Matusalem Gran Reserva 15

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I see a fair amount of liquor in my average day. I work in a bar and am surrounded by 200+ bottles of the stuff for ten hours a day. Liquor reps drop by the bar and leave me samples of new products on a regular basis. I get press releases, forwarded emails, RSS feeds, swag, and sometimes full-bottle liquor samples in the mail. And it seems to me that everyone wants to talk about the versatility of their product.

“Try this new absinthe! It’s $80 a bottle and doesn’t taste like anything. It’s very versatile, great in cocktails.”

“This vodka is different than all the others. It retails for $49.95, it’s distilled eight times from fresh organic kiwifruit. It’s very versatile.”

“The latest berry liqueur! It’s made from six types of berry and was developed by three out-of-work cocaine addicts. And it’s only $14.99 a bottle! It’s super versatile!”

Let me tell you something about a truly versatile liquor, the kind you reach for every day. The real beauty doesn’t come from the fact that it’s cheap. It isn’t brilliant because it mixes well with every kind of fruit juice you can throw at it. Versatility doesn’t happen when a liquor doesn’t taste like anything.

The greatest, most versatile products out there find themselves in my hands more often than not because they’re simply perfect and are priced with a tag we all can afford.

When I received this bottle of Matusalem Gran Reserva, I was naturally skeptical. But after blowing through an entire fifth of the stuff over the course of the past week, I can honestly recommend it – not just because it tastes great, and not because the price point is exactly where it should be, but because it is truly a versatile rum.

I poured it straight, I poured it on the rocks with a dash of orange bitters. I made mai tais, I made daiquiris, I mixed it with cane-sugar Coca-Cola from Mexico and fresh key limes. It was sensational in a Beauty Beneath, and it shined in a rum old-fashioned. It took everything I threw at it and asked for more. It’s got butter and vanilla up front, an understated mid-palate without a lot of heaviness, and a nice, quiet finish that begs for another sip.

I’m lucky: I get to buy bottles every week with someone else’s money. But I have this thing, this horrible, horrible thing that kicks in when I feel like I’m ripping someone off. And it won’t let me sell you a $10 shot that’s only worth $3, I just can’t do it. So finding new products in this sea of PR is kind of a nightmare for me.

And that’s why this rum is so versatile: it’s 35 bucks! You can buy it, you can use it, and you can pick up another bottle when you’re done. You don’t have to horde it, you don’t have to keep in hidden in the back of the liquor cabinet. It’s a truly versatile rum because you can actually use it.

And that’s my review. Thanks for reading.

UPDATE 8/2020: For some weird reason, this is the post that attracts the most Russian spam bots. I have no idea why, but to gave myself a break from the daily email alerting me of a comment that somehow made it past the spam filters, I’m going to disable commenting on this post.

18 Replies to “Matusalem Gran Reserva 15”

  • Hey Juliana -sorry we missed you this weekend, I finally enlisted some friends to help drain the last of my Matusalem bottle. And look at you, blogging on your own now! Very nice.

  • juliana says:

    Dude, you get me to try the weirdest stuff – I don’t like gin, I don’t like rum, and yet I’ll look for this rum. It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to come up this weekend (sadface), but I did call you out in my blog.


  • Bruce T says:

    This is the rum I have been looking for off and on for 25 years. My father raved of this rum and said it was the best he had ever had.

  • Mike M says:

    Thanks Tiare, I may just have to. I’ll wait for a good excuse to get one, like finishing my thesis. =P

  • Tiare says:

    I wasn`t clear, the wooden Coffey still is the same as the wooden continuous still, the single wooden pot still.

  • Tiare says:

    When it comes to El Dorado rums, the 15 has been my all time fav rum since about 15 years, and Mike M, i think you owe it to yourself to at least try it once, its an incredible rum. And i`m not saying the 12 is bad;-)
    The El Dorado rums are so special.They have 2 wooden pot stills – one is a single wooden pot and the other is a double wooden pot and then they have the wooden Coffey still, the only one still operating in the world.

  • Dood says:

    Just got back from Vegas so I barely found this. Great rum. The Gran Reserva is one of the rums that I keep stocked on my shelf at all times.

    It’s great neat, rocks, in a cocktail, it whitens your teeth while you sleep, and gives your car an additional 6 miles to the gallon!!!

    As Scottes said, you should definitely check out their other offerings. The Platino is often the base rum for any infusions I do and is great for having around at parties for punches, daiquiris, or mojitos.

  • Mike M says:

    This has to be my absolute favourite rum producer. The only problem is that the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) in Ottawa stopped carrying it.

    If you’re interested in a slightly sweeter and more vanilla/caramel flavoured rum, I would recommend their 10 year old bottle. It’s not quite as subtle as the 15 year old, but works well both straight up and in mixed drinks.

    As I can no longer get my hands on this, I have moved on to El Dorado Rum, which has 5, 12, and 15 year old bottles. The 12 is incredible, and for the price ($36.00 Canadian if memory serves me correctly) it’s a good buy. I have yet to try the 15 yea old, but at 55+ a bottle, I would recommend the 12 over it.

    The best bargain (at least until recently) was probably the 5 year old. The rum was a demerara sugar rum aged in oak for 5 years, and until a few months ago retailed for 10 cents LESS than Bacardi Silver (which is as bottom of the barrel as you can get in my opinion). While not nearly as mellow as the 12 year old, it’s still damn good.

    (Now I have to hunt down a bottle of Matusalem again)

  • Yes, the Matusalem is an awesome rum that i’ve been lucky enough until recently to use a lot. It was used in a few menu cocktails and my fav with the Matusalem was a 12 year lullaby. Rum, Curacao, lemon and port. We can’t get it easily here in Wa. I’ll have to grab a bottle next time I go to Portland.

  • Scottes says:

    Yep, a great rum. Be sure to check out their other products, too. Their Platino is very much a Cuban-style rum, and makes for a great Mojito. It’s a great white – and I don’t say that often.

  • Jeff Frane says:

    And it’s about $41 here in OLCC stores — for us peasants.

  • Jeff Frane says:

    Lance Mayhew beat you to the punch by a couple of days over at his blog. Sounds like the rep knows who to visit to get the word out.

  • Scortch says:

    I was lucky to discover this about 6-7 years ago when a buddy bought a bottle on the whim that he’d simply never heard of the stuff before (it was a whopping $23 a bottle back then!). Tried for the first time straight, it was quickly dubbed “Liquid Gold” and has been a personal fav that has done nothing but won more and more fans in my circle over the years.

  • I have been nothing but pleased with all of the Ron Matusalem products. The only rums that come close in my opinion are the Appleton, Plantation or Barbancourt rums.

    Of course,they all mix well, but the aged rums give scotch a run for the money (and in terms of cost, they really do!).



  • Tiare says:

    Very good review of a very good rum.This rum is always positively spoken about in the Ministry of Rum forum.

  • Pete says:

    I have to agree, this entire article is pretty much what I thought of this rum when I first bought a bottle on a whim. The taste profile came out in pretty much exactly the way you describe, right down to that soft, moreish finish.

    I think in terms of value, this is definitely one of the best bottles I’ve found. And you’re right about the versatility from a price point of view too – to me a £50 product could be the most drinkable and mixable spirit ever, but I’m not going to buy bottle after bottle.

    £20-25 is about right for a high-quality, almost-every-day bottle, and this is where the Matusalem wins out. My main everyday rum is Havana Club Anejo Especial (£17), but when I want that little something nicer, out comes the Matusalem, with no worries about whether I can afford to buy another bottle after this one.

  • We’ll be expecting a full report here in the comments section, Andy.

  • Andy says:

    I think you just sold me on a buying bottle of rum tomorrow.

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