Review: Kilo Kai

Rating: ★★★★☆

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from Internet Wines and Spirits

And I quote:

“We love great rum and that’s why we made Kilo. It’s uncompromising. Take a sip of Kilo straight. Do the same with any other spiced rum. Enough said.”

Thus reads the back label of Kilo Kai, and thus is the reason I had profound respect for this rum before I even opened the bottle.While the two primary spiced rum contenders are duking out who has the highest proof, Kilo seems focused on making the better product – and they’re doing so with an “in your face” attitude that any pirate can respect. The bottle is tall and dark, the logo forms a rather intimidating skull that any rum would be proud to bear, and the back label – well, any rum that challenges its drinkers in such a way is off to a fantastic start in my book. Continue reading

Review: Special Report: Zaya vs. Zaya

So a while back I began receiving emails about Zaya 12 Year aged rum. It seems that the distillery has relocated from Guatamala to Trinidad. While this isn’t in itself a good or bad thing, there were also reports of a distinct drop in the rum’s quality as well. In fact, old Guatamalan bottles of Zaya were quickly becoming difficult to find as they became presumptive collectors items. I count myself fortunate to have scrounged up one of the last remaining bottles from a local store, thus making it possible for me to do a proper side-by-side comparison.

In the bottle, the new vs. old Zayas are nearly identical. The dark amber color is a near perfect match, and it’s only by holding up to the light and looking carefully that you can tell the old Zaya is slightly redder, while the new is a bit more orange. The bottle structure and labels are also nearly identical, although the script beneath the rum’s name now reads “Imported Rum from Trinidad” rather than the former “Imported Rum from Guatamala”, and the small disc above the tag now bears a tropical coat of arms instead of the previous sun-god looking thing. Continue reading

Review: English Harbour 5 Year

Rating: ★★★☆☆
English Harbour 5 Year rum boasts all the shelf qualities I enjoy – a short, squat bottle with a rustic label, nicely foiled cork, and general appearance that would like right at home in the hands of a pirate.

To the nose, English Harbour is light and fruity – I detected a distinct note of apples (something I’d not experienced since Old Havana Cuban rum.)  To the taste, it retains this fruitiness but also carries some warmth with just a slight tingle. The finish is soothing, relatively gentle, and sweet.

You might notice all the things I haven’t said about this rum – it’s not dark, not heavy, there is no brown sugarry musk or oak kick in the face to let you know your alive. It is in fact a very delicate rum. Meaning it lacks most all the qualities that I personally look for in rum. That said, it’s also rather decent. Continue reading

Review: Inner Circle Red Dot

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

I’ve been reviewing rums for some years now, but tonight we’ve hit a first for me – a rum from the land down under. I’ve heard legends that such rums exist – even stories of one with a polar bear on its label, which makes no sense whatsoever. This is not the polar bear rum – this is another rum. One with a spot on its label. A red spot.

Inner Circle Rum is bottled and labeled in an understated, classy manner. Its website boasts that this is a rum not created for the likes of us – the bourgeois, pedestrian sorts – but was rather developed for the upper, snobby crust of society (and yet the website also boasts a skull&crossbones pattern in the background. Go figure.) It also boasts many awards – a factor that means increasingly less to me the more I learn that the folks who bestow such awards have entirely different expectations of rum from myself.

Continue reading

Review: Pirate’s Choice Molasses Reef

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Pirate’s Choice Molasses Reef

Pirate’s Choice is an unusual rum. It bears special consideration in several respects. First, it was first distilled in a makeshift (and very illegal) contraption built on the second story of a scuba shop in Key Largo. This is highly braggable. Now created in a more professional (and legal) distillery, the rum is sold in classy squat bottles, complete with labels featuring a silhouette of a pirate ship at rest as a storm approaches. This is beautiful. And, most noteworthy of all, no rum since the golden age of piracy has gone through such effort to introduce, insert, and endear itself to the pirate community. And this, my friends, is remarkable and admirable. In fact, I first met the president of Pirate’s Choice at PyrateCon 2008 in New Orleans, where he was giving away t-shirts, stickers, temporary tattoos, and countless samples of his product to every rogue, wench, and scalliwagg he could find (and being PyrateCon, he found lots of them.) However, this wasn’t the first I’d tasted Pirate’s Choice – I’d had a sample some months prior – at Pirates in Paradise in Key West. As I write this review, Pirate’s Choice is currently promoting itself at the Hampton Blackbeard Festival, with plans to attend the Port Washington Pirate Festival in turn just one week later. In short – Pirate’s Choice Rum is busting its hump to be noticed by the pirate community, making it the first and only rum to look at modern day pirates and see a viable market worth persuing. I suppose this could be seen as a cold business strategy, but I actually view it as heartening. I mean, when’s the last time Captain Morgan gave a squat about us? And HE’s supposed to be a pirate! Continue reading

