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Romero Dark Sugarcane Spirit

Review: Romero Dark Sugarcane Spirit   84.5/100
Review by Chip Dykstra
January 15, 2021

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 I have learned is aged with what Romero Distilling calls an accelerated maturation process. The spirit cannot be called rum in Canada as it has not spent the minimum of one year in small oak as per Canadian law and thus cannot be called rum. (In the USA there is no such regulation concerning oak aging for rum and Romero’s Cane Spirits could properly be called rum south of our border.)

All the base ingredients and distillation processes are the same for Romero’s Cane Spirits as they are for their traditionally aged rums. This information was covered covered in some detail when I reviewed Romero’s traditional Dark Rum spirit (here).

The Dark Sugar Cane Spirit is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

In The Bottle 4/5

Romero Dark Rum is sold in the tall long necked 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 third batch of Dark Cane Spirit the Romero Distillery produced.

In The Glass 8.5/10

Colour: Tarnished Penny

Nose: Fine oak spice, vanilla and caramel accented by cinnamon and nutmeg. Hints of clove and cardamom with very light black pepper trailing. As with the Romero Dark Rum, 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. Unlike the Dark Rum from Romero, I notice bits of fine wood spice in the breezes. Perhaps a reflection of the accelerated maturation process.

In The Mouth 50.5/60

I like the Dark Cane spirit, but I am finding myself thinking that the rum (er, I mean cane spirit) behaves more like a lightly spiced rum than it does a dark rum. The caramel and molasses are mild giving the spirit an entry similar to an amber rum and then the light spiciness and vanilla kicks in. There is a nice kick of licorice at the back end that brings the spirit back into its realm as a dark rum (er, I mean cane spirit). The trip is quite nice and I am very impressed that a spirit with such little age can be so enjoyable. Kudos!

There is definitely enough quality to consider more than just a Dark Rum and Cola cocktail, although I would not blame anyone for starting there as the Romero Cane spirit mixes well with cola. However, I thought I would put a little spin on Tony Abou‘s popular modern cocktail, the Cable Car. The result was a serving I dubbed, the Mountain Climber, and you can find that recipe below.

In The Throat 13/15

There is a really nice chocolate and licorice fade at the back end of the swallow. Cardamon and pepper seem to build just a little and then ebb into the distance. The cane spirit is light bodied so the finish would have to be described as more short than long, but it is nevertheless also quite smooth.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

I was not expecting to enjoy Romero Distilling’s Cane Spirit more than I enjoyed their Dark Rum. Although the website information leads one to believe that the two spirits were produced in the same manner, I am inclined to believe their must be a difference in either recipe proportions or that the ‘accelerated maturation process’ is unique to the Dark Cane Spirit. It could also just be a batch variation which is very typical of small batch craft distilleries. I guess I’ll just have to ask them.

In the meantime I think I will enjoy a few more cocktails like the one I am recommending below.

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


Suggested Recipe

The Mountain Climber

1 1/2 oz Romero Dark Cane Spirit
1/2 oz Bols Triple Sec
3/8 oz Lemon Juice
3/8 oz Lime Juice
dash Sugar Syrup (to taste)
Coil of lemon peel

Add the first five ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a coil of lemon peel

Please 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!


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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