Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum—a relatively new offering from Diageo—had us a tiny bit worried. After all, doesn't the Captain already virtually own the spiced rum market? Is trying to offer other styles of spiced rum the equivalent of offering a premium or flavored version of Coca-Cola? God forbid, was this going to be the "New Coke" of spiced rum?
Further, was it really wise to be mixing Captain Morgan rum with double-charred oak barrels? After all, the youthful, shot-shooting target market really give a crap about the char level of the oak or that the stuff is aged at all? Did the brand, known for its ”one million poses” advertising campaign and its ubiquitous presence in rum-and-cokes on America’s golf courses (and other less reputable institutions), really have any business spicing it up in this way? Would the space-time continuum be warped further by the introduction of cloves, cassia-bark, and other stuff into the Morgan world?
We’re happy to report that we “Stepped into the Black” and were pleasantly surprised. The nose of the spirit is inviting: a pleasant array of cotton candy and coffee. The palate begins lively and peppery, reminding you that this is in fact a higher-proof spiced rum. It then pulls back, as caramel and nutty flavors make themselves known. The finish is brief but sweet.
While we certainly enjoyed the Black for sipping, astonishingly, we loved it in the old-school rum and coke. Most rums play the role of a boring sweetener in the classic drink. Not the Spiced Black. The Spiced Black comes to play! It added spice and character, without interfering with the fundamentally refreshing nature the drink.
Ultimately, at $20/bottle, it’s very difficult to have any gripes with the Black. We realize that the rum marketplace is pretty crowded, but at this price point, it’s difficult to justify not giving it a try. This is a versatile, well-executed rum that, even without the Capitan Morgan branding, has enough character to hold its own against the competition.
[photo from the Diageo press release]