Dark Rum Shootout: Goslings vs. Bacardi vs. Trader Vic’s

I had been planning to do this comparison already but was inspired by the Goslings float on the pretty reasonable Mai Tai I had at 19Ten in Santa Rosa last week. Dark Rums of this type are typically column still rums with little to no age, but darkened with caramel coloring. All are under $20 a bottle and issued at 40% ABV.

Todays lineup:

  • Goslings Black Seal – the most ubiquitous dark rum apart from Myers’s and thanks to Gosling’s trademark, the called rum in a Dark n’ Stormy.
  • Bacardi Black – previously known as Bacardi Select.
  • Trader Vic’s Dark – private label brand used at the Trader Vic’s restaurants and available in some retail locations.

These three rums are fairly similar, and distinct from dark rums from Jamaica or Guyana given their lighter character. Though Goslings does have a very pleasant burnt caramel flavor that reminds me of Demerara rums from Guyana like Lemon Hart 1804. This was the standout among the bunch and the taste from a glass was similar to the 19Ten Mai Tai.

Bacardi Black has a sweeter taste that isn’t nearly as flavorful, though it is not unpleasant, and is about the same hue as Goslings. It’s used in the wonderful Mai Tai at the Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki, which is why I bought it in the first place, but compared to Goslings it doesn’t seem offer much.

Meanwhile, Trader Vic’s is by far the darkest of the bunch and when you can find it at retail a few bucks cheaper too. Unfortunately, the taste has an artificial candy flavor that I did not find pleasant in the glass. So, Goslings is the easy pick here.

I’m not sure that any rums of this category are totally necessary, given that Myers’s or Coruba are not big funk bombs typical of Jamaica and could serve adequately for dark floats or in recipes calling for rum of this style.

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