Review: Kraken Black Spiced Rum

Rating: ★★★★½
www.krakenrum.com

By and large I don’t give spiced rum much consideration these days. Sure, rum&cokes are fine things now and then, and the rare exception of Kilo Kai managed to tap into spiced rum’s more impressive potential, but mostly I prefer my rum untarnished (‘neat’, as landlubbers call it.) I do owe Captain Morgan’s Private Stock a debt of gratitude, as it ushered my early days of rum consumption, being rather more approachable than others available to me. But over time I found myself outgrowing Private Stock as its cheap alcohol undertones became more noticeable beneath a seeming increasingly thin veil of spiciness.

So yeah, the world of spiced rum largely remained outside of my field of vision – but then along came the Kraken (‘Along Came the Kraken,’ incidentally, sounds like the title of a smashing children’s book or romantic comedy, but I digress.) First off, you can’t mention Kraken Rum without mentioning their ad compaign – one minute spent at their website will tell you that this is a rum company that not only has great pride in their product, but a smashing sense of humor to boot. Whatever Kraken pays their ad guys, it’s not enough. But fun videos and goofy humor aside, ultimately the proof is always in the pudding, and I’ve been hurt before. So let’s examine the rum on its own terms…

As usual, the first impression Kraken makes is while it’s still in the bottle. A custom, semi-squat bottle with two distinctive “earlobe” handles, it boasts an old-style label with a large octopus dragging a tiny galleon to the depths. At this point I really need to applaud Kraken for their excellent choice of mascot. The kraken motif is a fine way of capturing the ocean-dwelling spirit of rum without risking the spiced rum “Captain Morgan knockoff” trap encountered by the likes of Calico Jack and Admiral Nelson (and now, Lieutenant Dan.) And for those of you that wonder why the packaging even matters, as it’s the rum that counts, you’re quite right – the rum is the key. But for me (and as I understand it, many of my readers) rum is about the whole experience, bottle to baƱo. And so the bottle and label of the rum matters, and Kraken wins bigtime. But now it’s time to carry forward.

In the glass, Kraken Black Spiced Rum is indeed very dark. This might seem like it should go without saying, but I’ve tried many a so-called “dark” rum that was amber at best. Kraken, however, is a very dark brown with just a hint of red. To the nose Kraken smells strongly of vanilla, with little to no alcohol at all. It does, however, contain a fine musky undertone, and just a hint of spice.

Upon tasting, it’s immediately clear that sniffing Kraken is no substitute for tasting the stuff. Many rums can almost be entirely dissected by scent alone, but Kraken’s aroma is deceptively subdued compared to the explosion of flavors encountered on the tongue. Vanilla and cloves are most prominently featured, as is an undercurrent of cinnamon. The flavor of rum itself is apparent, but it’s on its very best behaviour (while still packing a hearty boxing-gloved punch.)

Kraken Rum isn’t just a spiced rum, it’s an experience. From their website to the bottle to the mingling flavors of the rum itself, it’s truly an adventure. It’s surely a fantastic mixer that will put most others to shame, but it can also be enjoyed on its own, even by those of us who’ve become jaded by a steady diet of Nelson’s Blood for near a decade.

Comments (68)

  1. melissa

    This is absolutely the worst rum I have endured in my life. I am a rum drinker and decided to give this a try when I saw the bottle. I drank one glass of this and had the worst stomach pains and headache of my life. Thinking I could sleep it off was also a mistake. I woke up with a horrible hangover. I hadn’t had a hangover in 5 years. Yesterday I thought I’d give it another chance and had the same results. The bottle is wonderful, the um, not so much.

  2. Vonz

    You guys are stupid. Kraken is priced so low because it’s garbage that makes your brain throb for days. If you’re looking for a good way to hate your life, I highly recommend drinking this terrible bullshit.

  3. borris sizlack

    i have been a violent rum drinker for the last two decades. i live in the western suburbs of sydney. i bought this botle of rum because i wanted to try it and because it looked black and evil. i have been hooked on bundaberg rum because it is the only rum that ingnorant bogans like myself know. this bracken tastes just like the red version of bundlerg rum. its ok

  4. nick c

    after trying some bottom of the barrel stuff (lady bligh — horrible), i decided to get off the bottom shelf and try something that i might actually without having to kill it with mixers…

    only dark rum i’d had was a cruzan variant which I remember liking…a few spiced ones that never really drove me crazy.

    saw the kraken for $21 here in CT and thought I’d give it a shot since it was $1 less than something else I was considering, but wasn’t too excited about (appleton special?). i thought it was probably new(ish), and that i was making a mistake…but boy was i wrong. i don’t have the most refined palette…but love the smell and the taste on rocks. drank with a little cran for a real treat.

    i came online to confirm that i wasn’t crazy and found this review…good to know that i came across some good rum!

