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Spiced Rum Challenge

Spiced Rum Challenge

Spiced Rum in Tasting Glasses

What’s the best spiced rum? The question is simple enough, but ask the average rum connoisseur and you’re just as likely to get a dismissive remark as you are a very short list of small batch rums they half-heartily endorse.

Why is that? I submit it’s because spiced rum has become synonymous with Captain Morgan. No, not the notorious privateer Sir Henry Morgan, but the spiced rum that bears his name.

Introduced by Seagram’s to the U.S. market in 1983, Captain Morgan essentially created the spiced rum category here, and it’s been wildly successful ever since (Diageo bought the brand in 2001). It passed the 10 million global case mark in 2012, moving to a new government-subsidized production facility on St. Croix. And because success breeds contempt, Captain Morgan (and therefore all spiced rum) is contemptible to many, but it needn’t be this way.

Why? Because whether or not you like Captain Morgan, not all spiced rums are created equal, and with a variety of proofs and profiles from which to choose, one is bound to suit your discerning taste buds. Furthermore, there are many ways to enjoy spiced rum besides combining it with Coca-Cola.

As Ed Hamilton said in this Wine Enthusiast article, “The tradition of adding fruit and spice to rum is almost as old as Caribbean rum itself” so let’s all get down off our high horses and see what the modern world of spiced rum has to offer!

Similar to the Light Rum Challenge and the Coconut Rum Challenge, we’ll blind-taste twenty-two different spiced rums to determine which tastes best. We’ll also make our own spiced rum to answer the “DIY vs. buy” question using a well-regarded recipe from renowned rum expert Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove fame.

Here’s what we’ll be tasting (arranged alphabetically):

Name

Company

Origin

ABV %

Price (USD)

Bacardi Oakheart Bacardi Puerto Rico

35

14

Blackbeard Serralles Puerto Rico

43

16

Blackheart Heaven Hill Distilleries Kentucky

46.5

14

Brinley Gold Shipwreck Brinley & Company St. Kitts

36

20

Captain Morgan Diageo St. Croix

35

17

Captain Morgan Black Diageo St. Croix

47.3

24

Captain Morgan Private Stock Diageo St. Croix

40

25

Chairman’s Reserve St. Lucia Distillers St. Lucia

40

20

Corsair Corsair Artisan Distillery Kentucky/Tennessee

42.5

30

Coruba Kobrand Jamaica

35

13 (1L)

Crusoe Greenbar Craft Distillery California

40

32

Cruzan 9 Beam, Inc. St. Croix

40

12

El Dorado Demerara Distillers Limited Guyana

40

15

Homemade per Martin Cate via BA Barbados

40

~$40

Kilo Kai Apostrophe Brands Curacao

35

19

Koloa Koloa Rum Company Hawaii

44

33

Kraken Proximo Trinidad

47

20

The Lash Bacmar International Trinidad/Holland

35

23

Old New Orleans Celebration Distillation Louisiana

40

30

Sailor Jerry Wiliam Grant & Sons St. Croix

46

18

Seven Tiki Bacardi Fiji

40

16

Shellback Gallo Barbados

40

14

OK, the slate is set; let’s get down to business!

(Samples were blind-tasted over two sessions on two consecutive days. Crackers, water, and lager served as palate cleansers.)

With twenty-two samples poured, blind-tasted, and scores tallied, the results are in. Here they are from worst to first:

22. Kilo Kai Spiced Rum
Kilo Kai Spiced Rum

ABV: 35%
Origin:
Curacao
Price:
$19
Color: Bronze
Aroma: Vanilla extract, artificial hard candies: grape and cherry. Smells similar to an old bag of Skittles.
Taste: Children’s cough syrup. Utterly horrible. Robitussin DM. Artificial grape and cherry. Why God? Why?
Sweetness: 5/5
Finish: Grape and cherry
Score: 0/10

21. Blackheart Spiced Rum
Blackheart Spiced Rum

ABV: 46.5%
Origin:
Kentucky
Price:
$14
Color: Dark copper
Aroma: Another cough syrup: artificial grape and cherry. A bit of cinnamon and almond extract.
Sweetness: 5/5
Finish: Robitussin DM, saccharin bitterness
Score: 0/10

