Thursday 5 November 2015

Caribana Sol - an insulin chaser please barman!

Spiced rum has a bad reputation and, while there are some decent ones out there its reputation as a drink for the young and the skint is pretty accurate, largely it's low grade spirit whacked full of sugar, vanilla, maybe some cinnamon and has a vague nautical theme on the bottle.

Picked up by a friend coming through Miami duty free as a bit of a joke (I hope) for the princely sum of $14, it’s fair to say I held little hope for this bottle and yet it somehow still managed to limbo under that very low bar.

At 35% ABV this doesn't strictly qualify as rum, but given it doesn't qualify as drinkable we can let that minor quibble slide.

The bottle insists it was established in 1893 but I can find almost nothing out about this rum online other than the makers website which, after invoking the usual hackneyed and cliché ridden imagery of pirates and carnivals, tells the reader it's made with "Barbados virgin rum with spices and natural flavours". I'm taking that to mean it was aged as long as it took the distillate to come to room temperature.

Once you pop it open there’s the obligatory cheap vanilla smell and such an overwhelming cloying caramel sweetness that you’re left wondering if there’s such a thing as nasal diabetes.

Tasting is just more of the same, vanilla and so much sugar you can almost feel your molars
dissolving with every sip, the finish is a lingering vanilla that will be familiar to anyone who's had a 99p cupcake from a petrol station.

Coke does improve things a little, offsetting the worst of the sweetness but it’s still pretty terrible.

Not every rum can be, or needs to be, a premium sipper, there’s a place for volume brands in the
marketplace and I've mentioned elsewhere how impressed I am by Captain Morgan’s white rum but
this just comes off as a lazy, cynical drink, created on a spreadsheet somewhere with the cheapest
ingredients that could be found and a general “eh, it’ll do” attitude.

Good rum doesn't have to be expensive, you can pick up some cracking bottles of rum for under £20
in most supermarkets these days, so, if you find yourself in Duty Free looking at a remarkably cheap bottle you know nothing about, do yourself a favour and spend the extra and get something genuinely good.  Unless you know someone with a masochistic taste for reviewing ropey rums that is..


  1. I think you let your personal distaste for vanilla cloud your judgement on this review. I just picked up a bottle of Caribana Sol in the Duty Free on the way home from Punta Cana and I personally think that it is delicious. I enjoy the strong vanilla taste and the sweetness especially in a mix with diet Pepsi.

    1. I could observe that you've equally let your love of vanilla colour your opinion, but then taste is by definition a very personal thing. if you enjoy this stuff then good for you, all that matters is if you enjoy it or not.

      For me I found it for too sweet, and the vanilla that synthetic awful stuff you get in cupcakes, not genuine vanilla flavour or the vanillin you get from barrel ageing.

  2. Thanks for this review. I couldn't find information about this rum elsewhere and was almost tempted to buy it.

  3. It's bottled in Pewaukee, Il. Read the label on the back of the bottle. That's why it's vague about where it's made.

  4. Found this rum at the Canada/US border duty free and I bought it because it was remarkably cheap ($11 for 750ml bottle). My expectations were extremely low under the circumstances, but I'll go as far as saying it's probably the best liquor value I've ever experienced.

    Poured over some ice, it makes a very pleasant drink, with complex flavor notes that I absolutely didn't expect out of any product in this price range. Every single other person on our trip (5 of them) also agreed that it was very good.

    As a full disclosure, none of us are anywhere close to being rum-snobs or whatever the commensurate term is within the rum world, but I've had my fair share of rums in my day including decent oak aged rums and this stuff is probably my favorite. It certainly has much more authentic-tasting flavoring than some of the mainstreams like Captain Morgan.

    I could understand the reviewer's descriptions if he drank this neat, but just don't do that (is that even a thing?) With just the addition of ice it comes alive. I've even since cooked with it and it makes a mean syrup with blackberries and brown sugar.

    Give it a shot yourself and let us know which of us is the crazy one.

    1. I am a looooong time drinker of Captain Morgan - Private Stock, Black, etc. but since the price at duty free wasn't too much less at home, I was convinced to purchase the Caribana Sol. It's decent on the rocks, but a little sweet. I am now enjoying it with Pepsi. Doesn't hurt to try something different...

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