  5. EmperorZombie

    I was eyeing the Kraken for a while, not being a rum person i was content with my Maker’s Mark. Anyway, i was interested and after seeing the price increase decided to buy some. Im glad i did. My first rum experience with rum that cost more than $6 a bottle. Smooth thick spiced flavor, my pallette may be off but i swear i taste cola bean in there. I will be buying more. I enjoy it like i do all my booze, sipped straight at room temp.

  6. batwild

    i went out last night and like the country song goes im still f’n drunk at noon the next day. the bar maid poured kraken into my glass quarter of the bottle. last drink at the bar and not fare from last call. good party drink when you wanna get f’d up.

  7. Josh

    I bought a 750 ml bottle of this last night. This stuff is 47% alcohol by volume 94 proof. I poured 2 shots of the kraken into a glass with ice & drank it all slowly. Not bad at all!

  8. Tim

    This is a rum that you can not take lightly. I finished half the bottle in an evening. It is almost 48 hours later and I still haven’t found my bearings. This is smooth, flavorful rum. 2 shakey thumbs up.

  9. deepsea

    On bottle number 13 in only 5 months! Thank You.

  10. Master Henry

    This Shit fucked me up! but i enjoyed everyone second of it. The smooth blend of spices and vanilla flavoring left me savoring every last drop. I enjoyed a bottle with a friend and found myself waking up half naked under the bus stop cramping and smelling like protein.

  11. Uncle_RaeRae

    FINALLY got my hands on a bottle at my local (in Australia) and i can’t say much about it. Well, not much more than ‘its FKN AWESOME’ money very well spent!

  12. reo oliver

    WOW! I don’t know if the guy was paid for his insight on the product, but he deserves a standing “o” for his contribution. I wanted a good liquor to bring the new year “inn” and the marketing ploy has won me over. I have been reading reviews of this brand for wks (lover of Appleton), but will bring the new yr with kracken.

  13. Lorena

    I was so surprised by this rum. I’ve tried several rum and cokes and have been highly disappointed by them. I’m actually more of a beer gal (mostly IPA’s) but have been trying to expand my horizons. I’ve tried several cocktails and haven’t been impressed at all. Rum and cokes have been the most tolerable. I recently went to the liquor store this past week and guess what was on sale? KRAKEN! So I thought what the hey! The bottle looked awesome and it was on sale (I’m on a budget here people). I went home and made myself a rum and coke and guess what? I WAS BLOWN AWAY. Not only was this stuff delicious but it wasn’t too strong and alcoholy tasting. It was like drinking a delicious vanilla and spiced coca cola. It got me the right amount of happy drunk. Holy tamoly was I in heaven.

  14. Mark

    A couple/few years ago a friend pulled a bottle of Kraken off the store shelves randomly for a bachelor party but forgot to buy any coke or ginger beer. Best mistake he’s ever made. Kraken over ice is a pleasure. Mellow spiced notes that don’t bite you tongue like other spiced rum. A balanced sweetness that doesn’t need a mixer. Just enough punch from the alcohol to let you know it’s straight booze but not enough to overpower the experience.

    With ginger beer it’s divine. With Coke or other soda it’s too mellow and sweet to be really appreciated.

    One of my favorite liquors of all time. Now I just need to stock up for the zombie apocalypse.

  15. Katrykat

    My husband and I split a bottle of Kraken last night. Drunkest I have EVER been. Passed out dead drunk at 8pm found my husband at 1am passed out in the hallway in the laundry pile. He now is suffering from the worst hangover of his life. I’m fine, and I drank more than half the bottle. From the looks of the house, we had a good time and ordered chinese food. Great stuff!

  16. No U

    Admiral Nelson is garbage. Why would you even mention it in the same review ><

  17. Matt

    If you enjoy spiced rum, you owe it to yourself to try this one out. It is my go to rum. I enjoy it both neat and mixed. Works extremely well over ice or with Coke. Straight up, I can’t believe it’s over 90 proof. For the money, there is nothing on the shelf that compares. I am fortunate to live in Pennsylvania, one of the first states where this rum was available, and I’ve been enjoying it for a long time now. I see even the o’l Captain has noticed the success of Kraken, and now has a bottle featuring a suspiciously similarly decorated label. Kudos to the folks in Trinidad distilling this fine spirit!

  18. Jon

    I am a huge Captain Morgans drinker, let me correct that, I used to be a huge Captain Morgans drinker. I will not buy any spiced rum besides The Kraken anymore. It’s almost shameful to mention the brands in the same sentence. The flavor of The Kraken is incredible. A real drink experience.

    I have also cut the amount of mixer I tend to use just so I can enjoy the flavor. The best part is for such a good liquor the price is very reasonable.

    In short, The Kraken makes me want to be a pirate!

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