20. Bacardi Oakheart Smooth Spiced Rum
Bacardi Oakheart Smooth Spiced Rum

ABV: 35%
Origin:
Puerto Rico
Price:
$14
Color:  Copper
Aroma:  Bizarre nose of off-brand skittles mixed with band-aids.
Taste:  Cloyingly sweet entry backed by tons of artificial fruit flavors: grape, cherry, apple and lime. Trailing far behind is a bit of clove and cinnamon.
Sweetness: 5/5
Finish: Saccharin bitterness
Score: 0/10

19. Corsair Spiced Rum
Corsair Spiced Rum

ABV: 42.5%
Origin:
Kentucky/Tennessee
Price:
$30!
Color:  Golden copper
Aroma:  Bright, a bit of nutmeg and anise, cinammon, and black pepper
Taste:  Bizarre entry, tastes like an old candy wrapper. A bit of cherry, and a bunch of phenolic (band-aid) flavor. The predominant spice is nutmeg, but the phenolics are the star here.
Sweetness: 0/5
Finish:  Black pepper and band-aids. Just terrible.
Score: 1/10

18. Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum
Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum

ABV: 40%
Origin:
St. Croix
Price:
$12
Color:  Copper
Aroma:  Straight up vanilla extract with a bit of citrus
Taste:  Bright entry only a bit watery. I think it tastes OK for a moment, and then I’m hit in the mouth with a huge dose of saccharin bitterness. There is artificial grape, clove and cinnamon.
Sweetness: 3/5
Finish:  Vanilla extract and saccharin
Score: 1/10

17. Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum
Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum

ABV: 35%
Origin:
St. Croix
Price:
$17
Color:  Bronze
Aroma:  Caramel and vanilla, a hint of orange
Taste:  Sugar water entry, vanilla and caramel, cinnamon, clove, artificial grape and cherry.
Sweetness: 4/5
Finish:  Artificial fruit, simple syrup, lemon, cinnamon
Score: 1/10

16. Shellback Spiced Rum
Shellback Spiced Rum

ABV: 40%
Origin:
Barbados
Price:
$14
Color:  Copper
Aroma:  Bright, dusty, vanilla, caramel, a hint of anise and orange peel
Taste:  Watery entry followed by spices: clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.
Sweetness: 2/5
Finish: Orange peel, clove and saccharin
Score: 3/10

15. Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

ABV: 46%
Origin:
St. Croix
Price:
$18
Color:  Bronze
Aroma:  Banana, caramel, vanilla
Taste:  Hot entry with a burst of banana and citrus zest. This must be a higher proof. More like an unflavored rum at first, then comes the anise and cinnamon.
Sweetness: 1/5
Finish:  Banana, citrus, licorice, saccharin
Score: 3/10

14. The Lash Spiced Rum
The Lash Spiced Rum

ABV: 35%
Origin:
Trinidad/Holland
Price:
$23
Color:  Dark brown
Aroma:  Cinnamon, molasses, anise, allspice, clove
Taste:  Sweet and smooth. Gobs of licorice, nutmeg and cinnamon. Quite sweet, and a little watery. The anise and cinnamon are the winners here–I feel like I just licked a cassia tree. Tons of real spice flavor, but that doesn’t matter if it’s off-balance, which this is.
Sweetness: 4/5
Finish:  Cinnamon, anise and more cinnamon
Score: 4/10

13. The Kraken Spiced Rum
The Kraken Spiced Rum

ABV: 47%
Origin:
Trinidad
Price:
$20
Color:  Very dark brown
Aroma:  Vanilla, molasses, caramel, just a hint of astringency
Taste:  Smooth entry, cinnamon, pepper, vanilla, orange, a bit of nutmeg and also a hint of grape
Sweetness: 3/5
Finish:  Saccharin sweetness, vanilla and molasses
Score: 4/10

12. Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum
Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum

ABV: 47.3%
Origin:
St. Croix
Price:
$24
Color:  Dark brown
Aroma:  Vanilla, molasses, a bit of astringency and a hint of citrus
Taste:  Spicy entry quickly muted by the sweetness. Sugary and watery at the same time. Vanilla, caramel, molasses, orange peel, anise, and clove.
Sweetness: 4/5
Finish: There is a dusty quallity to this one, but the clove and orange win out. A bit thin on the finish.
Score: 5/10

