The Real McCoy
It's funny to watch how the term "the real McCoy" has evolved over the last century because I never knew it had anything to do with rum until I started working in the spirits business, despite the fact that I had definitely used it over the course of my life in reference to something genuine. Bill McCoy was a rum runner during the Prohibition years and his secret stash was known for its high quality, never adulterated with chemicals or various other substitutes to stretch or disguise the quality of the hooch. Hence the term: "the real McCoy." It therefore makes sense that a rum company would want to use that famous name and reputation with their own label, and it makes even more sense that said company would want to work with Foursquare distillery on the island of Barbados, a facility praised both for its transparency and pureness when it comes to rum.
The Real McCoy 12 year old is one of the best new value rums I've tasted over the last year because, unlike some of the beefier Foursquare editions I've tasted in 2017, this is session rum—as in you could have three or four glasses in a single sitting and still get up the next morning for work. I'm definitely a fan of cask strength rums, single barrel editions, and oddball pot distillates when we get them, but the simple truth is that I'll probably drink ten bottles of the Real McCoy 12 year before I ever finish the one bottle of Foursquare Criterion I bought simply due to its price and practicality. While the big, bold, barrel strength flavors dominate the geekier end of the rum and whiskey spectrum, the majority of people I know who shop specifically for rum at K&L ask me the same question over and over: is it smooth? When it comes to the Real McCoy 12 year, not only is it as smooth as silk, it achieves that soft and silky texture naturally, without the use of added sugar or sweeteners. Aged entirely in American oak ex-Bourbon barrels, it drinks much like an older version of the Mount Gay XO with extra weight and richness from the wood. There are gobs of barrel spices, orange peel, cloves, and molasses notes on the finish.
And the price is definitely a fair one. I'd add this to your short list of every day drinkers. If you're looking for the rarest, most exotic rum on the market to impress your tiki buddies, this isn't the bottle. But if you're in search of a delicious, real deal, affordable, unadulterated bottle of classically-flavored rum, this is one of the best new additions to the shelf. As someone who wants to cut back on my sugar intake, it will likely replace the El Dorado 12 year as my new house rum.