The concept seems pretty obvious: Spiced rums from the likes of Sailor Jerry and Captain Morgan are lighter in color and perhaps less daunting for the rum-and-Coke crown. The uninitiated may eye The Kraken with a bit of hesitation that it will be too powerful or pungent. (It’s not.)
Aside from that, Kraken Gold does promise “a flavor profile all its own,” and to that end, I put it side by side against a glass of classic Kraken Black to see how it fared.
The first big twist is the proof: Original Kraken is 94 proof, while Kraken Gold hits just 70 proof, which is typical for this category. You notice the difference right away. While The Kraken Black is more brooding with a stronger molasses and coffee character, Kraken Gold is sweeter and fruitier on the nose, instantly evoking ripe banana, toasted coconut, and Torani caramel syrup.
From the nose, the expectation is that this might be too sweet on the tongue, but fortunately it is not. While it’s laden with vanilla and caramel, there’s enough sense of the underlying spirit to keep the sweetness in check. What’s lacking is much spice. The bold slick of allspice, ginger, and clove that you get with Kraken 1.0 is dialed way back here, and while that gives the banana more room to shine, it doesn’t hold up as well in a cocktail or on its own. The finish is on the short side — though, again, thankfully never cloying.
Kraken Gold ultimately acquits itself as just what it probably wanted to be: A more lighthearted spin on the brooding, original Kraken that doesn’t dominate a drink the way its predecessor can. For better or for worse.