Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Moonlighting: Oct. '09


Ignoring good judgment, the fine folks at continue to let me take up valuable space in their monthly newsletter with my words & pictures. October's column has been posted here, and is a must-read if you have an irrational fear of Piranhas (and who doesn't, really?)

If that's not enough booze-centric musing for you, all my previous columns can be seen here. I also strongly recommend you check the archives to peruse the news from ALL the people who contribute to the newsletter. They love a good cocktail, and spend countless hours awash in liquor for your benefit. That's real dedication!

Read early, read often.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Un-Review: Spiced Rum Summit (Pt. 2)


Continuing my exploration into Things I Am Profoundly Unqualified To Do, (in this case, discussing the relative merits of specific liquor brands), I put five more spiced rums under the microscope. Join me, won't you?

- Kilo Kai Spiced Rum -


Pirate, Boat, Map or Scroll on the Label?: No (But it does have a Jolly Roger-esque emblem, so it gets an honorary mention)

Overall Packaging Coolness: Medium/High. Minimalist design with smoked, nearly-opaque bottle emblazoned with a stylized skull-and-crossbones logo and small paper label. There is also a thin strip of high-friction tape around the neck of the bottle that I guess helps you maintain your grip if you're pouring drinks while snowboarding or participating in a mixed-martial-arts tournament.

Proof: 70

Spice-itude: Medium. Vanilla & cherry flavors come through most prominently, and there's a buttery tone overall. Fine to sip straight, but it's kind of limp on its own. This stuff is clearly meant to be mixed.

Coke Compatibility: Medium. It syncs up with the Coke seamlessly, but rather than both standing out AND cooperating flavor-wise (what I believe a good "Rum & Coke rum" should do), it sort of just amplifies the existing Coke flavors without adding anything new.

Flamboyant Badass Quotient: Medium. The bottle design is slick and edgy-looking, but maybe a wee bit too trendy/clubby for a Flamboyant Badass to fully embrace. Unless we're talking about the future... This is totally the rum that Aeon Flux or a cybernetically-enhanced Hong Kong gangster would drink.

Another Round Likelihood: Low. (Rum & Coke that is...but I definitely will be trying it in other applications)

Overall Assessment: I like this stuff a lot- just not necessarily in traditional rum roles. I tend to think of it as less of a true rum and more of its own thing entirely...almost like a rum liqueur that would really shine as a flavoring element rather than a base spirit. Lots of mad-scientist potential.

- Old New Orleans Cajun Spiced Lousiana Rum -


Pirate, Boat, Map or Scroll on the Label?: No

Overall Packaging Coolness: Low. Standard bottle with restrained, text-only label is very distinctive and well-designed, but says "classy" rather than "cool."

Proof: 80

Spice-itude: High. Plenty of aggressive spice goodness without being overly sweet or having any one flavor dominate. A nice medley of flavors makes this great to enjoy by itself.

Coke Compatibility: Medium/High. Rum character tends to retreat, leaving the spice as a residual element detectable in & around the Coke. You could definitely do worse.

Flamboyant Badass Quotient: Low/ Medium. I can envision the blood-red label catching the eye of a Flamboyant Badass in mid-ransack, but the smoothness and spice-forward flavor profile tames the bite that a true F.B. would probably be looking for.

Another Round Likelihood: High (Only if I'm having it straight...mixing it with Coke verges on creating a liquid cookie)

Overall Assessment: Superb balance between spice and "real rum" flavors. Manages to walk the line without sacrificing spiciness OR conventional rum taste.

- Sailor Jerry Spiced Navy Rum -


Pirate, Boat, Map or Scroll on the Label?: No (But there is an anchor printed on the cap as a nod to seafaring themes. Besides, it's called "Sailor Jerry", so nautical adventure is pretty much implied.)

Overall Packaging Coolness: Medium. Standard bottle with label bearing an old-school-style tattoo of a hula girl and a smattering of text. Overall effect is minimal, vintage, and slightly seedy.

Proof: 92

Spice-itude: Medium. Spice is evident, but takes a back seat to the straightforward rum flavor. The slight overproof heat overshadows the spiciness a bit, leaving a slight caramel tinge most noticeably.

Coke Compatibility: Medium. Fades to the background except for caramel & vanilla flavors....sort of makes the Coke taste like Vanilla Coke rather than adding a rum aspect.

Flamboyant Badass Quotient: Medium/High. Classic yet irreverent packaging combined with no-nonsense contents would likely put this in the loot sack or footlocker of any given Flamboyant Badass.

Another Round Likelihood: High (On its own. Not so much in a Rum & Coke)

Overall Assessment: Drink it straight. And if doing so compels you to get a tattoo, at least make it a good one.

- Admiral Nelson's Premium Spiced Rum -


Pirate, Boat, Map or Scroll on the Label?: Yes (boat, map). Admiral Nelson is also featured prominently, but since he was technically not a pirate, it doesn't count.

Overall Packaging Coolness: Low. Standard bottle with spiced rum label trifecta of map/boat/adventurous nautical personality...which is fine, except the overall effect is rather chintzy-looking. As an artist, I definitely appreciate the use of an illustration, but in this case the character depicted looks like a strange hybrid of Gordon Lightfoot and Eric Stoltz. Doesn't really do it for me.

Proof: 70

Spice-itude: Low. What little spice is detectable is chemical-tasting, and the only single flavor I can pick out is something akin to artificial vanilla.

Coke Compatability: Low. It doesn't outright clash with the Coke, but seems to sit on top of it rather than merge. It's not entirely unpleasant, but it does give the drink a slightly synthetic, medicinal tang.

Flamboyant Badass Quotient: Low. Like Castillo, it comes in a 1-liter bottle, so you get some bonus hooch to fuel your badassery. Aside from that, there's not much that would garner approval from a Flamboyant Badass.

Another Round Likelihood: Low.

Overall Assessment: I remain unconvinced.

- Calico Jack: Bonney's Best Spice Flavored Rum -

(No image available, but it's pretty much identical to Calico Jack)

Pirate, Boat, Map or Scroll on the Label?: Yes (scroll, boat)

Overall Packaging Coolness: Medium. Standard bottle with parchment-ish label showing a detailed illustration of a ship flying the Jolly Roger in a tropical setting. The Jolly Roger reappears on the back label, and there's lots of gold foil accents throughout (That means extra-classy, folks!)

Proof: 70

Spice-itude: Low. Hard to pick out any specific flavors. Very mild with just a touch of spice...end result is innocuous and bland.

Coke Compatibility: Low. Just sort of makes the Coke taste sweeter without bringing any noticeable rum component.

Flamboyant Badass Quotient: Low. Rum itself needs to be a bit coarser, and bottle needs to be less fussy if it wants to be considered solid Flamboyant Badass material.

Another Round Likelihood: Medium (only if drunk straight)

Overall Assessment: Not particularly remarkable in any way, but not necessarily bad either. This what you'd have if Kraft made rum.

Two additional items of interest:

1) I'm not 100% certain what the name of this product actually is. There are three separate labels of varying size on the bottle, and one reads, "Calico Jack: Bonney's Best Spice Flavored Rum", the second reads, "Calico Jack Premium Spice Flavored Rum" and the third simply says, Premium Spiced." Name issues aside, at least we know there's spice involved.

2) The label on the back of the bottle contains a brief, colorful bit of copy informing us that Calico Jack was "Pillaging his way through the West Indies with his famous female cohorts Anne Bonney and Mary Read..." This is worth noting, because it means that Calico Jack may have the distinction of being the first guy to use cheap rum and a boat to facilitate a threesome.

More on the way soon!