11. Coruba Spiced Rum
Coruba Spiced Rum

ABV: 35%
Origin:
Jamaica
Price:
$35 (1 L)
Color:  Copper
Aroma:  Pear and green apple, vanilla, anise, clove, pepper
Taste:  Round, somewhat spicy. Different than the others. Vanilla and caramel, licorice, cinnamon and pepper. Has some spice to it.
Sweetness: 3/5
Finish:  Cinnamon, pepper and fruit
Score: 5.5/10

10. Seven Tiki Spiced Rum
Seven Tiki Spiced Rum

ABV: 40%
Origin:
Fiji
Price:
$16
Color:  Bronze
Aroma:  Vanilla, citrus, caramel
Taste:  Smooth entry, but very thin mouthfeel. Flavors include vanilla extract, pepper, clove, orange peel, and artificial fruit flavors—grape and cherry.
Sweetness: 2/5
Finish:  Cinnamon, clove, and black pepper
Score: 5.5/10

9. Blackbeard Spiced Rum
Blackbeard Spiced Rum

ABV: 43%
Origin:
Puerto Rico
Price:
$14
Color:  Copper
Aroma:  Vanilla, caramel
Taste:  Bright but smooth–I would call it “lively”. There is cinnamon, allspice, and vanilla, followed by molasses and pepper. There is a hint of anise and clove.
Sweetness: 2/5
Finish:  Anise and clove give way to a bit of saccharin bitterness.
Score: 6/10

8. Old New Orleans Spiced Rum
Old New Orleans Spiced Rum

ABV: 40%
Origin:
Louisiana
Price:
$30
Color:  Gold
Aroma:  Very unique nose. More like fennel than anise–very herbal. A bit of banana and cardamom.
Taste:  Herbs and spice lead the way. A bit watery and not at all hot. Fennel and sage, a bit of dusty oak, orange and cinnamon, then cloves.
Sweetness: 2/5
Finish:  Fennel and sage with clove and cinnamon
Score: 6/10

7. El Dorado Spiced Rum
El Dorado Spiced Rum

ABV: 40%
Origin:
Guyana
Price:
$15
Color:  Copper
Aroma:  Orange, nutmeg, vanilla and apple
Taste:  Nice entry, bright and spicy but balanced. Cinnamon and clove with a bit of coffee and cocoa.
Sweetness: 1/5
Finish:  Apple, orange, clove, coffee and cinnamon
Score: 6/10

6. Homemade Spiced Rum
Homemade Spiced Rum

ABV: 40%
Origin:
Barbados/California
Price:
~$40
Color:  Copper
Aroma:  Orange and licorice with a hint of clove
Taste:  Thin mouthfeel, major spices here: nutmeg, cardamom, lots of anise, clove and allspice
Sweetness: 1/5
Finish:  Nutmeg, cardamom, anise and clove, all supported by the orange peel
Score: 6.5

5. Captain Morgan Private Stock
Captain Morgan Private Stock

ABV: 40%
Origin:
St. Croix
Price:
$25
Color:  Mahogany
Aroma:  Vanilla and caramel
Taste:  Super smooth and sweet entry, vanilla and orange lead the way followed by caramel and cream. A bit of pepper and cinnamon, a hint of anise, cardamom and allspice. Would be much better with less sugar.
Sweetness: 5/5
Finish:  Vanilla, caramel, pepper and allspice
Score: 7/10

4. Crusoe Spiced Rum
Crusoe Spiced Rum

ABV: 40%
Origin:
California
Price:
$32
Color:  Bronze
Aroma:  TONS of orange peel, a hint of cardamom, caramel
Taste:  Super smooth entry led by orange peel and clove. The mouthfeel is thin. There is nutmeg, vanilla and cardamom, along with some sarsaparilla and cinnamon.
Sweetness: 2/5
Finish:  Cinnamon, clove, orange, but clove is the one that lingers longest.
Score: 7.5/10

3. Koloa Kauai Spiced Rum
Koloa Kauai Spiced Rum

ABV: 44%
Origin:
Hawaii
Price:
$33
Color:  Gold
Aroma:  Vanilla, caramel, molasses, cinnamon
Taste:  Sweet entry, vanilla, clove, cinnamon, maple syrup, citrus, and a hint of coffee and cocoa.
Sweetness: 5/5
Finish:  Vanilla, maple syrup, clove, cocoa
Score: 8/10

2. Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum
Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum

ABV: 36%
Origin:
St. Kitts
Price:
$20
Color:  Bronze
Aroma:  Citrus, clove, cardamom, vanilla, somewhat astringent
Taste:  Sweet and smooth. Loads of vanilla despite the nose showing citrus and spice. Caramel and a touch of cocoa with cinnamon.
Sweetness: 5/5
Finish:  A bit of spice, cane syrup, clove and cinnamon
Score: 8.5/10

1. Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum
Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum

ABV: 40%
Origin:
St. Lucia
Price:
$20
Color:  Mahogany
Aroma:  Orange peel, cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon. Very pleasant.
Taste:  Orange peel, cardamom, cane syrup, anise, cinnamon, caramel and vanilla
Sweetness: 4/5
Finish:  Orange peel, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove
Score: 9/10

Conclusion

So there you have it, folks–the Spiced Rum Challenge is complete! We tasted twenty-two spiced rums, and at least six of them were actually pretty good.

So what makes a good spiced rum? Here are the components I noticed:

  • A quality base rum (duh)
  • Balance above all–many are one-note products (macerate individual spices separately [like bitters])
  • Natural ingredients–artificial flavors stand out like a sore thumb
  • Citrus–it provides a great counterpoint to the sugar and spice
  • Sugar–use it to enhance, not mask

Finally, if you’re thinking of going into the spiced rum business, I would suggest using focus groups made up of unbiased third parties. Some of these products are so horrible they could only have been tasted by industry “yes men”. And on that same note, if you are thinking of getting into the spiced rum business, be damn sure yours is better than the top ten of this list, and is comparable on price. I know for a fact that I can’t make a better spiced rum than the top two for $20, so I think that answers the “DIY vs. Buy” question.

If you’ve read this far, give yourself a gold star! Is there a truly great spiced rum that I missed? Please let me know in the comments section below.

Cheers,
Josh

 

31 Comments leave one →
  1. Gil Batzri permalink
    December 23, 2013 11:31 am

    i have a bottle of four square spiced rum, would have liked to see how it matched up.

    (I suspect it would be a tough find, but you managed Coruba, so clearly you are a professional.)

    Thanks for this, I have several of these, but I had not blind tested.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      December 23, 2013 11:41 am

      You’re the second person to mention Foursquare Spiced, Gil. I couldn’t find it anywhere, but I’d love to try it. They make great rums.

      The blind-tasting makes a huge difference. We can bring a lot of bias to these things otherwise. Cheers

      • Scott t permalink
        December 23, 2013 12:30 pm

        Foursquare is a seales product and exclusive to Total Wine.

      • Josh Miller permalink*
        December 23, 2013 12:30 pm

        Apparently it is only available at Total Wine. The nearest one is in Sacramento, and they no longer sell spirits online. Sigh…

  2. December 23, 2013 11:54 am

    You’re doin’ the Lord’s work, Josh. Great reviews on a couple brands I’ve seen but walked right by. Now I know what to pick if I need a good, cheap spiced rum.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      December 23, 2013 12:31 pm

      Thanks, Paul! Yes, this proves that you needn’t spend more than $20 to get a quality product. Cheers

  3. Scott t permalink
    December 23, 2013 12:15 pm

    Glad to see you finally tried – and liked – Brinley’s, I think Capn Jimbo and I recommended it to you in the past (perhaps it was the coconut.)

    I personally like the Lash a lot, though I admit it is way over the top and a little out of balance – I thought the dominant spice in it was cloves.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      December 23, 2013 12:34 pm

      I like that The Lash used tons of real spices. It definitely has a lot of clove, but the finish was decidedly cinnamon for me.

      I really enjoyed the Brinley Spiced. I did receive a bottle of their coconut, and while it is good, I found it to be too sweet. They clearly know what they’re doing in terms of adding natural flavors to rum, however! Cheers

      • Scott t permalink
        December 23, 2013 12:37 pm

        The most natural tasting coconut I have had is Kalani coconut liqueur – if you can find it in the plain bottle it is only ~$20, but some places have it in a fancy bottle with a shell hanging around the neck for $35-40.

      • Josh Miller permalink*
        December 23, 2013 12:39 pm

        I’ll keep an eye out. I would encourage you to try the Koloa — great stuff, and 40% ABV.

