Spirits Sipped: Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum

As the popularity of premium spirits continues to grow, so too does the volume of promo packs being sent out by PR companies in an attempt to get a bit of coverage for the latest tipple. Often these packages are minimal – just an airplane bottle of the booze and a bit of supporting material – but sometimes there’s a bit more thought and effort put into the campaign.

One of the more interesting pitches I’ve received lately actually came in two parts, the first being a small package containing a ceramic cup holding vials of nine different spices – vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, mace, allspice, pepper and juniper berry – along with a note indicating that a second package would be coming soon. It was an interesting approach, and one that left me curious and anticipating the arrival of the main item – in other words, a successful bit of marketing.

The subsequent delivery was a bottle of Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum, a recent arrival in Ontario (LCBO 225680 – $27.95/750 mL bottle) that joins brands like Sailor Jerry and The Kraken in the spiced rum niche. The press bumpf that accompanied the bottle features the expected words and phrases – “authentic”, “heritage”, “premium craftsmanship” – but all I really care about it what’s in the bottle, and whether or not it’s any good.

In this case, it is, but with a caveat: A soon as the bottle is opened, it’s obvious that in order to enjoy this rum, the drinker had better dig vanilla. And not the deep, woodsy vanilla found in bourbon, but sweet, candyish vanilla, like the pure vanilla extract used in baking. The aroma is just chock full of it, with the sharper spices like cinnamon and clove just offering a hint of backing support.

Vanilla is also a big player in the flavour, especially off the top, with the other spices coming to the fore in the middle and finish. Cinnamon, clove, allspice and mace all make appearances as the liquid coats the tongue, and the finish is warm, peppery, and a bit herbal, suggesting some influence from the juniper berries.

As a whole, I found Cruzan 9  to be a pleasant rum with well-balanced spicing, but also a touch on the sweet side for my palate, at least when sipped straight. I tried it in one of my favourite rum cocktails, the Dark ‘n’ Stormy, and even there the vanilla flavour came on a bit too strong, although the other spices played well with the ginger beer.

For other cocktail uses, one of the suggested recipes – The Cruzan Apple, with Cruzan 9 and pineapple juice – sounds pretty nice, and it would make for a decent rum and coke as well. Although I think this variation on that classic as featured on the provided recipe list would be even better:

Cruzan 9 Root Beer
1 oz Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum
2 dashes of Galliano liqueur
6 parts cola|
Build over ice in a tall highball glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

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