Despite the down-turned economy, the spiced rum category has been enjoying phenomenal growth. While rum sales on the whole are relatively vigorous, the spiced rum segment has the industry talking. Partially fueling the trend is their remarkable mixability. Few types of spirits can boast such vibrant flavors. The other aspect behind the growth of spiced rum is the recent launch of six genuinely remarkable new brands that collectively seem to be changing the category’s landscape.
“Consumers are looking for more flavor options from spiced rum than what’s offered by the category leader,” contends Zach Brinley, importer of super-premium Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum from the island of St. Kitts. “The increased demand has prompted the best and the brightest in the industry to release some really exciting blends. This is a marvelous time to be a rum aficionado.”
According to spirits importer Robert Back, part of the demand equation is the push for higher quality, artisanal brands.
“These new brands are not only appealing to the younger rum and Coke crowd, they’re also attracting older, more sophisticated consumers who enjoy sipping rums and top-shelf spirits,” he says. “One way to keep discerning consumers actively engaged is to use superior ingredients and barrel-aged spirits, which the new breed of spiced rums have in spades.”
One of the brands leading the trend is The Kraken Black Spiced Rum. The secret to its success has everything to do with the all-important spice package. The Kraken is infused with 11 different herbs and spices — their exact composition and proportions are a closely held secret. To help preserve its inherent vitality, the rum is bottled at a lip-tingling 94 proof (47% alcohol). It has a silky lightweight body, the look of freshly brewed coffee and the aromas of nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon. The rum quickly fills the mouth with a boatload of flavors, including dark chocolate, clove, allspice and blackstrap molasses. The moderately long finish is laced with the additional flavors of vanilla, cinnamon and coffee. The Kraken is an intriguing dram from stem to stern.
Cruzan 9 is an 80 proof spiced rum from the Nelthropp family, who has been making rum on the island of St. Croix for eight generations. The exuberant spirit is crafted with a singular blend of nine all-natural spices — vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, mace, allspice, pepper and juniper berry. Those searching for a rum with more flavor and pizzazz will be pleasantly surprised. Cruzan 9 has a wafting bouquet and a warm vanilla and spice palate, prized traits that make it perfect for sipping over ice or adding to cocktails and mixed drinks. Equally attractive is its modest SRP.
The Lash Spiced Rum is a luxurious Dutch import bound to make an immediate impact on the rum market. It’s produced with Trinidadian rums aged four years in charred U.S. white oak barrels. Included in the all-important spice infusion are cinnamon, cloves and Asian bourbon vanilla extract. The dark rum has an enticing set of aromatics and a long, thoroughly satisfying finish. At 70 proof, its flavors linger on the palate for a long time.
Also new to the U.S. market is Brinley Gold Shipwreck, a cocktail-friendly rum that’s equally sensational sipped over ice. Shipwreck is built on a foundation of column distilled, molasses-based Demerara rums aged in oak barrels for four years. The artistry comes into play when adding the spice component, which in Shipwreck includes a proprietary mix of oranges, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves and other spices. The rum is gloriously aromatic and the palate features waves of caramel, butterscotch, raisons, nutmeg and cinnamon bark. Marvelous as the rum is appreciated alone in a glass, Shipwreck steps it up a notch when presented in a drink.
Blackheart Premium Spiced Rum is a high-octane spirit with a hip, urban swashbuckling attitude. The rum is bottled at 93 proof and has a distinctive taste profile chock full of vanilla, zesty citrus and warm spices. Made by Heaven Hill, value-laded Blackheart well deserves its tagline, “Seduction in a bottle.”
The final member of the six-pack of new, ultra-suave brands is Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, which is named after the greatest tattoo artist of all time, Norman ‘Sailor Jerry’ Collins. Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, 92 proof, is created in the U.S. Virgin Islands on a base of full-bodied navy rums. It has a delectable, one-of-a-kind caramel and spice character.
According to Brinley, these outstanding new brands mean the segment is gaining legitimacy.
“Spiced rums are no longer the sole domain of partygoers and college-aged kids,” he says. “Palates expand and so does the number of options we need to present consumers. Now that’s progress.”