Old heads will be the first to say that rum isn’t having a revival because it never lost popularity. And that may be true among the Caribbean crowd and the rum sippin’ cat daddies who used to chill out with my dad in his basement home bar. Still, whether due to the increasing popularity of tiki drinks or the normal ebb and flow of drinkers growing bored with their usual pours and seeking something new (to them), rum is having a moment.
Now I must admit, I switch up my go-to rum pretty often. Depending on the day and my mood, I’ve called brands from Appleton to Brugal to The Real McCoy to Diplomatico to Havana Club as my rum-of-choice. And it’s great that there are so many new-to-me ones still left to try. And since, as always, money’s too tight to mention, I’m happy so many of these rums in a reasonable price range. So let’s get started:
Although I admit to never having sipped it before, Cockspur is actually an old brand—it was first produced in 1884 in Barbados. Bajan style rums are typically light and subtle in flavor, and Cockspur’s signature Old Gold (about $30) is no exception. A rich dark gold in color, with molasses, brown sugar and a slight hint of apple hit you right away. The effect is dry, not sweet, and subtle. Next comes a soft wave of vanilla. But the finish is slightly bitter, artificial flavor note that makes this rum a bit too unpleasant to be sipped on its own. Mixed in a cocktail—it’s perfect in a rum and coke—Old Gold works very well.
Next, I tried the Cockspur Very Special Old Reserve or VSOR (around $35). Slightly darker in color, owing to more time spent in the barrel, the VSOR hits you with butterscotch, loads of vanilla and a touch of coconut on the nose. On the palate, the VSOR tastes immediately fuller and richer than the Old Gold. The vanilla flavor really comes through, and rather than a slightly unpleasant aftertaste, the finish is reminiscent of crème brulee. This is the one to savor neat.