Rum Tasting Afternoon

While arranging his visit over Memorial Day weekend, Roomie – a fellow cocktail enthusiast – and I discussed whether we needed any themed cocktails.  We decided that to kick-off the summer, we were going to focus on that most summery of liquors: rum (1).  Though I should mention that rum is getting new respect as a sipping spirit and we opted to do a rum tasting.

We didn’t want to be influenced by any price-driven preconceptions of quality (the prices of the different rums varied widely from $10 to $40 per bottle), so The Beloved was kind enough to arrange them for us without telling us which rum was which.  Of course, the color will pre-sort somewhat.

We had a panel of seven rums:

Yo ho ho!


  • Mount Gay Special Reserve Light
  • Myers Platinum White


  • Tommy Bahama
  • Cruzan Single Barrel
  • Ron Zacapa Solera Reserve 23


  • The Kraken
  • Gosling’s Black Seal

We tried each option from each grouping and took notes and then compared.

Light to dark

For the lights, the Myers was the clear winner: it had a clean, bright flavor and finish, while the Mount Gay left a little bit of a distillate aftertaste.  From a cost perspective, the Myers was about half the price as the Mount Gay.

The golds were an interesting tasting, showing a lot more complexity given their barrel aging.  These guys weren’t cheap ($30-40 a bottle) and we were expecting a lot.  The Cruzan was probably the most disappointing as it had very little finish.  The Tommy Bahama (which I would have never bought, but was a donation to the tasting by a coworker) was surprisingly complex.  Overall, we thought that the Zacapa had the best combo of flavors – butterscotch a pleasant aftertaste.

I had to disqualify The Kraken from my blind taste-test because as soon as I tasted it, I said, “Arrgh arggh, the Kraken”, which is perhaps a testament not so much to my palette but to how often I have it as a nightcap.  The Gosling’s Blackseal however was a revelation as I’d only had it in Dark-N-Stormys.  Alone, it had a wonderful mellow taste profile of coffee, molasses and a little vanilla and spice.

Hey, where'd I put that bottle?

In the end, both Roomie and I declared Gosling’s Black Seal the overall winner, which coming in at $16 a bottle makes it a steal.

(1) You could also make an argument for tequila as the most summery of liquors with all those margaritas, but thought the mojito and tropical drink set trumped it.  No worries though, we thought tequila might feel a little slighted so we agreed to do a tequila tasting next time.


9 thoughts on “Rum Tasting Afternoon

  1. Myers has always been my favorite, though I confess I’ve never tried drinking it straight up. I usually prefer to mix a shot in with a glass of Coca-Cola (boring, I know, but oh so good on a hot evening) or, if I’m really feeling ambitious, fix myself a Brass Monkey.

    But you and the roomie didn’t wear eye patches and tricorn hats while doing your tasting, since you did after all let out an “Aargh!” while tasting the Kraken?

    • HG — good to have you back! Like a lot of spirits now, rums are being carefully distilled and aged in casks for distinctive flavor so I was surprised at how good the Myers was — which I think of as a utilitarian cocktail rum, Made me wish that I’d had a little of Myers Dark on hand to compare.

      Fortunately, the rum test was one of the first things that we did and so there wasn’t a lot of bad imbiber behavior. We won’t talk about the bar-b-que the following day though….

  2. Wish I could have gotten you a bottle of a locally made rum, Ragged. Mtn. Rum. A delicious “pot stilled” rum that is just the bestest.

    Did you think about trying spiced rums, like Capt. Morgan or, my current favorite, Sailor Jerry?

    And don’t feel bad about a rum ‘n’ coke. All the best things are simple. This is especially true if you use a real good cola. I prefer Boylan’s these days.

    • JA — Ragged Mountain was touted in Imbibe a while back. Sounds great. I will have to try it if I ever find a bottle.

      The Kraken is pretty heavily spiced, though still mostly “dark” in character. I didn’t have any spiced golds — I’ve heard of Sailor Jerry — isn’t that made by the same folks that make Hendrick’s Gin?

  3. Pingback: Welcome Summer Happy Hour: Mai-Tai | Stevil

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