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Jamaican Lion Dark Rum

Review: Jamaican Lion Dark Rum   74/100
A review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published June 22, 2018

Jamaica Lion Rums are produced and bottled by Royal Jamaica Rums who are headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica. Royal Jamaican Rums originated at the Monymusk distillery which is one of the oldest plantations on the Island of Jamaica on the south side in St. Catherine ‘s Town. The facility has been producing Rum since the 18th century.

Jamaica Lion Dark Rum is imported into the USA by International Distillers and Vinters who are situated in Everett, Washington. My sample bottle arrived to me via a good friend who recently traveled to Jamaica. He purchased the bottle at one of the Duty Free shops on his way home and brought it over to share with me after his vacation. The Dark Rum is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 3.5/5

I really didn’t know what to think of this Jamaican Lion Rum bottles when my friend Jeremiah brought them over to my house for me to taste. It sort of looks cool; but it sort of looks cheap and tacky as well. There is an embossed Lion Head on the front of the bottle which is not only hard to make out, it also takes away most of the room for the labels which means that I could not glean very much information about the brand other than who produced it.

As you can see from my scoring, I was not fond of the overall impact of the bottle presentation.

In the Glass 7.5/10

The rum displays itself as a dark brown spirit which shows me extremely reluctant legs when it is tilted and twirled. At this point I should mention that it is my belief that Jamaican Lion Dark Rum is a relatively young spirit which achieves its colour  from its secret recipe of special ingredients and caramel colouring. It his is a bit of a throwback rum made in the style of the not to distant past when it was entirely the blender’s mastery rather than the oak barrel that was used to sooth and flavour the spirit. There may be some aged rum in this blend, but it would be a mistake to believe that aging has anything to do with the dark colour we see.

The breezes above the glass carry a somewhat medicinal scent accompanied by vanilla and licorice stained molasses. The breezes also carry a light sharpness which when combined with the medicinal scent gives the air above the glass an “artificial” quality which does not inspire confidence.

In the Mouth 45/60

I began my deliberation on the flavour by sipping the rum neat at room temperature. I tasted no real depth of flavour or character. The flavour is similar to a mixture of vanilla extract, treacle and light molasses. (In case you are wondering, dark treacle has a flavour resembling charred caramel with a slightly bitter aftertaste.) Although it was not apparent on the nose, there is a light indication of fine oak spice. I wish the oak was more obvious as despite this light character, the spirit is strictly a mixer. The logical course of action is to mix a little with cola to see if the spirit has anything to offer in the mixed drink format.

On that front, I had some success as the addition of cola and ice was welcome. I wouldn’t do cartwheels if I was served this in a bar setting, but I wouldn’t complain either. I mixed a Brooklynite next and again found the bar drink satisfactory but not exciting.

In the Throat 10.5/15

When sipped, the exit contains a light bitterness of treacle which begs to be eliminated with cola or by a suitable cocktail. The finish is short, and fortunately when the rum is mixed the bitterness disappears.

The Afterburn  7.5/10

I found the Jamaican Lion Dark Rum sort of one-dimensional which is perhaps not surprising as I believe the spirit is intended purely as a rum and cola mixer. When mixed with cola, the resulting bar drink is agreeable, although the enjoyment of the flavour experience relies more upon the cola and less upon the rum as the dark rum.

My final score of 74/100 reflects a dark rum which mixes easily with cola and in dark rum cocktails; however, it does not offer any significant depth or character to that experience.

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

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Suggested Recipe

Dark Rum and Cola
(the classic Rum and Coke recipe)

2 oz.  Jamaican Lion Dark Rum
2 oz.  Cola
dash of Angostura Bitters
Citrus slice
5-6 Large Ice Cubes

Rub the rim of a standard rocks glass or highball glass with lime
Fill with the glass with ice
Add Rum and bitters, then fill with a splash of Coca Cola
Stir Lightly, then garnish with a slice of citrus

Please Remember to enjoy your libations in a responsible manner!

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!

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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)

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