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Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum

Review: Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum  82.5/100
A review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on October 23, 2011

Robert and Zachary Brinley founded the St. Kitts Rum Company in the early 1990s to blend and market their Brinley Gold Rums on St. Kitts and in the United States. It is the stated goal of the company to make and market the best tasting flavoured rums in the world. To that end, the Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum is produced using a rum blend which has been aged for four years in used American whisky and bourbon barrels. The rum is flavoured (or perhaps I should say spiced) with Madagascar vanilla, orange, nutmeg, clove, and other tropical spice flavors. It is blended as a mixing rum, but Brinley maintains that the rum is smooth enough to be enjoyed over ice.

As part of this review, three friends and I performed a side by side tasting comparing Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum, with the Bacardi Oakheart Spiced Rum, and the standard bearer for the spiced rum category, Captain Morgan’s Original Spiced. Each of these rums is produced from stocks which have been aged in American oak barrels. As well, each of these rums seems to walk the path of a vanilla and caramel rum accented by fragrant spices which compliment the rum but not to dominate it. With this similarity in style and production, a side by side tasting seemed only natural.

(I should note that a sample bottle of Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum was provided to me for this review by the River Valley Beverage Group, which is the liquor agency responsible for distributing this rum in Alberta.)

In the Bottle 4.5/5

The Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum arrives in a tall slender bottle. A neat little booklet is roped around the slender neck. This small booklet tells a little bit of the story of the spiced rum’s blending and flavouring. To crown the presentation, the sleek bottle is capped by a straight sided high density cork. The labeling is attractive and professional. The only drawback is that the bottle is a little too tall to fit comfortably in my liquor cabinet. A very minor quibble.

In the Glass 8.5/10

I poured some of the spiced rum into my glass, and I began my review as I usually do, with a good look at the rum before I began to nose it. It is a pale bronze coloured spirit which, after a quick tilt and a slow swirl, laid a nice oily sheen on the inside of the glass. After a moment or two of delay, legs which were slightly thicker than I was expecting fell back down into the spiced rum.

The nose from the glass carries vanilla, butterscotch and a muted spiciness to the air above the glass. When I allow the glass to breathe I can detect a little of the oak accents as well as the presence of some sharper aromatic spices akin to cinnamon and cloves. Some baking spices build up over time but they remain light as does the overall scent from the glass.

In the Mouth  49.5/60

The flavour of the rum carries a bit of an oaky thread with butterscotch, and a strong push of vanilla riding in the currents. I taste some light baking spices as well as a very light indication of canned fruit (apricots and pears). There are some other spicy flavours which remind me of nutmeg and cloves.

When I allowed the glass to breathe, the vanilla flavour increased substantially, and with a little ice added, I found I was able to sip the Shipwreck Spiced Rum. Although to be fair, the rum does seem to be much more suited to mixing. So… I added Cola to my glass, and I found that I had a nice Spiced Rum and Cola. It is the kind of drink that will go down easy in the company of friends with a flavour more to the side of light and smooth, than sharp and strong. When I mixed an Orange Push-up (see the recipes below), I was again happy with the cocktail. My conclusion is that this Brinley Spiced Rum is nice for cocktails.

In the Throat 12/15

I had hoped that the oak barrel aging would be more apparent in the rum, and I do sense a bit of oak character in the exit; but when sipped neat, it is the vanilla that dominates the finish (although echoes of nutmeg and cloves are readily apparent as well). When mixed into a cocktail, the vanilla still pushes through, but I do not get a strong sense of oak and only a little fragrant spice.

The Afterburn 8/10

In my side by side comparisons with the Captain Morgan Original Spiced, and the Bacardi Oakheart, my friends and I were in basic agreement. As a sipping rum, the Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum was the smoothest and the easiest to drink. Strangely enough, all of us thought that even though the Brinley tasted the best over ice, it was not the best when mixed into a cocktail. Each of us chose Bacardi Oakheart over the Brinley Gold Shipwreck in that forum. Against Captain Morgan Original, The Brinley Shipwreck Spiced fared well with two out of the four of us picking it ahead of the Captain in an even competition.

We all felt that the Brinley Spiced Rum was pleasant as a mixer, but it didn’t really add any ‘oomph’ or special character to the spiced cocktail. In the final analysis, it is what it is, a pleasant mixing rum. I scored the rum higher than Captain Morgan Original Spiced, based upon its strength when sipped neat, but I scored it lower than Bacardi Oakheart which imparted real character to the cocktails we mixed.

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.


Suggested Recipes:

Orange Push Up

1 1/2 oz  Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum
Juice from one Navel Orange
1/2 oz Grenadine
Splash of Lime juice

4 large ice-cubes

Mix the first four ingredients in a shaker with ice
Strain into a tumbler with more ice and enjoy.
No garnish necessary.

And remember to please enjoy responsibly!


Shipwreck Spiced and Cola

2 oz Brinley Gold Shipwreck Spiced Rum
4-6 oz Cola
Lots of Ice
Slice of Lime (optional)

Fill a bar glass full of ice
Add 2 ounce of Spiced Rum
Fill with Cola
If desired garnish with a slice of lime.

Please consume responsibly!



My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


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