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Merchant Shipping Co. White Rum

Review: Merchant Shipping Co. White Rum  (85/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published February 17, 2017

Merchant Shipping Co. White Rum is a ‘destination’ brand exclusive to Liquor Depot and Wine & Beyond stores in Western Canada, bottled by Highwood Distillers who are located in High River, Alberta (about 40 Kilometers south of Calgary).

The back label of the bottle states that the rum is imported from the Caribbean; however when I did a bit of digging on the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Control (AGLC) website I found they listed the rum as Guyanese in origin. This makes sense as Highwood Distillers have mentioned to me in the past that some of their rum was sourced from Guyana.

(Note: Guyana considers itself a Caribbean nation so the rum could indeed be imported from the Caribbean and be a Guyanese Rum.)

By Canadain Law all rum sold in Canada must be aged for a minimum of one year. The Merchant Shipping Co. spirit is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

merchant-shipping-cosam_2974In the Bottle 3.5/5

The presentation doesn’t really inspire me. I understand that keeping the price of this spirit in check is a major aim of both Highwood Distillers and the Liquor Depot chain of stores who have jointly developed the brand, and this means that I can be forgiving of the plastic (PET) bottle. However, the front label with the picture of the Octopus wrapping its tentacles around a ship’s steering wheel looks cartoonish and does little to elevate the spirit.

In the Glass 8.5/10

I poured a small amount of rum (about 1/2 oz.) into my glencairn glass and began to examine it. The rum appeared to be crystal clear, and a tilt of the glass and a slow swirl revealed a light coating of rum on the side of the glencairn the crest of which releases small slender legs which ran down the inside of the glass back into the rum. The breezes above the glass reveal notes of mushy banana and plantain alongside a light butterscotch sweetness with subtle undertones of mint and licorice. I also sense mild indications of banana and orange peel as well as well as a few resin-like notes. It is hard to be sure, but I believe sense the presence of pot still rum in the blend which adds a light character to the breezes.

In the Mouth 51.5/60

The Merchant Shipping Co. White Rum has a pleasant texture with a buttery mouthfeel. I taste a light butterscotch, mushy banana and very mild mint-like menthol. Subtle vanilla notes are present, as is that light pot still influence which give the rum some unexpected character. Hints of orange peel add a touch of spiciness to the spirit. There is a light alcohol bite; but this disappears when I serve the rum over ice.

White rums are normally mixed rather than served neat or over ice, so I mixed myself the quintessential white rum cocktail, the Daiquiri, combining rum, fresh squeezed lime juice and sugar syrup in a 4:2:1 ratio. I found the resulting libation very quaffable (see recipe below). The light pot still influence I taste within the rum elevates the mixed drink giving it a touch of character which I found appealing. In my opinion, a white rum which mixes a great daiquiri is almost by definition a very good white rum.

(The Merchant Sipping Co. White Rum has surprised me.)

In the Throat 13/15

The buttery texture and soft mouthfeel give a little length to the finish. Although we have a touch sharpness on the exit, I am left with a lightly sweetened palate, with mild flavours of mushy banana and vanilla lingering for just a little while.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The Merchant Shipping Co. White Rum is a solid white rum. It has a light buttery texture and mild pot still flavours which elevate the rum above the norm. It just might be the best economy mixer in the Alberta marketplace. (I do wish the label could be improved to match the quality of the spirit; but that is my only quibble.)

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


Suggested Recipe:

merchant-daiq-sam_2976Merchant Daiquiri

2 oz  Merchant Shipping Co. White Rum
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
Lime peel garnish

Add the first three ingredients into a metal shaker with Ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Double Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with a small loop of lime peel

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!

And Please remember to drink responsibly, the aim of my blog is to help you drink better spirits…not more spirits!


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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