Review: Lost Spirits 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Heavy Pot Still Rum

For years, I had undertaken a regular annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas as a writer for a different publication covering a trade show there. Every year I came back with only two things: a duffel bag full of press releases and a new strain of the common cold. This past year, though, one of my former colleagues returned from the city with something new he wanted to share: this bottle of Lost Spirits rum that he purchased from a unique experience in the city.



Lost Spirits is a unique take on a distillery, to say the least. The fact that they make booze is a secondary consideration, as their main attraction is a sprawling event and performance space where attendees enjoy acrobatic acts and costumed actors during a guided dinner experience.

Opened in Las Vegas in August of 2021, the facility is located at the Area 15 event space (where the Omega Mart is also located) and hosts a number of themed experiences. Founders Bryan Davis and Joanne Haruta were inspired to create an experience that mixed science and fantasy, and this combination working distillery and intricately themed immersive show was the result.

While the concept might be new, the founders were no strangers to distilled spirits. In fact, Davis invented something called the “Davis Method” for flavoring spirits, a process he claims can be used to replicate the long maturation process seen in well-aged rums in only a few days.

Their latest iteration of their cirque style show is called “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” a 16 course fine dining experience themed after the Jules Verne novel of the same name and featuring a Navy-style rum.


This is one of those situations where the details are a bit scarce, but we have enough information to get the idea that something interesting is happening.

For this rum, the distillers start with Grade A molasses — high quality stuff, but still the end result of a sugar distillation process that has some impurities and other interesting components. They mix that molasses with water and add “dunder” (a funky mixture of overripe fruit, decomposing material, and leftover scrapings from previous distillations that is common in Caribbean and particularly Jamaican rums), which adds some distinctive and interesting flavors to the spirit.

That sugary mixture is then fermented in a process that reduces the available nitrogen for the yeast, which adds a stress factor that produces specific chemical compounds which contribute to the eventual flavor that the distillers want in their spirit. After fermentation, the alcoholic liquid is distilled in a copper pot still designed by Davis, which selectively captures the flavors they want in the finished spirit and concentrates the alcohol in the liquid.

Once distilled the spirit is then put through the “Davis Method” for rapid aging (yep, that same process we mentioned earlier, named after the owner of the distillery).

This process starts with heating chunks of white oak wood in some spirit to extract the chemical elements that cause something called “esterification” — the process that turns the amino acids and other elements in the spirit into the delicious flavors that we enjoy when we drink it.

That extracted element is then added to a large glass tube with more of the raw spirit and some additional white oak chunks, and is then blasted with light. This step uses the photons in the light to break down the elements in the wood and rapidly infuse them into the spirit. It’s generally the same process that happens when spirits are matured the normal way, with oxygen molecules doing a lot of the work breaking down the wood elements, but here the light is doing it in a much quicker process.


This rum is primarily intended for the immediate consumption of the audiences at their events space, but it is available for purchase to take home as well. That perspective seems to be a large reason for why the labeling is the way it is (slightly bland, but utilitarian).

The bottle has a normal shape to it, roughly like a wine bottle but with a bit of a bulge in the neck. The glass is colored a deep brown, which makes sense — the goal is to reduce light getting into the bottle, which would rapidly degrade the spirit inside. It’s designed for transportation and for use, not necessarily for display… just like the original rum bottles back in the age of sail.

The label is a white band around the body of the bottle, with some minimal text and only a jaunty octopus to really continue the theming of the event. Personally, I think it fits with the overall vibe and doesn’t try too hard to make the bottle the star of the show.



Right off the bat, this is a surprisingly dark colored rum for something that only matured for a couple days. We’re talking “black coffee” levels of dark, which is something that I usually only see after years in oak… or a quick trip to the artificial coloring cabinet. I don’t see any artificial coloring disclaimers on here, though, so I suppose this is all a result of that patented maturation process we discussed earlier in the review.

Coming off the glass are some aromas that you’d instantly recognize as being key characteristics of a good Jamaican rum: over-ripe bananas, mangos, brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, and pineapple. It reminds me very strongly of the Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum we reviewed a while back. The only small asterisk on that is just the slightest hint of industrial alcohol in the background, which isn’t nearly prominent enough to make a difference but just prominent enough to be noticed.

