Category Archives: Spiced Rum

Review: Captain Morgan 1671 Commemorative Blend Spiced Rum

Captain Morgan 1671 525x787 Review: Captain Morgan 1671 Commemorative Blend Spiced Rum

Captain Morgan has been on a tear with new releases and special bottlings over the last few years. 1671 is its latest expression, a fancified version of the Cap’n that still comes in at just 20 bucks.

Captain Morgan 1671 is a St. Croix-based distillate that is crafted with a unique blend of spices and is finished “through Spanish Oak.” Unique or not, don’t go looking for any reinvention of Captain Morgan’s well-worn wheel here, as this rum sticks close to the standard Captain Morgan character.

The nose is appropriately cinnamon-focused, tempered with orange and caramel notes. Vanilla and cinnamon are present on the body, with some fruit finally picking up the rear. Orange notes hit first, with a surprising cherry character coming along in the finish. But that odd addition alone isn’t enough to make 1671 come across as particularly revolutionary. In fact, the 35% alcohol level of this rum does it a real disservice, leaving it feeling a bit watery at times.

1671 is a perfectly serviceable spiced rum, but it is unfortunately distinguished from standard Captain Morgain more by its fanciful bottle than anything unique going on inside of it. At this price, however, die-hard Cap’n fans will likely find enough to enjoy to merit giving it a place on the back bar.

70 proof.

B / $20 / captainmorgan.com

Review: Newfoundland Screech Rum, Spiced Rum, and Honey Rum

screech spiced rum Review: Newfoundland Screech Rum, Spiced Rum, and Honey RumWho woulda thought they’d name a rum after this guy?

In all seriousness… Back in the old days (like, yesteryear), Newfoundland-based sailors drank a lot of rum. They got their rotgut from Jamaica, and it didn’t even have a name. As the story goes, decades later an American WWII G.I. drank a slug of the unwatered-down rum while visiting and upon swallowing he gave off a howl of pain. The noise was described as “The Screech,” and the rum finally had its name.

Today, Screech Rum is still a partly Canadian product, sourced in the Caribbean as always and bottled in Newfoundland. A straight expression is available, along with a spiced rum and one flavored version. Thoughts on all three follow.

Newfoundland Screech Rum – Aged Jamaican rum, no age statement, with caramel color added (it’s quite dark in coloration). The nose is quite funky, with notes of well-burnt/almost-blackened sugar, charcoal, and beef jerky. On the tongue, things sweeten up, but it’s still easy to see how Screech got its name. Though this expression is far from barrel proof, it’s got a healthy amount of hogo to it, its overpowering burnt sugar notes somewhat balanced by some, well, non-burnt sugar. Not much fruit here, just secondary character of ash and smoldering lumber, and a dusky finish that lasts for ages. Definitely for fans of more rustic (yet aged) rum styles. 80 proof. B- / $17

Newfoundland Screech Spiced Rum – This is wholly different stock, made from Demerara rum from Guyana, aged 4 to 8 years. Spiced, with no sugar added. This is a compelling spiced rum. Again that burnt sugar character is strongest, with light vanilla and cinnamon notes coming up behind — almost French toast-like at times. Unlike the straight version, here at least those secondary elements stand a fighting chance. The smoldering finish of the straight rum fades as the spiced element grabs hold, giving this rum a considerably better balance on the whole — though it. 70 proof. B+ / $18

Newfoundland Screech Honey Rum – Why should whiskey have all the fun? Here’s a new idea: rum flavored with honey. This starts with the same aged Jamaican rum as above, then receives “natural honey flavor.” Coulda fooled me. The overall impact is more of a lemon-flavored rum, or some kind of lemon-honey amalgam. Either way, the rum is largely lost and the finished product comes off like some kind of liquified throat lozenge. 70 proof. C- / $18

screechrum.com

Review: Stolen “Coffee & Cigarettes” Spiced Rum

stolen coffee and cigarettes 98x300 Review: Stolen Coffee & Cigarettes Spiced RumThe name alone gives one pause. Does one want to drink cigarettes? If they’re stolen, do they taste better? To clarify things a bit, look to the quotation marks. “Stolen” is the name of the brand. “Coffee & Cigarettes” is the flavor applied. Underneath, it’s spiced rum, making this the first flavored and spiced rum we’ve reviewed.

Now this isn’t our first run-in with tobacco flavoring agents, although Stolen is careful to note its flavorings are coffee and cigarettes, not tobacco. Important distinction? Let’s find out by sipping on this Caribbean-sourced, Florida-bottled, New Zealand-owned oddity.

I’m happy to report that the primary note on the nose is coffee. It’s a little dark and husky, but this comes across more as dark roast espresso with a touch of spice than, as feared, the flavor of old coffee with cigarette butts floating in it. The body is a touch less forgiving. The smokiness builds here, driving the character forward. At first, the spirit offers more of a light brandy character than a rum-like one, though the sweetness (particularly molasses-heavy) grows with time. The smoke flavor component is far more successful than in Ivanabitch’s vodka version, presumably because the coffee and spice elements balance things out a bit. The finish manages to pull all of this together better than you’d think.

Ultimately the spirit is far more of a success than I had feared, but for most it will likely remain a curiosity that generates more questions based on its avant garde label and unique recipe than interest in actually imbibing it.

84 proof.

B / $15 / stolenrum.com

Review: Sugar Island Spiced Rum and Coconut Rum

sugar island spiced rum 102x300 Review: Sugar Island Spiced Rum and Coconut RumMade from Caribbean cane sugar and bottled in California, Sugar Island is a new kid on the flavored and spiced rum block. (The company is not making an unflavored or aged variety.) Here’s how these new offerings measure up against the competition.

Sugar Island Spiced Rum – Very strong and pungent on the nose. The character is indistinct, with somewhat harsh, rubbery notes. On the palate, heavy burnt sugar notes overwhelm with unclear, clove-and-cinnamon character backing it up. A lengthy finish brings out not more sweetness but more of that rubbery, industrial character. Caramel added. 92 proof. C-

Sugar Island Coconut Rum – Tons of sweetness on the nose. Coconut is a secondary characteristic, overpowered by simple syrup. The body is heavy, full of gravity, with a powerfully sweet finish that offers a touch of mango character to it. Not at all difficult, but it’s a sugar bomb with few parallels in this category. 42 proof. B-

each $19 / sugarislandrum.com

Review: Captain Morgan Sherry Oak Finish Spiced Rum

Captain Morgan Sherry Oak Finish Spiced Rum 111x300 Review: Captain Morgan Sherry Oak Finish Spiced RumWait a second? Finished rum? Finished, spiced rum? This bizarre and wholly unexpected product from, of all places, Captain Morgan, borrows from the whiskey industry by taking good old Cappy and finishing it in sherry wine casks. There’s not a lot of information about how long it spends in these casks, but the results are clear: This is a sweeter, more citrusy, and surprisingly intriguing rendition of Captain Morgan.

Up front, a familiar cinnamon character pervades the nose, with curious notes of golden raisins and almonds. The body is bolder. Quite sweet, here you get the citrus notes driven by the sherry, along with bright, light fruit, marshmallows, and a long finish that recalls maraschino cherries.

There’s lots going on here, and it’s more complex than standard Cap’n Morgan… but what will people use it for? The nuance of the rum will largely get lost in a glass full of Coke, and I’ve yet to see anyone consume Captain Morgan straight in the real world. That said, as spiced rum goes, this is unusual and unique, and certainly worth a look of this kind of thing is in your wheelhouse. Give it a try while you can; it’s unclear how long it will be on the market.

70 proof.

A- / $20 / captainmorgan.com

Review: Admiral Nelson’s Spiced Rum

AN Spiced Rum 96x300 Review: Admiral Nelsons Spiced RumThe budget alternative to Captain Morgan (to which it is 2nd in spiced rum market share), Admiral Nelson’s Rum is also named after a real person. In this case it’s a good guy instead of a pirate, the famous British Admiral Horatio Nelson.

Until 2011, Admiral Nelson’s Spiced Rum was produced by Luxco, a smaller company that owns a few random spirits brands. It was then sold to Heaven Hill, or pals in Kentucky, which has its eye on number one. Refreshed packaging has just been introduced — although the eyepatch-wearing, grog-swilling, beard-sporting, tight-pants-donning Nelson still smiles out at you front and center.

