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 2,112 other followers
  • Subscribe

  • Visitors

    • 13,973,801 pageviews since inception
  • Archives

  • Follow The Rum Howler Blog on

Cockspur 12

Review: Cockspur 12  Bajan Crafted Rum   89/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted January 10, 2012

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.

The Cockspur 12 Rum is the most premium rum brand produced by the company. Both column still and pot still rums are used in its production, and it is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume. The name, Cockspur 12, does not refer to the specific age of the rum, rather it refers to the 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 a taste profile similar to a 12-year-old rum. That is why the label makes no specific age statement of 12 Years. It merely says Cockspur 12.

This rum has undergone an important change recently which I think is worthy to speak of. The rum is of course, still produced from molasses and aged in American Oak at the Cockspur facilities in Barbados. However, unlike before, all of the Cockspur Rum is now brought to bottling strength with Barbados’ own coral filtered water. Previously the Cockspur 12 Rum sold in Canada (and parts of the U.S.) was shipped in bulk at cask strength to Hood River Distillers in Oregon and brought to bottling strength using water from the Hood River. This difference in water source was immediately apparent to me last spring when I sampled the new Cockspur 12 Rum in Miami at a luncheon sponsored by Cockspur. The rum tasted sweeter and smoother than I remembered from my previous review and much more to my liking. I decided that it was time to revisit the Cockspur 12 and provide a review based upon the current bottling made with 100 % Bajan coral filtered water.

In the Bottle 4/5

Although the water has changed, the bottle and labeling style have not.

Cockspur 12 is packaged in a clear corked bottle with little to no frills. The label is simple and understated. I prefer my premium rums to be in sleeved packages to protect my collectible spirit from the deleterious effects of light and UV rays. Of course if you drink the contents within a normal period of time, then this is not a problem. If like myself you collect spirits and drink their contents slowly over time then such packaging is more important.

In the Glass 9/10

The rum looks just as dark and rich as before with the enticing scents and smells of deep brown molasses, rich baking spices, and again roasted pecans immediately rising into the air. This time around with my glass I am also getting a strong indication of vanilla, charred coconut and a little soft bourbon whiskey. As I let the glass breathe, an enticing scent of cigar tobacco rises from deep within the glass, and I sense perhaps a bit of a copper-like scent as well similar to the scent of a freshly minted penny.

The Cockspur rum seems very complex and inviting in the glass.

In the Mouth 54/60

As I indicated in my preamble, the Cockspur 12 Rum tastes a little bit sweeter and smoother this time around. Dark cocoa and rich caramel lead out with a delicate nuance of bourbon riding in the coattails. Rich pipe smoking tobacco and toasted walnuts lie underneath, and the flavour is very inviting with little of the bitterness which I had noticed in my initial review (see below). As the glass decants, the flavours become deeper and more inviting as tasty baking spices assemble reminding me of sticky cinnamon buns sprinkled with toasted pecans.

This new Cockspur 12 is very much to my liking.

In the Throat 13/15

Caramel, molasses and cocoa fill the throat in an exit which feels wonderful. I taste tobacco, vanilla and roasted walnuts well after my glass is consumed. The finish is rather lengthy although perhaps a bit drier than I normally prefer, however I am very well pleased by the lack of bitter notes which haunted my first tasting two years ago.

The Afterburn 9/10

All I can say is that in the case of Cockspur 12, the decision to use only Bajan coral filtered water in the production of the Cockspur 12 has made a world of difference to my palate. I no longer taste the lurking bitterness within the spirit which I had noticed before. While the old Cockspur 12 was more of a mixer for me two years ago, this new Cockspur 12 most definitely serves as a sipper.

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


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)


5 Responses to “Cockspur 12”

  1. Terry O said

    Hi, I have had the good fortune to try Cockspur rums in Barbados, and I wonder which of the products this “12” might be? If you look at the Cockspur website, you will find the Five Star, Old Gold, and two variations of the VSOR. I can find no references to “12” anywhere but in stores in the US/Canada, and the UK. Any idea if it is the same as the Old Gold, or VSOR? I can find the Five Star everywhere. Any idea how I might find out? I really like the Old Gold best … though it is not as complex as the VSOR. Thanks!!

    • I am not sure what the answer to your question is. I sent off a query to Cokcspur, but whether I will get a response or not is unknown.

      • Jeff said

        COCKSPUR VSOR/12*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.* Known as COCKSPUR 12 in select markets.

  2. Benny said

    I’m more inclined to believe that the difference in new and old Cockspur is due to batch differences. It’s hard to imagine that any water would add sweetness and smoothness, qualities that I’d expect from aging, not water. If Hood’s glacier water caused bitterness and roughness I’d expect you’d find these in their whiskies.

    • You could be right Benny, especially as over a period of two years the rum may have undergone some blending changes that I am unaware of. I make specific reference to the water change however, because of my discussions with representatives from Cockspur Rum. When I tasted the new Cockspur 12 at that luncheon in Miami, and specifically asked what was going on, (because as I said I noticed the change immediately), The Cockspur representative told all of us that the difference was in the water. If their had been blending changes as well, there would be no reason to hide it, as they would want to trumpet everything which was making the rum better. But the rep was convinced that the water was the reason for the smoother sweeter taste. (To be fair, the rum probably was not any sweeter than before, but the bitterness I had noticed the first time around was no longer in the taste profile, this by itself would make the rum taste smoother and sweeter.)

      As an aside, coral filtered water probably has properties that Glacier fed water does not (and vica versa). The extra softness from the limestone filtering would be an obvious difference. A possible cause of the bitterness I tasted the first time around with the rum could simply be an interaction between the two water sources. The distillate is based entirely on coral filtered water, the process of bringing the rum up to bottling strength used the glacier fresh water. (This would not be an issue with the Hood River whiskies.) This is only a possibility and I could postulate other reasons as well. However, all I can say definitively is that the new Cockspur blended rum (brought to bottling strength with the coral filtered water) tastes better to me today than the old blended rum (with the Hood River Water) did two years ago.

%d bloggers like this: