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Whistling Andy Hibiscus-Coconut Rum

Review: Whistling Andy Hibiscus-Coconut Rum  76.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on August 27, 2012

The Whistling Andy Distillery is a locally owned micro-distillery located in Bigfork, Montana. They advertise that they are Veteran owned, and are proud of utilizing American made equipment (a hand-made Vendome Cooper and Brassworks still from Louisville, Kentucky) and American only grown grains (all of the grains are from the Flathead Valley), fruits, and botanicals. Their rum by the way is made from molasses and cane from the South. The Distillery is named for Roger Anderson, father of Distiller, Brian Anderson, whose nickname in the Air Force was Whistling Andy.

The subject of this review, Whistling Andy Hibiscus-Coconut Rum, was apparently developed to pay homage to both the 1950’s surfer, and to Whistling Andy’s Hand Crafted Rum. It is flavoured with real hibiscus and coconut. I was provided with  375 ml review sample by the distillery, bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume. (This product is being brought into Canada by Purple Valley Imports)

In the Bottle 4/5

As you can see from the picture to the left, the Whistling Andy Hibiscus-Coconut Rum arrives without frills in a tall slender bottle. The bottle is corked and the labeling is simple but not unattractive. I am neither pleased nor displeased.

In the Glass 8/10

I began my review by pouring a generous sample of the flavoured rum into my glencairn glass. The rum has a rich reddish-brown colouration, and the immediate nose has a lightly sweet floral aroma which reminds me of cranberries and Nanking cherries. (This floral cherry-like aroma is I believe very similar to the aroma of the hibiscus flower.) The coconut is much more subdued, at times I seem to sense the coconut in the breezes above the glass combined with the impression of ripe banana; but I would say that the cherry-like hibiscus scent is more obvious. There is something else in the air as well, a subtle wine-like scent which reminds me of lightly fermented fruit. Overall, I like the aroma, although I do sense some a light astringency in the air reminding me that this is probably a very young spirit.

In the Mouth 45/60

As I sip the rum, the hibiscus flavour does indeed remind me of lightly sweet cranberry and Nanking cherry jelly. I can taste some typical rum flavours of cane syrup, ripe banana, coconut, warm cinnamon, and touch of cloves which all leave their footprints in the flavoured rum. I am surprised that the coconut influence is not stronger. Rather than standing out in full view, the coconut hides itself within the other flavours. As it was upon the nose, I seem to taste an impression of fermented fruit which gives the flavoured rum a bit of a wine-like flair.

I should be liking this a lot more than I am; however, I find the flavoured rum isn’t appealing to me. It is obviously quite young, and I taste an immaturity which prevents me from enjoying the rum as a sipper. The lightly fermented fruitiness I taste seems to be thwarting my enjoyment as well, and I am struggling to discover a cocktail style that I can enjoy. I tried mixing with cola and ginger-ale without success, and I tried a daiquiri style drink as well. The Hibiscus Lime Daiquiri was acceptable, but not really engaging.

In the Throat 12/15

The sweetness in the flavoured rum helps to provide some smoothness in the exit, but there is a little burn and sharpness as well. The palate is left warmed with flavours of cinnamon and cloves. Trails of sweet cherry-like hibiscus remain.

The Afterburn  7.5/10

The first time I tasted Whistling Andy Hibiscus-Coconut Flavoured Rum, I had a few friends over to taste it with me. Our impressions were remarkably similar. We enjoyed the initial aroma in the glass, but once we tasted the flavoured rum, we were flummoxed. It was not what we were expecting. None of us disliked the flavour, but none of us were particularly enamoured with it either. We all struggled with what we were supposed to be doing with the rum. It has a very unique taste which seems to be at odds with most of our ideas of how to mix the spirit into a cocktail. The flavoured rum when sipped neat, just never seemed to strike the proper chord with any of my guests either.

This spirit has apparently won the “Platinum”  Spirits International Prestige Award, and received a high rating of 91 from Blue Review. I guess that just goes to show that different reviewers can have different perceptions, as my feelings are somewhat less enthusiastic.My score of 76.5/100 recognizes the very nice aroma in the glass, and the relatively smooth flavourful finish; but it also recognizes that this particular spirit does not strike a chord for me as a sipping spirit, and that I struggled to find an appropriate cocktail to further my enjoyment.

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


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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