Favorite Rums – November 2018

So, as I’ve had some time to try more rums, mostly in cocktails, and occasionally on the rocks, a few favorites have risen to the top.

Dark Rums
Plantation Original Double Aged Dark. To me, this is one really good, funky rum. It is sweet, so that might work for some people.

Gold or Aged Rum
Both Appleton Estate Signature Blend and Plantation Grande Reserve 5Y are really good in cocktails. I’m going to give them another go over ice. Update: I’m actually able to drink (sip) the Plantation 5Y and it is rather pleasant!

Spiced Rums
As always, it depends on what you’re looking for. For me, Bacardi Oakheart is my favorite spiced rum. Captain Morgan Private Stock is very good, but is much sweeter and that, in some cocktails will lead to an overly sweet drink.

Light Rums
Let’s face it, light rums are almost always going to be mixed. I’ve tried Bacardi Superior, Cruzan Light, and The Naked Turtle. So far, I like them starting with the Turtle, then Cruzan, then Bacardi.

Drink what you like, like what you drink…

Plantation Grande Reserve 5Y

Ah. Rum plus sales price, equals win. There’s always a chance to try something new with less risk, and with the possibility that it will be a great option to buy again.

I am a fan of the Plantation Double Aged Dark rum. So I decided to give the Grande Reserve 5 Year a try. It is the first truly “aged” liquor that I have purchased. Anything else that is I have that is labeled as “aged” is a blend of ages. This is supposed to be aged for five years. There is no way that I can confirm or deny, but it has a distinctive flavor that comes from being in a  charred barrel.

Upon  opening, the smell is banana, sugar, and alcohol. I taste a slight sweetness, hint of char, alcohol, and that banana flavor. I can almost drink it chilled or over ice in small quantities, which for me, is saying something.

Update: I’m sipping it in small quantities! It is less harsh than the Appleton Signature Blend. I get an almost caramel sweetness, a hint of banana, and sometimes a taste of coconut.

It makes a good Rum and Coke, but I’m curious how it will be in other cocktails.

Proof: 80 (40% ABV)

Paid: $22 (on sale)

Buy Again: Probably

Bacardi Banana Rum

Bacardi must have the largest line of rums in the world. That isn’t saying that they are all good.

I bought this miniature (50ml) bottle just to try it on a whim. It has the same artificial banana flavor that I find in banana liqueur, mixed with a very basic white rum taste with some white rum burn.

From a cocktail point of view, I guess its easier to have two-in-one than separate bottles. Maybe? I don’t know. I think I’ll just stick to having a good white rum and a good banana liqueur.

Proof: 70 (35% ABV)

Paid: $1 for 50ml

Buy again: No

Malibu Coconut Rum

Malibu is almost synonymous with coconut rum. I had previously bought and tried Blue Chair Bay Coconut Rum, which is very good. It tastes natural is has a good sweetness level.

Malibu hit me with the smell of alcohol with just a little coconut. It tastes first of sugar, followed by coconut. The taste wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t like I hadn’t read the reviews and seen the ratings. This was another curiosity purchase. I bought a miniature (50ml) bottle of Malibu just to try it, so no great loss.

Proof: 42 (21% ABV)

Paid: $1 for 50ml

Buy again: No

Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum

Just to give another spiced rum a shot, I picked up a bottle of Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum. This is one of the rare alcohol items that actually lists what the spices are supposed to be. The list includes allspice, vanilla, pepper, ginger, mace, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and juniper berry.

To be very honest, I couldn’t identify all of these items if they were given to me individually. The aroma, however, is a nice, sweet, spicy mix. Not really intended for sipping, so I skipped that.

Mixed in a Rum and Coke, it isn’t bad. It isn’t great either. I still like the Bacardi Oakheart or the Captain Morgan Private Stock substantially better.

Proof: 70 (35% ABV)

Paid: $12

Buy again? Probably Not

Captain Morgan Private Stock Spiced Rum

Again, thanks to a sale price, and Derrick and Ian at Common Man Cocktails, I decided to try another spiced rum. While I wasn’t very impressed with Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum, this is another story.

