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Cockspur VSOR 12

Review: Cockspur VSOR 12 (Cockspur 12*)   88/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
May 29, 2019
(* known as Cockspur 12 in alternative markets)

Barbados is generally considered the birthplace of rum dating back to 1651 where the first recorded written usage of the word Rum Bullion appears. More than two hundred years later in 1884 a Dane, Valdemar Hanschell, founded a business in Barbados, supplying visiting ships with ropes, sails, salt, fresh fruit, meat and of course Barbados rum. Through the years, business thrived and so too did the popularity of his Cockspur Rum.

Cockspur VSOR is the most premium rum brand produced by Cockspur. According to the company website:

We find it hard to do anything halfway. So when we make our Very Special Old Reserve blend, we really go all out. We wanted it to be rich, have a great body, a nice smell, an exceptional taste and leave a nice feeling in your mouth. It was not easy, but we managed to get it done. This well-aged, premium rum has it all – a beautiful mahogany colour, a lovely toffee, vanilla and oak aroma, a taste suggestive of bourbon and vanilla and a warm oak aftertaste. Yes, it is hard work and takes time… but it is worth it

The rum is produced from molasses and aged in American Oak at the Cockspur facilities in Barbados. According to information presented to me several years ago, both column still and pot still rums are used in the premium rum’s production. The number 12 in the product name does not as some believe refer to the specific age of the rum, rather it refers to a hypothetical blended taste profile. The ages of the rum in the blend may be as young as 4 years and as old as 17, but the overall flavour is blended  to have an oak profile similar to a hypothetical 12-year-old spirit. After blending, the premium Cockspur Rum is brought to bottling strength with Barbados’ own coral filtered water, and it is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 4/5

Cockspur VSOR 12 is packaged in a clear corked bottle with little to no frills. The label is simple and understated. The long bubbled neck makes the bottle both easy to grab and easy to pour without spilling, and the large barreled bottom give the spirit stability on my bar shelf.

I do have a little trouble with the number 12 in the product name, as I believe this is purposefully misleading to the consumer. My understanding is that most of the rum within the blend is closer to 4 years than to 12 years of age.

In the Glass 9/10

The rum looks dark and rich with the enticing scents a of treacle, molasses, baking spices (vanilla, cinnamon and cloves), and roasted walnuts. There are hints of bourbon and corn as well which are probably due to the American Oak aging barrels used to mature the rum.

As I let the glass breathe, I begin to notice scents of dark brown sugar separating from the molasses as well as indications of toasted marshmallow, oak spice, orange peel, canned apricots, and some fresh tea leaves and cocoa. There is also hint of copper drifting in and out of the breezes above the glass.

The Cockspur VSOR 12 is complex and inviting.

In the Mouth 53/60

The entry begins with flavours of treacle, molasses, canned apricots, peaches, and dry fruit. Dark cocoa and caramel join in with a light impression of bourbon coming along for the ride. Pipe tobacco and toasted walnuts lie underneath. As I sip the flavours increase in intensity with oak spice beginning to assert itself as well. There is also a charred smokiness evident as well as more caramelized brown sugar (treacle), and hints of musty leather.

When I add ice, the rum seems to me to slightly bitter, so I also add a very small splash of cola and find this more to my liking. Probably I should have stuck to sipping the spirit neat; but exploration seems to be part of my nature, and I am always looking for more than one way to enjoy myself with a spirit.

In the Throat 13/15

Caramel, molasses and cocoa are all evident in the finish. After the swallow I can taste residues of tobacco, vanilla and roasted walnuts. The finish is lengthy although perhaps a bit drier than I normally prefer.

The Afterburn 9/10

Cockspur VSOR 12 was a treat to sample. As indicated above this is apparently the same rum as the Cockspur 12 which used to be available in my locale. Hopefully someone brings the rum back to Alberta so that I can add a new bottle to my collection. By the way, if you want a recipe suggestion, try a Rum Old Fashioned as shown below.

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


Recipe Suggestion:

SAM_0872Rum Old Fashioned

2 oz Cockspur VSOR 12
1 tsp Sugar syrup (1:1 Ratio)
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Fees Cocktail Bitters
3 large Ice Cubes
1 twist of Orange Peel

Add the first three ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


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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