Spiced rum holds a special place in my heart (and on my shelf). Generally speaking, it’s like a sweeter and more powerful version of a gin, using darker and richer spices instead of floral and herbal components. There’s something fun in the way it spices up a cocktail, and I’ve had good luck finding nice examples to sip and mix with. The brand we just reviewed, Largo Bay, has a version that is decidedly on the budget side of the pricing spectrum… so let’s find out if they were able to improve on their mediocre white rum with some spices.
Largo Bay appears to be a brand of rum distilled and bottled specifically for Total Wine stores by United States Distilled Products (USDP) in Minnesota.
The source of this spirit is the West Indies Rum Distillery Ltd. Opened in 1893 by a pair of German brothers, the distillery is an industrial mass production outfit that creates large quantities of spirits typically for other businesses to bottle and distribute under their label. Other brands produced at this facility include Malibu liqueuer and Popov vodka.
- Learn More: What Is Rum?
There isn’t a website or any marketing materials for this rum, but we do have some understanding of how spirits are made at the West Indies Rum Distillery in Barbados (which is where this appears to originate).
That facility starts with molasses sourced from Guyana, Barbados, and Mexico as the raw ingredient. As the waste product from sugar manufacturing, its filled with impurities… but also with just enough sugar to be useful to a distillery. The molasses is added to water in a giant vat and fermented to about 8% ABV.
That mildly alcoholic liquid is then pumped into the distillery’s column or continuous stills, which concentrates the alcohol and removes the undesirable elements. According to some reports, the waste product from the distillation process (including things like solvents and other alcohol related components) is pumped via a pipeline 2 kilometers out to sea where it is then dumped into the open ocean.
For this spiced rum, the resulting raw spirit is charcoal filtered before undisclosed spices and coloring are added.
It doesn’t look like a whole lot of effort has gone into this packaging but, to be honest, for a ~$10 bottle of booze it’s probably as good as you could expect.
The bottle itself is a pretty standard design, with a cylindrical body sporting some straight walls that taper to a short neck. The bottle is capped off with a metal screw-on top.
In my opinion, the label here is still a bit large. The plain white label has only a few components on it, and the logo is about as nondescript and forgettable as anything else on the market. There’s no reason it needs to take up that much space, but here we are.
Overall, it’s not a terrible design for a decent budget-priced liquor… but you won’t be fooling anyone into thinking this is top-shelf stuff anytime soon.
I’m getting a lot of vanilla aromas coming off the glass with some nutmeg and brown sugar. It’s almost like a flat Coca-Cola, with the same sweetness usually associated with the soft drink.
That flatness unfortunately follows through to the flavor profile. With a spiced rum, I expect a bit of a kick — but I’m barely getting anything here. The “flat Coca-Cola” description holds fairly accurate, with vanilla, nutmeg, and brown sugar being the primary components here. The only surprise is a little bit of clove that gives this a hint of depth and character. But on the whole, there just isn’t anything making this spirit exciting or even all that flavorful.
Good news, however, is that there aren’t any rough edges. This is a smooth rum without any detectable imperfections. Unless you count a lackluster flavor profile a an imperfection, that is.
Sometimes a little bit of ice can make a huge positive difference. In the right circumstance, it can soften harsh flavors into something more palatable, allowing background flavors to come to the fore. But in this case, I think it just throws the glass into chaos.
As lackluster as the spirit was when taken neat, at least it was somewhat enjoyable. Here, I actually think that the ice has somehow created a bit of bitterness. There’s a sharp flavor now, which I’m not enjoying at all, and the only thing left from the few flavors we had before is a touch of brown sugar. Pretty much everything else, from the nutmeg to the clove and even the vanilla, has disappeared.
This doesn’t bode well for use in a cocktail.
Fizz (Dark and Stormy)
Much to my surprise, there is something redeeming going on here. I’m not getting a cocktail that I’d necessarily go out of my way to have again, but it is something that I wouldn’t mind drinking if it was all that was available.
That vanilla flavor is back, and doing a great job with the brown sugar sweetness balancing out the bright and cheerful ginger beer. The result is something that still tastes a bit syrupy (that flat Coca-Cola imitation again) but generally balanced. On the finish, I do get a bit of that clove and nutmeg coming through as well, which adds some depth and character that this sorely needed.
But that’s about as far as the kudos go. This is still a pretty tame version of the cocktail, especially with a spiced rum.
This is the kind of rum that I’d want to take to a party. Not a dinner party, though – more like a pool party or a day party on a boat. It does an acceptable job without breaking the bank. I’d be happy to watch people pour it into their glasses with a splash of ginger beer and wouldn’t worry that I had spent a ton of time carefully selecting a pricey bottle with a perfect flavor profile only to have it covered up and mixed into obscurity.
For that same reason, however, this isn’t something I think I’ll be buying again for my own house. With so many better options out there, it’s hard to see keeping this one specific version in stock. Like I said, I might pick it up on the way to a party, but it isn’t something I would actively hunt out for myself.
|Largo Bay Spiced Rum|
Classification: Spiced Rum
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $9.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 3/5
Flat Coca-Cola that does a fine job mixing into cocktails, but does not pack that much of a punch.