I’m usually a whiskey guy, but I can always appreciate a good rum. There’s just so much experimentation and variety among rum distillers, which is intriguing as heck for a spirits nerd like me. One rum I’ve been dying to try is something called The Kraken, a black spiced rum with a label that looks straight out of a Lovecraftian nightmare.
Proximo Spirits is a private alcoholic beverage import company based in Jersey City, New Jersey. Founded in 2007 by the Beckmann family, the company owns and operates the famous Jose Cuervo tequila brand among many others.
The Kraken Rum brand was established in March of 2009. It didn’t hit the market about a year later, in 2010, after some fiddling and internal perfecting.
There is some quirky stuff going on here, so let me try and lay out what we’re dealing with.
According to the label, this rum starts out its life as a pretty standard rum from Trinidad and Tobago. The base material used is molasses made from locally grown sugar cane which is then fermented and distilled into a white rum. That original product is reportedly aged about 1 to 2 years. Exactly what distillery this comes out of is somewhat unclear — although Wikipedia lists it as its own distillery owned by Proximo Spirits.
That much is admitted on the label, but what’s next seems a little iffy.
According to TTB records, the manufacturer of record for this whiskey is actually the infamous MGP of Indiana — DSP-IN-1. That facility does the actual bottling and shipping of the spirit, and it’s likely that they also do the blending and addition of spices to turn this from a standard Caribbean rum into the black kraken seen on store shelves. The label says that this is a mixture of 11 spices, but isn’t incredibly clear about the specific spices used.
Speaking of not being incredibly clear… as the label states, this spirit is colored using “smoke coloring.” So the inky black appearance of the liquid is not an effect of the spices used, but instead an artificial and artistic choice of the manufacturer.
So, to sum it all up: this appears to be a mass produced rum originally from Trinidad and Tobago, imported by Proximo Spirits, and manufactured into the spiced rum seen here by MGP in Indiana (and it has some significant artificial coloring).
The design on this bottle is impressive.
Overall, the shape is simple but purposeful. The base is round and cylindrical, with a flat base and straight sides. It rounds at the shoulder to a medium length neck, with two glass loop handles molded into either side. According to the manufacturer, these loops are reminiscent of the loops used on old rum bottles to hang them from the rafters to keep the bottles from breaking. The bottle is capped off with a metal screw-on cap.
Keeping with that old nautical theme, the label is done primarily in black and white. The white background of the label is a nice contrast to the jet black interior contents and looks like it was printed on an old printing press, the image of a giant squid (which a Kraken is a mythical gigantic squid that would attack ships) front and center as if ripped out of a textbook on sea creatures.
It’s a great look. It stands out on the shelf with its relevant historical throwback handles, and tells a good story.
I’m a sucker for a good spiced rum, and this thing smells great. It’s like an oatmeal raisin cookie, but with a little bit of rubbing alcohol thrown in. Not exactly mouthwatering, but its not unappealing either. There’s some baking spices, a bit of cinnamon, vanilla, and some sugary molasses in there that I can tease out from the rest of the pack.
Taking a sip, this has that same syrupy flavor common in a lot of spiced rum. That sugar-based alcohol gives it an almost breakfast syrup flavor, which becomes the base for everything else that comes after (in this case: cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, vanilla and caramel that jump out before it all coalesces into that sweet yet spicy flavor).
It’s good, but not great. It’s a little darker and richer than other spiced rums I’ve had, but there isn’t any charred oak flavor in here like you might expect from the color.
Adding a bit of ice, the other spices in the spirit start taking a backseat to the originals. The vanilla, caramel, and molasses components that are from that original aged rum are out in force at this point, and it smells like a dead ringer for a Vanilla Coke.
There are still a good bit of those spicy flavors in the actual taste of the drink, though, with some cinnamon and nutmeg leading the charge right alongside the caramel and vanilla. It’s a good combination, flavorful enough to be a good mixer without being overpowering on its own.
Fizz (Dark and Stormy)
Speaking of being a good mixer…
This definitely stands out in the cocktail. Not only is it visually different (thanks to that added coloring), but there’s a darker and richer flavor to this version of a Dark and Stormy that you don’t normally see with vodka or even a rye. It’s a deeper flavor that serves the cocktail well.
I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this rum, and what I got was something pretty darn good. It’s got some good spices to the flavor and a good balance to cocktails — and with the visual appeal of a cool bottle adding to the story and the character.
This is absolutely a commercialized and mass produced spirit, more like the Las Vegas Eiffel Tower instead of the proper one on the Champs de Mars. But you get what you pay for. And in this case, the results are absolutely worth the price of admission.
|The Kraken Black Spiced Rum|
Trinidad and Tobago
Classification: Spiced Rum
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 47% ABV
Price: $16.49 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4/5
Don’t be afraid of the Kraken!