Although it is pricey (for a cheap drinker like myself) at $25 for 750ml, it was on sale at $22. So I gave it a try. Let me tell you, I like the Bacardi Oakheart a lot. This is on the same level as the Oakheart to me. Great flavor, the alcohol doesn’t hurt you, and it mixes well. Vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar, and some other spices I can’t separate out.

It is sweeter than the Oakheart, but brings a lot of flavor to the party. Makes a great Spiced Rum and Coke.

Proof: 80 (40% ABV)

Paid: $22 (on sale)

Buy again: Probably (when on sale!)

Plantation Original Dark Double Aged Rum

As with many of my purchases, I’m waiting for a sale. When Plantation Original Dark Double Aged Rum went on sale for $15 per bottle, I checked the reviews immediately. Most of the Plantation rums are well regarded. I watched a Common Man Cocktails review of the family including the Aged Dark, along with quite a few online ratings. Reviews behind me, I walked in to the ABC store, took a hard right, walked through the center of the store and right up to the Plantation, grabbed a bottle, checked out, and headed back to the Lair.

Upon opening the bottle, I was struck by the very pleasant aroma. It was sweet and fruity and had the funkiness that I kept reading about. Even that wasn’t unpleasant, just different. I also got no hint of alcohol! A little poured into a shot glass. I could almost drink this on ice! This was a new moment for me.

When added to cocktails, it yields a sweet and fruity drink. I could be happy drinking this with Coke and never trying another cocktail or spirit.

But I think I’ll keep trying, anyway.

Age: No age statement

Proof: 80 (40% ABV)

Paid: $15 (on sale)

Buy again: Yes (Absolutely, I have a second bottle in the wings!)

Appleton Estate Signature Blend Rum

I’ve been quite the bargain hunter during my brief time as a consumer of cocktails. Not knowing if you will like something keeps you off of the top shelf, and looking for sale items to try. This is part of my quest just after the first of the month, when I journey into the local ABC store.

I snapped my pictures of the sale items and headed home. Amongst the rums, on the top shelf of all places, was a sale on Appleton Estate Signature Blend. This used to be called VX, but someone in marketing thought a change was in order. Regardless of the name, it got good marks for an entry level rum, and if memory recalls, had a sale price of about $20. That may not seem like much, but prior to this, the most expensive bottle was a bottle of Gosling’s Black Seal on sale for $16.

Driven by curiosity and with $20 that could be parted with, the deal was done. In the Lair, the cap was removed. Wow, I did not expect that. Compared to the white and spiced rums, there is complexity here. A smokiness from being in a charred barrel. Sweetness and something fruity.

If it isn’t considered a horrible thing to do to a good rum, I’ll tell you about mixing it with Coke. It was great! Not the kind of sugary spiced rum in coke, but it felt like a real, grown up cocktail with a real, grown up rum in it. Since I’m not a sipper of spirits, I don’t know how it would compare to other grown up rums. But for me, this changed my perception of rum from the candy sweet spiced variety to a serious drink. I can like both, you know, but now I can see new horizons.

Update: I’m sipping the Signature Blend and it is has a little burn, but the taste is very nice. I’m still trying to separate out the flavors, but maybe that will come in time.

Proof: 80 (40% ABV)

Paid: $20 (on sale)

Buy again: Yes

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum

Don’t be dragged to the bottom by the Kraken! A decorative bottle to be sure. But there is that “black” rum versus dark rum confusion. Whatever the case, it is not a bad spiced rum. I like it better than Captain Morgan Original, but not as good as the Bacardi Oakheart, which is also much easier on the wallet. I bought a miniature (50ml) bottle just to try it.

Mixed with Rum and Coke, the spices come through, along with some sweetness. It has a little alcohol burn, but it doesn’t hit too hard.

Proof: 94 (47% ABV)

Paid: $1.50 for 50ml

Buy again: Probably not

Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum

Well this is the original spiced rum, or so they say, whoever they are. I actually bought a miniature (50ml) bottle just to try it. Straight sip equals alcohol burn. I didn’t get a lot of aroma from it. Mixed in Coke, it was underwhelming to me. The alcohol burn was still present, and the flavor was a much muted version of the flavors I have come to expect from other spiced rums.

Proof: 70 (35% ABV)

Paid: $1 for 50ml

Buy again: No