Thursday, 27 June 2013

Chairman's Reserve Spiced - what spiced rum should be like

In the interests of full disclosure let me say up front I'm far from a fan of spiced rum, largely I find their devotion to vanilla overpowering and boring. The usual aquatically themed mega-sellers, Captain Morgan, Sailor Jerry and Kraken don't do a lot for me.  That being said I'm a big fan of St Lucia Distillers, their standard expression and the Forgotten Casks are two very good rums indeed so I figured, in the interests of science I'd give their spiced rum a go and, at £24 a bottle what's to lose?

Spiced rum were, for a long time, a way for manufacturers to sell cheap, crappy spirit by lobbing in a boatload of spices that would hide the flavour and help pad their bottom line.  After all, you wouldn't use a nice rioja to make mulled wine so why use a good rum to make spiced rum?

Thankfully over the years this viewpoint had changed (mostly) and the spiced rum market is growing at a rapid rate, most bars you visit will have at least a few of the usual suspects behind the bar, even if they have damn all else in the way of rum.

This particular rum is bottled at 40% ABV and uses local spices such as coconut, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla (of course), lemon, orange, all spice and a local tree bark, Richeria grandis which is allegedly an aphrodisiac. St Lucia Distillers add their spices at various stages during maturation and blending, with some getting up to a year to marry with the spirit.

Having drunk this it feels like the base rum for this is the same as the Chairman's Reserve, a mix of copper pot and continuous stills that gives a lightness to the rum while still having a depth of flavour.

Picking up this bottle you're struck immediately by the colour of the spirit, a deep mahogany with red tinges

Seriously, it's really red
Once I cracked open the bottle the room was filled with the scent of cinnamon and baking spices which really surprised me, after all, spiced rum = vanilla doesn't it?  Pouring into the glass and actually having a proper sniff you're hit immediately with cinnamon, not harshly but more like a freshly baked cinnamon bun, after that the rest of the Christmas-y spices come through, nutmeg, cloves and candied orange peel.

Really, really red

A sip follows the same profile, a cinnamon hit that warms you up for a wave of different flavours to wash over your palate, all the notes from the nose come though in turn with a little bit of the vanilla, giving you the feeling of being sat in a bakery at Christmas, feeling warm and content.

On the way down this is remarkably smooth, the finish is lingering and warm with a dryness that creeps up on you from the ageing in ex-bourbon casks. 

I'll freely admit to being very surprised by how sippable this is, a £24 bottle of spiced rum that doesn't need to be drowned in coke? Bargain.

Now, most people will mix this so here's a few suggestions

  1. Mix with cloudy apple juice and a squeeze of lime, in winter time try warming the apple juice first and this will be a lovely winter warmer after a bracing walk in the snow
  2. Cranberry juice brings out the dryness more and makes for a very refreshing, and very tart, summer drink
So, will this convert me to the cause of spiced rums? perhaps not fully but this is definitely a welcome addition to the Nerd's booze cabinet


  • 40% ABV
  • £24 a bottle
  • Nose - cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, orange peel
  • Flavour - cinnamon, nutmeg, orange, cloves, hint of vanilla
  • Finish - very smooth with a lingering dryness
  • Mixing - Good with cranberry juice or cloudy apple juice

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