How does Nelson’s measure up against Morgan? Not badly, actually. On the nose, light cinnamon and gingerbread notes, backed with vanilla. Not at all boozy, the body is pleasant, quite sweet, and not overly spiced. Gentle and easy, it’s a spiced rum for those who like just a little kick of apple pie in their cola, yet is easy enough to sip straight, not the normal M.O. for a spiced rum. Don’t come looking for complexity — the finish is short, straight, and simple — but few shoppers in the $10 to $12 range have ever made such a request, anyway.

70 proof.

B / $11 (though more typically bought in the 1.75 liter bottle) / admiralnelsonsrum.com

Review: Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum

Spiced rum continues its move upmarket courtesy of that most massive of standbys: Captain Morgan.

The Captain saw a line expansion with a 100 proof version in 2008, and now comes the even bigger gun: Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum. This is actually an American rebranding of a product called Captain Morgan Black which the company has sold internationally since late 2011. The rum is a blend from Jamaica, Guyana, and Barbados (though the label notes only “the Caribbean”), spiced with cloves and cassia bark (we call it cinnamon!), and aged indeterminately in “double charred blackened oak” (whatever that means).

Ultra-dark and loaded with aromas — you can smell the vanilla when you crack open the bottle — it’s a clear competitor (and a worthy one) to the recent flood of high-end spiced rums, including Kraken and The Lash.

The emphasis here remains clearly on the sweet stuff. Vanilla and molasses, plus semi-sweet chocolate on the finish, it’s loaded with these dessert notes. Clove and cinnamon are present almost as afterthoughts, but you’ll catch them once your sweet tooth wears out. Finally, there’s a long, and surprisingly pleasant, finish, one which inspires one to consider girly-type cocktails but which begs to be consumed solo.

Captain Morgan has quite a winning spirit on its hands here, one which comes across at considerably lower proof than it is (and which can be awfully dangerous) and which elevates the Captain to the upper echelon of spiced rum makers. Well done.

94.6 proof.

A- / $22 / captainmorgan.com

Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum Bottle Shot Review: Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum

Review: Flipflop Rum – Silver and Spiced

Best known for its ultra-affordable, thong-friendly wine series, Flipflop (or all-lowercased flipflop, as they write it) is now branching into rum, with two equally affordable sugar-based spirits.

There’s not a lot of information on provenance available: They hail from “the Caribbean” and are four-times distilled, but that’s all the info provided. We tasted both of varieties, which are now shipping.

Flipflop Silver Rum is surprisingly clean and easy, with a traditional sugar-based nose and a finish with plenty of molasses in it and a lightly chalky, coconut and chocolate character. Very modest medicinal character on the finish, like a clean vodka. Amazing quality for the price. 80 proof. A-

Flipflop Spiced Rum is spiked with “spices and natural flavors,” which tinge the nose with a bit of orange character. A bigger body brings with it some typical spiced rum character — more clove than cinnamon, but both are evident — and a broader, vanilla-fueled finish. There’s unfortunately a quite bitter aftertaste, though, which spiced rum fanatics will not likely thrill to. 70 proof. B-

each $14 / flipfloprum.com

flipflop rums Review: Flipflop Rum   Silver and Spiced

Review: Captain Morgan Tattoo Rum

For a good time, do a Google Image Search for “Captain Morgan Tattoo.” You’ll find plenty of pictures not of this spiced rum but of unique and ill-considered body art on all kinds of anatomical bits.

I’ve actually had a mini of Tattoo for years. It’s that mysterious. What’s it all about? Tattoo is a spiced, “extra dark” rum with additional flavoring agents added. It is said to have been developed as a Jagermeister competitor, and pouring a shot reveals how that works.

It’s dark to the point of near opacity, with a heady nose of citrus fruit, raspberries, and a touch of classic vanilla rum character. Promising, perhaps, but a sip offers a cacophony of flavors, from the rough rum body to the heavy allspice and clove finish. The middle is pure molasses, those citrus notes being largely drowned out by all the other stuff going on here. What’s missing? Any sort of balance. Tattoo is a mess of a spirit, almost liqueur like and just too overblown  with additives to be a serious rum.

But as an ice-cold shooter to prime college kids for a night out? Well, maybe I can see where the Captain is coming from.

70 proof.

