Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Un-Review: Spiced Rum Summit (Pt. 3)


It' s been a while since the last post, but rest assured that during that interval I was not idle. In fact, I was furiously crisscrossing the globe via my custom-designed jetpack. Why was I doing this? To scrounge up several more spiced rums to sample and evaluate, just like I did in part one and part two.

But enough chatter. On with the booze...

- Blackheart Spiced Rum -


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

Overall Packaging Coolness: Medium/High. Ordinary clear glass bottle with a very cool parchment-type label depicting a sexy lady pirate painted in a retro pin-up style. It's a nice, fun design that puts a cheeky twist on the pirate theme that has become the standard for many spiced rums.

Proof: 93

Spice-itude: Low/Medium. Mostly vanilla with a bit of caramel and an odd artificial taste that is hard to identify.

Coke Compatibility: Medium. Works somewhat well with Coke, and mixing it takes some of the edge off. The overall impression is that it's tasty initially, but the drink ends up being a tad too sweet and artificial-tasting.

Flamboyant Badass Quotient: Low/Medium. The label gets cred for the vintage pin-up, but the rum itself is lacking.

Another Round Likelihood: Medium. (But only with Coke or another mixer)

Overall Assessment: Aside from the label it's not terribly noteworthy, but you could do worse. Comparable to a mid-level rum dosed with vanilla extract. If you happen to trip across some, throw a splash in some Coke and call it even.

- RedRum VooDoo Spiced Rum -


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

Overall Packaging Coolness: Medium. Wide-shouldered, vaguely coffin-shaped clear bottle with label bearing a bamboo motif and stylized tiki in gold foil (And as we've established, gold foil equals class) Setting aside the fact that there isn't a direct relationship between tiki and Voodoo (as far as I can tell), the general impression is one of nonthreatening exotica, so it follows suit with most other spiced rums' packaging.

Proof: 70

Spice-itude: Low. Faint hints of vanilla, butterscotch and cherry, but not much spice bite to speak of. It's borderline over-sweet but startlingly smooth and can be easily sipped on its own.

Coke Compatibility: Low. Much like some other spiced rums, VooDoo seems to make the Coke simply taste like a flavored variety (in this case, cherry/butterscotch) when mixed. It also leaves a stubborn aftertaste.

Flamboyant Badass Quotient: Low. The "party time!" bottle design plus the lack of edge and flavor would make it more at home in a frat guy's backpack than in the grimy mitts of a flamboyant badass.

Another Round Likelihood: Low/Medium. If I was specifically in the mood for a rum without an aggressive alcohol OR spice zing AND on the sweeter end of the spectrum, then I might opt for a second round.

Overall Assessment: A rum with training wheels? The perfect brand for someone who doesn't like rum? A good choice for those who find Captain Morgan too demanding? All are probably true.

Speaking of the good captain...

- Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum -


Pirate, Boat, Map or Scroll on the Label?: Sure. This is the iconic label design that launched the whole idea that pirates = spiced rum. It also launched a whole slew of imitators. I guess if a mischievous-looking, brightly-attired pirate can sell one rum, it can sell a bunch of other ones too.

Overall Packaging Coolness: Medium. Standard clear bottle with a label showing a jolly pirate standin- oh, screw it. You all know what it looks like.

Proof: 70

Spice-itude: Low/Medium. For being arguably the best-known example of the category, it's surprisingly mild spice-wise. Not bad...just not remarkable in any way. The Budweiser of spiced rum.

Coke Compatibility: Since there are approximately 18,000,000 Rum & Cokes made with Captain Morgan every day, I think we can all agree that it works and move on.

Flamboyant Badass Quotient: I don't know why this didn't occur to me sooner, but I'm wondering if a flamboyant badass presented with his/her likeness on a bottle of booze would think it to be the Ultimate Expression of Badassery or merely a corny, pitiful transgression. I'll get back to you after I've given this some more thought.

Another Round Likelihood: Okay, why not? (But only with Coke)

Overall Assessment: Honestly, it really doesn't matter what I write here. If you currently buy the Captain, you'll keep buying it. If you don't currently buy it, you're probably not gonna start.

- Barbarossa Spiced Rum -


(I should note here that this product is identical to "Calico Jack's Bonney's Best Spiced Rum" except for a minor change to the label and a lower proof.)

