Review: Bruno Mars Has a Rum, But That’s Not the Full Story

SelvaRey is an excellent single-estate rum that pre-dates the “Uptown Funk” singer’s involvement

June 4, 2021 5:38 am
Bruno Mars at a bar with the four expressions of SelvaRey, the rum he co-owns
Singer Bruno Mars didn't start SelvaRey, but he is heavily involved with the rum
Flo Dechard for SelvaRey

What we’re drinking: Four rums by SelvaRey, including White, Chocolate, Coconut (just launched) and Owner’s Reserve.

Where it’s from: SelvaRey (which loosely translates to “King of the Jungle”) was founded in 2014 in California by Seth and Mark Gold (Robert Herzig is also a co-owner); however, the single-estate rum is distilled in Panama. After the rum’s launch, singer Bruno Mars came on board as a co-owner and the “creative vision” of the brand. 

Why we’re drinking this: Admittedly, we’re a bit tired of the celebrity angle in spirits. But it’s rum-drinking season, and we were intrigued by the flavored options offered up by SelvaRey, and also the modest $30-$35 price point.

Plus, we were interested in the rum’s distillation origin. “Panama has a climate and terroir that’s almost perfect for sugarcane cultivation,” says SelvaRey Global Brand Ambassador Brian Klemm, crediting the area’s significant moisture, high heat, volcanic soil and abundance of sunlight. “And being a single estate, we control the entire process.” 

Bonus, the white rum and the chocolate rum earned the highest scores ever in their respective categories in the trade publication The Tasting Panel, which is affiliated with the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. 

the four expressions of SelvaRey rum, co-owned by Bruno Mars
The four expressions of SelvaRey rum, co-owned by Bruno Mars
Flo Dechard for SelvaRey

Oh, and the packaging is quite eye-catching: the tall, slender, colored bottles feature a rounded cork and a raised seal, and look more like you’d expect from a good Champagne.

Still, celebrity and looks aren’t everything, so let’s taste!

How it tastes

SelvaRey White Rum: This straw-colored expression is a blend of three- and five-year-old rums aged in ex-bourbon barrels that are recharred; from there, the rum is charcoal filtered to mellow the flavor and strip out most of the color. At 40% ABV, there’s a LOT of vanilla on the palette, with notes of creme brûlée, citrus and key lime pie as you dig in. A winner in daiquiris, although Klemm actually suggests this isn’t an ideal rum for “tiki-like cocktails.”

SelvaRey Chocolate Rum: Our favorite. This is a five-year-old, 35% ABV rum infused with natural chocolate. Heavy cocoa notes on the nose, and some baking spices creep with the chocolate notes on the palette, slightly akin to a Tootsie Roll. I wouldn’t drink this neat — even though it’s not really sweet — but I’d definitely love to play with this in tiki cocktails (piña colada, painkiller) or in a drink with a mezcal. 

SelvaRey Coconut Rum: A two-year-aged rum infused with a “coconut essence.” It’s very light on the nose, almost like a coconut cake. This continues on the palette, along with notes of pineapple and key lime. Ideal for clean, classic cocktails like mojitos and daiquiris (or a very light and delicate drink with just soda water).

Owner’s Reserve: Hand-selected by Master Blender Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez and pre-dating SelvaRey’s existence, this is a sipping rum that combines 15- and 25-year-old blends, with the rums finished in ex-Cognac and PX barrels. A lot of dried fruit here, a bit of coffee, and brown sugar, orange and a hint of nuttiness on the palate. Unlike the other releases, this one is pretty expensive ($150 at Total Wine) and hard to find. 

Fun fact: What does Bruno Mars himself bring to the brand? According to a SelvaRey rep, the singer is “very hands-on” with the tastings, packaging, social media and advertising — which includes writing, producing and starring in a new campaign that just launched this week.

Where to buy it: SelvaRey rums are available at Total Wine and ReserveBar.


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