The Rum Howler Blog

(A Website for Spirited Reviews)

  • Copyright

    Copyright is inherent when an original work is created. This means that the producer of original work is automatically granted copyright protection. This copyright protection not only exists in North America, but extends to other countries as well. Thus, all of the work produced on this blog is protected by copyright, including all of the pictures and all of the articles. These original works may not be copied or reused in any way whatsoever without the permission of the author, Chip Dykstra.
  • Cocktails and Recipes

    Click Image for Awesome Recipes

  • Industry Interviews


    Click the Image for Great Interviews with the Movers of Industry

  • The Rum Howler Interview (Good Food Revolution)

    Click on the Image to see my interview on Good Food Revolution

  • The Rum Howler Blog

  • Rum Reviews

  • Whisky Reviews

  • Gin Reviews

  • Tequila Reviews

  • Vodka Reviews

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,137 other followers

  • Subscribe

  • Visitors

    • 13,279,420 pageviews since inception
  • Archives

  • Follow The Rum Howler Blog on

Goslings Family Reserve Old Rum Bottle No. 2634/13

Review: Goslings Family Reserve Old Rum Bottle No. 2634/13    (83/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published June 15, 2014

James Gosling (in 1806), left England intending to bring a load of merchandise goods to America for trade and sale. Apparently the ship upon which he was traveling was confounded by calm seas and instead of reaching America, the ship’s 90 day charter expired, and the ship’s Captain changed course to Bermuda. James Gosling never made it to America and instead settled in Bermuda opening a shop in St. George’s at the end of that year.

James’ brother Ambrose joined him in 1824, and the Gosling Brothers rented a shop on Front Street in the new Capitol of Hamilton (which was maintained by the family for 127 years.) In 1860, the new company of Gosling Brothers began to experiment with the rum trade, and three years later they were selling a distinctive dark rum. Gosling’s originally sold the rum directly from the barrel requiring their customers to bring their own container. However during World War I the brothers began to acquire Champagne bottles which they filled with rum. The bottles were corked and covered with black wax sealing wax. Soon customers began to ask for that Black Seal Rum.

Goslings Family Reserve Old Rum is apparently blended from the same stocks and in the same manner as their flagship brand, Gosling’s Black Seal. It is however, aged for a longer period of time in what the company calls ‘dark barrels’.

Goslings Old Rum SAM_1172In the Bottle 5/5

I snapped a picture of the Family Reserve Rum on my back deck. As you can see, the rum arrives in a tall dark wine bottle which is contained in a wooden box. The box has a rope handle and is filled with straw-like matting sitting which serves to protect the bottle within from jostling.

The bottle is topped with a cork and the cork and neck are dipped in  black sealing wax which keeps the bottle air tight.  A red metal band (accented by gold) is wrapped around the bottom of the bottle and upon it are printed in gold, two simple words ‘OLD RUM’. The white label under this metal band tells us a short story about the rum and its place in history. The bottom of the label is numbered and my particular bottle (produced in 2013) is number 2634.

As you have guessed I like everything about this first class bottle presentation.

In the Glass 8.5/10

As I poured the Gosling’s Old Rum into my glass, I noticed that the rum has distinctive copper/bronze hue with the tint more towards red and brown than towards gold and amber. When I tilted my glass and gave the rum a slow swirl, I noticed the legs in the glass were slightly thickened and moved slowly as they drooped down the side of the glass.

The breezes above the glass are tainted with licorice stained molasses, dark tobacco smoke, and strong hints of orange peel. I also sense some fine oak spices, a bit candied caramel and if you give the glass a little time, a scent of marmalade begins to develop. As the breathing continues some luscious baking spices rich with brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla begin to push through, as do some indications of Brazil nuts and pecans.

In the Mouth 49.5/60

The rum is slightly dry as it enters the mouth with a peppery bite and bringing forward strong indications of treacle. I should point out that this ‘dark rum’ is almost certainly made in the traditional style, those ‘dark barrels’ mentioned on the Gosling’s website almost certainly allude to an influence of real molasses within the rum as the taste of dark black-strap molasses is certainly front and center. I also taste black licorice, candied caramel, rich smoky tobacco and dry oak spices. Vanilla makes a strong appearance with cinnamon and cloves accenting the peppery oak spice. Interestingly I also taste dry fruity flavours which reminds me of dried apricots, raisins and perhaps a few figs and dates. Keeping my score down is a winding bitterness which runs through the rum and an odd taste which reminds me of sulphur.

Although the website for Gosling’s rum begs me not to mix the spirit, I find myself grabbing a bit of lime and some ginger-beer and making a strong Dark ‘n Stormy cocktail. For myself anyway, this classic Gosling’s Rum cocktail is a better way to enjoy their Dark Rum.

In the Throat 12/15

The finish is shorter than one would expect, and I suspect that words ‘OLD RUM’, on the label mean ‘older than Black Seal’ rather than ‘aged for a long long time’. Having said that, the flavours I encounter during the exit are quite nice with coffee and cocoa making a welcome appearance alongside the licorice stained molasses and smokey tobacco flavours. Again I find my score is prevented from rising because of a lingering bitterness and a taste of sulphur.

The Afterburn 8/10

The Goslings Family Reserve is an old fashioned style dark rum which features flavours of molasses and tobacco smoke. The spirit has experienced some ‘dark barrel aging’ which gives it a drier quality than you would find in a typical dark rum. Unfortunately a lingering bitterness and off notes of sulphur tainted the rum. This is still a very good rum, but I think I will be more inclined to mix Dark ‘n Stormies than to serve the Old Rum as a sipper.

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


Suggested Recipes

Dark 'n Stormy SAM_1174Dark ‘n Stormy

1 1/2 oz Gosling’s Family Reserve Old Rum
wedge of lime
2 – 3 oz Ginger Beer

Muddle the Lime Slice in a Rocks Glass and add Ice
Add Gosling’s Rum
Fill with Ginger Beer

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!



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)



This is

%d bloggers like this: