Review: Kraken Black Spiced Rum

Rating: ★★★★½

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 baño. 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 (69)

  1. Mad Jack Skinner

    nice review. Will be hopefully grabbin’ a bottle first chance I get!

  2. The Pirate (ex) Chaplain

    I gave you a great deal of link respect (link love sounds way too weird in this context!) in my blog recently for this and some other of your rum reviews. They’re right on the mark, and have sent me to the store on a number of occasions.

    Thing is, though, I can’t find The Kraken anywhere! Is it in wide distrubution yet, or were you just lucky enough to get ahold of it by way of the company? Their website is blank on the issue.

    Thanks again for the review!

  3. Bilge (Post author)

    As of two weeks ago, Kraken was being distributed to PA,VA,CA, MI & OH. Last weekend I saw it at a store in WI, so apparently they’ve already begun to expand. I know this is a very new product, but it may take a little while. However, like the zombie virus, I’m sure it will soon spread to the four corners with alarming speed!

  4. Robert Phoenix

    I just went to to the local liquor store last week (Hurley, WI), and low and behold there it was. Top shelf in two different bottle sizes. $20 and $30. Have yet to pick one up but I was surprised that it ws there. This store usually only carries top sellers even though it the largest in the area. It didn’t even carry the 250th anniversary Guinness when it came out but appartly the Kraken has arrived. Hope to pick up some soon for some sampling!

  5. Captain Rex Caiman

    Kraken is being carried in Wisconsin by Wirtz distribution. If your local (WI) liquor store carries anything from Wirtz (and likely they do) you should be able to ask for a bottle on special order.

  6. cutthroat Chris

    I read your review and thought I would try it because the price was only around 15 bucks . At first I was not sure while standing in line to buy it because it looked “cheap” . I’m glad I did , the rum is good . Yes , the vanilla and cinnamon aroma when I opened it was very strong , the taste was smooth and spicy with hardly no alcohol bite . Dark brownish red color looked almost black in the bottle. I drank a small sample neat for test….94 proof it left me feeling warm inside . It kind of reminds me of Private Stock but far better it has more flavor . Can’t wait to try it mixed . I do like this rum. yaaaar…..

  7. LaVasque the Leopard

    Aarrrr me mates,The KRAKEN has landed here in Oklahoma and let me tell ye that this is amighty fine Rum to boot!! Thanks to Bilgemunkey for the fine review! Along with Sailor Jerry,this one is me ol’liqour cabinet.Me does taste a hint of chocolat as an after taste,but,it is sooooo good.Maybe its time for a nip before me boards me ship the JadeScorpion. If ye have not tasted this ye will be a missing a good time,saaavvy mates!!!! Au Revoir!!!!

  8. Hawthorne

    I’m afraid ye led me astray this time, Bilge! I tried this rum out after seeing your positive review, and it gave me the worst hangover of me life!

  9. "Irish" James

    I was at a gig last night, and saw that the pub had a bottle of Kraken. Of course, I was determined to have a glass, and I was immensely pleased to have done so. Your review does a fine job of capturing the experience, but it is no substitute for the actual consumption. Sublime!

    And Hawthorne, remember that a hangover is just your body’s way of telling you that you shouldn’t have stopped drinking!

  10. Cap'n M. Monoceros

    I do thank ye sir, fer introducin’ me to this fine bit o’ rum. Kraken has now become the official drink o’ choice fer me an’ me mates.

    A dollop or three , with a twist o’ lime set me and the lads straight!

  11. Lassy

    I just picked up a bottle of Kraken and it has changed my mind on dark,(molasess based) rums. My taste buds lean towards light rums such as Pyrat and Plantation, Exspecially Plantation. However, Kraken is a pleasent change. There is no alcohol after taste. The flavor will surprise you at first then falls off with no aftertaste. Spices will fill your pallet, then fade away without even a hint of burn. A very good quality. The kick is a point in and of itself. One shot slowly enjoyed will tell on you in short order, so drink sparingly. So, in the mortal words of “Pirates of the Caribean” Jack Sparrow ,” I prefer rum. rums’ good.” And so is Kraken. Buy a bottle and enjoy matey. Here looking at you Captain kid . . . . . . .

  12. Yippie21

    Great review and this… is a fine spiced Rum. It took me two weeks to find a liquor store here in the Fort Worth area that carried it, but find it I did today and completely agree with your review and the positive comments from others.

    I too like Kilo Kat and even Sailor Jerry’s, but this Kraken is different. It’s very smooth and seductive. Easy in the mouth and feels great in the gut. Get some! I’ll be keeping a bottle in stock from now on.

  13. Raking Talon

    I’ve sampled a number of good rums in the last few years. I lean toward the dark and/or spiced, and am a fan of original Morgan & Private Stock (and Pyrat), but ohhhhhh was I glad to find that Oregon finally has Kraken now. WOW. It’s everything your review said, and I LOVE to savor a finger or two (tentacle?) of this squid-inky goodness all by its onesies without any distractions from water, coke, ice or lime (although the Perfect Storm with ginger beer sounds really good). The ad campaign and web design are both genius. This is my new favorite rum and I’m telling everybody I know how awesome it is. As a matter of fact (*looks at watch*)

    …it’s time to get Kraken. 🙂

  14. QM Craig

    Both Liquorama and DrinkUpNY have 750ml bottles in stock (as of this writing), and under $20! Just thought I’d help out me sea-farin’ brothers and sisters.

    QM Craig,
    Brotherhood of Missouri Reavers

  15. Jas. Hook

    Yo Ho –
    This be dark and evil looking stuff in the bottle but once in the glass it has became my favorite.
    **** Four Stars for the Kraken… Long Live the Beast!
    Now I’ve got to find a local store that carries the brand.


  16. Hollister58

    Just tried the Kraken last night. Goodbye Capt’n M this wench is jumpin ship. Pleasantly suprised to find it in two different stores at $16 per 750ml.

  17. Macbeth

    Just bought a half gallon for $30. Can’t believe the deal on that. Great stuff, especially for the price.

  18. e

    I got a bottle a few weeks back and thoroughly enjoyed it. I turned my brother on and he did as well. Very good stuff! Not strong in the mouth. Mild taste. But watch out when it goes down the tube. DO NOT drink a large consumption at once! Some things are fun to play w/, but this will definitely do damage to beginners. BE WARNED!

  19. Caspur

    Never been a drinker, I could never find something I liked, but then I stumbled upon Kraken. I bought a bottle for a friend, because it was a cool bottle, well needless to say he never got the bottle, I was nice enough to let him taste in on visits, but the Kraken wrapped it’s tentacles around me and wouldn’t let go.

  20. Tommy Leff

    I ordered a case of 1.75 liters and was able to get it at $25.00 a bottle. This is a very different and good Rum. My freind and I first purchased it because of the bottle and the fact that it was 94 proof. We love it and enjoy it. It is a great Rum for boat drinks which have Coke or Diet Coke with Kraken and pineapple juice.

  21. Jenny

    I found it at a Hy-Vee in Nebraska for $19.99. Woohoo!

  22. LABluesMan

    I stumbled upon “The Kraken” around the holidays and it’s my favorite Rum now! Very smooth and easy to sip – luscious flavors of Vanilla and Spice.
    I’ve shared it with friends and they all enjoyed the experience. The ad campaign is brilliant! Unleash the beast!

  23. westniall

    It’s now up here in Ontario, Canada. Looking forward to enjoying it this weekend.

  24. mrsleny

    Also saw at LCBO here in Ontario. I am definitely going to buy now after all the great reviews.

  25. Hangover Harry

    This stuff looks like poison as all alcohol is. Haha the beast in the belly. Get sick infidels!

  26. Floating Bear

    Now at my local store here in rural Ontario, Canada.

    Just had a small taste so far. The spicing is unusually strong but then lately I’ve been drinking Goslings or Pussers.

    Probably won’t replace my favourites, but will be nice when my taste-buds need a kick.

  27. Dick

    This one creates a terrible hangover / headache, probably due to the heavy spice. Drink plenty of water after consuming.

