As the title suggests I have quite a few spiced/botanical/flavoured rum drams I have been given and I don’t want them to go to waste without writing about them, so here we are. Going to keep it pretty short, similar to my The Barrel Sample series, but with more offerings at once and a little bit of competitive spirit.
The first 3 samples are all rums owned by Atom Brands, more exactly hailing from their new innovation arm called Atom Labs. They seem to be in charge with creating new offerings that are meant fill out gaps on the market based on research from their online retailer, Master of Malt. An example of one of their most popular products would be the Jaffa Cake Gin (there’s also a rum), so following that success they seem to come up with more and more brands that are unique in their own regards.
One of such brands are Project #173 which is a range of naturally flavoured rums, of which I have 2 to talk about right here and now.
Project #173 Black Cherry
The full size bottle is 50cl, is pretty slick and it actually features a flake of 23 karat gold leaf, which seems a bit over the top if you ask me, but it looks great. As it may be obvious from the title, the rum is flavoured with black cherry – no other spices or flavourings that I’m aware of. Bottled at a fairly generous 42% ABV.
On the nose the cherry flavours really jump out. Black cherry (shockingly), cherry jam and Luxardo cherries syrup. Hard to branch out and write any non-cherry related notes. Cola lollies, maple syrup, Head & Shoulders (I know) and green apples. Still pretty much just cherries.
On the palate it isn’t as sweet as I was expecting. Sweet, juicy black cherries, Luxardo cherries syrup and some low-key tropical notes, probably coming from the rum – pineapple and mango. Cold hot chocolate, amaretto, toffee and blackcurrant cordial. The finish is short and sticky with… well, cherries.
If you like cherries, this isn’t bad at all. The rum is there but very faded, covered by the sweetness and flavouring. Not a lot of complexity, this is clearly meant to be one-dimensional and focused on a singular flavour profile – I am expecting that to be the case with the butterscotch one as well. It doesn’t feel artificial, just quite sweet, but at £20 for a 50cl it isn’t too bad as a treat.
Project #173 Black Cherry score:
Value for money: 14/15
Project #173 Butterscotch
Same presentation as the Black Cherry above, the only thing that’s different is its main flavour – yep, you guessed, that would be butterscotch. Also bottled at 42% ABV.
On the nose the butterscotch really slapped me – it’s intense. Toffee, vanilla, caramel, BUTTERSCOTCH and guilty pleasure. Slight strawberry, blue cheese and pineapple notes but that’s pretty much it.
On the palate I actually enjoy this more than the black cherry one. The butterscotch is obvious, but there’s some tobacco and cacao as well from the base rum – if I were to guess, I’d say there is some Dominican Republic component. Sweet Earl Grey tea, ripe bananas and white pepper. The finish is short with vanilla and toffee.
Guilty pleasure is the best way to describe this, I also like that I can taste the base rum more. Also priced at £20, I’d gift this to anyone with a sweet tooth that enjoys rum.
Project #173 Butterscotch score:
Value for money: 14/15
Horizon Black [Hole] Spiced Rum
The Horizon comes in a 70cl bottle featuring a label that showcases the image of a black hole from the Event Horizon Telescope. The base rum is a blend from the Caribbean and the spices used are black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, oranges, star anise and vanilla. Also also bottled at 42% ABV.
On the nose it feels like a pretty warm and standard spiced rum. Cinnamon, orange peel, black tea and caramel. Anise and lemon zest as well. Prunes, blackberries, cardboard and some peppermint. Not too vanillary, but it’s definitely there.
On the palate it’s like a sweet, rich pudding with a spicy aftertaste. Sweet Earl Grey, coffee, maple syrup, cloves and cinnamon. Biscuits, vanilla, grapefruit peel, floral honey and cough syrup. The finish is medium with cinnamon and Fernet.
A lot of potential here, it is spicy and herbal, but a bit too sweet for my own taste. I feel like the spices could stand out more with less sugar, for me it throws it off balance a bit. Still a good tipple for anyone that enjoys a classic spiced rum without tons of vanilla and also good value for money at £25 a bottle.
Horizon Black [Hole] Spiced Rum score:
Value for money: 15/15
Ron Cabezon Botanical Rum
Moving along and away from the Atom Brands tipples, here we have Ron Cabezon, a flavoured rum, that despite its branding, comes from a Scottish company – Cabezon apparently means ‘Pig headed’ in Spanish. The base rum is of Caribbean origin and is aged for 5 years in ex-Bourbon casks. Some of the botanicals/spices are sultana, cubeb, vanilla and Kola-nut with some honey added for sweeteness. Bottled at 41% ABV in a 70cl bottle with a nice, vintage-looking label.
On the nose it feels quite herbal. Rosemary, sage, angelica root, lavender and lemon zest. Quite different from the others, very aromatic. Some caramel, pistachios, orange and floral honey.
On the palate, as with the nose, tends more towards a herbal/botanical profile. Plenty of lemon zest, cardamom, black pepper, rosemary and pine tree. It isn’t too sweet either and the spices/botanicals just shine through. Basil, juniper, green tea and some peach. The finish is long with black pepper, limoncello and rosemary.
This is really nice, herbal and hot with little sweetness going on so it doesn’t leave a cloying aftertaste. I would love to play with it in some cocktails. It’s considerably more pricey than the stuff above (£37 for a bottle), but well worth to try, especially you’re into the “botanical rum” trend.
Ron Cabezon Botanical Rum score:
Value for money: 13/15
Sly Dog Spiced Rum
This is a name I kept seeing on social media, it seems like the guys from Sly Dog know how to put up a show to get noticed. Their presentation is contemporary and fun with a black opaque 70cl bottle that features large, bold letters. The base rum hails from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and are aged up to 3 years in ex-Bourbon casks. The spices used are “ferociously guarded” so I have no information regarding those, so I guess I have to taste it and guess. Bottled at 40% ABV.
On the nose it feels quite vanillary. Vanilla, orange peel, toffee and cloves. Some bubblegum and cinnamon. Seems pretty standard so far. Mango and passion fruit juice.
On the palate feels pretty sugary. Cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. Biscuits, cloves and sweet oranges. A touch of black pepper and some bubblegum again. Passion fruit, caramel, oregano and just a lot of sugar. The finish is short with cloves and vanilla.
Fairly commercial, sweet and not a particular stand-out. The spice balance seems good, I can tell work went into it, but it’s just way too sweet for me. Can be found at £33, grab one if you like to drink your tea as a syrup.
Sly Dog Spiced Rum score:
Value for money: 13/15
So the favourite was Ron Cabezon, everything else did fairly well for what it was meant to be, it was just Sly Dog that I found too commercial for my taste. While it’s not my particular jam, feel free to DM me your favourite flavoured offerings that you’d like to me to review and I’ll do my best to write about them – just keep in mind that I’m not big on overly sugared rums, even when it comes to spiced/botanical ones, so you’d probably be able to guess the outcome.
Bottle images courtesy of Master of Malt.