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Shellback Caribbean Silver Rum

Review: Shellback Caribbean Silver Rum   79/100
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published May 27, 2015

Shellback Rum is a new brand developed by E & J Gallo (the California Winemaker), and it is sold in various North American Markets including here in Alberta. Although the back of my bottle says IMPORTED & BOTTLED BY GRANDE ANTILLES CANE SPIRITS, MODESTO, CA, I have learned that the rum inside the bottle was distilled at the West Indies Refinery at Brighton, Black Rock, St. Michael, Barbados. This distillery is today more commonly known as the West Indies Distillery, and is the same facility which produces both the Cockspur and the Malibu rum brands.

Shellback Caribbean Silver Rum has been aged for 12 months in American Oak barrels before being filtered clear and bottled. It is a fact that aging of a white rum is not uncommon, in fact all white rum sold in Canada as well as in many other jurisdictions, must by law be aged for at least one year in oak barrels.

Shellback SilverIn The Bottle 4.5/5

Shellback Silver Rum arrives in the clear medium tall bottle shown to the left. It might be just me, but the front label seems to have a design and colour scheme which gives an impression perhaps of an official inspection label from a hypothetical Government office. There is (under the 80 Proof Statement) on the right side of the label an official looking red signature over top of declaration which says “Inspected and found Worthy’. An additional declaration on the bottom of the label says “RUM FOUND WORTHY”. A picture of Neptune (Poseidon’s Roman counterpart) adorns the label, perhaps we are to believe that Neptune himself has made the declaration.

The back of the bottle says:

For Centuries, sailors crossing the equator for the first time earned the title “SHELLBACK: a son of Neptune” for their experience at sea. Shellback Rum honors the experiences of those who have been found worthy of this title, for in the end, we are all the sum of our experiences.

There is just enough over the top ‘kitch’ in this bottle presentation that I guess I too have found it worthy and awarded a decent score in spite of the flimsy and uninspired pressed on metallic cap which seals the rum.

In the Glass 8/10

I poured a healthy shot of rum into my glencairn glass and began to examine it closely. The rum is clear in my glass, and a quick tilt of that glass and a slow swirl revealed a light coating of rum on the inside which coalesced into small legs which dropped down back into the rum rather quickly.

When I brought the rum to my nose I noticed that it has a candy-like aroma filled with tropical fruit smells which lie alongside a rummy butterscotch, and firm vanilla scents. Underneath the more obvious rum-like scents is a mild mineral scent of sand and loose gravel.  There is as well, a bit of aggression in the air indicating some astringeny which prevents me from scoring the nose any higher.

In the Mouth  47/60

The rum is not as ‘candy’ sweet in the mouth as the nose foreshadowed which is a good thing as candied rums can become cloying too quickly. Not that the rum is not sweet, it definitely treads lightly on the sweet side of the fence with flavours of butterscotch and vanilla mixing in with tropical fruit. There are underlying flavours of coconut, and a light grassiness which gives the rum a pleasant complexity. The rum dried my mouth as I sipped, and after a few of those sips I also began to notice hints of mushy banana, very mild licorice and mint flavours.

Despite the apparent complexity, it is obvious that the rum has been aged for only a year, and it contains the astringency and the alcohol push of a new spirit. Although I have sipped on the rum to garner my tasting notes, I think the destiny of this spirit is to be the base spirit for tropical cocktails.

I mixed up a nice fruity daiquiri style cocktail (see recipe below) and was very happy with the result. Later I mixed a Mojito (click the link for the recipe) and the result was quite nice again. Just because a rum is not meant to be sipped does not meant it is not meant to enjoyed. As a cocktail rum, the Shellback Silver is very nice.

In the Throat 11.5/15

The spirit does tap at the tonsils, and there is a bit of a lingering metallic bitterness which I do not usually encounter in white rum. In cocktails neither deleterious attribute is apparent, although I did notice that the cocktails I constructed seem to lie on the sweet side of the path rather than the tart.

The Afterburn 8/10

Shellback Caribbean Silver Rum is a lightly sweet rum which works well as a cocktail spirit. It has a bit tropical flair and which serves the spirit well in daiquiri and mojito-style bar drinks.

My score of 79 out of 100 recognizes that although this spirit is not quite a sipper, it does bring complexity and depth to the cocktail experience.

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


Suggested Recipes

Trifecta SAM_1590

Three fruit flavours combine with the Shellback rum in this delicious cocktail.

The Trifecta

2 oz Shellback Silver Rum
1/2 oz Orange Curacao
1 oz fresh Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz fresh lemon Juice
1/2 oz sugar syrup
Lemon slice

Add the first five ingredients into a metal cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a cocktail glass
Add a Lemon Slice for garnish

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!


My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret that 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 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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