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Kraken Black Spiced Rum

Review: The Kraken Black Spiced Rum  78/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (aka Arctic Wolf)
May 31, 2016

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum is a Caribbean black spiced rum brand owned and distributed in the United States by Proximo Spirits. For those who are confused by the term ‘Black Rum’, it is a style of rum which relies more upon caramel and molasses for its colour and flavour than it does upon barrel aging. Often black strap molasses is used as the ‘flavouring’ agent which accounts for its rich molasses filled flavour and dark colour.

The Kraken is a rum which follows this path as it is produced from a young (1 to 2-year-old) blended Caribbean rum. Whether it is actually black strap molasses used to flavour and colour the spirit is not revealed by the producers, but it is a good guess. Several years ago when I reviewed the spirit for the first time, the information presented to me indicated that the black rum was infused with 11 secret spices; however, I note that the Kraken Website indicated that the number of spiced used is now 13. However, the bottle proof has remained the same at 47 % alcohol by volume.

krakenIn the Bottle 4.5/5

Initially, I was not fond of the bottle style for the Kraken Rum. However, I have to be able to admit when I am wrong. The Victorian style bottle with the double rings for handling is a favourite amongst my friends. The illustration of the giant octopod (the Kraken) might look a little “cartoonish”; however it is also in the Victorian style and fits the them of the rum very well. Most importantly, this rum stands out on the barshelf separating itself from the other rums sitting there. My only quibble is the metallic screw cap which is prone to stripping.

In the Glass 7.5/10

Poured into the glass, the black spiced rum displays a very dark plum brown colour. When I tilt the glass and give it a slow twirl, I see that the spirit imparts a light sheen of rum on the inside of the glass the crest of which drops a multitude of slender leglets. The merry little breezes above the glass tell me a story of peppery spice and licorice. Cinnamon is revealed along with wiffs of cloves, plum preserves, and black cherries. The black spiced rum has an almost medicinal quality as there is also more than a hint of menthol in those breezes which as it combines with the fruity smells of black cherries and plums makes me think of cough medicine and Jagermeister.

In the Mouth 47/60

The higher bottling proof of the Kraken has concentrated flavours of spice and black strap molasses. My sense is that the crafters of this rum are going for a taste profile which I would describe as a “kinder and gentler” Goslings Black Seal. In fact there is a lot of similarity to Goslings including a definite impression of Jagermeister upon the palate. However the Goslings Black Seal has a deeper, darker, more foreboding flavour profile which works well. The Kraken which has a lighter and sweeter taste profile just seems to never find its own place. The combination of main flavours, molasses, licorice, cinnamon, and black cherry almost works; but something within the mix is off. Perhaps we have too many flavours happening all at once. I tried sipping the rum, but was quickly dissuaded.

So I tried a few cocktails, using the mixed drinks upon the Kraken website as my guide, the Kraken and Cola, the Kraken and Ginger Beer, and the Kraken and Root Beer. My feelings remained mixed although my suggestion would be that the Kraken and Ginger Beer recipe (see below) had the most to offer.

As an aside, I want to point out that some of my friends were much more enamoured with the flavour of the Kraken than I was. For them, Kraken and Cola wa the favourite, and because they seemed to like it so much I did bump the score up just a little.

In the Throat  11.5/15

I am impressed that a 47 per cent alcohol by volume spirit has such a smooth finish. Being a rum which is flavoured with both dark molasses and spice, the finish is longer than we would normally suspect from a youngish rum. However, it is also true that the flavours clash in the exit just as they had in the delivery. There is also an odd bitterness which crashes the landing.

The Afterburn  7.5/10

It has been seven years since my first review of the Kraken, and although my score is bumped up just a little from my previous scores, I must be honest and say that I just don’t seem to be able to warm up to the spirit. Although there is plenty of flavour, the rum just doesn’t seem to have any depth or character beyond the spice and molasses. I suspect a few more years of aging would have pleased me much more.

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


Suggested Recipe:

Spanish MuleThe Perfect Storm

1 oz Kraken Black Spiced Rum
3 oz Ginger Beer (or Q Ginger)
Wedge of Lime

Pour the Kraken into an old-fashioned glass over ice.
Add the Ginger Beer over it.
Drop in a wedge of Lime

Stir and Enjoy!

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)


25 Responses to “Kraken Black Spiced Rum”

  1. winninitall said

    I am a big rum drinker and for the price and quality this craft is in my top 5. I love dark rums and I love all the favors this rums offer. I found your link through a google search and II was surpirsed that you had turned your head abit on this rum and graded some name brand rums like Bacardi 8anos so highly.

    If I had to make a big recommendation on mixing, I would have to say “try the Kraken mixed with COLD green tea (like the premix from your convent store). It may seem a little out of this world, but it’s always worth a try as a rum master as yourself.

