The Jamaican style of rum — heavy on the “hogo” (funky esters and lush tropical flavors) — is one of my favorites. So it’s always a pleasure to see a new rum from the island appear on the U.S. market.
Mezan bills itself as “the untouched rum,” meaning it’s unsweetened, uncolored, and only lightly filtered. This puts it in contrast to many other rums, which are often heavily doctored before bottling to achieve a certain flavor profile or color. (Dark Jamaican rums are particularly notorious for their heavy use of caramel coloring.)
The XO is Mezan’s introductory expression. They apparently produce several more, only a couple of which are available in the States. Mezan is a British company that buys rum stocks from the distilleries and then blends and ages them into their own style.
The Mezan XO reminds me somewhat of Smith & Cross, another full-flavored and funky Jamaican rum. This is a bit lighter, which probably means it will have more appeal to a lot of drinkers. (The Smith & Cross can be a little rough for the uninitiated.)
It smells of dunder, bananas, and other fruit. A nice, sweet aroma that promises good things to come. And the taste doesn’t disappoint. The fruit continues, with a good amount of Jamaican hogo. It doesn’t hit you over the head, but it’s right there, front and center. You can also taste the molasses, but it’s not especially sweet.
It’s slightly spicy and has a definite note of something I couldn’t identify. (The label promises tobacco, but it wasn’t that. Tea, maybe?) It’s a little bitter on the finish (barrel tannins, presumably) with some heat, but not too much.