Monday, 18 May 2015

Captain Morgan's White

It’s strange to think of a £45bn company like Diageo as an underdog but with the global spirits and
beer behemoth taking on Bacardi in the white rum market then Diageo really is the Rocky to the
Puerto Rican Ivan Drago, pretty intimidating on its own but dwarfed by the opposition.
Morgan's White Daiquiri

Captain Morgan boasted the 2nd highest sales figures for rum in 2013 selling 10.3m cases but this is dwarfed by Bacardi’s 19.1m.  As the spirits market becomes ever more competitive both companies seem to be taking aim at the other's areas of strength, Bacardi have expanded their range to offer more premium sipping rums with the Facundo range while the Captain Morgan’s range has seen some interesting innovations lately from the frankly awful sounding Tattoo, the flavoured parrot bay and the actually rather good private stock.

The folks at Diageo look to be trying to either pull in new rum drinkers from the vodka sector or have something for your standard Captain Morgan’s drinker to move onto as their tastes mature.

Now as you'll have been hard-pressed to have avoided the recent ad campaign's for Captain Morgan's with the mandatory images of swashbuckling, busty wenches and so on it's interesting to remember that Captain Morgan was an actual historical figure, albeit one where history has definitely been written by the victors (and polished by the Diageo marketing department).
Henry Morgan:
adventurer, sailor, kind of a dick

Henry Morgan certainly lived a long and varied life rising from his Welsh roots to be, variously, a privateer, a pirate, an Admiral in the Royal Navy and Governor of Jamaica and amassed a fortune of around £10m in today’s money from raiding Spanish interests from Cuba to Panama.

A privateer is basically a licensed pirate, carrying a Letter of Marque from a government which typically detailed where they could operate and against which nation’s shipping, pirates on the other hand went wherever and raided whoever they felt would be most profitable.   From a victim’s point of view any difference would be fairly academic when armed men are swarming your boat and stealing anything that isn’t nailed down.  Certainly Morgan had a reputation for using torture to extract information and, had be been captured by the Spanish probably would have been swiftly executed.

For a fascinating read about the golden age of piracy that discusses Captain Henry Morgan, Blackbeard et al I cannot recommend Colin Woodard’s “The Republic of Pirates”  highly enough.

White rums live and die on how they are as a mixer, with very few exceptions they're not sippable nor are they designed to be and Captain Morgan's White is no different in this respect. Taking a sip neat is a little harsh, with a soft sweetness and a tiny bit of vanilla and funk on the back end, this is apparently aged for a year in barrels to take a bit of the edge off it which, while it has certainly softened it you're under no illusions this is aged for any significant length of time.

Where I was very impressed though is in a daiquiri (more on this glorious cocktail here).  Using a 10:3:2 ratio of rum/lime/sugar from the ever excellent Difford's Guide the slight funkiness of the rum is cut through nicely with the lime and the absence of the coconut aftertaste that, for me, dominates Bacardi superior makes for a very refreshing cocktail, at 40% it holds up well enough to the sugar and lime to give a bit of bite.

It will be interesting to see how this expression fares, the spiced is already ubiquitous and other white rums such as Havana Club are also nipping at Bacardi's heels.  Price-wise I would expect this to be on a par with Bacardi at the £18 a bottle mark or so







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