B- / $18 / captainmorgan.com

captain morgan tattoo rum Review: Captain Morgan Tattoo Rum

Tasting Report: Ministry of Rum Festival 2011

Last year’s Ministry of Rum event was a tasty yet tiny look at the growing world of rum, and most of the same faces — with a few new ones — were back again in 2011. I focused on unfamiliar brands at this walk-around event… but made it a point to retry a few rums that I considered favorites — and which I didn’t like so much last time out. While most of my notes of the re-reviewed rums were consistent with 2010’s grades, a couple of marks were wildly different. Did recipes change… or was I not on my game last time out? Tasting events are always tricky, with opinions formed on the fly based on very limited (and spit-out) samples… so, as always, take all of these notes with a grain of salt. Or, as it were, sugar.

Ministry of Rum Festival – San Francisco Bay Area – 2011

Bacardi Solera 1893 Rum / B+ / much improved notes vs. last year, when I called this rum “rubbery”; still, not a lot to it; Mexico-produced

Diplomatico Blanco Rum / A- / a filtered Peurto Rican claro style; incredible smoothness and sweetness together; Venezuela

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum / A / remains a classic; made a fabulous Hotel Nacional Cocktail with Small Hand Pineapple Gomme

Smith & Cross Rum / B- / same rating as last year; huge body and tough as nails

The Scarlet Ibis Rum / B- / hard and rough; same notes as 2010

Brugal 1888 Gran Reserva / A- / just reviewed, tried another sip just for kicks

Zacapa Centenario 23 / A / remains a favorite, citrus and floral notes offering a lighter style rum despite its age; Guatemala

Zacapa XO Rum / A / incredible depth, another classic not to be missed; upgraded since last year’s A-

Crusoe Silver Rum / B+ / coconut finish; both this and the spiced rum are organic

Crusoe Spiced Rum / B+ / huge clove and allspice character

Flor de Caña 4 Year Old Gold / B / smoky and woody, typical of Flor de Cana

Flor de Caña Grand Reserve 7 Year Old / B+ / better balance, but still lots of wood

Flor de Caña Centenario 12 / B+ / improving but wood still holds tight

Flor de Caña Centenario 18 / A- / easily the top Flor, with the sweetness finally balancing out the wood notes

Coeur de Rhum La Favorite Rhum Agricole Blanc / C-

Coeur de Rhum La Favorite Rhum Agricole Ambrè / C / 18 months aged; still really rough (Martinique)

Coeur de Rhum La Favorite Rhum Agricole Vieux / C+ / significantly downgraded from last year; tougher than I’d remembered by a mile; 3 years old

Montanya Platino Rum / A / one of the most exceptional white rums (aged, then filtered) I’ve had lately — and it’s made in Colorado; a full review of Montanya’s rums is in the works

Montanya Oro Rum / A- / aged in Stranahan’s whiskey barrels, left ruddy orange; lots of nut, coffee, and almond character

Lemon Hart 151 Demerara Rum / A- / amazingly clean for 151; very dark, with coffee and cocoa notes

Novo Fogo Gold Cachaça / B+ / rare, an aged cachaca — this one smooths out that spirit’s typical fuel notes

Santa Teresa Claro / B+ / Aged 2 years, then filtered; big citrus notes; Venezuela

Santa Teresa Rhum Orange Liqueur / B+ / citrus + rum liqueur

Santa Teresa Gran Reserva / A- / aged two to five years; bracing sweetness, one of the sweetest of the day

Santa Teresa 1796 Antiguo de Solera / A- / I called this “perfect” last year; in 2011 I’m finding a bit whiskey-like, tons of wood drowning out the sugars

Review: Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum

It’s a little hard to believe, but the top-selling rum company on earth — in fact, one of the top-selling spirits brands in the world — did not, until now, have a spiced rum under its umbrella. That is finally changing, as Bacardi this month has launched Oakheart, its own “smooth spiced rum.”

The emphasis is on smooth, to be sure: This rum (distilled in Puerto Rico, aged in American white oak) is on the mild side as spiced rums go, a muted spirit heavy on caramel and vanilla and pretty easy on the spice. Very light touch of cinnamon, but it’s almost passable as a moderately (and unspiced) aged rum. The finish is quite sweet and short, and while this is obviously a spirit designed for mixing with Coke (and to be a “well” spiced rum, based on its price), it’s so easygoing that it’s sippable straight. Aside from its sheer innocuousness, I can’t find else much to complain about here.