  28. Diver Dan

    A beastly good spiced rum, maybe *too* good for some.
    Takes “the edge” off quick, beware IF you’re a gulper ‘cuz
    you’ll be walking sideways PDQ. Moderation is key.

  29. Pontiac's PPP

    Never been much of a drinker, Christmas two years past I purchased some Captain Morgans to spike my “made from scratch-low fat EggNog” and it was a huge hit. My husband and I have been enjoying the Captains Tropical tea on weekends but this past Christmas at my brother-in-laws Christmas party I was at the bar looking for Captain Morgan and he did not have any (or tea for that matter). Feeling left out I once again perused the bar and found an interesting looking bottle (and I love the POC movie-movies) so I mixed a drink of Kraken and diet Ginger Ale with a twist of lime and I am “in love” and I owe my brother-in-law a bottle-we took it home with us. Could not find it in any liquor store in Memphis until two weeks ago, the liquor store around the corner has the half gallon for $28.99. (only has 70 calories per ounce too)
    Sorry Captain Morgan, you are not only out of the game, you aren’t in the same league!

  30. Gatineau Guy

    Only 3 locations had it here in Ottawa (Gleebe, St-Laurent and Orleans) so I went and picked up 2 bottles yeterday @ $27.95 / 750 ml.

  31. William Blydes

    Picked up a pair of bottles here in Kingston yesterday(Ontario, Canada).

  32. jp

    yesterday was my 21st birthday which was awesome. im used to drinking the cheapo bartons crap rum my friends buy, so it was a relief to get something else. admittedly, the marketing of the bottle was what drew me in. i tasted it and was amazed. for me, it wasnt as smooth as captain but it was really tasty. at $10 less than captain, i figured it was just too many drinks making it taste so good. but i see you guys all enjoyed it too. i think i have a keeper.

  33. Ashley E.

    I’m not much of a rum drinker, but I saw this in a liquor store near where I lived and something about it caught my eye. I didn’t want to buy it and take the risk of not liking it, so I’m glad I read this. I will be purchasing it next time because it sounds like a great choice!

  34. White Glossy

    Best. Damn. Rum. EVER!!!! This kicked out behinds in a way that we could’ve only hoped for! Yay Kraken!!!! See –

  35. Cutter

    Just picked up my first bottle today and it is definitely my new favourite. One thing the review didn’t mention is that it has a nice molasses taste to it as well. Well worth trying!

  36. Amber

    I was at the store buying some rum for my friend’s birthday (she likes Spiced Jack). I typically am a Jameson girl, but I have been wanting to buy myself a bottle of rum and give it a go for a while. I was going to go with the Spiced Jack and see how I like it, and then, with 2 bottles in hand, The Kraken jumped off the shelf at me and it was a no-brainer. (I prefer dark coffee over light, so I figured the same would probably hold true for rums. Plus, the bottle was just plain irresistible.)
    It smells fantastic; the vanilla definitely jumps out more than anything for me. Getting ready to head out to the birthday party in a bit, so I didn’t want to sit and drink straight shots, so I decided to pour the rest of my orange juice into it. It is reminiscent of orange julius, which makes me happy because I love orange julius but not all of the table sugar that comes with it.
    And I will bring my friend her Spiced Jack bottle, but I will most definitely be telling her about The Kraken.

  37. brittany

    it’s a man’s drink for everyone that you dont need a chaser for

  38. Guillermo

    I like to drink rums with little or not water. My favorite: Zacapa 23 years, among Flor de Caña 12 years, Matusalem Gran Reserva (15 years), Barcelo Imperial, and puerto rican Barrilito 3 estrellas. I always avoid all the Bacardi trash made for mixes and fancy drinks. I ask to all of you: Is this Kraken rum as good to be tasted alone? How many time of distillation have? Salud!

  39. Gage

    I have been drinkin kraken for quite a while now an it is by far the best alcohol anyone coukd wish for when cool it has a tangy bur an gets u pretty drunk anwhen warm packs a great hard punch/burn to it it is by far the best rum out there but get ur fill befor the price goes up do to marketing

  40. Capt. John Casey

    I had been drinking other spiced rums both straight and mixed with limited success and then I stumbled on the Kraken at Spec’s in downtown Houston on smith street. Wow it made for a fantastic Hurricane when mixed with Myers and goes perfect with coke! I am hooked on this now as my primary rum.

