Review: Zaya Gran Reserva

Rating: ★★★★☆
Zaya Gran Reserva Rum

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from Internet Wines and Spirits

Never has a rum looked more dignified. The bottle is tall and elegently marked with its black and gold label. The neck is tightly wrapped in palm, which contrasts beautifully with the rich mahogany, 12 year aged, pure sugarcane rum within. The bottle itself is extra thick, and the additional heft this creates only further lends the impression that this is a rum worthy of note.

Upon removing the cork, the rum itself smells heavy and sweet, and tastes the same. It’s full of contradiction, weighty and aloof, yet surprisingly forward. It’s kind of like meeting a dusky tribal queen dressed from head to toe in rich silks and golden feathers, and when you reach out to politely kiss her hand she instead sits on your lap and liplocks you in front of your bewildered crew. Yeah – something like that. Continue reading

Review: Jack Tar Superior

Rating: ★★★★☆
Jack Tar Superior

Rum is made with molasses. As such, molasses is a common factor in the very nature of the rum flavor. Sure, there are often other subtle facets – fruits, spices, leather, etc. But molasses is so much a part of rum that many folks don’t seem to differentiate one from the other. But sometimes a dark rum comes along that transcends – and escapes – the molasses and becomes wholly and truly rum.

Jack Tar smells cool and heavy – and shamelessly of rum, plain and true. It’s not brown sugar, it’s not molasses – it’s rum. And just a bit peppery. It has a hint of undefined sweetness – not fruit or sugar, just sweetly rum (there’s that word again.) To the taste, Jack Tar is a whole-mouth experience. Where some rums seem to settle on one part of the tongue or another, Jack Tar envelopes and conquers it all, spreading instant warmth and spice throughout. It’s surpisingly smooth, but is followed with a wonderfully satisfying bite after you swallow, leaving the roof of your mouth all happy and tingly. Subsequent sips build on the first, leading to an increasingly warm and deep experience. Continue reading

Review: Gosling’s Gold

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Gosling’s Gold Rum

I’m to the point where I pretty much recognize every rum in all the local stores, even if I’ve yet to try them. This is why it’s so much fun to see a new face, and that goes double when it’s produced by a brand name for which I’ve a fondness.

Gosling’s Gold came out of nowhere – never heard a thing about it – their own website doesn’t even mention the stuff. Truly uncharted waters, I naturally had to check it out.

Gosling’s is most famous for their Black Seal rum – a blacker than black concoction that casts off any pretense of character or subtlety, instead opting for the “I am rum – hear me roar” approach. Not for amateurs, but now that I’m a bit more experienced it’s a very worthy experience. Continue reading

Review: Rum Jug

Rating: ★★★★☆
Quicksilver’s Pirate Pots

Grog – water, sugar, lime, and rum. It’s as simple as it is beautiful, with a name that rolls off the tongue and a taste that rolls right back in. Say it with me now – grog.

Of course, you can’t generally buy grog. You have to make it. Which means you need something to serve it in (and your plastic Kool-Aid pitcher doesn’t count.) Now, nancy-boy spaniards might be fine with a cut-crystal punch bowl. But you and me – we have our pride. And we have Quicksilver’s Pirate Pots and their line of jugs. Available in three sizes, these are the perfect vessel for your piratey concoctions. From one to four quarts, your masterpiece will be held safely within, right up until pouring it for your wide-eyed guests, who can only guess what sort of magic might spring forth from such a piece of tablewear. Select black or lichen green (think Davey Jone’s ship color, more or less), these bottles come emblazoned with skull&crossbones, or with the words “grog” or “rum”, for the extra-organized. And they’re even available with custom inscriptions, for those what have something special to say.

Like all of Quicksilver’s line, these jugs are food and dishwasher safe, leave no taste, and look fantastic. Well worth checking out.

Review: Etched Glass Flask and Leather Pouch

Rating: ★★★½☆
Pyrate Leatherworx

*note: I adore and endorse the craftsmanship of Pyrate Leatherworx. However, I’ve received many reports of late from dissatisfied customer regarding poor communication and long overdue orders. Prior to placing an order based on this review, I strongly urge you to first read these comments from concerned readers.

Pyrate Leatherworx’ etched flask and pouch set is basic accessorization at its finest – a basic glass flask with a jolly roger etched into its face, along with a rugged leather pouch, held shut with a doubloon and leather strap.

Little need be said of these items – except that the glass is roughly cast for that old timey feel, and various designs are available to choose from. And the pouch is a fine and functional costume item, with or without the flask (I find it terribly useful when wearing costumes without pockets.) Continue reading

Review: Pirate Fever!

Rating: ½☆☆☆☆
Pirate Fever!
by Eleyne Austen Sharp

Pirate Fever! seems intended as a reference for all things pirate, ranging from historical biographies, contemporary interviews of modern-day pirate VIPs (store owners, band members, webmasters, etc.), a pirate-speak dictionary and recipies, weblinks, movie lists, book lists – quite literally a starting point for anyone looking to learn anything about pirates. In any hands such a comprehensive book would be a daunting task – but in this case, sadly, the product is something of a mess. Continue reading

Review: Little Pirate and His Pirate Hat

Rating: ★★★★☆
Little Pirate and His Pirate Hat
by Rebecca Ann MacKay

“Little Pirate and His Pirate Hat” is a cute tale in which Little Pirate explains and demonstrates all the many uses for his pirate hat (perhaps the most indispensible tool in the pirating trade.) From gathering scurvy-preventing fruit to protecting from sunburn, from bailing water to hiding treasure maps, there is little that a pirate can’t do if he or she is armed with a proper hat. Continue reading

Review: The Legend of La Tormenta

Rating: ★★★☆☆
The Legend of La Tormenta
by Cynthia Zeuli

“The Legend of La Tormenta” by Cynthia Zeuli is the sort of pirate novel that would be easy to underestimate. First impressions can make a powerful impact, and this book’s first impression – like so many books – is made by its cover. And while we all know that covers can be misleading, it’s tough to take seriously a historical-era pirate novel graced with a photograph of a girl in a costume store bargain-bin outfit (complete with ill-fitting men’s suit shirt). Actually, the cover’s concept is clever and apt, as the pirate girl is flanked by the ghostly image of a man – very fitting indeed. But it’s poorly executed. Strike one. Strike two comes within the first few pages, as we learn that she-captain Tessa Santiago commands the Pilfering Pussycat. The charms of alliteration aside, it seems a silly name for a pirate vessel, and unlikely to inspire the desired reaction from potential prey. Personally, I groaned just a little. Continue reading

Pyrat Rum XO Side-by-Side Taste Test

Some time back, perhaps a year or two, Planters Gold Pyrat XO Reserve became Pyrat Rum XO Reserve. The name change was subtle, and the label changed slightly to match, although the familiar (and beloved) handblown glass bottle remained the same, as did the accompanying ribbons and Hoti medallion. As time passed, I received an occasional email from readers asking if I’d noticed a difference in the new rum vs. the old. Some of these readers had claimed to have contacted the distillery to inquire, and passed along that the distillery claimed no changes had been made to the rum itself. Nonetheless, many fans seemed to have noticed something different. Continue reading