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Cruzan Black Strap Rum

Review: Cruzan Black Strap Rum  82.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on October 24, 2010

The Cruzan Rum Company is located on the Island of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. The Island of St. Croix is the largest of the US Virgin islands, being approximately 28 miles long and 7 miles wide. Along with the tourism industry and one of the largest oil refineries in the Caribbean, the St. Croix economy is dependent to a large extent upon the Rum Industry as a major engine of their economic growth.

All of the Cruzan Rums are produced using a modern five column distillation method which produces a light bodied rum, the quality of which can be tightly controlled by the five column distillation. The rum is then aged in once used American oak bourbon barrels. The Cruzan Black Strap Rum is a ‘navy style’ rum which is full of molasses flavour but which is perhaps a lighter bodied rum than one would find in a typical navy rum.

The sample bottle of Cruzan Blackstrap Rum for this review was given to me  by Simon Mooney, the local Brand Ambassador for Beam Global and is pictured below and to the right.  It is bottled at 40 per cent alcohol by volume and is, I believe, aged for two years in the aforementioned American Oak.

In the Bottle 4/5

The Cruzan Black Strap Rum has a new bottle design. In fact, this is the new design which The Cruzan Rum Company has began to implement for their full range of light and dark rums. It includes a simple and uncluttered minimalist label. I personally would prefer a little more information on the label such as the designated age of the rum and perhaps a little tidbit regarding the rich history of rum production on the Island of St. Croix.

I also have my normal reservations regarding the metal screw cap which seals the bottle. I have already accidentally stripped the threads on this bottle as I tried to seal it after my tasting sessions.

On the positive side, I like the overall bottle shape which is to my mind somewhat more masculine than before, and I like that the word “Cruzan” has been embossed on the sides of the bottle which makes it easier to grip when I am pouring.

In the Glass 8.5/10

Cruzan Black Strap Rum is an aromatic bombshell. When I opened my bottle  for the very first time, my nostrils were immediately aware of the rich molasses filled aroma in the air which contained strong accents of black coffee and dark licorice.  In the glass, the coffee aroma fades quickly but in its place the inviting scent of the maple syrup begins to build making me imagine I smell home-made flapjacks covered in maple syrup and butter.  Vanilla and cinnamon make an appearance in the breezes resting snugly within the heavy molasses and maple.

In the Mouth 49/60

The Cruzan Rum website indicates that the particular molasses used to make their rums is a light-bodied molasses which carries a distinct licorice flavour.  The website goes on to explain that the Black Strap Rum is a rum made in the Navy Rum tradition of full flavour and can almost be considered a molasses flavoured rum. In this case I agree 100 per cent. Indeed, a strong molasses flavour (tainted with licorice) seems to have been imparted quite thoroughly into this particular distilled spirit. I can also taste vanilla, as well as wisps of cinnamon and nutmeg which seem to be almost buried in the overriding molasses flavour.

What is really delightful, is that wrapped up in the molasses flavour as well is the wonderful additional flavour of maple syrup.  This maple flavour is so obvious that I can actually  imagine pouring the rum directly over my morning pancakes. ( If you are laughing I should add that I have read rumours of persons actually doing this.)

I do not taste any appreciable amount of oak or wood tannin, although my research indicates the Black Strap Rum was aged for two years in American oak. I suspect that the vanilla and wisps of cinnamon I taste are remnants of that aging spell in wood; but it could be equally true that they are instead merely part of the molasses flavour which dominates the rum.

In the throat 12.5/15

The strong molasses flavour continues to dominate during the exit.  I do not feel any appreciable burn in the throat, but I do feel hot spices build in my mouth and the top of my throat after I swallow the rum.  This is a decent sipper; but, I do get the sense that all this rich flavour will become cloying if not restrained.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The Cruzan Black Strap rum was very surprising to me. The flavor and aroma of black strap molasses dominates; but the firm presence of licorice and maple give the rum an alluring character.

