In the US, spiced rum is a popular segment of the rum category. It’s often the jumping off point for people who want to explore the universe of rum beyond the typical white rum. It’s also quite popular because its spicy flavor profile doesn’t get lost when mixed with Coke (and it’s sold at a price point that makes it easy to mix with Coke). Going “black” has been one of the key ways major brands have extended their lines this year, and often it involves mixing deeply charred barrels with a popular spirit. The most notable examples of this Johnnie Walker Double Black and Jameson Black Barrel have faired well and have shown solid improvements in taste and character beyond their base product. With Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum, the ‘black’ refers not only to a ‘double charred oak barrel’ but also to the use of a molasses-based blackstrap rum, and like the other entries in the ‘black’ market, it’s a clear upgrade from the traditional Captain Morgan Spiced Rum.
Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum (47.3% / 94.6 proof, $21.99) doesn’t break down the sources of Caribbean rum it uses, but we know it’s a blackstrap molasses-based rum with clove, cassia bark, and vanilla with other spices and flavors added in. At 94.6 proof Captain Morgan Black is at a higher proof than the standard Captain Morgan’s, which weighs in at 70 proof. This extra proof gives Captain Morgan Black a much stronger flavor delivery and it helps it hold up much better in cocktails.
The nose on Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum is soft vanilla, reminiscent of vanilla extract, with a hint of underlining spice and oak. You wouldn’t guess that this rum is over 90 proof by smelling it, as the nose is entirely vapor-free. The entry is fairly soft and easy vanilla but the spice jumps right in moments after it hits your palate. Clove spice mingles with the vanilla and brown sugar along with clear oak notes. Things begin to really take off in the midpalate where the clove and oak spice build and the bitterness of the cassia bark is added to the mix. At the end of the midpalate the heat enters the picture and reminds us that, indeed, this is a higher proof spirit. The heat and spice linger for a medium finish which ends with a nice vanilla and oak spice note.
Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum positions Captain Morgan beyond the “Captain and Coke” or “Captain and ginger” into places it traditionally hasn’t gone before. Instead of thinking of Captain Morgan as a ‘spirit and mixer drink’, Diageo is clearly hoping that Captain Morgan Black will find its way into cocktails and appeal to those who may have previously turned up their noses at the base Captain Morgan product.
A perfect example is using Captain Morgan Black as a stand-in for vodka in the Moscow Mule, rather than just with plain ginger ale:
Captain Morgan Black and Ginger
1 1/2 oz Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
4 oz of ginger ale
Mixed over ice in a Collins glass.
They’ve also got it standing in as an alternative to more bitter amaro shooters like Fernet when mixed as a:
Captain Morgan Black and Bitters
1 oz Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum
1/2 oz Angostura aromatic bitters
Shake over ice and strain into a shot glass
Captain Morgan Black is cocktail friendly and is very symbiotic with Angostura aromatic bitters, especially in an Old Fashioned. The higher proof is key as is the level of spice and placement of heat. Between the flavor profile and bottle design, it’s clear that Diageo has its sights set on The Kraken and its quick rise and crossover appeal to aged rum and whiskey drinkers. Everything does line up for Captain Morgan here, with an improved taste experience, nice delivery of flavor and spice, and a perfectly proofed spiced rum that mixes very well. The price is a little bit of a step up from the base Captain Morgan, but not so much as to become cost prohibitive.
One cool feature of the new Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum is an inner label which reveals itself as you drink through the bottle. Here’s what it looks like:
Let us know what you think of the trend to go ‘black’ and your experience with Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum.