Hard to put down. Reviewed: Batch #2.

Bayou Rum XO Mardi Gras – Matured in bourbon barrels for up to 5 years and finished for 1 extra year in Pedro Ximenez sherry barrels. Roll out the king cake! This is a dense and opulent spirit that almost evokes brandy more than rum, the nose evoking purple flowers, grape must, and a thick layer of baking spice. A sharper baking spice character comes into focus on the palate, segueing into notes of chocolate and vanilla, before a more strenuously wine-driven quality comes to the fore. Chewy and lightly oxidized, with a sugary and nutty underbelly, the essence of PX sherry is heavy here, becoming slightly cloying as it develops on the palate. It’s perhaps unfair to try this side by side against the amazing Reserve, which is more balanced and multi-faceted; in the finish, the PX influence on the XO Mardi Gras becomes a bit too much. I really enjoyed the rum, but was happy to stop at one glass with this one and let it sit for another day with my krewe.


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