I went looking for a dark rum because I needed one for the Cafe con Leche Flip. There were several on the market but I quickly became aware of the many differences in how they were marketed and constructed. For starters there aren’t any real regulations about how rums are classed. There are rums, rum liqueurs and flavored rums. Beyond that you’re pretty much on your own in the wilds of marketing speak.
From the little research I’ve done so far the black strap from Cruzan is fairly similar to their aged dark with the addition of extra molasses beyond the normal distillation. When they add the molasses is up for some debate. I’m personally betting that they add it after barrel aging as the extra sugar wouldn’t go over well in the oak.
Cruzan makes a pretty awesome rum normally but I was shocked that their Black Strap was actually pretty comparable price wise to my previous standby Meyers. I paid $14 for this bottle and was glad for the privilege. Many of the other “dark” rums on the shelf were in the $35-50 range which was well outside my limits for an unknown quantity.
The smells coming off of this bottle were puzzling. Unlike the more vanilla and sugar smells of meyers there were hints of heavy oak, clove, coffee and some other less identifiable items. A couple of solo sips almost killed this for me. The rum is actually a bit bitter and the spice notes do not help to bring it back around. There isn’t actually any sweetness in the rum, it is not a liqueur. The molasses is prevalent but it occurred to me afterwards that black strap molasses is the final extract of the sugar process. It is the gunk left over after you’ve squeezed every last white grain of sucrose out of the liquid that you can.
Fortunately I went straight from sips to cocktails and dropped this into my cafe con leche flip. The results were an eye opener, the heavy flavors and bitterness were entirely gone and the spice, rum and oak were on full display.
Unlike a spiced rum the spice notes are not the primary flavor. It’s not picking up a cinnamon stick and beating your drink over the head, it is a light shake of pepper and coriander on an otherwise deep black rum.
If you don’t already have a go-to tiki rum I would strongly suggest picking up a bottle of this. At least until I start making my own ;).