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Cruzan Single Barrel Rum

Review: Cruzan Single Barrel Rum  89/100
A review by Chip Dykstra (AkA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on August 26, 2010 (Revised November 20, 2012)

The Cruzan Rum Company is located on the Island of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. The Island of St. Croix is the largest of the US Virgin islands, being approximately 28 miles long and 7 miles wide. Along with the tourism industry and one of the largest oil refineries in the Caribbean, the St. Croix economy is dependent to a large extent upon the Rum Industry as a major engine of their economic growth.

All of the Cruzan Rums are produced using a modern five column distillation method which produces a light bodied rum, the quality of which can be tightly controlled by the five column distillation. The rum is then aged in once used American oak bourbon barrels.

Cruzan Single Barrel Rums are produced from a blend of vintage rums which have been aged up to 12 years. Once blended the vintage rums are then finished in a new oak barrel for about one year. Barrels are bottled individually with each bottle of rum coming from a single barrel. Because each new barrel will have different characteristics, each bottling will be a little different from the last; but, the general character of each bottling should be similar due to the overall blending process.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

Pictured to the left is the new bottle design for the Cruzan Single Barrel Rum.  My only quibble with the design is the lack of specific detail on the label regarding the age of the rum in the bottle, and the fact that only one year of that age is actually spent in a single barrel before bottling.  I’m not saying that the label should be cluttered with information, but the vintages of the rums in the blend should be highlighted.

As always, I like the use of high density straight sided corks to crown the bottle presentation. I also like that the bottle has the words Cruzan embossed into the sides which gives the glass texture and makes it easier to grip.

In the Glass 9/10

The rum displays a rich bronze colour in the glass. Once poured, I immediately noticed a rich toffee scent which seems to have a nice oak spice embedded in the aroma. I catch hints of maple in the breezes as well as vanilla and orange citrus peel. In all, this is a rich pleasant nose that brings all the right elements to the fore.

Thick viscous legs formed when I swirled the glass and I noticed that as the glass decanted the nose became deeper and displayed a rich baking spice aroma. Hints of cinnamon have joined, and I am eager to begin the sampling.

In the Mouth  53.5/60

A nice spicy tingle greeted my tongue as the rum entered my mouth. Oak disguised as citrus peel and the taste of butterscotch led the way with a gush of dried fruit mixed in. I also taste deeper notes of charred sugars which give an impression of treacle, and a slightly smoky sensation which one encounters when tasting a spirit with a sherry influence. Perhaps some Spanish oak was used in the aging barrels of a portion of the blend.

The spirit seems to have become richer and more complex over time. When I first  encountered this rum in 2009 , I remember the rum being pleasant, but it did not exhibit the complexity I encounter with the present bottling. In spite the complexity, the spirit is very approachable and mild. The rum doesn’t try to clobber you over the head with anything in particular; instead all of the flavours coexist well making this a very pleasant sipper.

In the Throat  13/15

The only burn I feel is from the oak spices which makes this a clean crisp rum on the exit. Haunting trails of brown sugar, cinnamon and maple are felt on the finish which could perhaps be a little longer. Then again sometimes I prefer the clean finish of a good column distilled rum.

The Afterburn  9/10

The Cruzan Single Barrel Rum seems to get better every time I taste it. When I open a bottle, it seems to disappear far too fast, and I found myself wandering over to my local store to pick up another to keep my collection intact.  I cannot think of a better endorsement than that.  A nice easy sipper with just enough complexity to keep the rum interesting.

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


Suggested Recipe:

Hazelnut Chocolate and Rum

I sipped much of this rum in my rocks glass with a single cube of ice.  I made a few Cuba Libre’s  and even tried a few cocktails with grapefruit juice and lime. My most enjoyable evening with the Cruzan Single Barrel Rum came about when my wife gave me a few pieces of chocolate stuffed with hazelnuts as I was sipping the rum over ice. So I snapped a picture and decided that Hazelnut Chocolate and Rum would be my suggested recipe.

2 oz Cruzan Single Barrel Rum
1 large Ice Cube

Serve in a Rocks Glass
with Hazelnut Milk Chocolate on the side


You may (loosely) interpret the scores 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)


5 Responses to “Cruzan Single Barrel Rum”

  1. Kevin said

    I saw your recipe recommendation and I have another for you for this specific rum…given I have tried it with a few others, but for the cost, this is one of the best ones.

    2oz Cruzan Single Barrel
    3/4oz simple syrup
    5 dashes Orange Bitters
    4 ice cubes
    Orange Peel

  2. CJ said

    Have you had a chance to taste their older bottling of the Diamond Estate Single Barrel rum? I was wondering whether this newer rum is similar?

    • Sorry Cj. I was not able to taste the Diamond Estate Single Barrel. My understanding is that the rum is in a constant state of evolution.

      • CJ said

        That’s more than alright. I have a bottle of both, but haven’t bothered to open the newer single barrel bottle. I guess this gives me a good excuse to pop the top and compare the two!

  3. Hi Chip: I absolutely agree with your review. When I wrote my own a few months ago I was surprised at what an overall depth and solidity the Cruzan displayed. I must have gone thorugh two other bottles since then just on the strength of the quality I noted in the first pass.

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