I recently gave myself a fun challenge when heading into the liquor store: to find a rum I’d never heard of before, for less than $20. Turns out, this bottle of Capitan Bucanero Viejo Anejo Rum fit the bill so I grabbed a bottle to check it out. Will this turn out to be an amazing wallet-friendly gem, or will I only find this is a cheap rum?
This spirit is produced by a company called “Beveland,” which in turn is owned by the Masoliver Group (warning before you click, though: the SSL certificate expired on their website).
Masoliver was founded in 1979 by Ramón Masoliver as an agent representing local spirits and food brands in Spain, acquiring a number of distilleries and other companies along the way. One of those companies was Beveland, founded in 1994 on the French border in Spain as a producer and distiller of spirits, is currently a wholly owned subsidiary of Masoliver.
As a little bit of recent drama, it looks like in June of 2022 Beveland went to court to try and protect their “Bucanero” brand name. They had already trademarked the name, but another competing spirits company also registered the name. Beveland tried to get the copycat trademark invalidated, but it appears that the EU courts ruled against them and ordered them to pay for the court costs as well.
- Learn More: What Is Rum?
This brand is decidedly light on the details when it comes to what’s in the bottle here. The best clue we get is that this is a rum that was “[m]ade using traditional processes” in the Domainican Republic… which is about as useful of a description as saying the Mona Lisa is “a painting of some woman”.
As a rum, we can assume that this comes from some form of sugar. Usually the starting point for rum is the ending point for sugar production: backstrap molasses. The leftover gloop of slightly sugary impurities that is left after all of the usable raw sugar has been extracted. That gloop is added to water and allowed to ferment, which results in a mildly alcoholic liquid.
The concoction is then distilled to concentrate the alcohol and remove some of the unpleasant compounds before being placed into oak barrels for a period of time to mature. The Dominican Republic uses the CARICOM standards for age statements, in which their sole requirement for any indication of age (such as viejo) is just that it sat in some kind of wooden container for one year.
So, we really don’t know how old this is. In theory, this rum should only be colored as a result of the maturation process, but we can’t be sure it’s not artificial coloring.
Let’s address the red-coated, pirate-shaped elephant in the room: this is a rum with a name that starts with “Captain” (or “Capitan”, to be specific) and has a pirate theme. Read into that what you will.
I feel like the complete lack of backstory or supporting lore behind this bottle makes the choice of the name seem like a deliberate attempt to ride the coattails of the more famous captain of distilled sugar… but then again, the packaging is almost completely absent of any pirate-themed accoutrements. For now, at least — from their website, it seems like the older labels had a skull and crossbones on the label. That version probably gained them a less-than-friendly visit from the London-based solicitors behind the more famous brand and led to the boilerplate design we see here today.
Starting with the bottle, this looks fine. It’s a cylindrical shape with a pronounced flare at the base and a gradual flare up towards the shoulder, which transitions to a short neck with a hard angle. The package is capped off with a metal screw-on cap and an easy pour spout in the neck, which feels appropriate considering the price point.
The label looks like an old piece of parchment paper, but it’s just a design printed on a sticker. The name and brand information is inked on in appropriately late 1800’s ish fonts, surrounded by six gold medals.
I’ll be honest, I actually like this version more than the pirate-themed attempt. It looks more authentic and less like a deliberate cash grab. It still isn’t exactly stunning, but it’s actually a marked improvement.
Smelled from a distance, this is pretty good: I’m picking up some aromas of marshmallow, cotton candy, brown sugar, caramel… generally all the good stuff you’d expect from a rum. A closer inspection, though, revealed some unfortunate raw alcohol (nail polish remover) — but it also revealed some orange citrus and baking spices. “Like a very alcoholic flat vanilla coke” is probably the best description I can give.
The flavor is actually fairly representative of the aroma, but with a big wide expanse of nothingness in the middle. Let me explain.
Up front, I’m getting an instant hit of marshmallow, cotton candy, brown sugar, and vanilla. There’s a twinge of bitterness there as well (as if from some scorched caramel) but it isn’t enough to be overpowering. And then the flavors chill out for a few seconds, almost seeming to disappear… before coming back on the finish with some orange citrus, marshmallow, brown sugar, and baking spices. The nothingness in the middle is a little odd, but this is otherwise a decent sip.
The good news here is that, as you’d expect, the added ice completely removes the unpleasant bitterness from that burned caramel flavor. It’s still there adding a bit of depth and character to the spirit, but nowhere near as annoying as before.
Unfortunately for this spirit, though, there just wasn’t a whole lot of character or uniqueness to the flavor in the first place beyond a hint of orange citrus and baking spices. There’s a bunch of boilerplate rum components in a predictable mixture but nothing that makes it stand out. So when the ice cubes get added, and the orange and baking spice components drop out of the mixture, there’s nothing left to really drive the experience. The flavor profile provides a good foundation for a rum, but it needs something more to make it interesting.
Cocktail (Dark and Stormy)
To be frank, after tasting this on the rocks, I wasn’t expecting much from the cocktail. And I still wouldn’t call this is a rousing success, but I don’t see it as a complete failure either. It’s a serviceable cocktail, one that gets a lot of the things right that we’re looking for but which lacks any creativity or truly interesting flavors.
What this gets right is the flavor balance between the ginger beer, the lime juice, and the rum. There’s enough of the sweet brown sugar and marshmallow flavors in the rum to balance out the bitterness of the other components, making for a nicely sippable cocktail that I didn’t immediately throw down the drain. But the very thing it lacks is what the more-famous captain has in spaces: spice and character.
As a sipping rum, I don’t think there’s enough here to keep your attention. It’s fine (with the single asterisk of some scortched caramel bitterness) but really nothing to write home about. With the added ice, it’s a passable way to pass the time, but there’s other stuff in this general price range that would be better. Appleton Estate is a good example of something under $20 that is damn delicious that you should probably check out before reaching for this bottle.
As a mixer, this unfortunately falls flat. The rum this seems to be trying to ape (Captain Morgan, in case you didn’t catch my hints) might be nearly disgusting taken neat, but there’s no doubting that it was a rum made for mixing. There’s not much subtlety to what that rum is trying to accomplish, and as a result it makes for some interesting combinations. Much like Campari or Aperol, things that are downright terrible on their own often make for good mixed drinks. But this bottle of Capitan Bucanero is the near opposite: something predictably boring that simply doesn’t have the character necessary to make good cocktails.
|Capitan Bucanero Viejo Anejo Rum|
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $12.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 2/5
This rum on its own is fine… the problem is that it is competing in a crowded market with other, better spirits for about the same price.