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Whaler’s Vanille Rum

Review: Whaler’s Vanille Rum   (77/100)
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka) Arctic Wolf
Published April 11,  2012

A few weeks back, I received a few bottles of Whaler’s Rums from the local importer here in Alberta, Diamond Estates. They were hoping I would taste some of the different rums and perhaps write a review or two. I didn’t really know a lot about Whaler’s Rum so I accepted the samples of  these “Hawaiian” style rums. I say Hawaiian style, because Whaler’s takes great pride in letting everyone know that Whaler’s Rums are blended from old Hawaiian recipes. Their line-up of rum includes three traditional rums, and five flavoured rums.

The story behind the recipe is that sailors apparently used to rattle vanilla beans in empty rum bottles at sunset to attract migrating whales to their ships. The whales (who apparently were friendly in those days) guided the sailors to the tropical haven known as Hawaii. There they discovered the old rum makers of Maui, and they were so impressed with the rum they encountered that they called it Whaler’s.

I doubt if any of the story is true (but it is a good story), and I doubt whether any of this rum comes from Hawaii. I note that  Whaler’s Rum is a subsidiary of Heaven Hill Distilleries, and that the Whaler’s Vanille Rum was bottled in Barstow Kentucky which is much closer to the Atlantic than the Pacific. This flavoured rum is bottled at 30 % alcohol by volume, and I shall begin my review by having a look at the bottle the rum arrived in.

Whalers Vanille bottle shotIn the Bottle 4.5/5

To the left is the bottle which the Whaler’s Vanille Rum arrived in. It’s larger base gives the bottle a bit of an old-school look, allowing me to imagine that those old sailors would have used a bottle just like this to put those vanilla beans inside as they lured the friendly whales to the ship’s side. The label is colourful, and the bottle stands out well next to the other bottles on my rum shelf.

I like that the makers of the Whaler’s Rums have apparently colour coded their bottle toppers to match the expected flavour inside. When mixing drinks it is pretty easy to just grab the golden-yellow topped bottle when I want a vanilla flavour, rather than to have to read each label to find the right bottle.

In the Glass 7.5/10

The rum is clear in the glass with a bit of a thickened consistency indicating to me that I can expect a bit of sugary sweetness to go along with the expected vanilla flavour. Indeed when I give the glass a bit of a snoot, I catch sweet sugary notes alongside a firm vanilla aroma. There is also more than a bit of an almond scent riding in the coat tails of the breezes as well as a rather indistinct fruitiness which reminds me of canned peaches.

The spirit seems quite young with perhaps a bit of astringency or sharpness accompanying its youth. However, it is still pleasant and does not appear to be overdone in any particular element.

In the Mouth 46/60

The overall flavour of the Whaler’s Vanille is quite sweet with a thickened syrup-like consistency which seems to coat the mouth and throat aggressively. There is some heat as well placing the spirit on the borderline between comfort and harsh. I would describe the flavoured rum as candied, with a lighter than expected vanilla component which seems almost swallowed by the sweetness of the rum. A touch of almond and perhaps some banana peel and white pepper seem to be present as well although these flavours are perhaps muted even more than the vanilla is.

The spirit, as I said, lies on that borderline between comfort and harsh, and as such it is more of a mixer than a sipper. I tried a few recipes, and I found I liked it in a variety of  cocktails and bar drinks which used a little soda in the mix. (A splash of Soda seems to quell the light harshness.)

In the Throat 11.5/15

In the exit that heat which I mentioned in the delivery perhaps crosses the borderline from comfort to harsh as I notice a distinct burn in the throat after I swallow. After the sweetness of the spirit and the burn subside, a lingering flavour of vanilla custard is left behind. When mixed the burn disappears.

The Afterburn 7.5/10

The strength of the Whaler’s Vanille is in the cocktail format, especially tall drinks which use a little soda. Not all spirits are meant to be sipped, and sometimes a nice mixer is a better fit for the mood I am in.

You may read some of my other reviews of Liqueurs and Flavoured Spirits (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipes

SAM_0690 Lemon Vanille CocktailThe Lemon Vanille Cocktail

2 Oz Whaler’s Vanille Rum
1 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Triple Sec
Lemon slice for garnish

Add the first three ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Pour into a rocks glass filled with ice
Complete with soda
Garnish with a lemon slice (optional)

Of course, enjoy!


My scores are out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret them 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 spirit. 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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