If you infuse high-proof vodka with spices and call it gin, trendy mixologists will beat a path to your door. Do the same with rum, and they usually beat a path to the exit. Truth be told, the Caribbean compatriots of rum and spice have been mixed together in hot drinks and punches since at least the late 17th century. And the combination has been a bar staple since the creation of Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum in 1983. It is currently the third best-selling spirits brand in America.
Now a bounty of new spiced rums are adding diversity to this suddenly booming category. Rather than cola or ginger ale, we’d suggest enjoying them neat or with your favorite tonic. After all, at their best these complex spirits are the closest rum comes to being gin.
Blackheart Spiced Rum ($13):
Blackheart scores for its distinctive black cherry and Dr Pepper aromas. For such a cheap date, this rum has a generous fruity palate with cocoa, clove, cinnamon and other spices.
Captain Morgan Private Stock ($22):
If you already know the Captain, sneak a sip of his Private Stock. It has more of everything—spice, sweetness and alcohol—complemented with an orange Creamsicle quality and sweetness that makes it a great after-dinner sipper.
Cruzan 9 ($16):
Due for release early next month, Cruzan 9 (pictured above) is named for both the nine spices that flavor the rum and the nine districts of its home St. Croix. Generous vanilla, a nice oakiness and hints of peppery allspice make up the aroma, while it’s bold, sweet and fruity on the palate (reminiscent of peach nectar) and nicely balanced with spice on the finish.
Kraken Black Spiced Rum ($22):
While the Kraken, a giant squid-like beast, supposedly wreaked havoc on the seas, this rum is far easier on drinkers. It has a nose of vanilla, dark molasses and fruitcake and is as rich and chewy as calamari on the palate with flavors of golden raisins and dates and a touch of spice and cocoa on the finish.
Crafted from Louisiana molasses, this American rum is bursting with aromas of burnt sugar and butterscotch candies. As the sweetness hits your mouth, the spicy heat of cayenne, ginger and cinnamon begin to build, offering a pleasant balance as they wrap your tongue in a cloak of warming spice.
Sailor Jerry Spiced Navy Rum ($18):
This amber rum, with big aromas of caramel and crème brûlée, pays homage to tattoo artist Norman Collins, A.K.A. Sailor Jerry. It’s rich and creamy on the palate, with a complex sweetness of maple syrup and molasses and a hit of cinnamon on the finish.
Looking for a spiced rum cocktail recipe? Try the refreshing Treme.