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Tiki Central Forums » » Tiki Drinks and Food » » The Cheap Dark Rum Taste Off
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The Cheap Dark Rum Taste Off
kick_the_reverb
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 17, 2002
Posts: 573
From: Originally Israel, now Oceanside, CA
Posted: 2005-07-20 02:35 am   Permalink

A few weeks ago, I finally did what I always wanted to do…see how all these different rums I have at home taste in a mixed drink. Since I don't have any sipping rums (you know, all the rums say they're good for sipping on the label, but we all know that's BS).
I didn't have any expensive rum to stack against the cheapies, but I thought that for most home bartending stints, people usually use the more affordable brands, anyway, especially if they are entertaining guests.
Disclaimer : I'm not a rum expert, and I don't have the sophisticated palette of say, my good friend weirduncletiki (winemaker by profession). The rest of the panel members in the 2 sessions were not experts either, so take everything with a grain of salt (or bar sugar, if you want).
There have been two taste-off sessions; the first one was conducted by Dale, her coworkers Michelle, Jeremy and Cathie, plus yours truly. The second one was conducted by Jonpaul (photographer for Tiki Magazine), Marie (his girlfriend and a bartender at Buster's Beach House in Long Beach), Dale and me.

The first session pitted these dark rums against each other, with a few wild cards thrown in the mix(marked with an *):
Myres's Dark Jamaican
Coruba Dark Jamaican
Gosling's Black Seal
Trader Vic's Dark Rum
Cruzan Black Strap
Lemon Hart Demarera 80 proof *
Pusser's Navy Rum *
Appleton V/X *

The second session was the same, except that instead of the last wild card (Appleton V/X, which I ran out of), I used Mount Gay Eclipse Barbados Rum.

The procedure was the same for both sessions:
A mix of all the ingredients of Trader Vic's Grog, except the rum, was prepared, in a quantity sufficient for 8 drinks.
Each drink was made with 3 ounces of the mix and 2 ounces of the sampled rum. The mix was poured in right after shaking it to try to avoid inconsistencies. For the same reason the ice was added in a measured cup and stirred in before the specific drink was passed around for tasting, while the rest of the drinks waited with no ice, so they don't get diluted.

Now for the summary of results and comments:
1. Myres's - not very distinct, hints of caramel and molasses, a little bitter.
2. Coruba - very good, noticeable in the drink, a hint of the woodyness.
3. Gosling's - Creamy, butterscotch flavor, a little sweeter.
4. Trader Vic's - FAKE! chemical /candy/over sweet. Dale and Marie liked this one but said it is because of that artificial taste.
5. Cruzan Black Strap - can you say MOLASSES? Jeremy said it tasted like someone poured a bag of brown sugar into the drink. Very sweet and overly dominant molasses flavor. Dale liked it initially (again for the same reason as the Trader Vic's), but did not think it ranked very high after a few sips.
6. Lemon Hart Demarera - Smokey flavor, very noticeable in the drink, "boozie".
7. Pusser's Navy Rum - very strong (duh - it's 95.5 proof), very woody flavor. Jonpaul, Jeremy and I liked this one. I thought it was just at the limit of how strong can the drink be and still be palatable.
8. Appleton V/X - totally unnoticeable in this drink. I heard people refer to it more as gold rum than dark rum. Anyway, it should be tried again against gold or other subtle rums in a different drink.
9. Mount Gay Eclipse - totally unnoticeable in this drink. Should be tried again against gold or other subtle rums in a different drink.


Additional notes:
While the favorites were split between those who liked strong drinks to those who preferred the sweeter variety, one rum appeared in everyone's top 3 lists:
The Coruba. Is it a coincidence that the Tiki-Ti uses it as their every day dark rum? I don't think so!
It seems that although the wild cards were not rums that could be compared exactly to the "cheap dark type" they did provide very interesting alternatives.
The Pusser's made the drink totally different, but was on top of my list, as it gave it a lot of kick, but did not take over the drink completely.
The Demarera was a very good alternative to the Dark Jamaican type, adding a distinct taste, while still keeping the drink true to what it is supposed to taste like.

Since these tests were conducted with the rums I had at home, I was probably missing some brands. Whaler's comes to mind. I have a feeling it's going to be of the Trader Vic's style, so I'm not that anxious to try it.
We were all very surprised how different each drink tasted, and it serves us as a guide for what to get in the future. Next up on my agenda (whenever I get around to it) pitting the gold/subtle rums against each other : Appleton V/X, Mount Gay Eclipse, Rhum Barbancourt, St James Martinique, and maybe Bacardi Gold, Appleton Gold, and Cruzan "Dark". I think they should be tried in a drink like Palace Court or something similar. What do you think?

Ran


 
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Kon-Hemsby
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 17, 2003
Posts: 1274
From: Andover, England
Posted: 2005-07-20 02:55 am   Permalink

Thanks for that Ran. I've tried a few taste comparisons at home, but nothing as well planned as that.

It really helps to know what 'everyday' rums are the ones that are worth using everyday and which one should be left well alone.

In my experience so far El Dorado Demarera 5 year is a great everyday dark rum, with the El Dorado Demarera 15 year a FANTASTIC dark rum (but slightly more pricey).

Keep us all posted on future rum tastings.

Mahalo
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Kono
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Oct 08, 2003
Posts: 1266
From: Orlando
Posted: 2005-07-20 07:27 am   Permalink

I agree with you completely regarding the Coruba. It's my favorite dark rum with Gosling's being second. I think you have to consider Black Strap a wild card as well as to me it's more a flavored rum, good for mixed drink experiments or just for sipping but not as a sub for dark rum in classic drink recipes.
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JerseyRED
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jun 15, 2004
Posts: 54
From: North Jersey!
Posted: 2005-07-20 08:40 am   Permalink

Ran,

Excellent job! I truly enjoyed reading the set-up and results of your taste testing. I will definitely get my hands on a bottle of Coruba Dark! I’ve never actually enjoyed Myers’s and found I would use it sparingly.

In your next tasting of gold/amber subtle rum, did you consider Bacardi 8 Year? It’s another I would add due to the price alone. Even though it’s “aged” rum, it’s only about a buck more for 750ml bottle than Appleton Estate VX.

I look forward to the results of your next tasting!

Rich

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Will Sinclair


 
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Humuhumu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3612
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2005-07-20 10:13 am   Permalink

Thanks for that, Ran! I've been pretty happy with the Coruba also. Always nice to get some confirmation from others, especially when so thoroughly investigated.

I concur with Kono -- the Black Strap is a strong and unique enough flavor that it almost could be thought of as a molasses liqueur.
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weirduncletiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 26, 2002
Posts: 756
From: Grape Town, California
Posted: 2005-07-20 12:05 pm   Permalink

Hey, Kick! Very nice work. You are a true professional. Join me on a wine tasting panel anytime. You got the buds (taste buds)!

-Weird Unc


 
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Tiki Bird
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 25, 2003
Posts: 850
From: Cerritos, Ca.
Posted: 2005-07-20 1:54 pm   Permalink

Thanks for the findings Ran, will pick up Coruba Dark Jamaican & Hi Times this weekend.


TBird.


[ This Message was edited by: Tiki Bird 2005-07-20 13:54 ]


 
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thejab
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2986
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2005-07-20 4:22 pm   Permalink

Interesting comparison Ran!

I also made the switch from Myers's to Coruba some time ago after seeing the Tiki Ti using it as their dark rum, so I'm glad you confirmed that it's superior.

Some of the rums you included I don't think necessarily belong in the same category as Coruba and Myers's (to be used in recipes that call for dark rum or Jamiacan dark rum). Mount Gay, Appleton VX, Demerara, and Pusser's all have unique qualities that set them apart from the pack of dark rums. They all have their place in tropical drinks but I wouldn't necessarily substitute one of them for Coruba or other dark rums in a recipe.

Mahalo!


 
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Rum Demon
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jun 20, 2005
Posts: 254
From: Portland, Oregon
Posted: 2005-07-20 8:47 pm   Permalink

Well done. I'm interested to hear your reviews of other rums. I was a bit disappointed to not see Bacardi Select on your list. I used to use it in my dark and stormys because it was two or three bucks cheaper than Goslings (and just as tasty in my opinion).

I really like the Cruzan Blackstrap, but don't use it much anymore as it really does throw the flavor of the whole drink off. It is a fun one to float on top of fruity drinks, though. Makes for a very interesting presentation.

Can't wait for the next chapter.

-Joe


 
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kick_the_reverb
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 17, 2002
Posts: 573
From: Originally Israel, now Oceanside, CA
Posted: 2005-07-21 12:26 am   Permalink

Thanks for the positive replies folks.
TheJab - Don't want to seem like I'm jabbing at you (ha-ha), but it seems you might have skipped the part where I said I threw in some wild cards, and that they can not be compared to the dark jamaican rum...I even put an * to indicate them (notice they are the same ones that you mentioned...). Me no dummy!
Rum Demon - sorry- didn't have Bacardi Select at home (notice I only used stuff I had lying around).

Any suggestions for a drink appropriate for the gold/subtle test?
Mahalo,
Ran


 
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Kon-Hemsby
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 17, 2003
Posts: 1274
From: Andover, England
Posted: 2005-07-21 02:35 am   Permalink

Reverb Man,

For the next test how about,

Havana Club Anejo Especial

Mount Gay Eclipse

Mahalo
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virani
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 17, 2003
Posts: 1438
From: Volcanic area of France
Posted: 2005-07-21 03:31 am   Permalink

great test, thanks for doing that...I'll try the Coruba now (hard to find here unfortunatly)
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Gigantalope
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 01, 2004
Posts: 913
From: Shinola, California
Posted: 2005-07-21 06:40 am   Permalink

Good work, it's strange as I've been thinking about what all the differences between these might be while shopping and here it is.

I like the breakdowns...field tests..."Boozy" or "unnoticeable in the drink."

Although I must say instead of narrowing the field, it makes me want to try them all too.

Clever indeed.


 
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thejab
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2986
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2005-07-21 11:57 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2005-07-21 00:26, kick_the_reverb wrote:
Thanks for the positive replies folks.
TheJab - Don't want to seem like I'm jabbing at you (ha-ha), but it seems you might have skipped the part where I said I threw in some wild cards, and that they can not be compared to the dark jamaican rum...I even put an * to indicate them (notice they are the same ones that you mentioned...). Me no dummy!



Oops! My apologies Ran, I didn't pay attention to the "*" disclaimer.


 
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Urban Tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 18, 2004
Posts: 527
From: The Tropical Isle of Manhattan
Posted: 2005-07-26 09:36 am   Permalink

Great post, thanks. Coruba will be my next dark rum purchase.

 
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