    • Hi Winnitall

      I think I have actually given this spiced rum more than enough tries, having visited it twice already on my website. The Kraken, although full of flavour uses a very young rum as its base rather than an aged rum with more character. As well the flavour, to me tastes rather jumbled up and ill conceived. It is not a bad rum, but it just misses the mark for my palate.

      I am glad you enjoy it, and you should stick to your guns as firmly as I stick to mine. How it tastes in your glass is all that is really important.

  2. Jason said

    I’m stuck on the preference of Captain Morgan. When I think of Captain, I do not particularly think of refined taste, I think of a grocery store liquor that is great for cheap mixed drinks.

  3. This is a fun discussion. My palate detects a lot of vanilla in the Kraken, although the smoothness of the rum does remind me of Goslings, and the sweetness. Goslings disappears in Coke almost such that a very strong drink is pretty smooth. I need to try more spiced rums to see about the balance.

  4. Brad said

    Just a quick question for you, Chip, because I’m perusing your site and wonder: Why don’t you include a category for dollar value in your grading scale? I’m also in Alberta, and while I’m certainly no connoisseur, I like to compare spirits for quality compared to the price paid. For example, I bought a bottle of Crystal Head vodka, as I thought the bottle was cool and the Dan A. promo was pretty entertaining, but I was pretty underwhelmed for a $50 vodka. Same goes for the Kraken. It’s not a bad rum, in my mind, but I think that I paid extra($35) for the antique-looking bottle(I wish every liquor bottle had the jug rings on them). While I’m still in my “rum infancy”, so to speak, I think I can find rums that are as good, or better, in the same price bracket and lower, because they use a simpler bottle. Goslings Black Seal is $7 cheaper in my neighbourhood, and a superior product in my mind.

    Is your mission here to define quality spirits, regardless of price?

    • Hi Brad

      Although my blog is based in Alberta, I have more readers in Florida, than I do in my home province. And do you know what, the prices in Florida are completely different. They do not include the huge taxes we pay and the transportation costs are a fraction of what they are here. Prices on some bottles (Kraken for instance) are up to 30 dollars cheaper a bottle and sometimes even more. In the United kingdom, where I have a strong following, the Rum prices are higher by 10 to 20 bucks than they are here.

      The truth is that on a website like mine with a world-wide following, there is no meaningful price that I can quote. It is even true that some spirits that are inexpensive here (relative to others) are in fact expensive in other places, again making the whole issue of price thorny. So, I review spirits independent of price. The only place where price has any bearing is in the presentation score, and that score being only out of 5 points really doesn’t affect the overall review to any significant level.

      So if my score is 78 for one rum, and 87 for another, that means that I prefer the rum scored at 87 whether it is the less expensive rum or not.

  5. Ryan said

    Have you tried the Captain Morgan Black Spiced? IMO, I think it blows Kraken out, it doesn’t taste as commercial as Kraken. I think the Captain Black is what makes “The Kraken” go extinct. I love it with pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine, or just chilled…..depending on my mood.

  6. Eilean said

    hello, I have recently bought a Ron Barcelo Imperial for a friend who usually drinks spiced rums – I am now contemplating returning it for the Kraken, because I have tried that with Ginger Ale and I enjoyed it – would you suggest I stick with the Ron Barcelo? The person I am buying for has a sweet tooth and this is what is swaying me towards the Kraken…


    • Hi Eileen

      As your friend usually likes spiced rum, I would suggest that you stick their preferences and get a spiced rum (like Kraken) instead of an aged rum (like Imperial).


  7. Chris said

    Hey, I’m a big fan of Blackheart spiced Rum (sadly the closest place to get it is like an hour away lol) So I was just wondering how The Kraken would compare to Blackheart since it’s a spiced rum with a fairly high alcohol content, 93 proof I believe (compared to Captain Morgan at 70). I guess if you haven’t tried Blackheart you can’t really tell me, but I just thought I’d ask anyway lol.

    • As you suspected, I have not tried Blackheart Spiced Rum so I really have no idea how the two would compare. I guess the only thing for you to do is to pick up some Kraken and see if you like it.

  8. Well Chip, your review parallels my own, though I was a lot harsher than you were. I thought (and still believe) it is a commercial rum from start to finish; and the sort of love and care some of the older concerns in the Caribbean (and elsewhere) put into their product is markedly absent on this one. But hey, a whole raft of the Liquorature crew just went ape over it, and no matter how much I sniff about their damning it with faint praise, it is clear that lots of people like it for the exact reasons I don’t.

    • I know exactly what you mean Lance. In my tasting group, I am at odds with most my friends who quite seem to like it.

