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Romero Dark Rum

Review: Romero Dark Rum  83/100
Review by Chip Dykstra
December 31, 2020

The Romero Distilling Company bills itself as Western Canada’s Premier Craft Rum Producer. They are based in Calgary Alberta and are headed by the father and son team of Diageo and Thomas Romero. (Diageo, the father, is a Professional Engineer and Thomas, the Son is a MBA Graduate.)  The distillery they built markets itself with a connection to Alberta’s rum running past.

In particular, they draw a parallel between themselves and notorious rum runner Emilio Picariello. Known as ‘Emperor Pic‘, Emilio ran his operation from the Blairmore Hotel in the Crowsnest Pass, transporting rum and whiskey over the Rocky Mountains into British Columbia and the US Pacific Northwest. While Emperor Pic operated outside the bounds of the law, Diageo and Thomas stay strictly within its bounds. The parallel they draw is not to Emilio’s notorious nature, but rather his more noble side, as Picariello was well know for his charitable contributions within the local community, and of course the obvious connection to rum.

The Romero Distillery produces a full line-up of rum and rum-like spirits, including an Amber, a Spiced and a Dark Rum, as well as a similar line of what they call Sugar Cane Spirit which is cane spirit which cannot legally be labeled as rum in Canada as it has not yet been aged for a full year in oak. (Note: In the USA there is no such regulation concerning age and the spirits could properly be called rum.)

This is the review for Romero Dark Rum. The spirit was distilled using Romero’s Canadian made hybrid copper pot still using Canadian Molasses and Glacier fed water from the eastern slopes of the Rockies. The spirit was matured in once used bourbon barrels from Woodford Reserve in Kentucky.

The company’s website lists the ingredients as being Fancy Molasses, Blackstrap Molasses, Caramel and Select Spices, with some clarification indicated by the tasting notes which state that the Dark rum was spiced with Vanilla, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Clove, Sri-lankan Cinnamon, and Cracked Pepper. The final spirit was then sweetened with a combination of Fancy and Blackstrap Molasses.

Romero Dark Rum is bottled at 40% alcohol by volume.

In The Bottle 4.5/5

Romero Dark Rum is sold in the long necked squat bottle shown to the left. Etched on the bottle above the label is what I assume to be a crow linking the spirit to the Crowsnest Pass in the Canadian Rockies just west and south of Calgary where Emperor Pic had his headquarters. It was the Crowsnest Pass which was the main route over the Rockies to the Pacific Northwest where Emilio Picariello sold his rum and other spirits into the USA. The label provides us a little extra information about the rum. I have turned my bottle slightly so that you can see that this is a bottle from the very first batch of Dark Rum the Romero Distillery produced.

In The Glass  8/10

Colour: copper/bronze

Nose: Leads out with vanilla and caramel accented by cinnamon and clove. Nutmeg is found next with cardamom and black pepper trailing, I do not get a firm sense of sweetness from the molasses. It is apparent but laid back further than we would find in most traditional dark rums.

Note: The rum in this blend is probably about a year old. It would be a mistake to believe that aging has anything but a small role in the dark colour or the collection of aromas that we sense. This rum achieves a goodly portion of its flavour, aroma, and colour from the Fancy Molasses, Blackstrap Molasses, Caramel and Select Spices, which were added after distillation. This is in fact the traditional manner in which dark rum has been produced since the dawn of the spirit, and is the essence of the spirit which is called ‘Dark Rum’.

In The Mouth  50/60

Overall, the taste is good with the scents and aromas found on the nose translating well though the palate. I taste more caramel and molasses when I sip than which I found in the breezes but this added sweetness is not overdone. I found I could sip the spirit comfortable and with a dash of ice it is even better. Having said that, it is apparent to me that I would much rather mix the spirit in tall and short cocktails. This is also the tradition of dark rum. It is made to be a enjoyed in whatever manner the person who holds the glass chooses.

To that end I began my exploration with a simple Dark Rum and Cola which I found remarkably tasty. The light spiciness of the Romero spirit pushed through the tall serving giving it a light edge that I liked. I decided I could do a little better with the Romero Dark Rum and created a short cocktail which I have shared below.

In The Throat 12/15

The light spiciness of the rum is apparent in the exit. The cracked pepper and the cardamon seem to linger the longest with just enough sweetness from the added molasses to keep things relatively smooth.

The Afterburn  8.5/10

There is a lot of promise in this first batch of Dark Rum from Romero Distilling. The rum is much smoother than I was expecting, and although there is more spice than I normally encounter in a Dark Rum, that aspect is not overdone.

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


Suggested Recipe

Frank’s Slide

1 3/4 oz Romero Dark Rum
1/2 oz Bols Triple Sec
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
dash of Campari
Twist of Lime

Add the five ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Double Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with a twist of lime

If you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


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)

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