An average spirit is around 40 percent alcohol, or 80 proof. Some whiskeys, particularly “cask-strength” bottles right from the barrel, get up to 50 percent or higher. Formidable navy-strength gin: 57 percent.
Rums? They can climb even higher. Plenty of bottles — notorious 151s, for instance — are all alcohol, zero flavor, best for lighting on fire or spiking questionable frat-party punches. But high-quality overproof rums actually have a long history in tiki cocktails. And recently, Plantation Rum master distiller Alexandre Gabriel set out to create an overproof rum that would shine in such drinks. Together with some of the world’s foremost rum experts and historians, he created the O.F.T.D., or Old Fashioned Traditional Dark rum, a blend of rums from Guyana, Jamaica and Barbados that clocks in at an incredible 69%.
It’s boozy, enough to leave your tongue tingling when you sip it straight. But the layers of flavor are incredible. It’s dark and rich, tasting of caramelized sugars and toffee, with a complex sweetness that just cries out to be used in cocktails. Proceed with caution — a drink with two ounces of this is almost twice as strong as a drink with two ounces of standard rum — but you’ll find that a little of this rum goes a long, long way. Take it for a spin in tiki classics or elsewhere, as with these three cocktails.