      I think maybe my higher score than yours reflects the fact that I was very impressed with the rum’s smooth finish especially considering it is a 45 % Alcohol rum. But in spite of this smoothness, the flavour just seems (I hate to use the term) ‘artificial’, and as I said the spices just don’t taste like they belong together.

  9. Kraken is definitely heavy on the spice, and lighter on the caramel, so not for everybody, but damn I like the stuff.

  10. i enjoyed the kraken this past weekend…i liked it best with coke…..deeming the drink Krak and Coke…i dont normally drink liquor but it was delish. i love the bottle…seeming as i love making candles out of bottles and my house is ocean all the way…if you dont like this rum your crazy..its the only rum ill ever drink

    • Variety is the spice of life, and we all have our own likes and dislikes.

      As I said, I just can’t seem to warm up to this one, the spices do not work for me. They obviously work for you, so please enjoy your Krak ‘n Coke!

  11. Tim Cox said

    Most favorable rums, Kraken, Jerry’s & Blackheart. I have turned a lot people to these rums and they love it. I buy them by the case in the 1.75 ltr bottles. I share it with my friends on the weekends. there are a very few establishments that carry these rums, so I stay home and invite over some scurvy dogs (scally waggs) or bring a bottle to them. its lightly sweeter than most rums but its tasty.

  12. Jeffrey said

    I tried this rum for the first time last week and LOVED it. It is an instant favorite. The Dominican Republic doesn’t export the spiced version of Brugal, but it is my all time favorite rum. If you’ve had the pleasure of enjoying Brugal spiced rum while on vacation in the D.R. (as i did), take joy in knowing that the Kraken is verrrrry similar to it.

  13. eric said

    Your review is truly spot-on. I’ve been developing my taste for rum exclusively for the past couple of months, and although I’m nothing of a connoisseur just yet, I was able to dissect your review while sampling this rum. I didn’t think I was a fan of spiced rums until I had tried Kraken. The smooth finish and rich, sweet flavor are the huge selling points for me, and I’ll definitely be purchasing this again in the future. It also mixes wonderfully well.

  14. Scarlotti said

    I haven’t tried Black Seal … yet, but I prefer Kraken over Sailor Jerry and Captain Morgan (both of which I rank fairly high). Matter of fact, Kraken is one of my top 3 favorite liquors (all varieties).

    It’s insanely smooth for 94 proof — and the taste — sheer heaven.

    The bottle and label grabbed me the minute I first saw them. The label *appears* to have been taken from some 500-year old book on “Bizarre & Fierce Sea Creatures” and, let’s face it, the comparison of a liquor to the legendary Kraken is nothing short of brilliant.

    But packaging is meaningless of the product is second-rate … but, fortunately, Kraken far exceeded my expectations.

    I’ve got to cross the state line to get a bottle, but it’s definitely worth the trip.

  15. Frederic said

    I’ve been reading for a while. We have Kraken as our first and only spice rum (we needed a spiced rum for a recipe) and I had no way of comparing it anything in that vein. I likened it to Old Monk in richness when I tasted it a while ago.

    • Spiced rums are quite a mixed bag. Some like Voodoo and Sailor Jerry are really approachable, but may not have the spiciness that you might expect or want. Others like Lamb’s Blacksheep, and Captain Morgan’s Private Stock, clobber you over the head with a particular spice, which depending upon the palate can be extremely good or extremely bad. The Kraken seems to have a lot of different spices in the mix, and it does have a smoothness and a richness many will like. When I review a spirit I try to tell the reader what I like and why, the flavours which I find to be offsetting might be just the same flavours someone else will enjoy. I think this is especially true of flavoured and spiced spirits.

      By the way, I hope you have enjoyed my attempted cocktails which have followed my reviews. (Maybe at some point I can create some “Cocktail Virgin Approved” cocktails to go with my “forrest Approved” cocktails.

  16. Frederic said

    Instead of comparing it to pure rums, how does Kraken fit in with the spiced rum category? Would you recommend it to the Sailor Jerry or Captain Morgan drinker over their preferred spirit?

    • I guess I compared it to Black Seal because I sensed an attempt by the creators of the rum to have a similar taste profile. Kraken and Black Seal are both “black” rums, and in my mind, Goslings is closer to a spiced rum than a ‘pure’ rum. However to the point of your question, I find similarities to Sailor Jerry as well, but the Sailor is much more balanced. The Kraken is very smooth and could have scored really well except that I felt the spiced just didn’t coexist well. I realize that this is subjective, but Sailor Jerry is just far easier to approach, and much more enjoyable.

      BTW, Nice to see the “Cocktail Virgin” on my Blog, I shall have to put you on my blog role, something which should have been done earlier. 🙂

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