      • Scott t permalink
        December 23, 2013 12:43 pm

        I’ve heard good thing about the Koloa – but balked at the $30+ price tag. Same for Old New Orleans.

  4. December 23, 2013 1:03 pm

    This is doing what you do best: horizontal comparisons, bravo again! And again! You’ve made a lot of great calls, and chose a truly representative sample of what’s out there, with the possible exception of Foursquare and to be really, really fair (and one that does not come quickly to mind, but incredibly popular elsewhere): Old Monk XXX. I suspect both of these would score very highly. On the exact opposite end of the teeter tooter might be One Barrel – a rum that is clearly but unadmittedly spiced.

    One other note: it’s worth considering using the adjective “real” (which means exactly what you think), instead of “natural” – a term which has been lobbied to death. For example readers should try to answer this question:

    Does a “Raspberry Rum” that states “with natural’” flavor” contain anyreal raspberries, or even a single component of real raspberries? Not so fast! The sad answer is probably not. The lobbyists have seen to it that a product can legally use the term “natural” if it contains but a single “natural” component, and it doesn’t have to be from the named flavor.

    You should all sit down now. The answer to the question? What if I told you that the word “natural” on the Raspberry Rum label probably refers to beaver butt? Yes, good old “natural”, dried beaver rectum, aka castoreum. The point: The difference between “natural” and “artificial” is for all practical purposes meaningless. “Natural” doesn’t mean what you think beaver fans.

    That said we agree that the key – as always – is a good base product using real (not “natural” or “artificial”) spices and like almost all foods and beverages, blended with great balance and harmony. Josh – another really super comparison, do keep em coming… We love em…

  5. Quazi permalink
    December 23, 2013 2:07 pm

    I rarely buy a spiced rum but I do enjoy it added to hot cider. A little disconcerting this year though to sip hot cider in 70 degree weather, but the holidays demand it. I’ve always wondered if the popularity of spiced rums are because most people don’t get to try higher quality aged rums. I think the wood ageing brings forth many of the spice nots many people are looking for. Since I don’t often have it in my home bar I ply friends who like spiced rum with smith & cross, doorly’s, any of the el dorado’s to great effect.

    On the spiced side I like both Blackwell’s and Kraken. Kraken is admittedly a little sweet but the extra proof shines through in cider and a rum sidecar

  6. December 23, 2013 11:14 pm

    Great article, my compliments. What surprises me is how many spiced rums you actually managed to get and taste all at once. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen more than eight of these in Calgary. All the best for the season, Josh. Keep ‘em coming.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      December 24, 2013 6:46 am

      Thanks very much, Ruminsky! Wishing you the best. Cheers

  7. tanuki permalink
    December 27, 2013 11:37 am

    Quite the masochist’s errand, this, thanks for going there… Good to know that Koloa is putting out something worthwhile, and good to know some options for the hot buttered rum thing.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      December 27, 2013 10:24 pm

      Mahalo piha, Tanuki! Koloa spiced has a really unique flavor profile–I’m convinced there is coffee and cacao in there somehow. A little spendy, but like I always say: “you try doing anything cheap on Kaua’i and let me know how that goes”. :-)

  8. December 27, 2013 4:01 pm

    Next time put Bundaberg rum spiced in the taste testing it not to bad.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      December 27, 2013 10:26 pm

      I’ll try any rum once, Wayne! Unfortunately the only Bundaberg products that get imported to the States are the soft drinks (ginger beer, etc). Cheers

  9. December 29, 2013 6:57 am

    Hey Josh, awesome article thanks much for this. It’s also interesting how it compares to http://www.rumratings.com/brands?order_by=average_rating&rum_type=Spiced – I wonder if Elements 8 and Foursquare would top your list as well?

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      December 29, 2013 11:40 am

      Hey Andy, Thanks for reading! Elements 8 is only available in the UK (as far as I know) and Foursquare is only available at Total Wine (no stores near me and they no longer ship spirits) so I wasn’t able to include them. Saw the arrangement on your site–just goes to show how subjective these ratings can be.

