There's a time and a place for everything. For the El Dorado 5, that time and place was on the coffee table as a cheap, "give no shits" companion to Black Sails, a show about pirates.

I mean, what are you going to do—drink vodka while you watch people swashbuckle? If so, good luck to you, but I'll have no part of it. When pirates are on the TV, the drink around these parts is rum. Maybe it made Black Sails all the more authentic that my ladyfriend and I weren't drinking great rum while we watched it.

This is not to say that El Dorado does not make tremendously wonderful rum. To that, I say that the 15-year El Dorado is fantastic, and at about less than twice the price for more than three times the aging, the ED-15 is a comparative steal. It's not even to say that this, the five-year version is downright bad in the way that something like Bacardi, Captain Morgan, or Sailor Jerry is.

I was distracted enough by pirates to ignore the less-appealing characteristics of the El Dorado 5 when I needed to. Mostly.

So here's the straight dope on the ED-5: it's just good enough to barely work as a sipping rum, but rises no higher. What the ED-5 does quite well is deliver a mean right hook of sweet breakfast dishes. Think about the smell and taste of sticky buns, Belgian waffles, or French toast and you'll not be far off from what comes out of the glass. The El Dorado rums are known for being sweet (not least of all because the distillers add sugar to the cask), but the ED-5 is a very particular kind of bready, syrupy sweet many will like. And perhaps that's the biggest reason I was able to tolerate it.

If only it stayed on that course. The Achilles heel of the rum is that in addition to being sweet, it's also strangely young enough to retain an acetone-heavy aroma, though old enough to pick up barrel influence that doesn't work with the lightness and sweetness. If you're really paying attention, there's an oaky bitterness that creeps into the ED-5, which is then combined with some lemon sourness that I really don't want going near my pancakes. 

Overall, the ED-5 becomes vaguely lozenge-like: sweet, but oddly chemical and lingering. Perhaps these qualities aren't enough to stop you from finishing your glass, but I think they'll become unusual enough to warrant attention. Again, I was distracted enough by pirates running one another through with sabers and peppering one another with grapeshot that I could mostly ignore these less-appealing characteristics when I needed to. In more critical moments where I imagine myself in your shoes, I'm a little less charitable.  

By the way, and as a little addendum, you might be cannon shy about my recommendation to spend the $40 or so on the ED-15. If so, I'd mention that distillers like Atlantico, Botran, Diplomatico, and Plantation make some stupidly good stuff for about the same price as the ED-5, so if you're a $20-a-bottle kind of consumer (and nothing wrong with that), start there instead of here. Like a lot of things, El Dorado seems to be best when given a little more time and space.

Nose: Syrup-drenched pancakes: a good thing! Acetone: a bad thing! The whole Jekyll and Hyde thing starts here.
Taste: An odd combination of sticky-sweet baked goods and acrid sourness in the development.
Finish: A lingering lemon flavor with the maple makes the finish eerily similar to a hot toddy—or maybe cough drops.
Misc: 40% ABV, a product of Guyana.
Price: $25
Overall Rating