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Gosling’s Black Seal

Review: Goslings Black Seal Bermuda Black Rum (85/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted October 2009

In the Bottle 4/5

Goslings Black Seal

First off I will say that the rum looks a little foreboding. I thought the bottle was darkly colored, but when I tipped the bottle I saw that instead it is the rum which is dark. Inky dark with red tones. Almost wicked looking…..

In the Glass 9/10

I pour a little into my glencairn glass and instantly I am hit with a most unusual and I must admit enticing unpleasant aroma (that does not make sense but then this rum is very different from the norm). I smell burnt caramel apples, intense hyacinth, and wisps of cinnamon and nutmeg. Maybe even a little allspice. At the same time the smell is earthy. It makes no sense to my nostrils to get this earthy smell but it is there in spades. (I hate to admit this; but in my imaginings I actually think of an old graveyard with freshly upturned earth, hyacinth and hibiscus on nearby graves and pungent burnt smells coming from the glass.)

In the Mouth 52/60

My first sip is tentative and the tip of my tongue has gone all tingly and then numb, and then tingly again. The smell in the glass has changed and become more intense with sugary spiciness. Wisps of dark licorice, anise and more cinnamon waft upward. I take another sip, larger this time, and I  can taste the burnt caramel. I also taste Jagermeifter! I taste what I imagine is hyacinth, upturned damp earth, baking spices and burnt caramel. Finally I taste an herbal bomb in the back of the palate that I want to describe as Buckley’s cough medicine minus the menthol. The flavour is intense but interesting.

A dash of coke does nothing to the flavour, but eases the bitter backwash in the throat. At fifty percent coke a marvelous change occurs in the glass. The Caramel is tamed and the herbal bombshell is smoothed out to a rhapsody of complex flavours. It tastes sweet and spicy at this point with no particular flavour dominating. I probably could not pinpoint a single flavour in the profile anymore, although when I was younger my mother made a dutch desert called sinsebrie (I have no idea of the spelling). This is kind of like that. A soup of brown sugar, raisins, nutmeg, cinnamon and barley all rolled into one. I guess that earthiness has turned to maltiness.

I find myself grabbing a bit of lime and some ginger-beer and making a strong Dark ‘n Stormy cocktail. For myself anyway, this classic Gosling’s Rum cocktail is the best way to enjoy their Dark Rum.

In the Throat  12/15

A lightly bitter but clean wash is left in my mouth after I swallow. The finish leaves a certain dryness in the throat and mouth. The herbal spiciness is felt strongly at the back of the palate long after the glass is consumed.

The Afterburn 8/10

The verdict. I am glad I tried this. Goslings Black Seal may indeed be my dark stormy night drink, but it may also be my bitterly cold afternoon in the dead of winter  drink. That dryness, I believe will have a certain appeal on cold afternoons.

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


Suggested Recipes

Dark 'n Stormy SAM_1174Dark ‘n Stormy

1 1/2 oz Gosling’s Black Seal or Family Reserve Old Rum
wedge of lime
2 – 3 oz Ginger Beer

Muddle the Lime Slice in a Rocks Glass and add Ice
Add Gosling’s Rum
Fill with Ginger Beer

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!


You may (loosely) interpret the scores 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)

6 Responses to “Gosling’s Black Seal”

  1. Kim Brown said

    Have you tried Gosling’s Old Rum?

  2. Stephen said

    Curious as to why you consider this a flavored rum?

    • That is a good question Stephan.

      I decided that I needed some way to differentiate the young ‘black’ rums which obtain most of their rich colour and flavour from things like caramel, molasses and spices, from the aged dark rums which obtain their most of their colour and flavour from oak barrel aging. (Rums are allowed to have a certain percentage of flavouring agents added without being required to be labelled as ‘flavoured’.) In the case of the Black Rums the rum companies are going right up to the limit allowed by law. Basd upon this, I decided that rums like Goslings Black Seal, Cruzan Black Strap, and Koloa Kaui Dark Rum (which is completely unaged) were closer to being flavoured rums, than they are to being dark rums and so I grouped them with the flavoured rums in my menu system.

      Having said that, I am approaching the point where I plan to expand all of my menus, and when that happens, I will be creating a new section for ‘black’ rums, and that s where Goslings Black Seal will ultimately end up.

  3. I know zero about rum (i’m a bourbon man) but needed a dark rum. Picked this over Bacardi’s dark offering. Have to say this is delicious. I have never drank rum on the rock, but would consider doing so with this. Very tasty.

  4. AJ Murray said

    This is truly a strange and distinctive bottle. I like this straight-up on ice with a large squeeze of lime.

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