Captain Morgan’s Original Spiced Rum
Review: Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum 80/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on September 19, 2010
Admiral Sir Henry Morgan (aka Captain Morgan) was a Welsh ‘privateer’ who attacked and plundered the Caribbean on behalf of, and with the written consent of (in the form of an English Letter of Marque), the Governor of Jamaica, Sir Thomas Modyford. Privateers at that time in history were essentially ‘legal pirates’ who were allowed to attack and loot enemies of the state reaping the rewards from their plunder in lieu of pay. Researching Sir Henry Morgan, I learned he was a skilled naval captain, a ruthless buccaneer, and one of the most successful ‘privateers’ in the history of piracy earning a Knighthood for himself in 1674.
Captain Morgan’s Original Spiced Rum is of course the name of Diageo’s top-selling spiced rum. I am on a bit of a mission to find out if the rum lives up to the man for which it was named. On the surface at least, we have some nice comparisons. Captain Morgan the Privateer was one of the most successful buccaneers in the history of piracy, practically defining the means and methods of a successful pirate campaign. Captain Morgan the Original Spiced Rum is perhaps the most successful Spiced Rum in the entire category, and has pretty much set the standard for sales and marketing for all other spiced rums to follow. But what about the rum itself? Is it really as good as the marketing? I put Captain Morgan Spiced Rum through the paces of my review system to find out.
The Captain Morgan logo is perhaps one of the most recognizable logos in the entire world. It is hard to argue with the success of the image and the brand identity that the logo on the bottle has generated.
Although I used a non-typical 200 ml flask for my review, the normal 750 ml bottle is a flagon style bottle which is pretty standard in the industry. It is easy to grip, easy to pour, and fits on any bartender’s shelf. It’s hard to quibble with the presentation that has come to define the category.
In the Glass 8/10
The Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum displays a pleasant amber in the glass which flashes brilliant yellow in the light. A pleasing aroma of rum and vanilla rises from the glass and light accents of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg follow. I sense a very light oak backdrop in the air which gives the nose just a hint of orange peel and wood spice.
When the rum is allowed to decant, the vanilla scent deepens, and a moderate alcohol tone begins to unravel into the air as well. I have heard others describe the rum as medicinal, I disagree. To me what we are noticing is the normal vegetal tones of a young rum which has spent two years or less in an oak barrel before bottling.
In the Mouth 48/60
This is the first review I have ever done where I purposely changed my tasting regime. Rather than beginning with a few sessions of sipping, I began with a few sessions of cocktails. Captain Morgan is unabashedly portrayed on television and on their own website as a mixing rum. Pretty much the first link you find on the Captain Morgan website is a link to Captain and Cola. In fact I would argue that the entire Captain Morgan marketing strategy is dedicated to demonstrating the mixability of the Captain Morgan Spiced Rums. So, for this review, mix I did.
I went to the Drinks Mixer Website, and found an entire page dedicated to Captain Morgan Cocktails. I mixed a long drink based on Captain Morgan Spiced and orange juice, and I mixed the Captain Morgan into a cocktail with Peach Schnapps and cranberry juice. And of course, I mixed some Captain and Colas. I have to admit, it all tasted very nice. The Original Spiced Rum seems to find its place easily into bar drinks and cocktails just as advertised.
Then I spent some time sipping the rum.
When I sipped it, I noticed the sharpness of the rum, the vegetal alcohol flavours of youthfulness, and the way the vanilla dominated the palate. As well, I noticed a light oaky flavour with peppery citrus zest, and the faintest echo of baking spices. (Just enough going on it seems to add depth to add to that famous Captain Morgan mixability.)
I guess if the rum was being portrayed as an eloquent sipping rum I might be put off. But the Captain is just being who he is, and he isn’t trying to be anybody else. So what I have done with my score ‘In the Mouth’ was to score it as a stellar mixing rum, but not as a sipping rum.
In the Throat 11.5/15
The exit is slightly sharp, with a little more burn than most spiced rums in the marketplace. It seems that even in the finish the Captain begs to be mixed rather than sipped. In a bar drink that burn can be paired with cola, or fruit juice. At that point we tend to call it ‘kick’, and then it seems a good thing.
The Afterburn 8/10
I understand why Captain Morgan is a market leader. The rum has a little spicy attitude, but stays safely in the realm of spices which will not offend. It has just enough burn to be noticed with cola, but not enough burn to be off-setting. If you serve Captain Morgan at a party, probably all of your guest will accept it. It won’t be anyone’s favourite sipping rum by any means; but, it is a safe choice at a party that requires a mixing rum.
I still have a little left in my bottle after my sampling sessions, I think I’ll mix a Captain and Cola.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
I mentioned three recipes in the review above. Since I already linked to the Captain and Cola recipe, it is rather pointless to add it here, but in case you were wondering about the other two, I have included them here, slightly altered from their original form but delicious to my palate.
Captain’s Orange Push Up
1 1/2 oz Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum
Juice from one Navel Orange
1/2 oz Grenadine
Splash of Lime juice
4 large ice-cubes
Mix in a tumbler with ice and enjoy
Captain’s Island Sunset
1 oz Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum
1 oz Peach Schnappes
1 oz Cranberry Juice
2/3 oz Lime Juice
1/3 oz Grenadine
Mix over ice in a cocktail shaker
and serve in a short glass
And remember to please enjoy 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)