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Proof Rum

Review: Proof Rum  83/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on November 10, 2011

Proof Rum is a relatively new brand of rum produced by Proof Brands. The company currently produces whisky, rum and vodka all of which are bottled at 42 % ABV in unique stubby 500 ml bottles. The brand and the spirits are the creation of Michael Riley, a ten-year veteran of the alcohol beverage industry. Michael spent 5 years as the Director of Spirits for the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario). He has also has worked with such brands as Crown Royal, Absolut, Captain Morgan, Chivas Regal and Molson Canadian. Proof Rum was recently awarded a silver medal at the 2011 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

As part of the review process, I emailed Michael Riley to learn a little about his rum. What I learned is that the backbone of his spirit is a Guyanese aged rum which has spent 1.5-2 years aging in oak barrels (the time in oak varies with climate conditions), before being shipped to Canada. In order to achieve a consistent taste profile the rum is blended with small quantities of other rums which have been aged in Canada. The country of origin of these “Canadian Rums’  may vary depending upon what the blender requires to keep the taste profile consistent. The final blend is charcoal filtered to produce the clear spirit called, Proof Rum. I was recently given a bottle of this Proof Rum by the local distributor of Proof Brands, Diamond Estate Wines & Spirits for the purpose of a review here on my website.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

The unique 500 ml bottle for Proof Rum is shown to the left. As time goes by I am finding that I enjoy the unique look of the Proof Brand presentation more and more. The bottles really catches the eye on the shelf and it stands out from the crowd without being imposing or gaudy. As I said in my review for Proof Whisky, it a good marketing ploy to have the smaller bottle. By using a 500 ml size for their spirits, Proof is able to have a shelf price which looks very appealing next to all those 750 ml bottles that are fifty per cent larger. The squat bottle is also quite ergonomic, packing a good volume of rum into a small space which is bound to make shipping easier and less expensive.

In the Glass 8/10

The rum is clear in the glass and expresses a very fragrant and floral nose. Initially, I smell very mild butterscotch and vanilla with an obvious lemony scent riding in the breezes. Under these initial scents is something sweet and sugary which reminds me of Christmas candy. A floral character accented by a light almond-like aroma comes through into the air when the glass is allowed to sit, and building vegetal tones arrive as well which remind me that the heart of this spirit is a young 1 – 2 year-old rum. Although I have used the term ‘vegetal’, I do not notice any undo amount of sharpness or harsh medicinal notes, I find the overall nose quite complex and engaging considering the age of the spirit.

In the Mouth 50/60

That lemony scent I noticed on the nose comes though in spades when I sip the Proof Rum. It accents the rummy caramel flavour, and I am quite liking what I taste as I am sipping. There is just a little floral character as well which reminds me of balsam or perhaps more of lilacs, and there is a little hot peppery madness going on as well which bodes very well for cocktails. In addition, the rum is lightly sweet with hints of anise, and it is vaguely minty like Christmas candies. This might be the most interesting white rum I have tasted this year.

Surprisingly the rum carries some of the same characteristics of flavour that I noticed when I reviewed Proof Whisky. I did not find these flavours attractive in whisky; however, I do find the lemon and lilac are working better with the rummy caramel of rum.

I ran the Proof Rum through the gauntlet of quintessential rum cocktails, the daiquiri, the mojito, and the Cuba Libre.  I was impressed with the funky flavour of the daiquiri, and the mojito was very tasty as well. In both of these cocktails the interesting flavours I noticed when sipping seemed to work through the cocktails enhancing the flavour but not overwhelming it.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The tropical barrel aging and the charcoal filtering of the Proof Rum seems to have served to smooth out the flavour of the rum just a little bit. The result is a rum which is smoother in the exit than a typical white rum. It is perhaps a touch sweeter too which would be the influence of the Guyanese rum. While I do not believe Proof Rum is intended as a sipping rum, the light flavours of caramel and lemon are pleasant in the finish even when sipped neat.

The Afterburn 8/10

Proof Rum is a very interesting white rum. It has flavour elements which I have never encountered before in a a white rum; but the overall impact of these flavours seem to work very well especially in the cocktail format. I think why it works so well, is that these different, and interesting flavours (I am speaking of the lilac and lemon, as well as that peppery madness I referred to “In The Mouth”) do not dominate, rather they accent the flavour of the rum and allow the light caramel flavours which we expect to find to carry them rather than be buried by them. I like the Proof Rum, and I expect you will like it too.

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


Suggested Recipes


1 1/2 oz Proof Rum
Large Ice Cubes
1/2 Lime cut into wedges
1 Tsp Simple Syrup (Dissolve a sugar cube in 1 Tsp hot water then let it cool)
4 oz sparkling water (or Club soda)
3 sprigs of mint

Add the Proof Rum to a highball glass over ice
Add Simple Sugar
Squeeze half of the lime juice into the glass
Place the rest of the lime wedges into the glass
Add sparkling water.
Gently bruise the mint between the fingers and add it to the glass
Stir lightly

Garnish with a second sprig of mint


Photo Courtesy

The Iced Rum Cocktail

2 oz Proof Rum
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
Simple Syrup to taste

1/2 Glass of cracked Ice

Pour the first four ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the metal shaker frosts
Strain everything into a suitable glass half filled with cracked ice

Garnish with fresh Pineapple


I am always asked what my numbers actually mean. In order to provide clarification, 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)

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