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Cabot Tower 100 Proof Rum

Review: Cabot Tower 100 Proof Demerara Rum 84/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on June 13, 2013

Cabot Tower is situated on Signal Hill in St. John’s, which is of course the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador. Construction of this historic Canadian monument began in 1898 as the tower was built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland, as well as to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Today, Cabot Tower is the feature attraction of the Signal Hill National Historic Site of Canada, and if you travel to St. John’s you can visit the interpretive center therein and/or enjoy the scenic walking trails with a surrounding view which overlooks St. John’s Harbour.

Of course if you do happen to be in St. John’s (and you want to have a nice drink of rum) then you might also want take a stroll down George Street which is lined from top to bottom with Pubs and Restaurants where everyone’s drink of choice seems to be rum. One of the rum brands you are sure to encounter in those pubs and restaurants is the namesake of that famous tower, Newfoundland and Labrador’s own, Cabot Tower 100 Proof Rum Demerara Rum.

The Cabot Tower Rum is a 100% Demerara blended rum (distilled and aged in Guyana). This Guyanese rum is shipped in bulk to Canada where at the facilities of Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC), it is bottled at a full 50 % alcohol by volume (100 Proof) for Rocks Spirits, the brand owner.

(Note: The bottling proof of the rum was changed in 2006 from 57.1 % ABV to 50 % ABV.)

SAM_0726 Cabot Tower 100 ProofIn the Bottle 4/5

I was sent a sample bottle of Cabot Tower by the good folks at Rocks Spirits who seem to enjoy reading my quirky reviews of their rum products. The bottle and the label are fine for a rather inexpensive overproof rum, as the label features a nice picture of historic Cabot Tower, and in fact the label is trimmed to the shape of the tower it features. I have my normal quibbles with the metallic screw top cap which is rather flimsy and serves to cheapen the overall appeal of the bottle. However, as this rum is rather inexpensive, (and I feel rather forgiving today) I will not belabour this point any further.

In the Glass 8.5/10

The rum expresses itself well in both colour and in aroma. The colour is a dark and rich with obvious red coppery tinctures showing through. The aroma reminds me strongly of both Old Sam Demerara Rum, andLemon Hart Demerara 151 Rum, a similarity which I am sure is no coincidence as each of those Guyanese blends are bottled by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) as well.

I decide that allowing the glass to breathe is a good thing as there is a strong push of alcohol astringency tainting the breezes. After I give the glass some time to relax, I notice the nose reflects the rum’s colour as obvious notes of rich Demerara sugar rise up with hints of red cinnamon, cloves and black licorice imbedded in the rum’s sweetness. As the glass sits even longer, impressions of expensive cigars and hints of a pungent leathery mustiness seem to be residing in the air alongside that spicy sweetness. I note a strong fruity quality is present as well represented by orange peel, marmalade and canned apricots.

The aroma is complex and assertive (some of that assertiveness is certainly from the alcohol push of a 100 proof spirit). I enjoy the breezes, and I hope the rum can live up to its expressive nose.

In the Mouth 50.5/60

Wow, a little goes a long way with this rum. (My throat and palate were just assaulted by the heat and spice the Cabot Tower rum brings forward.) I think I was lulled into a false sense of security by the dark rich colour of the spirit, and I subliminally believed the rum would feature some of the smoothness I associate with dark aged rum. Instead, I was greeted by a rough and ready, brash bully of a rum that seemed to delight in kicking my tonsils down my throat as I took a rather large swallow. Everything I sensed in the breezes was on full display in the flavour. Molasses, cinnamon, cloves, orange peel and marmalade all arrived together in full force pushed ahead by the full throttle of alcohol astringency. It may sound rather strange, but I actually enjoyed the beatdown the rum provided.

Cabot Tower is not a well aged dark rum, rather it is young and brash; however, it is also full of the wonderful flavours of a full strength Demerara rum. The only reason my score isn’t higher is that a large swat of treacle-like bitterness follows all that flavour, and that bitterness, not the heat and the spice, seemed just a little out of place.

This is no sipper, (unless you are into self punishment); but, after trying out a few bar drinks, I discovered that all that flavour (and even that bitterness) works really well in long tall cocktails (see recipes below).

In the Throat 12.5/15

The bitter finish caused me to drop the score in the exit; but only a little, because as I noted, that the swat of treacle-like bitterness seems to work well in cocktails particularly with cola. (When the rum is mixed, the bitter disappears replaced by tasty caramel flavours.)

The Afterburn 8.5/10

I surprised myself by liking this rum so much. Normally a rum with a bitter finish does not please me; especially when the bitterness is accompanied by so much burn. But I recognize that Cabot Tower isn’t meant to be a smooth sipper. This is a mixing rum meant for a tall Zombie, a tasty Mai Tai, and long tall bar drinks mixed with cola. In those formats where the full flavour of the rum can shine through, the Cabot Tower 100 Proof rum is very tasty indeed.

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


Suggested Recipes:

SAM_0812 Cabot Tower CLCabot Tower 100 Proof Cuba Libre’

1 1/2 oz. Cabot Tower 100 Proof Rum
3 to 4 oz Coca Cola
Lime slice
5 -6 Large Ice Cubes

Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice
Insert a lime slice between the ice-cubes
Add rum and cola


SAM_0807 Zombie ApocalypseZombie Apocalypse

1 1/2 oz Famous Newfoundland Screech Rum
3/4 oz Old Sam Demerara Rum
1/2 oz Cabot Tower 100 Proof Rum
1/2 oz Bols Apricot Brandy
1/4 oz Luxardo Amaretto
1 oz Orange juice
3/4 oz Lime juice
3/4 oz Lemon juice
3/4 oz Demerara Cane Syrup
Large Ice Cubes
Crushed Ice
Ice Chunks
several slices of Orange, Lime and Lemon
Splash(es) of Soda

Shake the first 9 ingredients with the ice cubes in a cocktail shaker
Fill a large tall glass (12 oz) with a combination of ice cubes, ice chunks, crushed ice and slices of fruit
Strain into the tall glass filled with ice and citrus slices
Add a splash or two of soda to fill
Stir and Enjoy!

This recipe is not for the faint of heart, and I suggest that one ration per evening is more than sufficient.

(Please enjoy Responsibly!)


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)


4 Responses to “Cabot Tower 100 Proof Rum”

  1. Mark Mueller said

    My first taste of Demerara Rum was at the urgings of the principle of Renison College, University of Waterloo in the late 70’s. A glass to you Mr. C. Later that same night he also introduced me to the age old practice of snuff. What a rush! During his teaching he also taught me the art of distilling in the middle of winter without the use heat and the medicinal practice of adding iodine to rum in the eastern provinces of Canada due to the prevalence of the gout in that area. This practice was government sanctioned until the use of iodized salt became wide spread. Looking at the reddish tinge of the Rum I wonder whether what you described as tasting like “treacle-like bitterness” was actually an attempt by the producer to meet an age old taste people of the area were used from the passed? Taste and remembrance of it has a very long reach and is one of the most powerful memory joggers that exists in us humans. Just a thought….
    Anyhow, it was wonderful reading your review and remembering that night with principle. See….. taste is a powerful reminder.

    • Taste does indeed bring back powerful memories. For me this happens most often when I drink whisky. Highland Park always reminds me of the muddy lowland pastures filled with sawgrass and timothy that I used to walk though in my youth in the early mornings. Alberta Springs Rye Whisky always reminds me of the autumn harvest with the scents and smells of grain and straw filling the air. As a youth in the late 70s I couldn’t wait to get off the farm and into the city to go to University, but now I enjoy reliving those earlier days whenever I have a dram of good whisky.

  2. Tiare said

    That sounds like a rum i would love to have but i don`t think i can get it, unless it´s sold in Europe or Louisiana. Your description gets me to imagine a sort of mix between Smith and Cross (mixing wise) and one of those privately bottled demeraras mostly sold in Europe to premium prices.I would love to try this one!

    • Hi Tiare

      The good news about this rum is that it is inexpensive (unlike those privately bottled Demeraras which are for sale in Europe), the rather unfortunate news is that it appears to be available primarily in Canada and along the eastern seaboard of the US. I agree that as a mixer it is solid. The rich flavour just seems to burst from the cocktail. (Maybe you could check if some of the on-line sellers like Bevmo or Hi Times can ship a bottle to Louisiana for you?

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