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Lemon Hart Navy Spiced Rum

Review: Lemon Hart Navy Spiced Rum  85/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on November 19, 2013

Lemon Hart is an iconic rum brand with roots which stretch back to the late 18th century when Mr. Lemon Hart began to supply rum to the British Royal Navy. By 1804, production of his “Lemon Hart Rum” was moved from his small merchant office in Cornwall, England to a larger facility in London. Over 150 years later the production of the blend had shifted to the Hiram Walker Distillery in Ontario, Canada. True to its roots as a Navy Rum, the brand remained a Demerara blended rum with the bulk of the blend shipped from Guyana to the Hiram Walker Distillery where it was aged and blended with a small amount of Canadian Rum (1.5 %) for tax purposes.

It was during this time that the overproof Lemon Hart 151 Demerara Rum became a famous cocktail rum. In fact, this rum is called for by name in many of Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber’s tiki recipes. However by the early part of the 21st Century, Tiki culture had all but disappeared and the importance of the Lemon Hart 151 had diminished to the point that the brand owner (now Pernod Ricard) decided to divest itself of the brand and sold Lemon Hart to a Canadian concern, Mosaiq, of Dorval, Quebec.

Under the direction of Mosaiq, the Lemon Hart brand has been re-energized and two new additions to the Lemon Hart family, Lemon Hart Navy Spicy Rum and Lemon Hart Original One Hundred British Proof Rum (available in the Travel Duty-Free market) have recently been launched. The spiced rum (which is the subject of this review) is an 86 proof offering (43 % alcohol by volume), developed for Mosaiq under the direction of former Hiram Walker Master, Mike Booth.

Note: I was (in a very small way) involved in the development of the Lemon Hart Navy Spiced Rum. The brand owner, Mosaiq, contacted me during the development of the spirit, and asked me if I would be interested in tasting a new rum they were working on, and of course to provide feedback. I mention this as part of the full disclosure which I always provide when I review a distilled spirit. Although I believe my review is fair and honest, I also believe you the reader have a right to know about the small role I played in the development of this particular rum. Mosaiq also provided me with the sample bottle from which this review was constructed.

SAM_0991In the Bottle 4/5

The new Lemon Hart Spiced Navy Rum arrives in a standard tall ‘bar room’ style bottle shown to the left. The label is professional and serves to catch the eye with a strong combination of colours and fonts. The Demerara heritage of the rum is highlighted as is the year 1804 when the Lemon Hart brand name is said to have been established.

In the Glass 8.5/10

When I pour the rum into my glencairn glass, I noticed the rum displayed as a dark coppery brown liquid which when tilted and twirled released rather fat drooplets of rum which slowly ambled back down the inside of that glass. These fat legs indicate a relative sweetness from added sugar, and the dark colour is an indication of caramel colouring.

The initial aroma from the glass is very pleasant. Things begin with a candied sweetness reminiscent of Butterscotch and/or Rum & Butter Lifesaver candies. Within that candied aroma I sense the spiciness of cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom as well as perhaps a touch of orange zest. There are obvious vanilla notes, a very light indication of treacle and hints of tobacco and oak which appear only after the glass sits for a few minutes.

In the Mouth 51/60

The rum brings an interesting dichotomy across the palate. My first impression is one of butterscotch sweetness which is quickly followed by an aggressive spiciness which seems full of cinnamon with scattered bits of clove. A strong vanilla presence and light indications of charred treacle seem to bridge that gap between the sweet and the spice giving the rum a nice balanced flavour profile.

My sense is that there is more going on in the spiciness than cinnamon, cloves, ginger and vanilla; however, whatever other spices may or may not be in the mix are used in a judicious manner such that they are hard to discern individually. Or it could simply be that a light flavour of oak barrel aging lies underneath giving me this added sense of complexity.

Because this is a spiced rum, I immediately tried a little spiced rum and cola in my glass. I was quite pleased that some of that aggressive spiciness within the rum pushed through the cola giving this simple bar drink a welcome spicy ‘oomph’. I also mixed the spiced rum with ginger ale and found even more enjoyment (see recipe below).

In the Throat 13/15

The rum is bottled at 43 % alcohol by volume which gives the rum perhaps a little more of an alcohol push than many of the other spiced rums in the market which are bottled at 40 % (or even lower). Yet I find the rum smooth, even in the finish. There is a strong cinnamon like spiciness which leaves the tonsils glowing; but I sense very little if any alcohol astringency. The rum exits with flavours of candied caramel, treacle and baking spices with the spiciness building up (in a nice way) when you are sipping the rum neat. Even after a few minutes I still feel a nice cinnamon heat on the tongue and back of the throat with a little cloves and white pepper.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

I think that the folks at Lemon Hart Rum have a winning formula with their new Navy Spiced offering. The spirit follows the tried and true roadway of sweet caramel, vanilla and baking spices bringing perhaps a somewhat stronger emphasis on the spiciness which serves to keep that roadway more interesting.

My strong score of 85 points indicates that I found both sipping potential and strong potential for mixology.

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


Suggested Recipe:

Although the Navy Spiced Rum is great with cola, I found I also enjoyed mixing with Ginger-ale!

Metro Swizzle
a cocktail by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)

2 oz Lemon Hart Spiced Navy Rum
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Cranberry Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine

Ginger Ale

Shake the first four ingredients over ice
Strain into a tumbler half full of cracked ice
Stir until the glass frosts
Complete with Ginger-ale



My Scores are out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret them 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 spirit.  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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