Review: Havana Club 15

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Havana Club 15yr Rum

Cuban rum – by its very nature – has some serious expectations to meet. Between the mystique of being taboo, the equally high bar set by Cuban cigars, and the general buzz of how incredible Cuban rum is supposed to be, it only stands to reason that finally getting your hands on a Cuban bottle should be a moment to celebrate. And as such, the rum itself is certainly expected to be worthy of such a lofty build-up.


My first dissappointment with the Cuban rum was the bottle itself – mainly the screw cap and plastic diffuser. I like corks, and diffusers seem appropriate only with cheap mixers. So why cheapen a dignified rum with one? Well, I have been schooled. It seems that with the diffuser locked in place, it prevents malcontents from drinking a rum, refilling the bottle with some other rum, and then reselling the thing. It makes sense. I still don’t like it, but I recognize the logic, and will try to be less critical of plastic diffusers from here on. (This said, it bears note that to date I’ve only discovered this forgery-defence utilized on highly praised yet over-rated rums, and never on those I would genuinely deem worthy such concerns. In my experience, the best of the best rums remain humbly – and honorably – corked.) Continue reading

Review: Rogue Spirits Dark

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Rogue Spirits Dark Rum

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from Internet Wines and Spirits

It’s a pet peeve of mine when people compare good rum to fine cognac. This is because it seems like everyone wants to somehow apologize for rum, or justify their enjoyment of it. “It’s not like rum, it’s more like a fine cognac” and so forth. These people can take a long walk off a short plank, for all I care. I love rum, and I don’t need to compare it to cognac to feel better about my enjoyment of a beverage that’s essentially born of industrial waste.

All that said – and I apologize for the irony – Rogue Spirit’s Dark Rum is more like a fine cognac. Continue reading

Review: Coyopa

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Coyopa Rum

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from Internet Wines and Spirits

The packaging of Coyopa Rum is a classy mix of old and new. The square bottle and large, wood-handled cork reminiscent of rum’s fine heritage, as does paper seal, complete with handwritten batch numbers and distiller’s initials. But on closer inspection, the busy background of the colorful label is actually various images of a dancing couple, which gives a slight hint of modernism and trendiness. Personally, I enjoy the old-style found in many rum bottles, but in this case the blend seems to work rather well.

The rum inside is a rich, clear amber, and to the nose it smells cool and uncomplicated. Brown sugar is dominant beneath the chill, and little else makes itself immediately known. Continue reading

Review: Cartavio 12 Year

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Cartavio 12 Year Rum

It’s always a pleasant surprise to see something new sitting on the store shelves – and even moreso when it boasts being aged 12 years. Cartavio 1929 was a new face in these parts, and being relatively affordable as well, I couldn’t wait to give it a try. Cartavio 1929 comes in a classy cardboard tube. The bottle inside is relatively understated, but quite presentable with a wood capped cork and a classic brown-toned label. The rum inside is a rich, inviting amber.

To the nose, Cartavio 1929 smells of cinnamon, oak, musk, and ripe fruit. The familiar smell of alcohol is of course present as well, but this is a rum that smells complex and enticing, with none of the astringence present in some rums. Continue reading

Review: Sea Wynde

Rating: ★★★★½
Sea Wynde

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from Internet Wines and Spirits

If for nothing else, Sea Wynde rum distinguishes itself with one of the cleverest ways of making a boring, basic wine-type bottle interesting. The metal label is just awsome – like a piece of medieval armor for some sort of dark-ages pirate. But happily, this is hardly the only thing distinctive about this rum.

Sea Wynde is actually quite deceptive – it’s soft amber color give the appearance of a gentle spirit (hey, a double meaning!), but one pop of the cork and a quick sniff later clearly conveys this rum to be anything but. It smells of a stark contrast to itself, almost like a dual personality. On the one hand, the overt sweetness of liquour-like rums is present (such as is common amongst east indian rums, or Ron Zacapa), while there is also a strong sense of pepper. Pepperiness and Sweetness are both common amongst rums, but I generally consider them to be opposite ends of the spectrum, and rarely have I encountered them so overtly present in the same bottle. Continue reading