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Rum Review: Cockspur 12

Cockspur 12-Year Rum Review

Cockspur 12-Year Rum

In my previous review, we sampled Cockspur’s latest offering: their 130° white rum. Today we set our sights back twelve years, when a similar rum was laid to rest inside used Bourbon barrels in the hot Barbadian sun.

The Cockspur 12-Year arrives in a clear, classic bottle; the label is handsome in its simplicity, and there’s a nice bulb at the neck provides a good grip. I did have a problem with the cork on my particular bottle–it broke and I had to replace it, but not a problem for me, as I always have a variety of corks in inventory.

In the glass, the rum presents as a beautiful mahogany with bronze and copper highlights. A swirl in the glass produces a great number of droplets that fall slowly back to the bulk. The nose has a mild astringency, but the most noticeable aroma is that of smoky oak. After the smoke there is a banana note, followed by a mix of citrus–lemon and orange. There is a distinct Bourbon vibe happening here–the spiciness is reminiscent of a high rye mash aged in a heavily charred oak barrel. After allowing it to breathe for a while, a candied caramel note appears as does vanilla and crème brûlée.

Time for a taste…

The rum enters and commences with delighting all areas of my palate; the balance is strikingly good. There is a brightness that is tempered by a hint of sweetness, followed by a smoky, spicy note. There is also a fair bit of chocolate here, along with the aforementioned banana, lemon and orange. Subsequent sips bring candy shop imagery with caramel and butterscotch, followed by a few dashes from the spice rack: black pepper, allspice, and a hint of nutmeg.

The Cockspur 12 fills a really great niche in the market–it’s made by West Indies Rum Distillery in Barbados, so it has that classic Barbados style. But the blending of course, is really where it all comes together. While remaining a rum-lover’s rum, the extra smoke and Bourbon notes take the Cockspur 12 into a category of crossover spirit for the American whiskey drinker. And at this price point I can’t help but feel that Cockspur has managed to accomplish what Mount Gay (Rémy Cointreau) was attempting to do with their Black Barrel expression.

This rum will find a happy home in your bar whether you are a rum or a whiskey drinker. It’s great on its own, but also makes a heck of an Old-Fashioned or other classic cocktail. It’s smooth enough to blend in with other ingredients while still maintaining its assertive smoky character. I’m a big fan, and I expect you will be too–especially at its ~$28 price point.

Now the scores:

• Appearance 1/1
• Aroma 2/2
• Mouth feel 1/1
• Taste 3.5/4
• Aftertaste 2/2
• Total 9.5/10

Buy Cockspur 12 (VSOR) Online

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2014 6:08 pm

    Great review. Truth be told, Barbados was the de facto home of rum and still is. If a rum is made there, you can hardly go wrong buying it. Josh, you are exactly right when you’ve identified this rum’s classic Bajan presentation of leather, orange, banana and spice and smoke, over a nice vanillan and/or creme brulee.

    All of these were pioneered by Mount Gay, as best represented by MGXO and especially their 1703. I would point out though that Black Barrel was never intended to compete against legitimate aged rums like the 12, the MGXO or the 1703 (in order of importance).

    Indeed the Black Barrel is a NAS (no age statement) concoction that attempts to make up for age by a second dunk in “deeply charred bourbon barrels”. This was an attempt to take off it young edginess – which it did – but a quick dunk cannot possibly replace 9 more years in good wood. It just can’t.

    The Black Barrel was never intended as an attempt to replace their own truly aged rums (or to compete against Cockspurs 12), but was more a reaction to the USVI multi-billion dollar subsidies that forced Caribbean producers to produce younger rums and blends and to avoid age statements.

    For those who like Cockspur 12, Mount Gay’s Extra Old is just $3 or $4 more and far, far more developed with this same classic profile. Many would say that MGXO is what Cockspur was attempting to do.

    Spend a bit more…

  2. John Monroe Rum connoisseur permalink
    August 31, 2014 2:29 pm

    During this Labor day weekend this was a rum I pulled from my shelve. I came to this choice after reviewing many other options and based on reviews such as this one scoring rather highly. I took an immediate issue with this rum. When I went to pull the cork the wooden cork was already disintegrating and came off the top leaving the bottom 75% of the cork in. No big deal I figured. while removing it with a knife in chunks a small amount of the disintegrating cork ended up in the drink. I ended up spending 20 min pouring this thru a coffee filter to filter the cork from the rum. By the time it was in another bottle a good half hour went by.

    This issue aside, it was well worth it. I have to say this rum surprised me to say the least. It is full of flavor. It is an easy sipper worth the 28.00 which is the same price I paid here in NY. Personally I found little alcohol on the nose of this. I enjoyed every aspect of this rum it is a real flavorful experience.

    Also to the other comment here, MGXO is around 40-50.00 here. 49.00 at the store here that sells this rum at 28.00. It’s not completely like this one though side by side this flavor I felt was stronger and finished in a different manner (the XO and 1703 finish in a smoother less spicy tone) where the spice on CS12 remains on the palate for a much more lengthy period of time finishing on a strong note. This is a must try experience at this price point.

  3. December 20, 2014 2:55 am

    This is a hugely underrated rum. It also looks like it is out of stock at the moment. I’ve contacted Cockspur regarding this as it has all but disappeared from the UK!


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