Taking a sip, this seems suspiciously sweet and viscous. The website for this distillery says in the ingredients that there’s some added sugar in here in addition to the molasses, and I feel like that’s something that may have been added post-maturation. It gives the spirit a bit more weight, and also seems to add a bit of balance to the flavors.

Behind that sweetness are some deep and rich notes: dark chocolate, pineapple, mango, banana, dried apricot, and vanilla. All are fruity and tropical and delicious, just like you’d want from a good rum. There’s also some baking spices thrown in for good measure, like nutmeg and cinnamon, which give the rum a bit of a spicy kick to it.

One thing I’m noticing on the flavor is a tiny bit of bitterness on the front of my tongue as the flavor develops. (Or, more accurately, as the sugar content drops.) That would be my biggest concern as we move forward in testing: seeing how that changes, and whether the sugar was there to enhance the flavors — or to cover up something unpleasant.

On Ice

Ice is the great revealer in a spirit. It strips away a lot of the fancy filler and tricks that distillers often to use, and shows us what’s really going on in the flavor profile.

In this case, I think I can now confirm the added sugar content. I can literally see it swirling around in the glass as the ice and water dilute the mixture and cause some of that sugar to fall out of solution.

While the aromas are pretty much the exact same as we saw when taken neat, the flavors are now a bit muted. The sugar content seems to cover up a lot of the elements here, leaving behind only some brown sugar, vanilla, and banana flavors as the primary components. This is still somewhat fruity and tropical, but without the bouquet of flavors that we saw before.

Fizz (Dark & Stormy)

I really thought that I would like this cocktail. The added sugar in particular should make this really enjoyable… but honestly I feel like it falls flat.

What I was expecting was for more of the baking spices and fruit notes to come through and make an appearance in this cocktail, as we saw in something like Goslings Dark Rum. The richer and darker components are supposed to be balanced by the lighter and brighter ginger beer, which results in a well balanced cocktail.

But that unfortunately doesn’t happen here. In this case, the brown sugar flavor takes over and makes this an overly sweet cocktail, with some banana and pineapple flavors as supporting characters. It’s overly sweet and doesn’t have any of the crispness that you might expect.

It isn’t bad, necessarily — there’s nothing here that would make me dump this down the drain — it just isn’t as delightful as I’d like.


Overall Rating

I want to start by giving some serious kudos to the distillery. Most places have the spirits as the star of the show, but in this case the spirits are only an embellishment on the rest of the experience. From what I’ve heard and read about it, Lost Spirits is something that should not be missed when visiting Las Vegas.

In the context of that distillery experience, I think this rum is perfectly designed. The distillery is all about bringing together history, entertainment, and science — and that’s exactly what we have in a bottle here. A traditional Navy style rum, steeped in history, but executed using newer techniques that have only existed for a few years.

Taking the rum and examining it in a vacuum, however, I think the parts of this rum that work best are the parts that are done using the traditional methods. The most prominent flavors in here which I enjoyed were those added through the dunder that gave this rum its characteristic “hogo” funk. And, thanks to the added sugar, I couldn’t really be sure how much of the other flavors came from the rapid maturation process versus the sugar itself.

All things considered, I think this is a worthwhile bottle of rum. The story behind it is interesting and engaging, and if you are grabbing a bottle that probably means you went through the full experience at the distillery itself. Having this as a drinkable souvenir is a cool thing to have, and I think that alone is enough to get three stars out of me.

Personally though, I don’t think I’d pick this up at a liquor store if given the choice of… anything else. There’s nothing wrong with it necessarily, and as a sipping rum it does a fine job, but I don’t really have a use for this in my normal array of cocktails.

Lost Spirits 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Heavy Pot Still Rum
Produced By: Lost Spirits
Production Location: Nevada, United States
Classification: Rum
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 42.2% ABV
Price: $?????
Overall Rating:
All reviews are evaluated within the context of their specific spirit classification as specified above. Click here to check out similar spirits we have reviewed.

Overall Rating: 3/5
An excellent souvenir of a unique experience, but as a bottle of rum this is a forgettable experience.


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