Category Archives: rum

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.

Yo Ho Ho and a (Small) Bottle of (Expensive) Rum: Appleton Estate 30 Year Old

I’m generally not much of a rum drinker, but around this time of year, it tends to pop up in my drink rotation more often, usually mixed with a few glugs of egg nog and sprinkled with nutmeg. And of course, many of the cakes, cookies and other treats that my wife bakes for Christmas feature a healthy shot or three of rum as a key ingredient.

Using some good ol’ Bacardi or Captain Morgan to mix or cook with is about as far as most people go with rum, but as I’ve learned on a number of occasions in the past couple of years, a high-end rum can be just as complex as a great whisky or bourbon. And like tequila before it, a few of those better bottles have started trickling into Ontario.

One of these is Appleton Estate 30 Year Old Rum, which can be found at a select few LCBO locations (LCBO 164103) in very limited quantities. In fact, it’s limited all around, with only 1440 bottles available worldwide, and 644 for all of Canada. And as is usual in the world of high-end spirits, such rarity comes with a price – in this case $503.00 for a 750 ml bottle.

By my reckoning, that means the cute li’l 50 ml sample bottle that was sent to me has a retail value of $33.53 – or $6.58 more than the full-sized bottle of Sailor Jerry that I picked up on the weekend for holiday nog quaffing. But just as it’s not fair to compare a scarce single malt to a mass-produced blend, so should this copper-amber liquid be ranked on a completely different scale from the Captains and Sailors of the rum world.

With that in mind, I poured it into my favourite whisky glass, and sniffed & sipped it like a single malt. What I found was a remarkably complex spirit that revealed an array of aromas and flavours including caramel, marzipan, orange zest, bitter cocoa, dark sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, raisins and wood. The mouthfeel is soft and silky, and the finish is long and warm, but not as hot as expected given the 45% abv strength.

I was sad to reach the end of the glass, but also pleasantly satisfied. If I had the money to spare, I’d be tempted to pick up a bottle, if only to blow the minds of a couple of whisky-loving friends the next time we get together for a few drams.

As noted above, Appleton Estate 30 Year Old Rum is available in limited quantities in Ontario, as well as most other provinces. It’s also available in the US, and perhaps elsewhere, but you’ll likely have to hunt for it.