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Smuggler’s Cove Dark Rum

Review: Smuggler’s Cove Dark Rum 84.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on April 30, 2013

Smuggler’s Cove Dark Rum is a brand owned by Glenora Distillers Limited who are located in Glenville Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. This dark rum is blended from Jamaican stocks which have been aged a minimum of two years. In fact, these stocks are the same stocks (although the proportions may be different) which are used to produceFamous Newfoundland Screech Rum. The connection with Screech Rum is quite strong as the company which produces Screech, Rock Spirits (a division of the Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC)) is also the same company which packages the Smuggler’s Cove for Glenora Distillers. It would be fair to say however, that these stocks would be treated quite differently to produce the high-proof (45 % abv) dark rum, which is Smuggler’s Cove.

This brand is quite popular in Nova Scotia, and also has a strong presence in the provinces of Alberta, and Newfoundland and Labrador. (I was given a sample bottle by the good folks at Rock Spirits.)

SAM_0724 Smuggler's CoveIn the Bottle 4/5

Smuggler’s Cove Dark Rum arrives in the tall bar room bottle shown to the left. The name of the rum and the label invoke imagery of rum running sailing schooners which hid in the rocky shoals of the Canadian Maritimes as smugglers transferred their precious cargo of illicit rum into Canada. This romanticized past contains elements of truth as the trade for illicit rum has become part of the local folklore in the Canada Maritime provinces.

I like what I see, although I admit, I dislike the metallic screw cap topper. A nice plastic cap or cork topper would be better.

In the Glass 8.5/10

The rum in the glass has an inviting dark copper hue looking much like the colour of a slightly tarnished penny although perhaps with stronger elements of red in the colour profile. The initial breezes above the glass are full of molasses and candied caramel. As well, dark liquorice, cinnamon and cloves all taint the air above the glass with their presence. Allowing the rum time to breathe reveals some nice accents of orange marmalade and rich vanilla, which perhaps were there all along, but required more of my attention to discern.

Smuggler’s Cove is a dark rum made in the manner and style of a not to distant past when it was entirely the blender’s mastery that was needed to sooth and flavour the spirit. The rum in this blend is only two years old, and it would be a mistake to believe that aging has anything but a small role in the dark colour or the rich collection of aromas that we sense. This style of rum achieves a goodly portion of its flavour, aroma, and colour from whatever special ingredients which are added to the blend prior to bottling.

In the Mouth 50.5/60

The rum gives the mouth a nice bitter-sweet punch of flavour as it crosses the palate. Those same impressions which we sensed when we sniffed the air above the glass are present as we taste the spirit. Molasses, dark caramel, cinnamon, licorice, cloves, vanilla and orange peel all slide across the taste buds filling the mouth with their rich flavours. Perhaps there is more bitterness apparent in the flavour than what the nose had implied; but there is plenty of sweetness as well giving the rum remarkable balance considering the plethora of different flavour impressions.

Of course rums such as this are practically destined from birth to be mixed with cola, and my review would be remiss if it did not involve a nice rum and coke. The resulting bar drink is very nice. The Smuggler’s Cove seems to be particularly well suited as a cola mixer. I am pretty sure that the agreeable flavour of Smuggler’s Cove and Cola will ensure the rum will disappear quickly at my next deck party.

In the Throat 13/15

For a two-year old rum the Smuggler’s Cove is very smooth. The exit features flavours of molasses and licorice and the 45 % (ABV) alcohol content of the rum gives the tonsils a nice gentle kick as it goes down. Afterwards, in my empty rum glass I can smell ebbing aromas of baking spices (brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla), cloves and orange marmalade.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

For the most part, I like my rums to have spent some time in the barrel such that oak, rather than molasses and caramel provide the backbone of their flavour profile. Usually this means that young dark rums which achieve the bulk of their flavour through additions of special ingredients such as vanilla, spice and caramel do not appeal strongly to me. However, Smuggler’s Cove Dark Rum is an exception, and I would have no problem recommending this particular dark rum to my close friends.

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


Suggested Recipe

Cuba libreFor my suggested recipe, I am going to keep it simple:

Dark Cuba Libre’

1 ½ oz Smuggler’s Cove Dark Rum
2 ½ oz   Cola
A slice of Lime
2 or 3 Large Ice Cubes

Add the ice into a serving glass
Pour the rum and cola over ice
Garnish with lime


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)


One Response to “Smuggler’s Cove Dark Rum”

  1. tazodonnell said

    I’ve found that Schweppes Lemonade with a slice of lime can also be nice with rum if your want something more lighter in taste

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