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

Overall Packaging Coolness: Same as the "Bonney's Best" (reviewed here.).

Proof: 42

Spice-itude: Same as Bonney's, but even less so (if that's possible)

Coke Compatability: Making a Rum & Coke with this is not so much, "I'm having a Rum & Coke" as it is, "My glass of Coke tastes funny."

Flamboyant Badass Quotient: You've gotta be kidding.

Another Round Likelihood: Nope.

Overall Assessment: I'm not sure which is the case, but either Anne Bonney found some weak-ass rum and beefed it up, or this Barbarossa guy watered down an already underpowered product.

- Whaler's Spiced Rum -


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

Overall Packaging Coolness: Low. Squat, clear bottle with minimal label showing an old-time sailing ship (presumably a whaling vessel). Combined with the bright orange neck wrapper, the overall effect is akin to a glass bowling pin on a hunting trip.

Proof: 70

Spice-itude: Low. Difficult to pick out any specific spice flavors, but there is an unsettling taste I would describe as "buttery plastic" that tends to linger.

Coke Compatibility: Medium. Works surprisingly well in a Rum & Coke, but I wish it would cut through a bit tends to get lost. Also, it imparts a strange, vaguely orange flavor, which is a plus if you like orange in your Rum & Cokes.

Flamboyant Badass Quotient: Low. Although the bottle shape makes it ideal to grab in a bar fight and break over someone's head.

Another Round Likelihood: Medium (But only mixed. And I'd want a heckuva lot of lime juice.)

Overall Assessment: Not the worst rum I've had, but I doubt I'd make a point of seeking it out.

Bonus item: There is a recipe on the back of the bottle for a drink called "Whale's Breath." I'm still undecided as to whether including a drink with that name will help or hinder sales.


DJ HawaiianShirt said...

Bleh! I bought a mini of Blackheart and spit out the first sip! I'm surprised you got further than that...

Unknown said...

Dude. I carried that f*** bottle of Whaler's all the way back from Colorado and it's crappy? Man, what a downer. *LOL* I like the "buttery plastic" as a description.

This round must have been a bummer to conduct.

Jordan said...

This is why I'm going to stick with making my own spiced rum. There haven't been too many of your reviews have made me real excited with the current crop of products (ONO and Kraken being exceptions).

Arctic Wolf said...

I recently tried the Captain Morgan's 100 proof, and was quite impressed. The lower 70 proof varieties always leave me wondering if a pirate would really stoop to drinking something with such little burn and attitude. Although I have lambasted Cap Mo in the past (the private stock was thoroughly disappointing) I must admit that my small sample of the 100 proof has me searching for my own bottle.

Dr. Bamboo said...

DJ- Weren't you aware I have notoriously low standards?

Chris- "Crappy" is a bit of an exagerration...some people may enjoy buttery plastic.

Jordan- If you have any recipes to share, please let me know- I'd love to take a stab at making my own.

Chip- I'm not wild about the Private Stock either, but now you've got me wanting to try the 100 proof!

DJ HawaiianShirt said...


I'll never buy spiced rum again, because I make my own which is better than anything I can buy. I'll post about it at some point, but the recipe I use is:

Hale Ka'a said...

I can vouge for the Martin Cate spiced rum recipe in the link above. I made my own using this recipe and it came out great. And I'll post the recipe here:

1 bottle decent medium-dry rum
1 vanilla bean, sliced open
1 three-inch slice of orange peel, with no white pith
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole allspice berries
3 whole cloves
5 whole black peppercorns
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 slice of fresh ginger, about the size of a quarter

Combine all in the bottle and cap it. Keep in a cool, dark place for about three days, shaking it once a day. When you think it is ready (anywhere from 2 to 4 days), strain out the spices and rebottle the rum.

Cuba Libre said...

It's good to have options.. I used to enjoy Captain Morgan, but had to sever the relationship in fear of being identified with their horrible marketing campaigns. Every time I see an advertisement these days, all I can think of is poochie from the itchy and scratchy show.

Restless said...

My wife and I operate a rum shop business in St. Lucia...called Skeeterz Rum Bar. I like what you have on this site in reference to the rum and how it mixes and stuff. Keep up the great work and we'll be checking back often.

If possible, put me on your mailing list.

Jordan said...

It took way too long, but here's my recipe for chocolate spiced rum: