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Rum Review: Kirk & Sweeney 12-Year

Kirk & Sweeney 12-Year Rum Review

Kirk & Sweeney 12-Year Rum

Up for review today is a new offering from 35 Maple Street, the Sonoma firm responsible for Masterson’s Rye. Kirk & Sweeney is named after a schooner seized off the coast of New York during prohibition with a hold full of rum.

This Dominican Rum is aged twelve years in American oak (I can only assume in used Bourbon barrels). Kirk & Sweeney has been generating significant buzz here in Northern California lately, so I’m eager to take a look and see what we’ve got here.

The Kirk & Sweeney bottle is quite unique. It’s exceedingly squat, and my initial reaction was that bartenders would hate handling it, as it’s got no really good spot to place your hand as you pour. Another oddity is the natural cork stopper which is topped not in wood or plastic, but with a paper band of gold. That said, I recently discussed the rum with Jason Alexander of Tacoma Cabana, and he told me it’s been selling well *because* of the odd bottle shape. It’s certainly not the first time the marketing, package design and functionality have been at odds with one another. C’est la vie! Let’s get some in a glass.

In the snifter, the color is mahogany with flashes of copper. A swirl generates a host of slow-moving legs. There is just a slight astringency above the glass. The nose leads with heavy vanilla extract followed by caramel, toffee and butterscotch. After the hard candy comes plum, fig, and a hint of banana. Time for a taste.

The entry is hotter than I expected given the mellow nose. The hot and spicy start is initially overwhelming, but quickly fades, yielding an oaky foundation. The flavors are bright and almost citrusy–another surprise given that citrus went undetected on nosing. The hard candy is obscured now by the heat, and the main flavor is the vanilla extract. There is a bit of dust above the oak which is followed by a hint of orange peel. On the medium-long finish there is a bit of cinnamon, the suggestion of a cardamom pod and a wee bit of clove, but it’s the vanilla that lingers the longest.

All in all, Kirk & Sweeney is a solid rum at the $30 price point, but it taste lacks the complexity I was hoping for. In the end, the vanilla extract carries the day here, leading to a one-note finish.

Score: 7/10

Buy Kirk & Sweeney 12-Year online

Have you had this rum? Please share your thoughts below!


11 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2013 1:41 pm

    Strangest thing: Chip just said he was sent one by the distributor for review, and I found one in a store yesterday and snapped it up: and I suspect the Liquorature crowd will trot one out this evening as well. What are the odds? Note I paid Can$55 for mine…God I hate tariffs and taxes.

    Good thing I have other bottles in the queue 🙂 Won’t reach this one for a while.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      March 28, 2013 5:13 pm

      Rum-soaked minds think alike, I reckon! It’s good for $30, but I shudder at the thought of its score on your system. I’m thinking somewhere around 50 points.

  2. March 29, 2013 4:43 am

    The tip off, both from you Josh, and from the website: “Bold, ripe, and sweet vanilla flavors evolve near the end”. There is no such thing from natural aging. Vanillans from real aging are suggestions and innuendos, not in-your-face “VANILLA!!”, and especially not in the finish. A true and honestly aged rum – for 12 years yet – HAS to be more complex. My guess: a seriously altered rum, and empty suit.

    But what do I know, lol…

    • Mitch permalink
      February 2, 2015 5:04 pm

      Couldn’t agree with you more. The initial spice and vanilla finish seems added, not from aging or oak. My first impression was a spiced rum, disappointing to be honest.

    • Horseman permalink
      November 23, 2015 10:32 am

      Couldn’t agree with you more! Especially given the fact that with the extreme angel share of products coming from that area of the world, they have to top off multiple casks to reach the age of 23yr, which is only $10 more than the 12. Has the nose of ethers (butane, nail polish remover) that really suggest it has been aged for a short time, sourced from the lowest bidders in the DMR and then altered severely.

  3. Jason permalink
    November 4, 2013 10:09 pm

    Just rereading your reviews and came upon this one again. Kirk and Sweeney started out as being sold because of the bottle shape, but those people that tried it for that reason keep coming back to it again and again. This has also turned into one of my go to rums for turning people on to sipping rums. Never had a complaint. Thanks!

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      November 5, 2013 8:34 am

      The notion of this being a gateway rum is a good one. Whatever draws folks into our camp! Cheers

  4. Maria Achenza permalink
    August 30, 2014 8:11 am

    I tasted it in Connecticut and found it really good, spicy but not overwhelmingly so, round and light on the stomach. I appreciated it very much, so much so that I’ve been trying to get it in Italy

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      August 30, 2014 8:51 am

      Not sure where you are in Italy, Maria, but I suggest you contact my friend Leonardo Pinto to see if it is available. If it is not, he can surely recommend something similar, as he is one of the most knowledgeable rum experts in the Italy. His web site is located here: Salute!

  5. Win Sargent permalink
    March 12, 2021 11:27 am

    I bought a bottle, but will not repeat the error. Thin taste, at times too hot, definitely hard to believe it is 12 years old.


  1. New Rum Review: Kirk and Sweeney 12 | Inu a Kena

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