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Spytail Black Ginger Rum

Review: Spytail Black Ginger Rum   (84/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (aka Arctic Wolf)
March 31, 2017

Spytail Black Ginger Rum is produced by Biggar and Leith, who are based in the New York area with distribution across North America and in 16 Countries worldwide (and growing). Biggar & Leith own a small portfolio of spirits which are produced by established, family owned distilleries.

Spytail Black Ginger Rum pays homage to the submarine, SPYTAIL, as apparently plans for the legendary underwater ship were discovered by Biggar and Leith’s distillers in Cognac, France. While that may seem unlikely, this actually makes sense as the first mechanical submarines were not only invented in France, they were tested within the Charente River which flows near their distillery. The production of Spytail Rum is based on a 19th Century recipe which calls for the aging of fresh ginger root and spices in barrels of Rum. The spirit is produced from a blend of Caribbean rums which are both blended and bottled at the Cognac, France facility.

spy-tail-sam_3000In the Bottle 4.5/5

Spytail Black Ginger Rum arrives in the curious bottle shown to the left. At first glance the bottle reminded me of a ‘genie’ bottle; but upon further inspection I realized that the bottle shape was made to resemble a bathysphere which (for those who do not know) is a spherical vessel made for underwater observation. Perhaps the bottle is intentionally made to resemble the legendary SPYTAIL itself.

The presentation has a nice ‘cool’ factor which I am sure will help it in a retail setting where a bottle that looks a little different is sure to catch the consumer’s eye. A drawback of the bottle style though, is that it is not necessarily the easiest bottle to grab and pour. The round shape is a little cumbersome, and the wide neck and mouth require a steady hand to pour without spilling. Fortunately the neck is of medium length which makes that steady pour a little easier to accomplish.

In the Glass 8.5/10

In the glass, the spiced rum has a rich dark reddish bronze colour typical of black rum. A slow tilt and twirl of my glencairn glass shows me that the rum lays a slightly thickened film on the inside of the glass, the crest of which drops medium fat leglets. The colour and the slow-moving leglets are almost certainly a result of an added caramel sweetness which is typical of both black and spiced rums.

That extra sweetness is on display in the breezes, and coupled with the rich spicy scent of ginger gives the rum a certain oriental flair. In fact my initial impulse was to grab a bunch of chicken wings and let them marinate in the sweet spicy elixir before throwing them in the oven. I resisted the impulse (for now) and settled on examining the Black Ginger Rum for the purpose of this review. Further examination of the breezes above the glass brings impressions of orange peel and vanilla, dark brown sugary scents, and hints of dark licorice alongside the sweetened ginger. So far, I like what I have encountered.

In the Mouth 50/60

The rum brings a tasty combination of rum-like brown sugar and spicy oriental ginger across the palate. The spirit is not as sweet as the nose implied; however there is enough sweetness to help balance the overt spiciness of the ginger root. Bits of orange marmalade meander into the rum’s flavour along with hints of cinnamon and some more obvious vanilla. There is an added dimension of spiciness which may be a result of other spices or perhaps some wood aging. I also taste bits of dark licorice, a hint of saltiness, some dry grassy tobacco, a few scattered tea leaves and some lime zest. The combination is interesting and, when sipped slowly, quite tasty.

I mixed a little of the rum with ice and cola and found the result quite pleasing, definitely a summertime deck drink I could enjoy alongside the barbecue. I also mixed a little with some ginger-ale and the resulting Mule-like cocktail again was tasty. (I did enjoy the spiced rum and cola a little more though.)

Then I decided that I wanted to make a somewhat unusual cocktail with this new spiced rum and so I mixed a delicious mixed drink combining the Spytail Rum with a Craft Canadian Whisky in a libation I dubbed, The Last Saskatchewan Pirate (see recipe below). I suspect professional bartenders will be able to do even better than I have.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The exit is relatively short and it brings both ginger spice and sweet caramel to the throat with the ginger having the last lingering word.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

I like the Spytail Black Ginger Rum. It walks a different path than most spiced rums using ginger root rather than vanilla or cinnamon as the main driver of its flavour.I appreciate that Biggar and Leith are bringing something fresh to the spiced rum category.

I did (when I was finished my review) marinate some chicken wings in a few ounces of the Spytail Rum. Then, after sprinkling some salt and pepper on those wings, I popped them in the oven. I added a touch of cinnamon, brown sugar and cornstarch to my left over marinade; then thickened it over the stove and basted the wings every ten minutes until they were done. They were (as I suspected they would be) delicious!

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


Recommended Serving:

This recipe was inspired by two separate cocktails, Whoa Nellie the bar drink put together by Lally Brennan and Ti Adelaide Martin ( In the Land of Cocktails) and Tony Abou-Ganim’s popular modern cocktail, the Cable Car. My result, The Last Saskatchewan Pirate pays homage one of my favourite folk groups, The Arrogant Worms, whose fantastic song  of the same name reinvigorated my love of Canadian Folk Music.

The Last Saskatchewan Pirate

1 1/2 oz Last Mountain Single Cask 100% Wheat Whisky
1/2 oz Spytail Black Ginger Rum
1/2 oz Orange Liqueur (In this case, Manitou)
1/3 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/3 oz Lemon Juice
2 dashes of Bitters (Angostura Cocktail Bitters)
1/6 oz Sugar Syrup
Lemon Peel Twist

Add the ingredients into a metal shaker with plenty of ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with a twist of Lemon Peel

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

And if  you are interested in more recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for my mixed drink recipes!


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)

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