  41. Jim

    The Kraken is Kracking!! Had this black spiced rum in a bar at the weekend with ginger beer, 1/2 lime and angostura bitters (Dark and stormy) as I would call it and blew my mind! I went straight home and looked it up online to try and buy a bottle found it on a really cool site and bought it straight away. though it was going to be a lot more expensive that what it was!!! Bargin

  42. Port Huron

    Kraken isn’t what it’s kracked up to be. I’m sadly disappointed with this review. I have been more than pleased with some of the other 4+ star reviews, but I would only give Kraken a 2 or 3. As with many others I started with the various Captain’s and then Sailor J, this rum was not a step forward. Pyrat XO reserve and Bacardi Oakheart are my 2 new favorites. I will try to pawn this bottle of Kraken off on some of my non-rum connoisseur friends.
    Keep rating Bilge and I’ll keep trying.

  43. AlucardDalv

    I love this stuff. I am not a mixed drink kind of guy. I like my drinks to be good based on what I am drinking and not what I mix it with. That being said, Kraken over ice is one of my favorite drinks on earth. My local liquor store orders it specially for me. I usually stick to scotch over ice, but if I am lucky enough to find a bar that has Kraken, I’ll gladly put the scotch on hold for the night. If you can find a bottle, do not hesitate to pick it up. Careful though. It’s easy to finish with a friend or two, and you will have a rough next day!

  44. Sam

    Kraken gets u fucked!

  45. Foolishmortal


    First tried this rum on vacation in Turks and Caicos….

    Awsome! We went through 3 bottles over a week!
    Best rum so far.

  46. Kay

    Bought this in BC Canada. Haven’t had any time to try it yet but it smells damn good.

  47. Albert York III

    KRAKEN rum is an orgasmic experience on the palate. It is the Rum of all Rums. I made rum balls this year with KRAKEN Rum and just a hint of cayenne pepper and it was the high-light of the party. Everyone was saying WOW, what kind of rum was this? I told them it was the KRAKEN and everyone seemed to laugh at me but I told them I was telling the truth. Well, Im off to enjoy me a glass of rum and coke.

  48. Kelsey

    My dad got me a bottle of Kraken for my recent birthday on the recommendation from the manager of a local Specs store and because he didn’t want to buy a different bottle. I really is an excellent drink at least in my opinion. Just make sure to have a soda handy, Dr. Pepper being the best thus far.

  49. Dean

    I started drining the Goslings (which is fantastic too) then moved to Sailor Jerry (excellent as well) then got hooked on the Kraken … If you like rum and good rums at that drink any of these 3 but if you want the best of all drink the Kraken if peope say that it brings hangovers it is simply because they drank to much.. And if you are a white rum fan you are just a booze fiend that will drink anything and I have no Idea why you are looking up rums on the internet …. go find a good trash can for a home….

  50. Scarface

    A most excellent rum. I’d tried specied rums before and the only thing I could taste was vanilla but after tasting The Kraken I’ve sworn off all other rums. Yo Ho Ho!

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

  53. 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

  54. 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!

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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!

  58. 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.

  59. deepsea

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

  60. 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.

  61. 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!

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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.

  65. 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!

  66. No U

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

  67. 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!

  68. 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!

  69. Matt

    Yeah so one time I got a handle of kracken and there were 2 party’s on one night that I wanted to go to, so p pre-gamed at my one friends house, then biked drunk of kracken to the first party, planing on hanging out and biking to the next party drunker. Well it didn’t really work out. Cuz kracken is pretty much poison to me. I remember taking my last shot…then wakeing up on my couch the next day. Turns out I puked about 15 times, processed my love to several women, had a few drunk text and calls. My whole squad had to help get me home… Was on about 30 peoples snap stories the next day. Safe to say not my finest hour. I still occasionally find out shit i did or said from people I don’t even remember talking to. Oh well, live and learn.

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