  10. December 31, 2013 12:40 pm

    Thanks so much for doing this! As a commenter said upthread, this really is the lord’s work! I was pleased to Chairman’s Reserve at the top of the list. A salesperson at Astor Wines in NYC recommended it to us when we were looking for a spiced rum to make a karaoke honeymoon, so props to them for truly knowing their stuff.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      January 1, 2014 2:54 pm

      Sounds like a winner! Astor has a great selection, that’s for sure. Happy new year!

  11. January 26, 2014 10:12 am

    Hi, Josh, I just recently discovered your site and really liked this spiced rum comparo. I agree with many of your calls, especially on the Koloa Spiced — by far the best thing they produce IMO. (I *really* wanted to like their bottlings, but for the most part and excepting the Spiced, I just don’t.)

    Anyway, I wanted to suggest another Spiced to add to your list: Breckenridge Spiced Rum from Breckenridge Distillery in Colorado. It really is the very best I’ve ever tasted; very dry with a completely real, almost raw, spice-and-dried-fruit hit, and bottled at 45% ABV. Unfortunately is very, very difficult to get — Breck makes it only occasionally in extremely small quantities, bottles it only in 375ml splits, and sells it only at their distillery and in-town tasting room (where it sells out almost immediately). I’m only lucky enough to get a bottle every now and then because my brother’s office is right across the street from the distillery and he can usually hustle over there as soon as a release is announced. Still and all, if you really love spiced rum, this one is worth seeking out.

    Cheers!

    Mike

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      January 26, 2014 10:42 am

      Thanks very much for the tip, Mike! I’ll keep an eye out for it, but based on your notes, sounds like the only way I’ll get some is if they send it to me. We shall see! Cheers

  12. john robertson permalink
    March 26, 2014 1:02 pm

    hi there thanks for all this info ,but for it to be called a rum it must be above 37.5% proof ,lambs spiced green label is a rum but there new version over here in scotland is only 35 % and called lambs spiced ,note no rum in the name ,as i said oroiginal sailor jerrys is good and red leg spiced ,i have tried a few ,green parrot spiced ,four square ,bristol black spiced ,kraken ,captain morgans ,they are drinkable ,but the 2 at the top are my prefered choice ,carry on the good work

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      March 26, 2014 1:31 pm

      Thanks for your comment, John! Haven’t seen Lamb’s here in California, unfortunately. As for the ABV, 37.5% might be required in Scotland, but not so here. Cheers

      • March 27, 2014 2:19 am

        Actually, in the US a legal “rum” it must have been distilled at less than 190 proof and bottled at no less than 80 proof. If it is no less than 37.5% but not 40%, it must be called a “rum liqueur”. US 27 CFR, Chapt 4, § 5.22.

        Spiced or flavored rums – in addition to being labled so and featuring the primary flavoring – mus be bottled in accord with the above. Thus a “Spiced Rum” must in fact be labeld “spiced” and must be no less than 80 proof. It is also possible to have a “Spiced Rum Liqueur” under the limits above. Hope that helps…

      • March 27, 2014 2:57 am

        Oops….

        Quick correction Jeff… that’s the trouble with posting at 5am before my very needed second cup of strong black coffee. I left out the key paragraph of the regs, and thus referred to the wrong subsection. I was thinking of your previous posters 37.5% in Scotland. What a blummox! As I immediately realized after clicking on “submit”.

        Ouch. So sorry. Quickly poured my second cup and here’s the real stuff.

        Same chapter and section: Paragraph (f) (rum) was cited correctly and demands that “rum” be distilled at less than 190 proof, and bottled at 80 proof. Paragraph (h) (liqueurs) states that rums labelled liquerrs must be no less than 60 proof. And perhaps the key paragraph (i) (flavored rum) must like the “liqueurs” be so labelled and also at not less than 60 proof. Per that paragraph the flavor refers to “added natural flavoring materials, with or without the addition of sugar,”

        Most bottles labeled “rum” are secretly sugared anyway, and as you discovered the rums flavored with spices are often very heavily sugared (good example is Brinleys). Even though most rums for the American market are altered to market to the well sugared American buyer (not true in Europe) the Brinley’s are exceptionally sweet, as demanded for their local population. Of our collection almost all are between 70 and 72 proof, with only one (Whalers) at the minimum, Cruzan at 80 and Captain Morgan at 92 proof. Most distillers are quite stingy with alcohol, and it’s only the market that has driven most into the low 70′s.

        Sorry for the am fubar… again, a great horizontal comparison, brilliant!

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