Review: Cruzan Light Rum 5 Years Old, Dark Rum 5 Years Old, Black Strap Rum, and Single Barrel Rum (2018)

Review: Cruzan Light Rum 5 Years Old, Dark Rum 5 Years Old, Black Strap Rum, and Single Barrel Rum (2018)

We’ve been covering Cruzan Rum pretty much since the beginning of Drinkhacker, to the point where its products have been a reliable constant on the site. Now Cruzan — following some nasty devastation on the island of St. Croix last fall — is rebuilding not only its operation, but its brand, revamping the entire Cruzan Distiller’s Collection, including its Single Barrel Rum. (The new bottles are definitely a step up from the old ones.) We last reviewed this collection in 2013.

As the distillery notes:

With an embossed-glass logo (a nod to the Nelthropp family crest) and a real wood and cork closure, these new bottles make it easier for bartenders to accurately measure parts and have a stand-out look that will make a statement on any bar or bar cart. Though the bottles are new, the liquid inside is the same clean-tasting, award-winning rum that fans of the brand have come to expect.

While reportedly these rums haven’t changed, perhaps my palate hasToday we take a fresh look at four essential Cruzan bottlings. Let’s dive in.

All bottlings are 80 proof.

Cruzan Distiller’s Collection Estate Diamond Light Rum 5 Years Old (2018) – Well-aged stock, filtered to clear. It’s kind of a funky rum for a spirit of this advanced age, with a nose of raisins, banana, coconut, and some cinnamon. Air opens things up, the palate showing ample fruit, but also plenty of heat. That banana is particularly evident, alongside a vanilla kick driven from its time in wood. B+ / $22 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]

Cruzan Distiller’s Collection Estate Diamond Dark Rum 5 Years Old (2018) – Essentially the same rum as the Light Rum, but unfiltered. There’s a stronger fruit character on the nose here, along with some floral notes thrown into the mix. The palate is bold with coffee notes, some chocolate, and an almondy nut character that leads to a slightly sherried conclusion. Much bolder and sharper than the light rum, the finish is lingering and evocative of red berries and spice. A- / $22

Cruzan Distiller’s Collection Estate Diamond Black Strap Rum – While the mysterious name evokes a luxury product, black strap (or blackstrap) molasses are essentially the final step in the sugar production process, a dark black and viscous goo that is the ultimate by-product of sugar refining. You can make rum out of it, too, and Cruzan’s version is black as night. It’s also full of character — on the nose, a molasses-heavy funk that starts with dense fig, raisin, and date character and then segues into coffee bean and dark chocolate notes, given some time. The palate is quite viscous and very sweet, with notes of licorice candy, more raisins, and cloves. There’s a ton going on here, but it works together quite well. A definitive go-to rum for tiki drinking or for floating on your favorite cocktail. A / $16

Cruzan Distiller’s Collection Single Barrel Premium Extra Aged Rum 5-12 Years Old (2018) – All of the rums in this collection claim to be 5 to 12 years old on the back label, but the Single Barrel now indicates that on the front of the bottle. Otherwise the rum hasn’t changed. The nose is similar to the Dark Rum, though perhaps a bit more pungent with cloves and gingerbread along with hints of orange peel. The palate is intense and rich, a monster with loads of coffee character, some hickory wood, and hints of molasses. The finish is very lengthy and bold, heavy with gravitas but filtered through hogoA- / $30 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

Cruzan Distiller's Collection Estate Diamond Black Strap Rum




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. neandrewthal on February 27, 2018 at 8:16 pm

    An A for $16. Best value ever?

    • Christopher Null on February 27, 2018 at 8:26 pm

      Great value, but rum is swimming in value…

    • applejack on March 1, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      I’d say the Blackstrap is inexpensive and very good for what it is (and a unique flavor that’s not really available in other rums), but limited in it’s applications. It’s not a rum I would use in your typical dark rum drinks (daiquiri, Cube Libre, old fashioned, etc.) by itself, as the flavor is too overwhelming and unbalanced, let alone drink neat. I know some bartenders use a full measure of it in the Jungle Bird (as popularized by Giuseppe Gonzalez at NYC’s Painkiller), the craft cocktail that put Blackstrap rum on the map for many drinkers, but for me I find that’s too much of a good thing. I tend to use it sparingly (.25 – .50 oz) in a cocktail as an accent to other rums. I find it works very well as a partner to overproof, strongly flavored rums (Smith & Cross, 151 proof Demeraras, etc.), which tames the sweetness but allows the charred molasses notes to shine through.

  2. Cangey on March 8, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    My last experience with Cruzan blackstrap was non-delightful. Very very IHOP-py as in pancake syrup. (I actually prefer a taste of rye whiskey with bacon and eggs. Try it! On the weekend of course.)

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