70 proof.

B+ / $13 / bacardi.com

bacardi oakheart spiced rum Review: Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum

 

Review: Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum

Cruzan is the latest rum maker to jump into the spiced rum game. Its “9” is rare in that it actually indicates what spices — nine of them, natch — are used to flavor the rum. They are: allspice, vanilla, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, clove, mace, and juniper berry.

This, by the way, is not a gin.

I had a tiny sample of 9 well before it was released and found it a bit off-putting. Whether the recipe has been tweaked or my final bottle (#233 of the first 500 made) is proving more worthwhile in a more controlled review setting I don’t know — though the latter is more likely. Cruzan 9 proves itself to be quite a capable spiced rum, a nice mix of sweet and relatively mild spices.

Vanilla is the big note here, with cinnamon and nutmeg distant secondary characteristics. Any sense of heat from pepper and the like is absent in 9, it’s one of the smoothest and most easygoing spiced rums I’ve ever had, and it could pass for a racier aged rum if one didn’t know better. I find this restraint rather a delight. 9 is one of the few spiced rums I can fathom drinking on its own, and it’s a natural companion with Coke and lime.

Give it a whirl.

80 proof.

A- / $14 (or less) / cruzanrum.com

cruzan 9 rum Review: Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum

Review: Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum

More spiced rum (check out the chatter on the BlackBeard coverage here, and keep the fun going below) from the folks at Brinley, which makes some very good flavored rums.

Shipwreck hails from St. Kitts and is aged for four years before being juiced up with exotic (and unnamed) spices.

Brinley’s rendition of spiced rum carries a big and flavorful kick. I love the way Shipwreck hits the palate, with sweet rum smoothed out by age and time in the barrel, plus a good shake of cinnamon, orange, woody notes, and a marshmallow-like candiness. It’s not too spicy, with clear sweetness dominating.

But the joy fades as Shipwreck gets toward the finish. A funky kind of skunkiness — that what David Wondrich reminds us is sometimes called “hogo” — that, on its own, isn’t entirely wonderful. For a spiced rum, it may just be too much wood, too much clove — or perhaps not enough alcohol. At 72 proof it’s decidedly light and maybe a touch watery.

It drowns away in Coke, but comparing Shipwreck against a more balanced spiced rum without doctoring, you’ll have no trouble sussing out the superior.

B / $20 / brinleygoldrum.com

brinley gold shipwreck rum Review: Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum

Review: BlackBeard Spiced Rum

Rum — especially spiced rum — is on the rise again, and BlackBeard is the latest, a Puerto Rican rum being imported by DonQ’s parent company.

BlackBeard offers aromas not of the spice box but rather of a traditional aged rum, with strong caramel, some wood, and toffee notes. This continues into the body. Put simply, BlackBeard is less “spicy” than most of its competition. Here the heat is on the mid-palate, a pepperiness that offers a rather simple burn, not those exotic notes a la incense or baking spices that one comes to expect and enjoy in a proper spiced rum.

That said, BlackBeard is not bad. In fact on its own merits, the taste is quite pleasant and it works well as a mixer. But overall, the effect is more like overproof aged rum instead of a true spiced rum. That’s not really a bad thing; just know what you’re getting into when you crack it open.

86 proof. Due in September 2010.

B+ / price TBD (but I’m guessing in line with Captain Morgan)

Blackbeard spiced rum Review: BlackBeard Spiced Rum

Review: The Lash Spiced Rum

For some reason, Drinkhacker readers LOVE spiced rum. They drink it, they comment, they debate it. They love this stuff.

And yet there aren’t that many spiced rums on the market, so when a new one arrives, they pounce on the stuff like phony handbag salesmen on tourists.

The Lash is a rum with a loaded history for its name (I’ll leave that reading as an exercise for the reader). It hails from the West Indies, where it spends four years in oak and is then aged with spices (some may actually settle in the bottle), bourbon vanilla extract, and other flavors.