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


Suggested Recipes

This is an extremely interesting rum.  I have never encountered maple flavour so strongly in a rum before. As well the rich molasses with the accents of dark licorice seems to combine very well with the aforementioned maple. I think this rum will work very well in many styles of cocktails. I chose a modified ‘Spanish Coffee‘ recipe, perhaps because it is getting colder where I am and the thought of a hot coffee and rum drink really appeals to me.

Spanish Coffee
(with Cruzan Black Strap Rum)

3/4 oz Cruzan Black Strap Rum
3/4 oz Tia Maria Coffee liqueur
Hot Black Coffee
Whipped Cream

Build in a large coffee mug
Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon or grated chocolate


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)

11 Responses to “Cruzan Black Strap Rum”

  1. Patrick Halstead said

    As an apprentice rum “snob”, I have now sampled 10-12 brands (and variants of those brands in some cases). I still rate the Cruzan as one of my favorites — top three or favorite “fallback” rum (hopefully not literally).

  2. Chuffy said

    I’m intrigued by this rum but I can’t seem to be able to find it in the UK. Does anyone know of a retailer?

  3. Rich said

    I ran across this rum on a Caribbean cruise. It is far and away the most distinctive rum I’ve tasted. Sadly, it is not available where I live. Guess I’m just going to have to take another cruise!

  4. Robert said

    I am working on a recipe for a Bay Rum drink (if you’ve ever used Bay Rum aftershave/cologne then you know what I’m talking about). The rum I would like to use needs to be dark and sweet with a bit of a spice kick. I don’t usually prefer the flavor of liquorice, however. Absinthe is “okay” to me, but I probably wouldn’t ever choose to buy it over something else. The recipe will include bay leaves, all-spice, maybe a little clove, and some simple syrup. Do you think this rum is a good candidate for what I am describing? I was also thinking Sailor Jerry’s might do well.

    • I am not sure what Bay Rum after shave is like, (I prefer Old Spice), but Cruzan Black Strap really isn’t a spiced rum, its more of a flavoured rum. But, I guess it depends on what ‘spice’ you want from the rum. The Black Strap will give you Maple, Cinnamon, Vanilla, and licorice, but the maple is more dominant than the others. You may want to try Kraken Dark Spiced, Goslings Black Seal, or the Sailor. Kraken will give you a bit more licorice, and a little menthol and vanilla, Sailor is kind of Dr. Pepperish but in a good way. and the Black Seal is just a nice wicked little dark rum full of all kinds of stuff.

      I find I usually have to trial and error a recipe to get it right, and using dark or spiced rums is always a challenge as the different flavours sometimes react in unanticipated ways. Good luck!

    • Frederic said

      You found a source for bay (Pimenta racemosa) leaves? The best I could do was get an essential oil. Keep in mind that this is not the cooking bay leaf which is more pine-like than clove-like.

  5. Butch said

    This rum makes and excellent “Dark and Stormy” which to
    you non-Brits is rum + ginger beer.

    • I concur Butch,
      I was seriously considering a ‘Cruzan Mule’ as the suggested recipe for this rum. (Of course a Dark ‘n Stormy is made with Goslings Black Seal which is why I would have to call the same recipe with Cruzan Rum a ‘Cruzan Mule’ instead.)

      • But not a spicy Jamaican style ginger beer- milder stuff (Barritts- a Bahamian ginger beer). I’ve never had Barritts, but apparently Australia’s Bundaberg is a good replacement, quite sweet, strong but not spicy ginger taste- quite smooth. I like to cut it with lemon sometimes instead of the usual lime.

  6. Frederic said

    This is a good rum at a good price. I am often curious to compare it to a homemade version (rum + blackstrap molasses) to see how it actually stacks up.

    The recipe I’d recommend is the Corn’n’Oil (this rum, lime, falernum, angostura bitters — a recipe is on our blog if you search for “blackstrap”). It also seems to pair well with stouts and rich bitter amaros like Cynar.

    • Corn ‘n Oil

      2 oz Blackstrap Rum (Cruzan)
      1/4 oz Falernum (Velvet)
      Juice of 1/4 Lime (~1/4 oz)
      2-3 dash Angostura Bitters

      Build over ice in an old fashioned glass

      Nice Recipe Frederic 🙂

      In case any one is interested The Cocktail Virgin has many many more!

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