Rum Journal: Karl Malone’s New Rum From the Dominican Republic

karl malone with the rum

It began with cigars. 

NBA Hall of Fame Karl Malone’s love affair with the Dominican Republic kicked off when he crafted his own line of cigars with one of the country’s most prominent cigarmarkers: La Aurora, whose operations in Santiago date back to 1903. 

That partnership led to Karl Malone Barrel Aged, a six-year-aged blend of La Aurora that spend six months aging in Dominican rum barrels. 

Malone in Santiago.

And that’s when the rum journey began — when Malone discovered E. Leon Jimenes, the rum that gets its name from La Aurora’s founder. 

The Dominican rum is made by arguably the company’s top producer, Ron Barcelo, an ultra-rare expression that’s aged for 10 years: first in virgin American oak barrels, followed by an additional two years in French Oak casks. It was first developed to celebrate La Aurora’s 110th anniversary. 

After making E. Leon Jimenes a part of his cigar ritual, for Malone, the choice was clear: it was time to take E. Leon Jimenes from the sugarcane fields of San Pedro de Macoris to the American market, the perfect rum pairing with a fine cigar. 

So that’s what the Mailman has done: the legendary power forward is now the sole US importer for E. Leon Jimenes, adorning each of the just 3,000 releases with “Bottled for Karl Malone.” 

It’s a natural progression for Malone, who turned his interest into cigars in his playing days into his own cigar lounge in Ruston, Louisiana. 

The idea, his partner Tim Basham tells Rum Journal, is for the ultimate rum to pair with a cigar. 

So what’s the rum like? 

E. Leon Jimenes has an aroma of brown sugar, plum, nutmeg and the slightest whisper of anise. 

The flavor profile is marked by caramel, dried mango; citrus peel; walnut, cacao and white pepper and a nutty, delicately earthy tobacco note on the finish. 

This is a luxurious, velvety rum; it’s exceptionally well balanced, and wonderfully reimagines the traditional finish of a Dominican rum into something more refined, more elegant. 

It’s the best Dominican Republic rum on the market today, taking the essence of Dominican rummaking and raising it to another stratum.

And it’s one of the best rums you’ll be able to buy in the US when it rolls out its American launch early next year. 

In other words, it delivers. 

Rum Journal Review: 96 Points 

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— CJ