Review – Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
Most of the Caribbean islands produce their own rum, often with the ‘style’ of rum being characteristic of a particular island even where several rum brands are produced. Bermuda however is dominated by a single brand to such an extent that it is actually the islands largest export. Gosling’s also holds a rather uncommon position of not actually being distilled on the island itself, the reasons for which stem right back to its origins. It was 1806 when James Gosling, the son of a wine and spirit merchant from England set out for America with a whole bunch of merchandise on board is ship ready to start a new life. After 91 days his charter ran out and he was forced to dock in the nearest port, which just so happened to be in Bermuda. Deciding to set up shop in Bermuda instead, Gosling’s Rum was born several years later as a result of his experimentations in barrel-ageing rum distillate. Gosling’s Black Seal (named after the black was used to seal the bottle) is still produced using a blend of pot and column still rums imported into Bermuda and aged 3 years in ex-bourbon barrels.
Neat: A slightly metallic entry quickly leads to a sweet and spicy mid-palate that continues on the finish, and which strangely numbs the tongue much more than its 40% abv would have suggested. Again molasses are the prominent flavour but there are hints of some more interesting spice notes such as liquorice and cinnamon hidden away somewhere within, together with stewed fruits and a definite herbal element.
Mixing: This rum definitely benefits from the dilution that mixing brings to release the full complement of flavours it boasts. The signature Dark and Stormy (recipe below) is a simple serve that works a treat with the right ginger beer, for which I recommend Gosling’s own product. Equally easy-drinking is the Tropical Daiquiri where the addition of pineapple brings out some of the fruity notes as well as enhancing the caramel characteristic that is the signature of this rum. Although this is a boldly-flavoured rum in some ways, it does benefit from mixing with other flavourful ingredients, and keeping it simple in drinks such as the Dino Sour does result in a perfectly acceptable but somewhat unexciting drink. Although the bitterness won’t be to everyone’s taste, cocktail enthusiasts might enjoy the Jungle Bird in which the contrast of flavours makes for a thought-provoking libation. Aside from the runaway success of the Dark and Stormy, perhaps this rums biggest strength is in adding some extra character to drinks otherwise containing a lighter bodied rum. A healthy glug as a float on top of a Mojito for example adds a wonderful herbal caramel twist to this omnipresent cocktail that is rather enjoyable. This isn’t a rum that will be to everyone’s taste, a it definitely isn’t the silky smooth refined sipping rum to be enjoyed neat but that’s not to say its slightly rough-and-ready profile isn’t an enjoyable one.
Signature Cocktail – Dark ‘n’ Stormy
2oz Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, 1oz Lime Juice, 0.5oz Sugar Syrup, Gosling’s Ginger Beer
Shake ingredients except ginger beer with ice and strain over ice into a highball glass. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a lime wedge.
Gosling’s Black Seal is an essential choice if you enjoy a Dark and Stormy cocktail, and for that reason alone is a must-stock item on the home bar. It’s unique flavour profile also permits some successful mixing and is a solid performer in a variety of cocktails.Rating: ★★★
Gosling’s Black Seal Rum is available to buy from Master of Malt.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.