Rum Comparison: Real McCoy 5 Year vs. Ron Abuelo 7 Year

I’ve made a few tiki recipes that call for a “blended aged rum” or “moderately aged rum,” which doesn’t do a ton to tell you how it should actually taste. Because of this, I’ve been cycling through a few different selections and trying them out in recipes (the Jet Pilot being the main one). Since so many recipes call for something along these lines, I thought it would be worthwhile to do a comparison of two rums I’ve been using to fill this slot in the roster – Ron Abuelo 7 and Real McCoy 5.

Both of these rums are bottled at 40% alcohol, and neither one has any particularly extreme flavor notes that might throw off a cocktail. The Real McCoy 5 comes from Foursquare Distillery in Barbados, which seems to have a cult status among tiki and rum folks, while the Ron Abuelo 7 is from Panama and doesn’t have quite as much of a reputation. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen both of these offered at local tiki establishments, if it’s any indication of quality. They’re both about the same price, at just under $30, adding to the basis for comparison.

Okay, that’s all well and good – let’s get some rum in a glass.

On the nose, the Ron Abuelo has a little caramel, slight burn, and just a hint of oak. The profile seems really deep and pleasant, although I acknowledge that’s not the most helpful descriptor. The Real McCoy has a more prominent oak profile on the nose, and reminds me a bit of bourbon, while it doesn’t seem quite as deep or complex.

The oak-forwardness of the Real McCoy 5 carries forward into the taste, and finishes with a slight cinnamon flavor. The Ron Abuelo by comparison has hints of caramel and tobacco, and kind of reminds me of a cigar. The Ron Abuelo is overall mellower and heavier, and takes a second for the flavor to come through, while the Real McCoy is very prominent from the front. I’ve heard Real McCoy described as a rum for people who like bourbon, and I definitely see that coming through here, whereas the Ron Abuelo exhibits more of a classic rum profile to me.

Both of these are very, very enjoyable – and I’ve used both to fill in as an “aged rum” in multiple recipes. If I had to draw a line, I’d say the Ron Abuelo would work better for classic tiki cocktails, where it’s integrating with multiple fruit juices in a heartier blend, and it adds a bit more body. The Real McCoy could also fill that role, but I could see it excelling in a more prominent role in cocktails, and it might shine more in a situation with a simpler recipe and less competing flavors.