The result is an intensely brown and very spicy rum. I put it side by side vs. all the spiced rums I had on hand — Captain Morgan, Sailor Jerry, and current fave The Kraken — and it handily out-spiced them all, with intense cinnamon, nutmeg, and big vanilla character. What’s comparably lacking, though, is the rum component. At just 70 proof, The Lash is considerably weaker than most spiced rums, many of which creep toward 100 proof. The Lash instead plays it safe, falling in line with the flavored rum world, a curious choice for a spirit with a picture of a whip on the bottle.

Overall, however, it’s got an excellent character to it, with an intense flavor that many spiced rums have lacking. Kraken is sweeter and more instantly engaging, but if the lack of alcohol in The Lash doesn’t turn you off, this is a solid endeavor.

A- / $30 / website not currently functional

the lash spiced rum Review: The Lash Spiced Rum

Review: Blackheart Spiced Rum

Spiced rum continues to grow as a category as every distiller on earth realizes that Captain Morgan has been sucking down cash for years with no competition. This latest brand, Blackheart, comes from Heaven Hill, home of Evan Williams bourbon and Christian Brothers brandy. (Not to be confused with Black Heart Rum, which is a different product altogether from New Zealand.)

Sweeter by far than most spiced rums I’ve tried, it’s almost saccharine. Actual spices are elusive — I thought it tasted more like coconut-flavored suntan lotion than anything else — with an apple-cinnamon finish.

Not my favorite spiced rum by a longshot, but those with a real sweet tooth may find it more palatable than I. 93 proof. Rum is sourced from the Virgin Islands. Price has been updated.

C+ / $16 / blackheartrum.com

blackheart spiced rum Review: Blackheart Spiced Rum

Review: The Kraken Black Spiced Rum

This is not Captain Morgan, folks.

The Kraken, with its sea creature label and black-as-coffee liquid within, makes a striking impression on the bar and in the glass. The idea is kitschy: A drink as strong and dark as kraken (giant squid) ink, powerful enough to take him down. And, yeah, at 94 proof and laden with flavor, perhaps it is. (The label doesn’t indicate it, but the rum is distilled in Trinidad and Tobago.)

The Kraken — the rum, that is — cuts quite a profile in consumption, a truly monstrous hit of chocolate and molasses, cut with Christmas spices — cinnamon and allspice, cloves and maybe even some ginger. Vanilla is big on the finish. Overall the effect is quite impressive, and any spiced rum fan will get a big kick out of The Kraken.

Again, at 94 proof, it needs a bit of water if you’re sipping it straight, and it works just fine with your standard mixers — though last night I was bemoaning the fact that no good recipes exist using spiced rum. The price is also right.

A / $20 / krakenrum.com

the kraken black spiced rum Review: The Kraken Black Spiced Rum

Review: Gosling’s Black Seal and Gold Rum

Not exactly a Johnny-come-lately in the rum world, Gosling’s is a brand that’s been around for over 150 years. 151 to be exact (hmmmmm)….

Here’s a long-overdue look at two of Gosling’s most popular and commonly-available blends. Both are sourced in Bermuda and bottled at 80 proof.

goslings black seal rum 139x300 Review: Goslings Black Seal and Gold RumGosling’s Black Seal Black Rum – This is the most common of the Gosling’s bottlings, a dark, “black” rum that’s commonly called for by name in Dark & Stormy cocktails. It’s easy to see why: On the rocks, it’s a smooth and intensely sweet and filled with deep molasses character. Aromatic and full of exotic spice notes — cinnamon, ginger, cloves — it almost could pass for a spiced rum and is interchangable in cocktail recipes if you’re out of Kilo Kai. Best of all, Black Seal is a good deal at just $16 (and often on sale for much cheaper). A-

Gosling’s Gold Bermuda Rum – Seen less frequently, Gosling’s Gold is an interesting counterpart to Black Seal for when you need a different style in your concoction. Less smooth and more rustic in style, it’s got more of a wood and smoke character than the molasses-like Black Seal. Lighter in color than your typical amber rum, it mellows out with ice and a little meltwater, but on the whole it’s better as a mixer than on its own. Still, as with Black Seal, an impressive value for the money (also $16). B+

goslingsrum.com

goslings gold rum Review: Goslings Black Seal and Gold Rum

Review: Organic Spirits Complete Lineup

Organic everything — that’s the sell of Organic Spirits (aka Maison Jomere), which imports five different products, bottles them disconcertingly in the exact same cylindrical decanter, and puts on each a label emblazoned with the Royal Warrant of HRH Prince Charles. The Warrant is offered for placement on products which have been used for five consecutive years or more by the Royal Household, and it’s something Organic Spirits is quite proud of.

