This week in the drinks segment of Episode 26 of The Charlie Tonic Hour, Charlie and I talk about the experience of drinking on the road and review a very nice rum that I picked up in Florida.
Cruzan Rum has been made in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands for seven generations. The Nelthropp family has been making rum on the island for centuries but it’s only recently that they have sold the company to Beam Brands and it is now being marketed and distributed more aggressively in the US. Many of the rum blogs and chat rooms have lamented the “death of Cruzan” and from what I can tell there was a lot of worry about how the change has affected the premium, single-barrel rums in the line. Luckily for Cruzan rum I am not a rum aficionado so I can’t speak to that. All I can tell you is that for a 750 ml bottle that costs less than Bacardi or Captain Morgan’s, I think it is a better tasting rum.
I ended up with Cruzan because I wanted one bottle of rum to make some Pina Coladas on the last night and then for the hotel room on the drive back. Since it was the end of the vacation I decided to only spend what cash I had in my pocket rather than spring for a nicer brand. So as I evaluated the shelf I realized that the with tax, the $14 in my pocket wouldn’t be enough to buy the Captain Morgan’s that Charlie had requested. Instead my eye fell on the bottle toward the bottom of the shelf that cost $12.49. (The Party Source in Newport, KY has it listed for $9.99.)
It fit the bill and didn’t break the budget so I got it. Cruzan does make a light, spiced, and flavored versions of its rum but the bottle I got was the dark rum. It’s a blend of rums, all of them aged for two to four years in an oak barrel. To give you a comparison, Bacardi is aged for one year in steel barrels, which is why it has no color. Considering the affordable cost, I admit I was surprised when it turned out to be a very good tasting rum. The Pina Coladas turned out great, and the aged quality of the rum actually gave them an interesting complexity. The next night in the hotel room Charlie made the rum & coke’s rather strong but there was no burn or aftertaste like I’ve noticed with well rum in the past. Drinking it neat, I did taste a little of the burn and the alcohol flavor that one expects from lower shelf liquors but it was still surprisingly smooth considering the price. It was nowhere near as smooth or sweet as the Pyrat rum we reviewed in Episode 17 but again, this one is a third of the price. It may not ever be a drink that I sip over ice but for mixed drinks or served over coke with a lime, I think I’ve found my new favorite rum.