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Jamaica Lion Spiced Rum

Review: Jamaica Lion Spiced Rum 73.5/100
A review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published June 15, 2018

Jamaica Lion Rums are produced and bottled by Royal Jamaica Rums who are headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica. Royal Jamaican Rums originated at the Monymusk distillery which is one of the oldest plantations on the Island of Jamaica. It is located on the south side of Jamaica in St. Catherine ‘s Town, and has been producing Rum since the 18th century.

Jamaica Lion Spiced Rum is imported into the USA by International Distillers and Vinters who are situated in Everett, Washington. My sample bottle arrived to me via a good friend who recently traveled to Jamaica. He purchased the bottle at one of the Duty Free shops on his way home and brought it over to share with me after his vacation. The Spiced Rum is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 3.5/5

I really didn’t know what to think of this bottle when my friend Jeremiah brought it over to my house for me to taste. It sort of looks cool, but it sort of looks cheap and tacky as well. There is an embossed Lion Head on the front of the bottle which takes away most of the room for the labels which means that I could not glean very much information about the brand other than who produced it.

As you can see from my scoring, I was not fond of the overall impact of the bottle presentation.

In the Glass 7.5/10

When I poured the rum into my glass, the spirit showed me a light amber colour in my glass, When I tilted and twirled my glencairn, I saw the spirit has a slightly thickened appearance and the legs which developed were slow-moving and thickened as well.

The breezes above the glass indicate to me that vanilla is at the forefront of this rum which also carries aromas of treacle and lightly sweet butterscotch. There are indications of other spices meandering the air, some cinnamon and ginger, with perhaps a hint of cloves,  coriander and nutmeg as well. Some of these spices (cloves, coriander and nutmeg) are indistinct and may well be figments of my imagination or perhaps hints left over from a small period of aging in oak barrels. While the rum is allowed to decant a light alcohol astringency begins to unravel into the air.

In the Glass 44/60

The spiced rum seems to lack backbone. There is little indication of the character which would come from oak aging, and there is an odd metallic bitterness which I taste which gives the rum an ‘artificial’ quality. My understanding is that Jamaica has strict regulations regarding additives and artificial flavours which leads me to believe that so such ingredients were used, but the odd flavour impression remains.

I begin to mix a few bar drinks to see what works and what doesn’t. I begin with a Spiced Rum and Cola. The mixed serving passes the grade, but the best description I can offer is that is that this serving is not remarkable in any way. Like the spiced rum it lacks character. I mix a Cable Car serving next and found it a was a step down from the Spiced Rum and Cola offering. and so I went back to tall servings and decided that my Flying Machine which mixes the spiced rum with lime and ginger beer was the best way to serve the spiced rum (see recipe below).

In The Throat  11/15

The short exit is short with a little harshness from the young underlying rum and unfortunately a little bitterness was present in the finish as well. Vanilla and spice tickle the tonsils, but again I found the Jamaican rum remarkable for the lack of character it displays.

The Afterburn 7.5/10

Jamaican Lion Spiced Rum is a mediocre offering which pairs a neutral rum with vanilla and spices. This is the path blazed successfully by Captain Morgan although my feeling is that the Captain Morgan Spiced has much more to offer than the Jamaican Lion. Perhaps the underlying rum could have been aged a trifle longer to bring some character forward.

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


Suggested Recipe

Flying Machine SAM_2725

The Flying Machine

1 1/2 oz Spiced Rum
1/2 oz Bols Triple Sec
1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 oz Old Thyme Ginger Beer

Add a slice of Lime to the bottom of your favourite tall drinking glass
Fill with Ice
Pour the first three ingredients into the glass over the ice
Add two dashes of Bitters and complete with Ginger Beer
Stir to mix thoroughly
Enjoy Responsibly!

If you are interested in more of my 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)

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