Hey, if it’s good enough for Prince Charlie, it’s good enough for us… to review, at least.

Highland Harvest Organic Scotch Whisky – To my knowledge this is the only organic Scotch in the world. (Update: Actually it’s not, see comments below for some others; it may however be the only organic blended Scotch out there.) It’s a blended Scotch, composed of three organic malts and one organic grain. The resultant spirit is a bit of a mess, all over the place with rough and raw whisky character. There’s a touch of charming honey and heather in there, so it’s not a complete loss. Could work as a mixer, but this one’s hard to enjoy on its own. 80 proof. C+ / $32

Papagayo Organic Spiced Rum – Take the Paraguayan Papagayo white rum (reviewed below) and spice it up with organic mead(!), molasses, ground ginger, ground vanilla, and ground chili. You can really taste the ginger, and the overall effect is pretty interesting for a spiced rum. Reasonably smooth, but with a funky finish that tastes a bit rubbery. 80 proof. B- / $22

Papagayo Organic White Rum – Well of course there’s a white rum version, right? The base spirit, straight outta Paraguay, crystal clear. Immediately I assumed I had gin in the bottle, just mislabeled, because of a strong juniper character in the bottle. But on cracking open the gin I realized, no, this was indeed rum, just the strangest rum ever to exist. Made from sugar cane from a single plantation in the ‘guay, once you get past that juniper oddness, this is actually not an unpleasant rum, particularly on the rocks, after you get some meltwater in the glass. Not much to it, really, but serviceable in some cocktails. Mixes poorly with Coke, though. 80 proof. B / $26

UK5 Organic Vodka – Distilled from organic rye grown on a single farm in Germany that’s been organic for 30 years. Deceptively mild on the attack, it soon gives way to a shockingly charcoal-infused finish. You can get a hint of it in the nose — woody and smoky, hard to describe but something in the neighborhood of beef jerky. 80 proof. B- / $22

Juniper Green Organic London Dry Gin – A traditionally styled London gin, taking the UK5 vodka and infusing it with organic juniper, coriander, savory, and angelica root. You can still catch that weird smoked meat smell from the UK5 here, but at least it’s tempered a bit with the botanicals. Juniper is the predominant note, but this is a gin crying out for some lemon and orange peel to give it more life. Very dry in finish, this might work in a gin martini with six or seven olives. Somehow it raises the proof a bit above UK5’s to 86 proof. B / $25

maisonjomere.com

Review: Captain Morgan Spiced Rum 100 Proof

I’ll start by saying I’m not entirely clear what the function of a new version of Captain Morgan is. The old version has a pirate on the bottle, comes from Puerto Rico, and comes in at a standard 70 proof. The new one has a pirate on the bottle, comes from Puerto Rico, and hits 100 proof. There are a couple of other versions out there, but the big seller is the old 70-proof standby. 100-proof Cap’n looks nearly identical. The only difference is a black border and a modest bit of text noting it’s “100 proof.”

So imagine my surprise to discover that the 100-proof Morgan is better than the 70-proof Morgan. Modestly better, yes, but a distinct improvement.

Flavor-wise you’ll find the two — which I tried side by side — extremely similar. Both are creamy and full of vanilla and burnt sugar flavors — hallmarks of rum — but relatively tepid in the “spiced” department. Aside from a mild touch of cinnamon, neither version is so racy that you’d need a pegleg to drink it.

The difference is all in the finish. While standard Captain Morgan has a harsh alcoholic finish, the 100-proof version is — inexplicably — quite a bit smoother. This makes absolutely no sense on its face, but repeated tastings — and even additional conscripts brought in to verify this fact — bear out its truth.

Bottom line: If you like Captain Morgan (and given that it’s one of the best-selling spirits brands in the world, many of you do), you’ll love the 100 proof variety. If you don’t like the good captain, well, give it a shot anyway. You may be surprised.

B+ / $22 / captainmorgan.com

captain morgan 100 proof Review: Captain Morgan Spiced Rum 100 Proof